Explaining oil consumption: 6 reasons why top-up is needed

One of the very popular questions asked by anybody dealing with oil – from garage owners to sales employees, is: “why does the oil get used up?”

As topping up engine oil is commonly seen as a nuisance and tends to draw significant attention, we have summarized the most common reasons for this phenomenon.

  1. Oil consumption varies from engine to engine due to the different design. Even when new, some engines will consume more oil than others. In passenger cars, an oil use of 0.1-0.3% of the fuel consumption is seen as normal. Even within the same series of engines, variations are present and about 20% of the engines have a higher or lower oil consumption than average.
  2. A long list of mechanical problems may lead to oil being used up, such as wear and damage of seals and gasket, the bearings, cylinders, ring grooves, connecting rods, etc.
  3. Driving style has a huge impact on oil consumption. Frequent acceleration and driving at high RPM will inevitably increase both oil and fuel consumption.
  4. Failure to respect the oil drain interval will lead to oil being used up faster. Dirty oil will block the thin oil passages and some oil will remain trapped there, instead of flowing back to the sump.
  5. Inappropriate viscosity grade: too thin oils with lower than recommended viscosity will tend to enter the combustion chamber easier and get burnt together with the fuel.
  6. Similar to a lower-than needed oil viscosity, too high engine temperature will also result in thinner oil and increased consumption due to burning.

As a conclusion: when comparing the top-up for different lubricants, take into account that this is by definition a very subjective matter. Was the driving style the same with both lubricants? Was condition of the car parts equal? How was the oil consumption measured -by exact volume measurement or by simply reading it on the gauge?

In order to carry out a correct comparison, all the factors described above should have been kept equal, which is rarely the case. So an actual comparison is very controversial.

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