Why is my Car Burning Oil?

car burning oilWhen you’re buying a used car, there a lot of things to check over to make sure you’re getting a quality vehicle.  There are some easy things to check like how faded the paint is and if there are any rips in upholstery.  But there are some more difficult things to check as well that can tell you a lot about the car you’re thinking of purchasing.

One of the things you can look at is the condition of the tires.  Checking for odd wear patterns like a tire that is bald on the inside but has plenty of tread on the outside can indicate a poor alignment or bent suspension components that means the car has been in an accident.  Another thing to look at is the underside of the car.  If it is covered in grease and road grime it can indicate an oil leak that has been allowed to continue rather than be fixed.  This may indicate that regular maintenance was neglected on that vehicle and there may be more problems lurking under the hood.

The condition of a motor and transmission can be difficult to diagnose since any problems wouldn’t be visible from the outside.  A good test drive can often give you a good idea of the condition of both.  While you’re driving listen for knocking, ticking or tapping from the motor and make sure the transmission shifts smoothly.

The other thing to check for on an older car is if the car is burning oil.  If you own a car that is burning oil, you can often tell by regularly checking the engine oil level and notice it dropping steadily without any external leaks.  If you’re looking at buying a car, you can only check for it burning oil by watching the exhaust gas for signs of burnt oil.  If an engine is burning oil, it is most often noticeable when starting the car while the engine is cold or when quickly accelerating from a stop.  If the car is burning oil you’ll notice some blue smoke from the exhaust pipe either when starting the motor, or accelerating from a stop.

A car may be burning oil for a few different reasons.  The two most common are because it is bypassing the piston rings, or leaking past the valve seals.  Your piston rings seal the combustion gases inside your engine’s cylinder so your engine will make the maximum power, but they also seal the engine oil out of the combustion chamber.  If your engine’s piston rings are worn out from high mileage or poor maintenance they can allow small amounts of oil past to be burnt during the combustion process.  This produces the blue smoke in your exhaust during acceleration.

Engine oil also circulates around the valves in your engine’s head.  There are seals around each valve to keep the oil from leaking into the combustion chamber.  These seals can wear out from high mileage, from low oil levels or they can simply dry out and crack if your car isn’t driven often.  If your valve seals are bad they can allow oil to seep past them while your engine is off allowing the oil to pool on the piston.  When you start your car you’ll notice the same blue cloud of burnt oil from the exhaust as the pooled oil burns off the top of the piston.

If you discover your car has worn valve seals and is burning oil upon start up, you may consider the option of having your valve seals replaced.  Unfortunately this can be a very expensive maintenance item as it usually requires removal of your engine’s head and careful work done on all the valves.  The better option is to use BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak to recondition and revitalize your valve seals to stop the leak and keep your car from burning oil.

BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak

For more information about BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak, check out our product information page here: Oil Stop Leak

You can also purchase BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak at any of our partnering local auto parts stores like:

  • AutoZone
  • Advance Auto Parts
  • Bennett Auto Supply
  • CarQuest Auto parts
  • NAPA Auto Parts
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts
  • Pep Boys
  • Fast Track
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Specialists
  • S&E Quick Lube Distributer
  • DYK Automotive


Pictures Provided By:

car_burning_oil.jpg – by Stefan Redel – Licensed By ThinkStock – Original Link


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19 responses to “Why is my Car Burning Oil?

  1. I am just trying to find out… I bought the oil stop leak blue devil product, and i see on the back that it say I need to run the engine 1-2 hours to seal the leak.. but I am trying to find out do i need to let it idal for that time, do I need to be driving for that time, do I need to do both, or do it matter which 1..

    1. Antwan-

      In order for the product to seal, you will be driving the vehicle, not just letting it idle. Typically, you should start to see results after about 100-200 miles of driving.

      Thank you!


  2. Dear sir,
    I using Chevrolet spark model. But last 3 month i notice to my oil leval very low aome time and some times not any effect. My exhaust pipe not any blue smock but white small amount smock with burning oil small. So pls blue devil product help to stop burning oil problem.

    1. Anirudhsinh-

      Thank you for asking about your Chevrolet. White smoke would indicate water/coolant burning and blue smoke would indicate oil burning. If you are noticing a loss of oil, you would be a great candidate for the BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak, however, you may have multiple leaks, based on your description. We recommend taking the vehicle to a certified ASE mechanic for a proper diagnosis.

      Thank you!


  3. My RAV4 2008 burning 1quart after 250 miles, my mechanic said it’s piston problem. Can I use your product as well???

    1. Khanh-

      Thank you for asking about your Toyota Rav4. The BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak is only intended for the rubber seals/gaskets in the system. Unfortunately, we do not manufacture a product intended to stop piston leaks. A hard part repair may be your best option.

      Thank you!


  4. The smoke from my exhaust is more white than blue, however I am losing oil and having to top up every few weeks.
    Also a burning smell.Smoke intermittent.Usually none but suddenly some.It disappears after a short time.
    Smoke when I start, occasionally while driving.
    I failed emissions test at M O T but put on petrol additive to clean the engine and it passed.
    Will your product help?.
    My car is 2003 smart for 2.High mileage.

    1. Joseph-

      White smoke coming from the exhaust is sign of water/antifreeze burning in the exhaust system. Do you happen to know where the oil leak is coming from? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!


  5. Hi Madhu here,
    Issue: Oil burning, every time when I come from long ride I suppose to refill engine oil.
    I had brought santro xing 2006 model used car before 4 months back and I have refilled engine oil 3 time.
    No leakage
    No blue gas
    Changed oil filter and no leakage on the same
    Can please suggest me how do I make sure wat exactly the problem it is.
    Do I need to go for engine rebore?

    1. Madhu,

      Thanks for your question about your car. If you are sure that the engine isn’t leaking any oil externally then it is possible that oil is getting into the combustion chamber and being burnt. You can try checking your spark plugs for black soot that would be left behind by burning oil. Make sure you check all the plugs as only 1 or 2 cylinders may have oil leaking into them. Oil gets into the combustion chamber either by leaking past the valve seals or by sneaking past a worn piston ring. If the oil is leaking past the valve seals you usually get a small puff of smoke right when you start your engine or on acceleration. If it’s leaking past the piston rings you often lose the most oil while driving at higher engine RPM. If you’ve got bad valve seals you can replace the head on your engine, or rebuild your old one. If you’ve got bad piston rings you often will also find low compression in those cylinders and will need to rebore your engine and install new piston rings.

      Thanks again for your question!
      -BD Auto Pro

  6. I own a 2012 Toyota Tacoma – 4.0

    I NEVER had an oil consumption or coolant consumption issue UNTIL a local Toyota dealership worked on this engine; The work done was to removed the heads and replace head gskts.
    I have taken my vehicle back to several dealerships where several diagnostics have been performed; According to Toyota Canada’s Oil consumption test, my engine IS CONSUMING EXCESSIVE ALMOUNTS OF OIL. Amost 6 ltrs between oil changes.

    I had the oil and coolant tested through Finning; Coolant shows high levels of Silicate additive; the oil analysis show higher than normal sodium levels…

    The oil consumption has be difficult to detect the problem. NO EXTERNAL LEAKS But my engine IS CONSUMING OIL and Coolant.

    Are you aware of a dye test which I can add to my oil … when burned in the combustion chamber…will it show up at the tail pipe. Same with the coolant…if a dye was added

    1. Bernie-

      Thank you for asking about your Toyota Tacoma. Based on your description, the oil consumption your vehicle is experiencing could be a result of blown/leaking head gaskets. We recommend taking the vehicle back to the shop that did the work originally for a diagnosis. Are you experiencing a misfire reading or a rough idle or anything like that? A Block Dye test could be used to test for combustion/exhaust getting back into the cooling system. It’s possible that the heads weren’t machined or smoothed properly and water and/or oil are getting back into the cylinders. Feel free to contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 with any other questions.

      Thank you!


      Thank you!


  7. Hello!

    I own a 2003 Honda Accord Coupe, 4CYL Manual
    I just topped off my oil about 2 weeks ago because it was at the half mark on the dip stick and it’s already getting towards the half mark again, I don’t know what’s consuming my oil! As of right now I see white smoke from exhaust mainly because it’s winter but I can’t tell if it’s actually the exhaust or the steam making smoke. I don’t smell any burning or see any leaks. I’m a DIY kind of guy and I do all repairs myself unless it’s a major repair. I need some advice!

    1. Edwin,

      Thanks for your question about your 2003 Accord. It isn’t unusual for some cars to use up to 2 quarts of oil in between oil changes, even if the engine is running perfectly. The oil may be seeping past the valve seals or piston rings and burning or it may be leaking in a hard to see area of the engine. If you can’t see any leaks you could try checking the compression of each cylinder without adding any oil to see if the piston rings sealing properly. Apart from that, it may just be worth checking your oil every 1000 miles to make sure it’s at a safe level.

      Thanks again for your question!
      -BD Auto Pro

      1. I ended up cleaning my pcv valve and my oil stopped disappearing but now once again it’s kind of gone, refilled it and it hasn’t drained ever since.. although my coolant reservoir doesn’t look green, more of an oily coolant! And the top of my oil cap had a very light white coating, so light that it was only visible as white by me scraping it with my nail and seeing the color. Could this be a head gasket leak? Or could my oil still be seeping into pistons or something? I do have mad carbon buildup and attempted seafoam (trash) and royal purple.. it’s still running through my fuel but just waiting for results lol but about the head gasket.. does it sound like symptoms? I don’t notice any difference in exhaust smoke just extremely random oil consumption. I can fill it, it stays normal for a good 2-3 weeks and boom it’s about at the half mark, fill it and it’s good.

        1. Edwin-

          Based on your description, it does not sound like you have any of the tell-tale signs of a blown head gasket. You may want to have a block-dye test performed to check for combustion/exhaust gases being present in the cooling system, which would be a symptom of a blown head gasket. Other than that, it could be a head gasket leaking oil, which may be why it is consuming oil and getting back into the cylinders.

          Hope this helps!


  8. Hi,
    I read above questions and answers about oil burning but i might have different situation so wanted to ask. I noticed that engine in my 2007 Camry LE 4cyl is burning oil a lot since in between oil change (i usually do within 3,000 miles), oil is completely gone, sometimes it does not even show in dip stick. Engine has been running good, no issues, no blue smoke, no oil leak under the car.
    However, this morning i added 1 quart oil and coolant as it was also low then run the car engine temperature went high. Heat did not work either. So, is there more than 1 thing going on and interconnected here?
    can any of your product help?
    I appreciate any advice.

    1. Mike-

      Thank you for asking about your Toyota Camry. Based on your description, we recommend having the vehicle diagnosed by a certified ASE mechanic. It would be tough to say whether or not the oil and coolant loss are related, although that is definitely a possibility. Feel free to contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 with any other questions.

      Thank you!


      1. It almost sounds like a head gasket leak, they both might be leaking together and burning together. Normally exhaust smoke isn’t something everyone pays attention to. Fill them both up to spec and keep an eye on the sides of your engine and your exhaust smoke.

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