Why Do Older Cars Burn Oil? (11 Reasons Why)

The simple explanation for why old autos burn oil is that particular motor oil has gotten into a place it wasn’t intended to.

In addition, the oil has consequently been exposed to extremely high temperatures, which has caused it to burn. And you should be alarmed, indeed.

An oil-burning automobile is a significant issue that requires immediate treatment. That’s why join me in discovering more about it!

Why Do Older Cars Burn Oil?

1. Broken PVC Valve

Your vehicle’s Positive Crankcase Ventilation valve, or the PCV valve, as it is officially known, performs the crucial job of relieving engine pressure from combustion gases.

In addition, the pressure buildup may force oil into the cylinders or the blow seals if this crucial auto component is destroyed.

Resulting in your vehicle burning an unnecessary amount of oil.

2. Engine Oil Leakage

You may not notice a little engine oil leak until you use a dipstick to monitor your oil use. However, your engine may be losing oil if your engine oil level is somewhat lower than usual.

Of course, that oil may collect and burn on old metal auto parts. You’ll require expert engine leak restoration in this situation, along with an oil top-up.

3. Malfunctioning Piston Rings

Pistons are kept lubricated by oil so they can rise and fall. Typically, piston rings keep the oil within the crankcase or the oil control rings.

But if the piston rings are damaged (i.e., jammed, worn out, cracked), the oil may enter your vehicle’s engine combustion chamber and burn.

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4. Head Gasket Leak

Other seals include head gaskets. In this instance, “oil galleries” between the engine block and the cylinder head serve to contain your vehicle’s engine oil.

So long as the gaskets don’t leak, the oil won’t be able to enter the engine and burn.

5. Worn-Out Seals

If the valve cover gasket or crankshaft seals are damaged or worn out, your car will probably be dripping oil. When it occurs, your engine will start to lose oil while you’re driving.

That said, it implies that you must regularly top off the engine oil to prevent engine damage.

Get any oil-leaking seals or gaskets repaired as soon as possible. In most cases, it’s a relatively reasonably priced procedure that will save you a lot of money.

6. Poor Oil Quality

Poor Oil Quality

Your oil will begin to burn if you use the wrong oil in the engine or if it is too old and has gathered a lot of grit and debris.

More significantly, the oil’s state will prevent it from adequately lubricating the engine’s parts. As a result, the engine will have to use more oil.

Therefore, change your engine oil if it is black or dark brown as soon as possible. It’s a simple DIY project. You need new oil, an oil filter, an oil drain pan, auto ramps, a wrench, and around 20 minutes.

7. High Oil Pressure

High oil pressure causes excessive volumes of oil to flow through the engine. This oil will probably drop to the cylinders and burn up there.

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Further, this excessive oil pressure can result from an incorrect setting on the car’s main computer. Overfilling the oil pan when in an oil change is a similar issue.

8. Very Old-Engine

Your engine will perform optimally throughout the first five years of its lifespan. Because its parts are still young and robust, these are the years that your engine will use the lowest amount of oil.

However, when enough miles have been put on the engine, the different gaskets and seals will start to wear out and leak in small amounts. Therefore, it implies that the engine will basically use oil more quickly.

Additionally, older cars have tighter tolerances where parts link, which can enable oil to enter places where it’s not able to in more recent models.

9. The Use Of Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil typically provides superior engine lubrication than regular oils. However, synthetic oils have unique flow characteristics because they are made differently from natural oils.

So, synthetic oil can occasionally fit through smaller gaps than regular oil.

Synthetic oil can frequently be the reason for excessive oil consumption and a low oil level if you own an older engine or gaskets and seals that are beginning to fail.

Therefore, any little leaks can frequently be stopped by switching to standard oil.

10. Circuit Problems

If the circuit is broken, oil loss without smoke or leaks is possible. It will happen if the multiple electrical systems in the car fail to transport engine oil to its various destinations.

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So, if this is the case, the pressure would be lost in your vehicle’s oil pump, engine parts, and different parts of your car.

11. Tiny Holes

Without any smoke or apparent leaks, an engine can burn oil. It occurs when a little crack in an oil seal prevents enough pressure from leaving, preventing your car from exhibiting apparent leaks.

However, older vehicles are more likely to have these tiny holes, especially if they have external damage that is difficult to detect.

To know more, you can also read our posts on why your engine is vibrating at low RPM, why your traction control light is on, and why motor oil is so expensive.


Overall, it’s essential to be aware of how your car could lose oil. After noticing these warning signs, it is best to have your vehicle evaluated immediately.

More serious problems could arise due to the sudden decline in oil levels. Therefore, keep an eye on your oil level gauge and pull over for an inspection if it drops below the required level.

If you can’t get your automobile looked at immediately, check your oil level and engine temperature often.

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