Oil Usage on 1998 Saturn SW2

Hi, Lately my 1998 wagon has been using a 'substantial' amount of oil. It looks like some moisture is present in the crankcase, but it is not coming from anywhere in the cooling system since the levels there are constant. The engine only has about 79,500 miles on it, has had the timing chain replaced, and all normal maintenance kept up. I only noticed the oil usage since the indicator light flickered when I was coming to stops or turning. My last oil change was less than 3,000 miles ago. My mileage is still very good and there are no other apparent problems. It looks as if this problem started after my last oil change. There are no obvious leaks that I have seen. I have replaced the PCV valve per the suggestion of a Saturn mechanic, but that has not solved the trouble. Any suggestions/knowledge of the same trouble? If so, what, if anything, was the solution? Thanks, Len

by in Munster, IN on May 26, 2010
1 answer 1 comment
ANSWER by , May 26, 2010
Are you noticing any oil smoke (it will be blue smoke) coming out the tail pipe when you first star the car in the morning? If so it would be a sign of worn valve guides or valve guide seals.Worn guides or seals may also exhibit being a problem if after prolonged idle at say a traffic light, if when you pull away blue smoke is emitted from the tail pipe. Get a friend to follow you on the freeway on hard steady acceleration is there any "blue" smoke out the tail pipe, this would be a sign of bad piston rings, damaged pistons or a worn engine cylinder bore. Some engine oil "burning" is acceptable. I saw one manufacturer saw they would not even investigate an "oil consumption problem" on a brand new car if it was not more than 1 quart every 800 miles. That to me is unacceptable! There is a test called a cylinder leakage test where compressed air is put in an engines cylinder with its valves closed to determine if an engine has cylinder head gasket, intake or exhaust valve, or worn piston rings/cylinder bore. It is a very valid test to determine the over all health of an engine.
COMMENT by , May 27, 2010
Hi again, I've checked again with my mechanic and he is starting to think along the same lines. I haven't noticed any smoking from my tail pipe (an obvious sign of oil burning before catalytic converters, etc. in the old days before emission controls) but that doesn't mean that it isn't happening. The other symptoms that I would have expected with this sort of problem aren't there. My mileage hasn't gotten worse, and there's no other obvious sign that would indicate anything major. There is no spark miss, no loss of the ability to accelerate, nor any 'oil sweat' around the spark plug wells/wires. I'm going to have the leakage test done to find out if that's the problem or not. To me it seems that with the life expectancy of this kind of engine to be almost double the mileage that's on it now, that this sort of problem shouldn't be occurring, but that's life I guess. Thanks for the comment and suggestion. I'll post the results on this site after I've gotten the testing done. Len