What does it mean when my car is burning oil?

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3 min read

Nothing says: “hey, something might be up with my car…” like blue-tinted smoke pumping out of the exhaust. Spot this tell-tale smoke signal and it’s usually a sign that your car is burning oil.

Burning oil can be caused by a few mechanical breakdowns that range from moderate to super pricey. It presents a real safety risk, so if you suspect that there’s a problem, you want to get it looked at ASAP.

Blue smoke is one indicator of the problem, but sometimes just a small amount of oil is burning off, so the problem might not be so obvious. If your oil light is lighting up on the dashboard, but there’s no sign of a leak, then there’s a good chance your vehicle is burning oil—and it’s time to get your vehicle checked.

why is my car burning oil?

the PCV system is clogged

Inside your engine is a component to control dangerous gas emissions. The positive crankcase ventilation system (PCV) channels gasses back into the combustion chamber to be burned off without harming you or your vehicle. If the PCV system gets clogged up, oil can get sucked into the engine instead of gas. The solution? Could be as simple as fitting a replacement valve, which you can do yourself.

Cost: $10

worn out piston rings

The piston rings prevent gas from escaping the engine by forming a seal against the cylinder walls. If the piston rings (or cylinder walls) get too worn down then gas can get through to the combustion chamber and start burning off. If this is the root cause of the problem then you can face a hefty bill for both parts and labor.

Cost: $1,500-$2,500

faulty valve stem seal

Valve stem seals regulate oil consumption and lubrication of the valves. When they get worn out oil can leak into the combustion chamber. The part doesn’t cost too much (we’re talking less than 100 bucks) but unless you’re confident with engine repairs, you’ll probably need to get a mechanic to do the work.

Cost: $1000-$1800

Most of the time, the cause for a car to start burning oil is old, worn-out parts. So if you drive a newer vehicle it’s less likely you’ll encounter the problem. But if you have an old car—especially one that’s racked up over 100k miles—then the odds get much higher.

Burning oil repairs can be pretty costly and if you’ve just discovered that your car has a problem, you may be facing that age old question: should I fix or sell my car? If you decide it’s retirement time for your old ride, you can sell your car to Peddle and put the cash towards a new one. We’ll make a cash offer for any car, and we don’t care about repairs—honest.

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