How much oil should a car burn between oil changes

How much oil should a car burn between oil changes

Out of nowhere, you may see your engine is consuming more oil than it was supposed to. If that is the case, there are most probably two reasons for this problem. First, there is a leak inside. Or, the engine is burning more oil than normal.

Is engine burning oil normal? We will answer that later. But we think you will want to know the answer to the following question the most. “How much oil should a car burn between oil changes?” Read on to find the answer to this question and several others related to it. Find out the reason:Car losing Oil but no Leak or Smoke.

How much oil should a car burn between oil changes?

Well, there is not a unified answer. Even the manufacturers don’t match each other’s answers. For this reason, we will give three answers here.

BMW’s limit

As per BMW, it will be normal for your car if it burns 1 quart of oil every thousand miles. So, if you own a BMW car, you won’t have to worry even if your car burns 1 quart of oil every 1K miles. However, for a normal car, the average limit is much higher than this.

GM’s limit

By default, the normal consumption limit of a GM car is pretty much higher than BMW’s limit. If your GM car burns 1 or more quarts of oil in less than 2000 miles, you will get warranty service from the manufacturer.  

Common limit

Normal consumption for cars other than BMW or GM is not a piece of unified information. It mostly depends on the manufacturer or dealer you are buying the car from. Some dealers may say you will get warranty services if your car burns 1 quart of oil every 1000 miles. Some dealers may state the limit at every 500 miles.

That is why you have to be careful whenever buying cars from local dealers or less popular brands. Skipping things like this may cost you a lot in the long run.

Why is my car burning oil so fast?

At first, you have to be clear about the fact ‘burning oil fast’. You can consider that your car is burning oil fast only if your car consumes 1 quart or more oil just within less than 1000 miles. If not, your car is in a normal state. You don’t need to worry much about this issue. However, the following are the probable reasons that your car may burn oil so fast-

Piston rings

Piston rings are very crucial parts of an engine. They don’t let enter excessive gasses into your engine’s crankcase. In simpler words, they are the shields of your engine’s combustion chamber. If the piston rings get out of shape and don’t work properly, the oil may enter the engine’s combustion chamber.

After that, the oil may burn inside, and you will eventually lose oil without knowing anything.

PCV valve

The PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) is another crucial part of your engine that keeps dangerous gases at bay. As soon as the gases enter into the PCV valve, it reroutes the gases back to the place from where they came, the combustion chamber.

If the PCV valve can’t do its job properly, it can suck oil inside. If that happens, you will lose oil by a huge margin. To get rid of this problem, you have to simply replace the PCV valve.

Head gasket

Another sealer of the cylinders is the head gasket. If the head gasket goes down, coolant will enter into the cylinder head. In this way, coolant will mix with oil, and eventually, your car will face poor idling.

The easiest way to differ the head gasket problem with the PCV valve is to see whether there is a coolant mix-up with the oil or not.

Valve seal

The job of the valve seals is to control the oil consumption system. In addition, it controls the valve lubrication too. If a valve seal goes bad, it will become one of the matters of your concern. Instead of doing the job it was supposed to, a damaged seal will leak oil into the combustion chamber.

Car oil consumption calculator

Using an oil consumption calculator is always a better option to calculate the actual amount of fuel consumed. Because without a calculator, you may not be able to calculate accurately if you get stuck in a traffic jam sometimes. During a traffic jam, the usual oil consumption is more than normal.

You can easily calculate your car’s oil consumption using the following formula-

Qy = ∑q + (Qз-Qсл)

Here, ∑q is the oil you have used within a certain period (cycle),  

Qз is the amount of oil you use while refueling,

Qсл is the amount of drained oil at the time of replacement.

Engine oil consumption chart

Here is a chart of oil consumption that provides information from as far as the 1980s.

Source: DieselNet

Average oil consumption per 1000 miles

We were talking about the safe limit of cars that burn oil. Let’s see what the average oil consumption of a car per 1000 miles is. You are in a safe zone, or your car is burning oil normally only if your car burns 0.3 to 0.5 quarts of oil per 1000 miles. This is the average scenario for a normal car.

However, having a performance or modified car can make the scenario different. Performance cars usually burn more oil as these cars don’t focus on being fuel-efficient. For this reason, if you have a performance car, you should not expect this stat as an average.

Even if your performance car burns more than 1 quart of oil every 1000 miles, things are maybe normal. In this case, you have to cross-check the amount of oil you are losing with your manufacturer’s recommendation.

So, unless your car is a performance or specialized car, you can expect the average figure of 0.3 to 0.5 quarts per 1000 miles in terms of burning oil.

Engine oil consumption no smoke – What does it mean?

Engine oil consumption generally means your vehicle will emit smoke. But your vehicle may still burn oil even if it doesn’t emit smoke or you don’t get a burning oil smell. If that is the case, the oil control ring extenders are most probably collapsed or worn.

What should you do if your engine consumes oil without smoke? Don’t worry much. The solutions are not that much different than those of normal situations. Diagnose your car. You may have to replace the PCV valve or valve seal.

Burning a quart of oil every 500 miles- what will happen

Is your car burning oil 1 quart or more every 500 miles? It is pretty scary just to imagine this scenario. You should not expect this situation unless you have a very old model car. Cars from the 80s or 90s can give you this type of experience. Modern vehicles must not reach this type of situation by any means.

As we have already mentioned several times, you can easily expect the average figure of oil consumption of 1 quart per 2000 to 3000 miles. A quart per 500 miles means you are getting four or six times lower than the expectation.

Now, what are the outcomes of it?

If you have an oil burner car, you may face some serious problems. At worst, you may end up with a dead engine if you drive for a long time with this much oil consumption. And we are almost sure of the fact that you don’t want your engine ending up dead.

If you are lucky and quickly fix the faulty engine parts, you may get out of the situation by paying only a few bucks. We hope you get lucky in this particular case. But for that, you have to check upon the oil level every 300 miles or every week.


How much oil should a car lose between oil changes?

If things are okay with everything in your car, you should not lose more than 1 quart of oil between oil changes. If you have one of the engines that burn oil more than 1 quart of oil, things are not okay. You should take your car to the service as soon as possible.

Is it normal to have to add oil between oil changes?

It depends on the condition of your car. If your car is an old one, it is normal to add oil between the oil changes. And if your car is comparatively a newer model, you should not need to add oil between the changes.

How much oil burning is acceptable?

Modern cars burn very little oil these days. You can expect 1 quart of oil consumption in every 3000 miles or more. But if your car is comparatively older, the acceptable figure is 1 quart in every 1000 miles.

Is it normal to lose oil between oil changes?

Yes, it is. The purpose of putting oil in the first place is to let the engine use some oil. That is why it is normal to lose oil between oil changes. However, there is a safe figure in terms of losing oil. And that figure is 1 quart in every 1000 miles.

Do cars burn oil between oil changes?

Yes, more or less, every car burns oil between oil changes. If you have a modern car and the manufacturer has put a lot of effort into fuel efficiency, you won’t lose much oil. Otherwise, an old car will lose pretty much around 1 quart of oil every 1000 miles.

Why do engines burn oil?

Engines burn oil if there is something wrong with engine parts. For example, having a worn valve seal will cause engine oil burn. In cases like this, the engine burns oil to counter the extra heat produced inside.

What oil is best for a car that burns oil?

Synthetic oil will be your best bet if your car burns oil normally. For different models, you can pick one from the following-

  • 10W-30 Motor oil (synthetic)
  • 05W-20 Synthetic blend
  • 05W-30 high mileage oil (synthetic)


Usually, oil consumption is a symptom of some engine problems. But it can be a normal process for your car, too, depending on the model of your car. In that case, you may ask, how much oil should a car burn between oil changes. 

We have tried to answer the question depending on some different variables. Hope you have found enough to take appropriate actions. 

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