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Oil consumption : Normal or not ?

Do you ever bother to check the oil level of your vehicle? You’re not the only one to neglect this task that we used to do on a regular basis. True, engines today are generally much less lubricant hungry, but they are not all the same. Here are some tidbits of advice and few warnings…

It is a well know fact that all engines need lubricant to work properly - and to last. « Not only does oil reduce friction of the components, but it limits the heating of the moving pieces, keeps the mecanism clean and protects if from corrosion, » explains Pierre Beaudoin, who recently retired from the position of main manager of technical services at CAA-Québec.

Engines, however, do not all have the same needs in oil, needs that, have substantially shrunk over the years. While motorisations from the 80s required almost as much oil as gas (we are slightly exaggerating), the current ones, thanks to technological breakthroughs and new manufacturing processes, have such a low tolerance threshold during assembly that they have a very small lubricant apetite.

Even after having travelled 100,000 or even 200,000 kilometres, these modern-day engines generally do not consume as much oil (the composition of which has been greatly improved - think synthetics) as the cars from the past would.

You will find proof of this in the owner’s manuals, which recommend for specific models an oil change every 12,000 (Hyundai), every 15,000 (Volskwagen), and as much as every 20,000 kilometers (Mercedes-Benz).

Some vehicles nowadays don’t even require oil changes at specific intervals. Their internal computer will determine the ideal moment, by taking into account certain factors such as temperature, driving style and the number of kilometers travelled. An indicator light in the dashboard will light up.

That being said, there is no clear norm, here or elsewhere, that indicates if it is a normal oil consumption - or not. « No manufacturer wants to venture on the subject, because they would risk exposing themselves to multiple - and complex - claims for compensation, » says Bill Gardiner, « house » mechanic for almost 30 years on the TSN TV show, Motoring TV.

Still, this well-known man by the English-Candian population deems that an acceptable oil consumption, these days, should be of a maximum of on litre per 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers travelled.

More details in the L’Annuel de l’auto d’occasion 2017

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