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Echo Oil Consumption Strangeness
Old 05-17-2015, 11:45 AM   #1
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Echo Oil Consumption Strangeness

Our Echo now has 240K miles on it.

I'd gotten out of the habit of not checking the oil between changes, since it never went down at all. I had the last oil change done at my dependable service station, and the guy told me that when he opened the drain, only about a quart came out. He told me the end of the road was coming very soon for the car.

After that, I checked frequently, and the level never dropped. I suspected that someone had made a mistake. I stopped checking regularly. Last week I changed the oil myself and, sure enough, only about a quart drained out.

Note that there is never a drop of oil on the floor of the garage. I've never noticed any smoke from the exhaust, but I guess the catalytic converter could be eating that.

What do you think is going on?

Does this mean that the Echo (which still runs fine) is about to die (I hope so, because I want to buy an electric car)?

Might it croak in a catastrophic way that could cause us to be stranded?

Thanks,

Al
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Old 05-17-2015, 12:06 PM   #2
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Just start checking the level every 1k miles or so. You could be burning a qt every 1 k with no visible smoke. Not that unusual. It is very important to not let the level drop much more than a qt. Oil not only lubricates, it is also a coolant.

More frequent changes can be beneficial to extending the life of a geriatric engine.

If you haven't had it done, have the mechanic check the pcv valve, Very low cost part, sometimes can cause excess oil consumption.

I don't think I would use such a vehicle on long distance trips, like over 200 miles. I usually rent a car for long trips myself.
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Old 05-17-2015, 12:15 PM   #3
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Does it hold 4 qts max? 4 cylinder? I'd just check it every 500 miles and top up, and not stress. Probably just burning it up through worn rings, valve seals, whatever. Non fatal problems. A V8 with over 100K can use up to a quart per 1000 miles and run perfectly fine and pass emissions tests. Yes, some cars don't burn oil even at high mileage, but those that do aren't necessarily doomed. My V8 used to use a quart every 1,000 miles, and went on for 425,000 miles before I traded her in. Good luck.
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Old 05-17-2015, 03:22 PM   #4
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Like others say, check regularly and monitor (I was expecting a chart like your BP).

In additional to 'normal' 1Q/1000 miles type consumption, check your coolant. Sometimes a head gasket or other leak allows oil to get into the coolant, so you never see it dripping anywhere.

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Old 05-17-2015, 03:39 PM   #5
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Early GM Saturns came with European (I believe Opel) 4 cylinder engines (two varieties: dual and single overhead camshafts). These early cars were bult from 1992 to about 1999 and used oil like crazy. Apparently, the oil rings were not good (aka, defective) and GM never recalled them. So owners lived with adding a quart frequently. Many of these cars went 200,000 - 300,000 + miles and used a lot of oil. DD had one for college and drove the wheels off it.

Your Echo probably has worn cylinders and correspondingly worn oil scrapers (lower piston ring). Check the operation of the pcv valve as mentioned above also. A good way to test for worn rings is to do a compression check on each cylinder and then repeat it after squirting a few ounces of engine oil in the spark plug hole and comparing the two readings. If the compression is higher with oil in the cylinder top, then rings are not sealing.

You could also have worn valve seals or worn valve stem bores.

You may have a combination of all of the above if there are a lot on miles on the car!

Add a quart every now and then and drive it.

Or sell it and by the electric car you really want!
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Old 05-17-2015, 03:48 PM   #6
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Okay, good info.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Galt III View Post
Does it hold 4 qts max? 4 cylinder?
Yes, exactly.
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Old 05-17-2015, 04:08 PM   #7
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A funny story that seems to fit in here. A very long time ago, my 1957 Plymouth was running very well. A quart here, a quart there, and I would brag that my car didn't use oil... until... one day when the car wouldn't start.

It was a time in my life when I was working 80 hours/week, had three young boys under age 6 and little time to do much beyond eating and sleeping. Certainly no time take care of my well running car, and not enough money to pay for oil changes.

Jacked up the front end, dropped the oil pan, and nothing came out. The entire pan was filled to the top, with thick, hard tar.
Bought a '53 Renault Dauphine with a sun roof, for $200 and which also died three months later.

Suggest a hanging bag of oil, with a tube ala intravenous feeding, and perhaps to wire a spark plug in the end of the exhaust pipe to burn off the smoke.
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Old 05-17-2015, 07:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Suggest a hanging bag of oil, with a tube ala intravenous feeding, and perhaps to wire a spark plug in the end of the exhaust pipe to burn off the smoke.
Now there's a helpful suggestion!
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