Toyota 0W-20 in a 1997 Corolla (4A-FE engine)?

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The first gen Saturns had this same issue with plugging oil ring drainback leading to excessive consumption. The "magic green" Castrol of 20+ yrs ago was very helpful in mine.
 

KJH

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Oct 15, 2011
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The first gen Saturns had this same issue with plugging oil ring drainback leading to excessive consumption. The "magic green" Castrol of 20+ yrs ago was very helpful in mine.
Iirc those early Saturn engines did not have piston oil drain holes at all
 

j_sousa

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Feb 28, 2022
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Thank you all very much for your input!

I’ll follow your advice and stick with a fully synthetic 5W-30 oil, change every 6k-8k miles and call it a day.

As I currently do not drive that much that’ll mean I do one oil change per year. I guess that viscosity is also the best allrounder throughout that wide variety of temperature ranges.

I plan to keep driving the car for a couple years, so I’ll keep you guys posted if something major happens.
 
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Iirc those early Saturn engines did not have piston oil drain holes at all
Just a couple slots from the oil ring groove to the pin recess area. That's the kind of problem they probably didn't find in "normal" durability testing. I'd guess if they had Dexos quality oil back in the 90s would have been OK.
 

FZ1

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Hi,

the title kinda speaks for itself, I own a 1997 Toyota Corolla with the 1.6L 4A-FE engine.
These are very solid engines but oil consumption is a known issue, most likely due to the piston rings gumming up and oil not being able to flow back down through the very small drain holes behind the piston control ring.

The previous owner has been running 15W-40 mineral oil with an OCI of 12-15k miles and of course the engine has developed quite a thirst for oil - consuming roughly 1qt every 1500-2000 miles. My first course of action was switching over to fully synthetic 5W-30 which made consumption drop to just 1qt in my whole 8000mile OCI. The engine also starts much easier, runs very smooth both at idle and under load.

I believe piston ring cleanliness is crucial for these engines - to achieve that I see two measures:
a) thinner oil with high quality base oils - flows better (faster) through oil control rings and small holes behind them
b) modern oils relying less on ZDDP, Calcium and other additives that form ash when combusted

My aim is to maximize mpg and keep the piston ring zone clean without sacrificing engine life.
I really like the Toyota 0W-20 oil and would love to give it a try. The question is, how thin can I go without harming the other components.
Does anyone have any experience with running a xW-20 in 1990s Toyota Engines, especially the 4A-FE or 7A-FE ones?


Here's some more data about the car / use case:

car: 1997 Toyota Corolla
engine: 1.6L N/A 4A-FE
mileage: 110.000
oil consumption:
oil-weight from owners manual:
5W-30 (recommended), 10W-30, 15W-40 or 20W-50
temperature range: minimum10-20F in winter, maximum 85-95F in summer
driving style: very relaxed, fuel efficient. Engine rarely sees above 3500rpm.

You "fixed" the consumption problem. Stay with what's working. Running Chevron might clean it some.
 
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
5,593
Location
Paramount, California
Hi,

the title kinda speaks for itself, I own a 1997 Toyota Corolla with the 1.6L 4A-FE engine.
These are very solid engines but oil consumption is a known issue, most likely due to the piston rings gumming up and oil not being able to flow back down through the very small drain holes behind the piston control ring.

The previous owner has been running 15W-40 mineral oil with an OCI of 12-15k miles and of course the engine has developed quite a thirst for oil - consuming roughly 1qt every 1500-2000 miles. My first course of action was switching over to fully synthetic 5W-30 which made consumption drop to just 1qt in my whole 8000mile OCI. The engine also starts much easier, runs very smooth both at idle and under load.

I believe piston ring cleanliness is crucial for these engines - to achieve that I see two measures:
a) thinner oil with high quality base oils - flows better (faster) through oil control rings and small holes behind them
b) modern oils relying less on ZDDP, Calcium and other additives that form ash when combusted

My aim is to maximize mpg and keep the piston ring zone clean without sacrificing engine life.
I really like the Toyota 0W-20 oil and would love to give it a try. The question is, how thin can I go without harming the other components.
Does anyone have any experience with running a xW-20 in 1990s Toyota Engines, especially the 4A-FE or 7A-FE ones?


Here's some more data about the car / use case:

car: 1997 Toyota Corolla
engine: 1.6L N/A 4A-FE
mileage: 110.000
oil consumption:
oil-weight from owners manual:
5W-30 (recommended), 10W-30, 15W-40 or 20W-50
temperature range: minimum10-20F in winter, maximum 85-95F in summer
driving style: very relaxed, fuel efficient. Engine rarely sees above 3500rpm.
I used TGMO 0W-20 SN in a 1985 Corolla 4A-LC engine for several years with no problems. However, if the valve-stem oil seals are worn, you will see increased oil consumption with thinner oils, as the oil sucked by the valve stems is inversely proportional to viscosity squared.

That said, I also used Mobil Delvac 1300 Super 15W-40 CJ-4/SM in it for many years with no problems as well. That was before I replaced my valve-stem oil seals, and 15W-40 reduced the oil consumption by a factor of 2.5x over 5W-30.

So, either viscosity grade will protect against wear, but the oil consumption will differ.

Last but not least, you seem to have owned this car for a very short period and not have enough data to compare the oil consumption with 15W-40 vs. 5W-30. Typically, the dipsticks are nonlinear and the oil seems to be consumed less with a full oil sump.
 
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