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Car & Driver found that a brand-new Camaro SS consumed about a quart of oil every 5,000 miles. But, "Chevrolet says this is normal."

Why is it "normal" for some (typically higher-performance) modern gasoline engines to burn (or otherwise consume) oil at such rates? Where does it go, that it doesn't go in typical well-functioning engines? (Or do all cars do this and I just haven't been checking my cars' oil carefully enough?)

  • I believe this is the article OP is talking about: caranddriver.com/reviews/… – Zshoulders Oct 9 '17 at 18:14
  • Sounds about right though. I don't know what kind of oil they were using (conventional or synthetic) and don't know how often the oil should be changed in this car. It is a 10 quart sump. That's a lot of oil. 1 quart doesn't seem like a lot then. A new car...though...? I haven't owned a car yet that didn't burn through a quart by 2500 miles. These are engines that only use about 5 quarts to begin with, so that's pretty significant. – user31423 Oct 9 '17 at 19:47
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    I just found this interesting description of oil consumption on cylinder walls which ends with this ominous statement: "Understanding how engines consume oil is still a work in progress and is the subject of ongoing research by many organizations." That was published beginning 2016! – feetwet Oct 9 '17 at 21:01
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TL; DR - New engines take some time to break in; compression and oil rings take time to seat, which causes increased oil consumption. This is typically more pronounced on high performance engines than on your average 2L sedan engine.

This question has many great answers and will also be of interest: What causes an engine to burn oil? In theory, none of these should be issues on a brand new engine. In reality, brand new engines are built by error-prone humans.

Break in intervals on most modern cars usually involve an early first oil change, and typically advise against going over a certain RPM or speed before ~ 500 - 1000 miles. Fresh engines require running time under various loads for all of the pieces to wear on each other and normalize the very tiny imperfections of the building process. Oil control rings are not controlling the oil at peak efficiency when they are brand new.

Wide Open Throttle (WOT) runs are not great for this break in process. I believe it is safe to estimate that 100% of performance vehicle owners will give it at least one WOT pull before that milestone is reached.


Minor nitpick: The 1 qt per 5000 miles they mention in the article is misleading. In their part 3 article, a dealer underfills the car at its third oil change by 2 quarts. In part 1, they were behind 2.5 quarts just 3000 miles after its first oil change and couldn't figure out why. It is unlikely the car would be burning oil faster then slower then faster again. The difference in oil capacity between the 2010-15 SS and the 2016+ SS is exactly 2 quarts.

  • How about all the egines are getting smaller (4 cil, 3 cil etc) and more horsepower is pushing out of those small engines? For example the Golf MK6 R with a 4cil pushing around 320+- hp, consumes alot of oil. – Granny Oct 10 '17 at 6:38
  • Also take into considerations that some manufacturer's pre-break in the engines so when you get the car delivered its broken in and ready to go. – Granny Oct 10 '17 at 6:39

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