I've heard that it's "normal" for older cars to burn a certain amount of oil and that it's not really a problem.

My question is how much is too much? At what threshold does burning oil become a problem for an "old" car and how is "old" defined in this case?

  • Rule of thumb? If you can see smoke, it's too much. Some people don't even let that bother them. Also, don't let oil leakage be confused with oil usage. Definitely two different issues and is cured in two different manners. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 9 '14 at 16:48
  • Depends on the price of the oil . – blacksmith37 Jul 28 '19 at 15:07

It is actually normal for brand new and modern cars to consume oil.

There is no set number, but as a rule of thumb, it's often agreed that up to about 1 quart or 1 litre of oil per 1000 miles (e.g. out of 6L of oil from the oil pan) is considered to be an entirely normal oil consumption rate; on the other hand, more than 1L per 1000 km is probably too much of an oil consumption.

As others mentioned, this is not to be confused with oil leaks, where the oil leaks onto the ground from beneath the engine -- no such oil consumption should be considered as normal.

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    Looks like good info, any references? – Robert S. Barnes Nov 23 '14 at 17:45
  • It's basically based off of the comments in various forums, where people complain that their brand new sports-friendly car burns half a quart of oil every 1k miles, even after the break-in period, and the dealer won't do anything about it. – cnst Nov 29 '14 at 21:02
  • So after 3000 miles, vehicles are regularly low by 3 quarts of oil? That doesn't sound right at all, and certainly is not my experience. – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Apr 4 '15 at 22:10
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    @Ellesedil Wow, that's bizarre. After 2000-3000 miles most vehicles would be missing half their oil, and after 4000-6000 miles most vehicles would have no oil in them, and the manufacturer would claim everything is working fine? – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Jan 27 '16 at 1:17
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    "you're supposed to check oil and tyre pressure at every stop for petrol" - It makes one wonder why no manufacturer or government department cares that 99.9% of car owners are apparently not properly maintaining their vehicles or tyres. Since almost no one actually follows instructions like that (for better or worse), I'm guessing the inclusion of such instructions is just legal CYA and a way for manufacturers to get out of having to pay for warranty repairs. – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Jan 27 '16 at 6:12

If oil is below 3/4 after 6 months or after 10000km then its too much. Are you using the recommended graded oil? Check with Repco or BNT if you have it in your country or your local parts dealer not a mechanic unless its the cars dealership.


I have a 2001 Lexus GS300 with 285,000 km on the clock. I buy six litres every oil change; five for the change and use the remaining one litre over the next 10,000 between oil and filter changes. I think that's reasonable. Pete

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