Hooniverse Asks: Should a New Engine Use Oil?

You may on occasion ask yourself just exactly how much wood can a woodchuck chuck, and every once in a while I bet you question who it was that put the bomp in the bomp-shu-bomp, shu-bomp, but when was the last time you asked yourself just how much oil should my brand new engine use?
In discussion with a couple of my friends it has come to light that a number of their newish rides require topping up the oil, something I thought only happened with old cars whose owners hoped that Marvel Miracle Oil really is miraculous. I can attest to the new-car needing oil issue myself as the wife once had a 2001 Jetta that used  quart about every 1,000 miles. That was an alarming rate to us, but seemed perfectly normal to the VW tech at the dealer, who gave us the standard line that they all do that.
Since dumping the Jetta, we have moved on to cars that seem to be tea-totalers, never using a drop between changes, and that has made me wonder if it’s a manufacturer thing. In my mind, a new engine shouldn’t use oil. Hell, I have 135,000 miles on my daily driver, and it still doesn’t use any oil. And yet, my buddies have been requiring a quart here or there, and again, the dealer says it’s no big deal. What do you think, is it a big deal? Do you think it’s okay for a newish engine to use any significant amount of oil? More importantly, is it okay for the maker and dealer to claim that’s not a problem?
Image: Breakerlink.com

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  1. Frank T. Cat Avatar
    Frank T. Cat

    My dad’s 2012 Honda Accord with the 4cyl used roughly a quart every oil change (~8k miles) from the moment he bought it, whereas my worn out and abused old SAAB doesn’t use a drop between oil changes.
    We queried the master tech at the Honda dealership, and the explanation he gave use was the low-friction, low-viscosity synthetic oil, and lack of a second oil control ring to lower rotational friction and thereby increase gas mileage. As a result, oil consumption goes up.
    Your Jetta used oil because VW couldn’t figure out how to make valve stem seals that actually… sealed. My friend’s 2001 Jetta burned so much oil at 120k miles it’d plug the catalytic converter in less than 5k miles.

    1. salguod Avatar

      My boss just got new rings put in his 2013 4 cylinder Accord under warranty for excessive oil consumption. I think he was around a quart per 900 miles.

      1. Frank T. Cat Avatar
        Frank T. Cat

        Apparently when my dad traded the car in at ~50k miles, it was using a quart every 1,500 miles.

  2. Kiefmo Avatar

    Personally, I don’t think new engines should require oil, period. I mean, think about it — with the tolerances and surface treatments that can be created using modern machining and finishing methods, why does an engine need oil at all?
    Honestly, it has to be big oil that’s keeping this sham going, in collusion with automakers. Big oil was worried, seeing as how automakers were being forced by that socialist Obummer administration to make their vehicles ever more efficient. Then Ford, using advanced machining and surface treatment techniques, created the first engine that didn’t require oil. Big oil got wind of it and slipped Ford untold billions under the table to throw away all of the research they’d done on the oil-less engine.
    Why do you think Ford was the only American automaker to survive the big market downturn that required GM and Chryco to be rescued by outside forces? Wake up, sheeple!

    1. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

      View post on imgur.com

      Glad to see you’ve come over to the enlightened side of this argument. I mean if I can make an egg in a $15 pan and not have it stick, imagine what can be done with a $30k car. And why stop with the motor? It’s ridiculous that anything can stick to paint too.

    2. P161911 Avatar

      Alex Jones is that you?!
      I work with a guy that never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t believe. I think he is about a half step away from believing that the Lizard People are in charge. Lunch with him can be….”interesting”.

      1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

        Ha! I work with a guy like that. Big Pharma, Big Oil, Chemtrails, you name it. I should point out to him another coworker’s Freemason ring, and see what happens.

      2. Tanshanomi Avatar

        The Lizard People are in charge. They live under the airport in Denver.

    3. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      You don’t need oil. Just treat your engine with Slick 50.

    4. Kiefmo Avatar

      I’m just here to pout that we seem to be so reticent with the ^ since we’ve lost the thumbs-up. I sparked so many comments, yet have zero ^. That wouldn’t have been the case in the days of the thumbs. What’s happened to us?

      1. theskitter Avatar

        Possibly also the fact that one needs to be signed in, and has anyone found a way that does not make one re-sign in every day? Maybe all the thumbs came from unsigned people, or gnomes.

        1. Kiefmo Avatar

          I dunno — I remain signed in. Browser settings might have something to do with it. Or aliens.

    5. William Robinson Avatar
      William Robinson

      Goes well with that carberator replacement that uses water and can achieve 100k mpg. Big oil killed that too

  3. Manic_King Avatar

    During the last 7 years I’ve had only 2 cars, both with 160 hp VAG 1,8 T(F)SI, both from new, first one didn’t use any additional oil, second one has used 1L/20k km or so. Not too bad. I know owner of Skoda Superb with the same engine and it takes approx. the same amount. VAG dealerships who say that everything is normal even give these nice Velcro-ed pouches for Castrol oil they sell for fill-ups.

    1. Tiller188 Avatar

      I dunno…when your car has a special fitted pouch, with its logo on it and everything, for a quart bottle of oil, I think it might have a[n] [oil-]drinking problem.

  4. buzzboy7 Avatar

    I don’t see how an engine could burn ZERO oil. At least a little should be lost through the PCV system right?
    My S52 will burn either 0qts between changes or 1qt every 1000miles. Nowhere between and I don’t know which it’s going to be.

  5. Maymar Avatar

    I want to pick up a cheap RX8 some day, so I’m on board with a bit of oil usage. I’d prefer it be zero, but if it happens, it happens?

  6. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

    My father in law has had a similar issue with his 2008(?) Passat. The dealer was similarly not very concerned. Unless it’s a rotary, I don’t think they should go through that much oil.

  7. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    When I drop the oil out of my Audi, I leave the sump plug in and drain it from the radiator instead.
    That’s normal, right?

  8. marmer Avatar

    What? Where does all this “not using oil” talk come from? April Fool’s Day? I put half a quart in about every other week in the Chrysler minivan, the Toyota Camry Wagon, and the Audi A4 Avant. Of course the car with the fewest miles is the Chrysler, which just turned over 200,000.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      At 150,000 miles, the Town Cow uses a quart every 2-3K miles. But I am expecting that consumption to drop once it’s fully broken in.

  9. CraigSu Avatar

    The Volvo 240 wagon doesn’t use any oil despite it having more miles than the Saab 9-3 and being 8 years older. The Saab started needing the oil topped off every month when I switched to synthetic so, at the recommendation of my new Saab mechanic, I switched to a synthetic blend and haven’t had to top off at all.

    1. Frank T. Cat Avatar
      Frank T. Cat

      My 240 leaks more oil than it uses.

  10. Matt Carhart Avatar
    Matt Carhart

    My old Mitsubishi Mirage never used a bit of oil in 200k miles. My wife’s CR-V uses about 1/2 qt. per 6K ( Never really bothered me due to the fact that most modern engines have a range of 1/2qt per 1000 miles as a metric). My old Sonoma used about a full qt per 5k. I will take little oil consumption over leaks any day of the week.

  11. sunbeammadd Avatar

    My VW Polo GTI (1.4 turbo) uses a lot of oil. Roughly a litre every 2000 km. But as my classics are all British I’m in the habit of checking the level daily anyway.

  12. CSM Avatar

    I consider any more than 1 qt consumption between oil changes excessive. Many owners behave as if their hoods are welded shut. As such, a car that consumes oil at a faster rate will undoubtably die prematurely.

  13. Tiller188 Avatar

    My WRX doesn’t seem to use any oil, which kind of surprises me, frankly (although it’s only about 40k miles young). On the other hand, I’ve always had the oil changed at the dealer (I know, I know…warranty’s up now, I should really start doing it myself, but I don’t think the neighbors in the apartment complex would appreciate that much…), and it always seems to come back somewhat overfilled.
    Lower-viscosity oils notwithstanding, I do feel like new engines shouldn’t be consuming appreciable amounts of oil. Topping up now and again isn’t a huge deal, but it feels like poor design (probably either in oil type or number/type of piston rings) for a new engine to burn significant amounts of oil as part of normal operation. I’d be interested to know what the engineering tradeoffs are that lead to this.

  14. salguod Avatar

    All manufacturers have a spec on what constitutes normal oil consumption. Most are around 1 quart per 1500 miles. Faster than that, you’ll get attention from the dealer, slower you’ll get nothing.

  15. gerberbaby Avatar

    Amsoil claims that other cheaper oils burn off some of the cheap making consumption higher. I dunno. My 5.3L from the general is 1q/1500 miles. I hear those engines are all over the board, which points to sloppy manufacturing/luck of the draw.

  16. Bob Avatar

    I work in the service department of a Volvo dealer. With oil change intervals (on the 2013+) going as long as 10,000 miles, it’s not uncommon to be a few quarts low. Sometimes, low enough to have the low oil light come on before the next oil change interval. Of course it’s my job to say, “They all do that”. Well duh. ten thousand miles?? Yea, it’s gonna be low.