How Much Oil Should A Car Burn Between Oil Changes?

How Much Oil Should A Car Burn Between Oil Changes

Do you know how much oil should a car burn between oil changes or how much engine oil consumption is normal? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

Keeping the oil topped up in your car and making sure that you are getting an oil change regularly is one of those jobs that we all should be paying more attention to. You’ve probably wondered: exactly how much oil should a car burn between oil changes?

Each vehicle consumes oil at a different rate, but you generally shouldn’t lose more than a quart between oil changes.

If you’ve got any questions about how much motor oil your car’s engine should be consuming, then you’ve come to the right place. Read on to discover all that you need to know!

What Amount Of Oil Can Be Used Up Before You Need An Oil Change?

It can be hard to know exactly how much oil has been used up by your engine over time, but you do need to make sure that you are getting a full oil change before too much has been lost.

You can top up your oil between changes but, at some point, you need to be replacing the entire quantity that’s inside your vehicle.

You should be checking whether your oil needs topping up around every 1000 miles, and you don’t want to let your engine lose more than a quart of oil before the next oil change.

If you have lost more than a quart of oil, then whatever remains will not be fresh enough to allow your engine to run smoothly, even if some fresh oil is added on top.

It is important to note that there is a big difference between the oil that is naturally consumed by your vehicle through the normal functioning of the engine, and oil actually burning oil inside the combustion chamber.

Any oil leaking into the combustion chamber of your car can be a serious problem.

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When Do You Need To Get An Oil Change?

Knowing how long you can wait for an oil change is a surprisingly complicated business. Some vehicles will need their oil changed every three months, or every 3000 miles, while others will go for 15000 miles or more before needing a change.

Most vehicles need to get an oil change around every 5000 miles, but the best way to identify how long you should be waiting is to check your manufacturer’s recommendations.

These will be different for every car, and they will generally be given as the number of miles that you can travel before you should change your oil.

The recommended time or mileage is not always a standard number for all vehicles of that type, however. The time you can go between oil changes will depend on many factors, including:

  • The age of your vehicle. Vehicles that are older than ten years often need to have an oil change every 3000 miles.
  • The type of motor oil that you use. Many more expensive types of motor oil, like fully synthetic options, will last longer before they need to be changed.
  • The conditions that you drive in. Driving mostly short trips, carrying heavy loads, excessive braking, and driving in dusty or hot climates will all increase how often you need to change your oil.

All of these things can affect how much oil your car loses over time. Older vehicles need more frequent oil changes, as do vehicles that are driven under “stressful” conditions, and certain types of motor oil last longer than others.

Read also >> Is Replacing Engine Oil The Same As An Oil Change?

What Are The Risks Of Not Having Enough Motor Oil?

Monitoring your oil levels and scheduling oil changes can seem like a chore, but it is really essential for keeping your car running smoothly, and not having enough can be a huge risk.

Motor oil is there to improve the performance of your engine by lubricating the components, releasing heat, filtering out impurities, and enhancing engine sealing.

If you lose too much oil before you top up or have a change, then it can cause serious, irreparable damage.

Some of the most significant impacts of not having the right amount of fresh oil include:

  • Reduced lubrication, causing excess heat, wear, and slower performance
  • Internal damage to engine components
  • Increased harmful emissions
  • Reducing gas mileage
  • Increased likelihood of engine failure due to wear and debris

At the end of the day, running an engine without enough oil is incredibly dangerous, so you need to make sure that you are keeping it topped up and getting a full change regularly.

Why Does Motor Oil Get Consumed Over Time?

The oil in your engine is not supposed to actually leak out, or physically burn away, so why does it get consumed over time?

Well, as the oil in your engine is worked into all of the moving parts, some will naturally be lost over time. It also dries out as it gets older. On top of this, the oil will pick up dirt and impurities, making it less effective and reducing lubrication.

Every vehicle will consume a small amount of oil while it is running normally, but if you are losing significant amounts then you might have a more pressing issue that needs to be addressed.

How Do You Know If Your Car Is Burning Too Much Oil?

What is considered excessive oil consumption will be different for each individual car, so you should check with your manufacturer if you want to be sure what is normal for your vehicle.

There are a few signs that you can look out for, however, which indicate that your car may be consuming more oil than is normal. Some of them are more significant problems than others.

  • Blue smoke. Blue or grey smoke from the tailpipe often means that oil has entered the combustion chamber and has started to burn. This should be addressed as soon as possible.
  • Low compression. You can carry out a compression test to determine the condition of your components. It should be over 100 psi per cylinder.
  • High carbon formation. Large amounts of oil deposits on the spark plugs or at the bottom of the valves mean that oil is burning away.

What Causes Excessive Oil Consumption?

If you are losing more oil than you are expecting, or more than the manufacturer considers “normal”, this can be caused by a number of factors.

Excessive oil consumption could be the result of:

  • Improper or poor-quality oil. Many vehicles need a specific type of oil, and some lower-quality oils can have lower viscosity or accumulate too much dirt and debris, causing them to burn.
  • An older engine. The older an engine is, the more likely it will be to have started to deteriorate, which can cause small leaks.
  • Internal damage. Damage to certain components, particularly the piston rings, can allow oil to leak through into the combustion chamber.
  • Worn seals and gaskets. Any older seals or gaskets will get damaged over time due to exposure to high heat, which can cause leakages.

Any of these causes may need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, particularly if oil is getting into the combustion chamber and burning.

How much engine oil consumption is normal? (In a modern engine.) >> Check out the video below:

How Much Does An Oil Change Cost?

When your oil does run low, the cost of getting it changed is generally pretty minimal, and it’s a good time to carry out other important service checks as well.

Most locations that offer oil change services will charge between $40 and $100, depending on the type of oil that you choose and how much you need. Most standard oil changes cover around 4 or 5 quarts, but you may be charged extra for additional quarts.

You will often get a new filter with that service, and you may be able to get a series of other checks done on your vehicle at the same time.

Can You Change Your Oil Yourself?

Although it can be quite a messy process, you can change the oil in your car yourself without too much difficulty. You simply need to have the right tools and go through a few key steps.

  1. Safely lift the vehicle so that you can work underneath it.
  2. Remove anything that is covering the oil pan and filter.
  3. Place a large tray or bucket under the drain plug and loosen it with a wrench. Allow the oil to drain for five minutes, or until it has almost completely stopped flowing.
  4. Remove the old filter and then install a new one.
  5. Replace and tighten the drain plug.
  6. Reinstall the undertray or cover and lower the vehicle.
  7. Pour in new oil using a funnel. Allow it to circulate and check the level. Top up if needed.
  8. Start the vehicle, allow it to warm up, then check for leaks.

Oil Consumption FAQs

What happens if your engine burns oil?

Losing too much oil, particularly if it is burning away, can lead to poor performance and potentially irreparable damage to the internal components of your engine.

How do you fix a car that burns oil?

Fixing a car that is burning oil will require you to determine what is causing the issue. You may need to simply replace a worn gasket or use a higher-quality oil, but your vehicle may need to undergo more serious repairs.

How do you know if your engine is burning oil?

The most noticeable sign that your engine is burning oil is bluish smoke coming from the tailpipe. This means that oil has entered the combustion chamber and is burning along with the gas.


So, how much oil should a car burn between oil changes? Well, most vehicles should only consume up to a quart of oil before having a full oil change.

The time that this takes depends on many factors, including the make and model of the car, how old it is, the oil that it uses, and the conditions under which it is driven.

If your vehicle is consuming too much oil, then it may be leaking and burn inside the combustion chamber. This is a significant problem, and it should be addressed as soon as possible.


Steve P.

Steve is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Riviera. Steve is based in Boise, Idaho.

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