As the question states, can a really dirty or clogged air filter cause engine to burn oil in anyway?

  • What do you mean by burn oil? Do you mean use oil, as in your level is dropping, or you are getting some sort of smoke?
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 10:40
  • yes, i mean use oil as in level is dropping without evidence of leaks. Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 13:03
  • If that's the case @Paulster2's answer is what you're looking for.
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 13:05
  • Dirty air filter > poor servicing (probably) >> more wear on components > higher oil use ...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 11:37

2 Answers 2


Yes, it could possibly.

A really dirty air filter will cause a greater restriction in the intake tract. This will cause greater vacuum levels. If your engine has weak/worn oil seals (such as valve seals), having higher vacuum can pull oil past these and cause the engine to burn oil.


Brought to my attention (in the comments), the higher vacuum could also exacerbate oil being pushed past the oil scraper rings if they are worn. Also, depending on how the PCV valve is situated/engineered, you might see excess oil getting pulled past it as well.

  • Would worn rings also let oil through in this case?
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 13:06
  • @GdD - I think to an extent it might if the oil scraper rings were worn, though if they are worn, you're probably going to see blue smoke out the tail pipe. You could possibly see it under these conditions with the PCV valve, as well. Going to edit that and your suggestion into the answer. TY! Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 13:34
  • Definitely think that blue smoke is going to be visible if appreciable oil is being sucked through any of the oil seals, something to look for @JamesWilson!
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 13:38

Restricted air flow will cause a richer fuel/air ratio and result in a black-ish smoke emitted from the exhaust and a black sooty coating at your tailpipe. A richer mixture may cause a wash down of the layer of oil in your cylinders and therefore the rings might lose their ability to keep the crankcase oil down where it belongs. If you're sucking oil into the combustion chambers the resulting burning oil will cause a blue-ish grey smoke. You mention nothing about the condition of your exhaust gases.

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