Oil Consumption vs. Not doing Oil Changes

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Apr 10, 2022
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If a car is consuming oil some would think it's best to just add quarts as you go and never change the oil in full.
How high should the consumption be to consider this as an option and just do occasional filter changes? Or would you recommend it at all?
 
Good question! :unsure:

I suppose that your guess is as good as mine. I'd imagine that we could all come up with something different in regard of oil consumption and never actually doing an oil change. For example, Oh IDK, every 1000 miles?
I mean, I've heard of oil consumption issues every few hundred miles and it that case, I'd never change the oil and may just change the filter once per year...maybe twice? Or ditch the vehicle completely?

I once owned a 1984 Plymouth Turismo 2.2L 4 cylinder that went through quite a bit of oil and I had considered never changing the oil and just adding oil when needed. Ultimately I didn't do this and I still did OCI's every 3K-4K miles anyway. However, I did use the cheapest conventional oil I could find at that time. I was buying Havoline or store brand oil for .29-.69 cent/quart until I finally junked the car.

I don't remember exactly when this engine started blowing oil but it had a combination of blow-by and leaks. Toward the end of the 2.2L life with me ( I owned the car from '84-'01 ) I would start to add the used oil from the OCI from the Firebird in my signature in which I would change each summer at about 400-500 miles and save the oil in a clean jug as it was draining. And then I would use this oil for adding to the 2.2L. The 2.2L still outlasted the rest of the car.
 
If my car burned a qt. every 1-2 months, I would just add. Once a year or year & half I change in case stuff is collecting in the bottom of the pan. Change the filter as needed.

If it burned 1 qt. every 3 months, I change it before adding the 2nd qt. Assuming you change oil every 6 months (6-7K Miles) and
~5 qt. capacity. I change filter every oil change or every other time (12 months) if using a better filter.

Meanwhile, I would see if it's worth fixing the problem.
 
How is the oil being consumed? Is it leaking through the valve stem seals or turbo seals? That's probably not a big issue to the oil in the sump as long as the level doesn't get low.

Is the oil leaking out? Again not a major issue to the oil in the sump if kept topped up.

Is the oil passing the piston seals? Then we have to consider that fuel, oxygen and combustion products are also entering the crankcase and is aiding in ageing the oil faster.

In the last case, if I wanted to keep that engine for a considerable amount of time yet I would reduce the oci. And if we don't know how the oil dissappears, assume it's this.
 
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This question has been asked a 100 times and I think the consensus was to change the oil once in a while, rather than never changing it, or just changing the filter.

Maybe do a full oil change once a year (something like that) and do your filter changes at normal intervals. I imagine you’re burning a quart every 1,000 miles or more, and at 5,000 miles you’ve replenished 5-6 quarts and you figure...why change the oil at all? I think the answer is because you’re not getting all that old oil out, and you probably should do that once in a while.
 
So you own an oil burner, it's going somewhere or used somewhere as Jetronic commented.

My works 2006 Ford E250 delivery van with 220,000 miles was always brought to a local repair shop that changed the oil. Target time was 4,500 miles, but it saw 5,000 miles here and there. Synthetic blend/conventional was used. I would use it to go get stuff at Menard's/Home Depot here and there. The van had a horrendous lifter tick and would consume 2 qts PLUS during its 5,000 miles. As the maintenance guy at work along with 2 other titled dutys, I told shipping I was changing the oil now and took the control of the vans oil change maintenance. I did one change with Walmart full synthetic and decided to do a test, we are a $35 million a year company, we can afford buying Mobil 1 at Walmart and a Fram Ultra or Mobil 1 filter. A year+ later and about 5-6 oil changes, the tick was completely gone ( started reducing on the second oil change) and the van would consume about 1/2 of a qt. in 7,000 miles. Obviously we had carbon jammed ring lands, and the Mobil1 cleaned that out , so the rings could seal. We never had to watched the level after that. The van succumbed to catalytic converter theft, WHEN we posted it on Craigslist for sale, as we bought a new Ram Promaster van.

Nothing at work or home gets cheap oil or cheap grease, in fact our rotary screw air compressors where varnishing up with PAO, I went to a group 5 ester based oil and the varnish problem is gone and the moisture/water bleed valve maintenance that the manufacture said they need every other oil change has not been done for 5 years and still going strong on all 3 screws. Good/ quality oil that in some cases that exceed the application, can get gets you better results.
 
So you own an oil burner, it's going somewhere or used somewhere as Jetronic commented.

My works 2006 Ford E250 delivery van with 220,000 miles was always brought to a local repair shop that changed the oil. Target time was 4,500 miles, but it saw 5,000 miles here and there. Synthetic blend/conventional was used. I would use it to go get stuff at Menard's/Home Depot here and there. The van had a horrendous lifter tick and would consume 2 qts PLUS during its 5,000 miles. As the maintenance guy at work along with 2 other titled dutys, I told shipping I was changing the oil now and took the control of the vans oil change maintenance. I did one change with Walmart full synthetic and decided to do a test, we are a $35 million a year company, we can afford buying Mobil 1 at Walmart and a Fram Ultra or Mobil 1 filter. A year+ later and about 5-6 oil changes, the tick was completely gone ( started reducing on the second oil change) and the van would consume about 1/2 of a qt. in 7,000 miles. Obviously we had carbon jammed ring lands, and the Mobil1 cleaned that out , so the rings could seal. We never had to watched the level after that. The van succumbed to catalytic converter theft, WHEN we posted it on Craigslist for sale, as we bought a new Ram Promaster van.

Nothing at work or home gets cheap oil or cheap grease, in fact our rotary screw air compressors where varnishing up with PAO, I went to a group 5 ester based oil and the varnish problem is gone and the moisture/water bleed valve maintenance that the manufacture said they need every other oil change has not been done for 5 years and still going strong on all 3 screws. Good/ quality oil that in some cases that exceed the application, can get gets you better results.
So switching from syn blend/conventional oil to Mobil 1 stopped the noise and oil consumption? Sounds like you may have discovered some neglect and proved that proper preventative maintenance with quality oil is key to longevity. I have a personal distrust when depending on shops for changing oil/filter. Too easy to just top off the oil, wipe the existing filter clean, and charge for the oil change. I’ve had that happen once. Drove straight back to the shop. Demanded to see the filter that they use/install. Shop owner walks out with a white Wix filter and said “this is all we use”. The filter that I installed on my car was yellow (Volvo mid-nineties) and was plainly in view. I asked the shop owner to explain that. He said “ oh, that’s just an oversight “. I said give me my money back or we will see if the police thinks it’s an “oversight”. He handed my check back.
 
When an engine burns oil, does it take the contaminants with it or does the remaining oil retain an ever greater proportion of the bad stuff?
Not changing the oil means the engine never has very clean and fresh oil in it. Is this when the bulk of the cleaning takes place or can semi used oil provide enough protection?

Some oil is always left in the engine during an oil change.

I haven't completely changed the oil or filter in my van for 2.5 years. I siphon out a quart or two once in a while and refill. I'll do a proper oil change this fall send in the oil for analysis.
 
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