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I have a 2012 MDX with 75,000 miles on it. I love this car! I noticed that the oil level was abnormally low about 2700 miles after an oil change. I first noticed this at about 50K miles. I thought that the shop wasn't putting the right amount of oil in at first. It happened a few times before I turned to the web and did some research. I learned that many newer vehicles are doing the same thing - burning what would normally be an excessive amount of oil - a quart or two between changes.
Acura claims that it is normal for a vehicle to burn 'up to a quart' per 1,000 miles. Several other automakers are claiming the same. From what I have read, this is due, in part, do a lighter viscosity oil being used. It leads me to 2 questions: 1. How long can I expect this engine to run if I monitor the oil level? 2. Would switching from 5W-20 to 10W help the cause, or am I running a risk by using something other than the recommended oil?

  • To keep things in perspective, In 1960 a car burning a quart in 800 miles was considered "not to burn oil" with 10W-30, and would run for well over 100, 000 miles. It was good practice to check the oil level whenever you got gas. I certainly like the modern cars . – blacksmith37 Dec 4 '18 at 22:16
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Acura just posted a recall and oil consumption test on all 2012 mdx. Just call your local dealer to set up the test which costs approx $40. Then they will start the process of rebuilding the piston rings to fix the issue. We just had ours tested and they are fixing it next week.

The coverage extends the mileage to 8 yrs/125k, or unlimited miles but you must respond and get your vehicle to the dealer by Sept 1, 2019.

Acura warranty extension 6C5

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If the manufacturer recommends a grade of oil and says it's common for the engine to use a quart per 1000 miles then there's no issue you need to resolve. Simply do what you are doing now, checking on a regular basis and filling as required. Keep your car maintained properly and it will last you, there's no limitation due to it using a bit of oil.

Changing to a different grade is not recommended unless it's one of the grades recommended by the manufacturer. Different grades are often recommended for different conditions, thinner oils for winter conditions and thicker for summer, use what is appropriate for those conditions. Sometimes when an engine gets to high miles different grades may be recommended, but that's a long way away for you so stick with the manufacturer.

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Answers:

  1. From short to very long. The oil burners are usually defective in some manner (why would some car consume lots of oil and another car no oil at all?), but defect may not be fatal. The manufacturer just wants to avoid legal consequences by stating that quart per 1000 miles is normal. It is not normal! Yet, many car engines that consume quart per 1000 miles can actually last an acceptable amount of time.
  2. Do you mean 10W-20 by mentioning 10W? If so, 10W-20 has absolutely no advantages compared to 5W-20, because the number before W is the cold start viscosity. Actually, it has serious disadvantages: after a cold start, your engine wears more with 10W-20 than it would wear with 5W-20. You could try switching to 5W-30, 5W-40 or even 5W-50 depending on the severity of the situation, if you want to take the risk of running with a non-recommended viscosity. I wouldn't run 5W-50 unless the high oil consumption is accompanied by abnormal engine sounds. 5W-30 would be a change with an acceptably low risk. Just note that there is no such thing as a mechanic in a (oil) can. Switching to higher viscosity doesn't cure the problem your engine definitely has based on starting to consume significant amounts of oil.

The oil consumption is not due to a low viscosity. I run 0W-20 in my 2016 Toyota RAV4 hybrid and see no oil consumption at all!

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I fail to believe an engine will wear more with 5w-20 vs 0w-20 unless it gets really cold where you live, if so then in cold months switch back to 0w-20. All the W stands for is Winter, not weight, thus the 0w will flow better when cold, however for many years 10w was the thinnest oil you could find and it flowed just fine when it was cold in all situations except the extreme cold you might find in Alaska or fluke arctic blasts that sometimes comes down. In addition to that 10w synthetic oil flows better than 10w natural (or conventional) oil, and almost everyone today uses syn oil. 10w natural oil is good down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit sustained (sustained means the temps will be that low for an extended period of time), any temp lower than that and you should use a 5w; however 10w syn oil is good down to -22 F! HOWEVER, I would not go higher then 5 on the first number, for example say your car manufacture only gives 5-20 as it's recommendation I would go no higher than 10-20

Where engine wear could become a problem is that last number, if you put in say 10w-40 when you car specs a max of 5w-20 or 10w-20 then that extra 10 or 20 added onto the last number may cause some issues for what's called starving your engine of oil because it's too thick to lube the engine components.

The reason modern cars are using 0w oils is due to gasoline mileage ratings (CAFE standards) they have to meet for federal requirements, so a 0w-20 oil is thin and allows for slightly better fuel economy, when in reality a thin oil actually wears out engines faster vs a thick oil...as long as you don't get carried away with a thick oil like using 20w-50. But if you ever pull your dipstick and look at your 0w-20 oil when the engine is hot the oil runs off like water, for long term engine life you would be better going to a 5w or a 10w depending on how cold it gets where you live, but don't exceed the factory recommendation for the last number which is going to be either 20 or 30; in warmer year round climates 10w-20 or 10w-30 should be fine, for mild to colder areas 10w-20 to 5w-20 would be fine (in both of those recommendations syn oil should be used, I think ALL new cars today recommend syn oil due for better fuel economy and extended oil change intervals).

Most manufactures will recommend two different grades of oil to use, based on the weather zone, or type of duty (meaning light duty or heavy duty). I always use the heavy duty class which is 5 higher on the first number while the second number is the same for both regular and heavy duty. Once the car gets over say 125,000 miles and you notice it burning a tad more oil switching to high mileage oil will help, after that and you put on say 175,000 miles switching to the next higher oil will help the engine to last longer in it's gray hair days.

You can read another discussion here: http://www.city-data.com/forum/automotive/2281452-filled-10w-30-instead-5w-20-a-2.html

Read this too: https://www.machinerylubrication.com/Read/518/motor-oils on the last paragraph it recommends going to as high as a 15w 40...I'm not so sure I would go with a 15w 40 on a modern engine, a 10w 30 for an engine with high miles is ok, but 15w 40 seems a bit much for modern engines, maybe if the engine was on it's last leg and burning excessive oil I guess what could it hurt?

Another weird thing is that the absolute best way to tell if your engine oil is just right is your oil pressure levels. The factory determined on whatever engine what the idea engine oil pressure should be, find out what that pressure is, install a non electronic oil pressure gauge, and observe your pressure, if you live in hot climates your oil pressure may be lower once the car has warmed up for at least 20 minutes of driving (not sitting in a driveway warming up, this actually will shorten your engine life doing that), and in real cold climates you may see your oil pressure higher than the factory recommends, this is how you know if your oil is too thin, too thick, or just right, but most people aren't going to go through the headache of installing an oil pressure gauge; some cars come with those from the factor but they are electronic and not very accurate.

  • I think you have made some generalizations that are not always true. Thinner oil will flow better at startup, and in general when used with modern engines and the clearances are much tighter than in the past. Using overly viscous oil may have better film strength in general, but it better - because the flow will be reduced and the film not renewed frequently enough. I wholeheartedly suggest using the OEM recommendations, unless you have a special situation or application. – SteveRacer Mar 15 at 4:39
  • And while synthetic oil might be suggested for extended oil change intervals, I'd rather use cheaper dino conventional oil combined with more frequent changes, and get the dirt out - for the same or lesser cost as a 10k change interval with synthetic. I don't advocate a filter change at the halfway point for synthetic either. Get the dirt out, don't try and capture it. A typical automotive filter will pass abrasive particles below about 25-30 microns, but they are still abrasive - even moreso, as they flow readily with the oil and contaminate the film layer. – SteveRacer Mar 15 at 4:44
  • Nothing wrong with electronic oil pressure gauges - they can be very accurate, depends on what is displayed... – Solar Mike Mar 15 at 9:44

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