Are we seeing more oil related failures in modern cars?

Messages
110
Location
Connecticut
This is just something I thought about. I first started working on cars in 2007, and of course always strolled Craigslist and now Facebook market for cars. I can say it's anecdotal, but I feel like I've seen more blown engines in modern cars than in the past. Way more cars listed with dead engines. Cars are pushing the envelope now in power levels that used to only be achievable with aftermarket parts and tuning, and doing it dead stock on commuter vehicles. Of course there's direct injection and all that comes with it, too.

I feel back when I first really worked on cars, it was somewhat rare to find a car with a blown engine, as in, thrown rods, smoking blue, etc. The most common failures I personally remember were cooling system failures and blown head gaskets. If an engine was blown it was usually due to driving with a blown head gasket for hundreds or thousands of miles, or the head gasket failing and contaminating the oil with water. Not just "oh, it broke one day." Reading about say, Hyundai engines throwing rods all seems very weird to me, same with timing chain failures at low mileages. Of course more engines are moving to chains, but on the older V6 pushrod engines that were relatively easy on the oil, I would say chain failures were incredibly rare (though it's a simpler design for sure) but even on the older OHC/DOHC there didn't seem to be common failures.

Of course consumer knowledge is definitely worse now. Most people don't seem to check their oil ever, and some people legitimately don't know how. My sister said her boyfriend with a newer Corolla has never once opened the hood to check his oil, he only changes it at 5000 miles. His mechanic put way too much confidence in him saying "These things only ever need brakes and tires." Toyota is reliable, but not that reliable. :rolleyes: For Toyota's own specs, acceptable oil consumption is 1qt per 1000 miles, so on a 4.5qt sump car that would be negative half a quart of oil at 5000 miles. Manufacturer oil change intervals are longer, too, and though oil is better than the past I'm not really convinced it's wise.

So anyway, I'm wondering if it's my imagination, but are oil related failures more common now like I'm anecdotally observing? I just didn't remember nearly as many back when I first started working on cars almost 15 years ago. On the flip side I feel like cooling system failures and head gasket failures actually are a lot lower than in the past, at least I see less cars listed with overheating issues and blown head gaskets.
 
Messages
1,632
To an extent I would say yes. Cooling systems have gotten much better and head gasket failures are no where near as common as they were before. At the same time engines have gotten far more complex and the designs seemed to have placed a heavy demand on engine oils. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily more oil related failures were seeing today or if it’s just poorly engineered components.
 
Messages
399
Location
Hedgesville, WV
I am not in the field so I cant speak to any trend but with manufacturers pushing small displacement engines to higher performance levels and higher RPM's while trying to use just enough material to get the job done without adding any extra weight then add on direct injection and turbos, it would not surprise me at all. I am still trying to figure out how they get more HP and torque out of a 1.8T than a 5.7 V8 got 20 years ago, although I dont believe the 1.8T would be happy pulling my 6000 lb crew cab around.
 
Messages
373
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Hmm I don’t think that’s the case if anything people are probably less apt to change out a blown engine and would rather punt the car and get something new. Seems like engines are still winning the longevity battle with transmissions by and large.
 
Messages
11,212
Location
USA
Probably mostly the DI, especially when combined with a turbo. The TGDI engines are the worst. And yes, likely the cheapening too, along with gutting R&D., rushing to get something into production, etc.

The Quad 4 had widespread timing chain failures 30 years ago, and when timing belts were more common, people didn't always change them, and the belt broke, usually destroying the engine unless you were lucky enough to have a non-interference engine.

Pushrod engines have very short timing chains, if they even have one. Nothing like the scary chains you see on the Passat W8, for example.

In the northeast and midwest, the car will rust before engine problems happen, anyway.

To an extent I would say yes. Cooling systems have gotten much better and head gasket failures are no where near as common as they were before. At the same time engines have gotten far more complex and the designs seemed to have placed a heavy demand on engine oils. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily more oil related failures were seeing today or if it’s just poorly engineered components.

I thought that only happened on Subarus, and some older iron block/alum head engines (dissimilar metals expanding at different rates)

blame the 7,500 - 10k oil change intervals..
or forgetting them when a car goes off warranty.

also disagree with this one
Honda had a 7500-mile OCI in the 90s, possibly even longer, on SG/SH oil, and oil filter every other OCI, still very few if any oil-related failures
In the 2000s, just before they started using the minder, they increased it to 10k, and again the filter only every other OCI (which would make it 20k) on SJ oil
 

celicaxx

Thread starter
Messages
110
Location
Connecticut
Manufacturers recommended 7,500-mile oil-change intervals long before celicaxx started working on cars.
Interestingly my 1984 Celica Supra had 6000-8000 mile oil change intervals listed in the manual, except severe use was 3000-4000. But one weird thing Toyota did specifically with the 5MGE engine was spec a large filter, something like a Ford big block filter, in the 1980s, then later on switched to the tiny 4 cylinder Camry filters and a 3K OCI without telling anyone. On one of mine I had oil pressure issues using the smaller Camry sized filters.
 
Messages
371
Location
WA
Manufacturers recommended 7,500-mile oil-change intervals long before celicaxx started working on cars.

maybe so, but most operators didn't take that number seriously when it was first introduced after 1990. Too good to be true is TGTBT.
Getting buyers to consider a vehicle 'done' at 100k is what the manufacturers wanted & needed. Now they have it.
 
Messages
371
Location
WA
Probably mostly the DI, especially when combined with a turbo. The TGDI engines are the worst. And yes, likely the cheapening too, along with gutting R&D., rushing to get something into production, etc.

The Quad 4 had widespread timing chain failures 30 years ago, and when timing belts were more common, people didn't always change them, and the belt broke, usually destroying the engine unless you were lucky enough to have a non-interference engine.

Pushrod engines have very short timing chains, if they even have one. Nothing like the scary chains you see on the Passat W8, for example.

In the northeast and midwest, the car will rust before engine problems happen, anyway.



I thought that only happened on Subarus, and some older iron block/alum head engines (dissimilar metals expanding at different rates)



also disagree with this one
Honda had a 7500-mile OCI in the 90s, possibly even longer, on SG/SH oil, and oil filter every other OCI, still very few if any oil-related failures
In the 2000s, just before they started using the minder, they increased it to 10k, and again the filter only every other OCI (which would make it 20k) on SJ oil
Honda also is known for blocked oil return ports behind the oil control assemblies in the pistons. Unblock those & oil use falls.
The return holes get blocked by burnt oil deposits, from the 7.5 k oil change intervals. Guess they are trying to save some oil at the expense
of engine longevity.
 
Messages
11,212
Location
USA
Honda also is known for blocked oil return ports behind the oil control assemblies in the pistons. Unblock those & oil use falls.
The return holes get blocked by burnt oil deposits, from the 7.5 k oil change intervals. Guess they are trying to save some oil at the expense
of engine longevity.

I've never heard of this before. The oil control blockage is probably less common than timing belt failure, or the car will rust before the engine is old enough to see any blockage.
 

celicaxx

Thread starter
Messages
110
Location
Connecticut
maybe so, but most operators didn't take that number seriously when it was first introduced after 1990. Too good to be true is TGTBT.
Getting buyers to consider a vehicle 'done' at 100k is what the manufacturers wanted & needed. Now they have it.
My mother who was not even a "car person" always wanted 3K oil changes and that was always the number stressed to me as a teenager. She usually sprang for synthetic oil, too. She took her 1989 Taurus to 285K miles by 1996 or so when we were kids, with Mobil 1 for all oil changes. It was gonna blow its second transmission, though, thus why it was traded in. Engine ran great, though.

With her current Five Hundred she doesn't drive nearly as much, and we only end up with about 10-12K per year for miles, and average out at a twice a year oil change at roughly 5000 miles based on an OLM. She said "it feels like you never change the oil." She doesn't realize how little she drives now.
 

celicaxx

Thread starter
Messages
110
Location
Connecticut
I've never heard of this before. The oil control blockage is probably less common than timing belt failure, or the car will rust before the engine is old enough to see any blockage.
Newer Toyotas are having that happen, on ZZ and the 2AZFE engines.


Sludged up rings there. While of course it's due in part to design flaw, I do wonder if negligence based on false impressions of magic reliability/ignorance, and longer factory OCIs people take more seriously due to magic synthetic oil are at least in part to blame.
 
Messages
439
Location
KY, USA
Honda had a 7500-mile OCI in the 90s, possibly even longer, on SG/SH oil, and oil filter every other OCI, still very few if any oil-related failures
In the 2000s, just before they started using the minder, they increased it to 10k, and again the filter only every other OCI (which would make it 20k) on SJ oil

When my dad bought a new Mercury in 1968 Ford recommended a 6K mile OCI. I bought a new Buick in 1977 and GM had a recommended 7500 mile OCI then.
 
Messages
18,446
Location
Michigan
I don’t think it’s the oil really, I think it’s people either forgetting or not caring about changing the oil and letting it run low.

Yep, like the poor 17 Cruze I saw at the dealership getting an oil change for the Equinox. Lady went almost 30k without an oil change... :-O

It’s not the cars, it’s the way most folks care for them......
 
Messages
73
Location
Eastern PA.
Newer Toyotas are having that happen, on ZZ and the 2AZFE engines.


Sludged up rings there. While of course it's due in part to design flaw, I do wonder if negligence based on false impressions of magic reliability/ignorance, and longer factory OCIs people take more seriously due to magic synthetic oil are at least in part to blame.
Toyota/Scion stipulated 5k max OCI on the 2AZFE for any oil type or vehicle use on my '14 Scion XB. The piston oiling holes are a design defect but doing more than 5k OCI on that engine likely shortens the mileage onset of rapid oil use.
 
Top