There are affiliate links on this article. If you make a purchase through any of the links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
It is important that you fix a car that is burning oil, as early as possible. This is because, constant shortage of oil in the engine can cause damage to the internal components, which would be more costly to repair. But what are the signs that a car is burning oil? How do you know your car is burning oil?
Some of the commonest car burning oil symptoms are that the exhaust fumes would be thicker and darker – and you may notice that there are always dark oil puddles whenever you move your car from it has parked for some time.
To help you identify when your car is burning oil, below are the common signs you should always look out for.
8 Car Burning Oil Symptoms
Oil burning is caused when one, or more components in the engine bay is faulty. You’d most likely experience any of these signs on both newer and older car models.
1. Misfiring and Rough Idling
This is one of the common signs to tell that your engine is burning oil. Engine misfiring typically occurs when the engine does not get sufficient oil to move its internal components. The same scenario can lead to rough idling.
2. Oil Puddles When You Park For Long
If you could see oil puddles each time you drive away from a spot you’ve parked for some minutes or hours, that’s a sign that your car is burning oil. In this case, the oil is leaking out; the leak could be due to a broken head gasket or faulty oil drain plug.
You will need to carry out an inspection to discover where the oil is leaking from. Once you can identify the spot, have it fixed or replaced, and you won’t have to worry about oil burn anymore.
3. Check Engine Light Is On
Yes, there are several things that can cause the check engine light to illuminate, and oil burning is one of those “several” things. The components in modern vehicles are interconnected, and as such, when one of them fails, it directly, or indirectly affects the performance of the others.
Since oil-burning could be due to a bad head gasket – a bad head gasket can trigger the check engine light to come on. Hence, if this is the case, the check engine light would illuminate due to the bad head gasket, which is also causing your car engine’s oil to burn off.
4. Change In Exhaust Fumes
All things being in good shape, the fumes coming out from your exhaust’s tailpipe would be steamy, light ash in color, and almost invincible.
If you start seeing blue exhaust fumes coming out from your car, that is a sign that oil is burning/leaking into the exhaust system, and you need to fix it quickly before the catalytic converter gets affected.
5. Perceiving Burning Smell
When the oil-burning becomes excessive, you’d start perceiving a burning scent while driving. The scent would be oozing from the engine bay; this odor is caused when oil drops on a hot (heated) engine component and burns off.
Apparently, as the car is driving, every component in the engine heats up, and if oil touches any it’d burn off.
6. Oily Spark Plugs
Another way to know if a car is burning oil is to check the spark plugs. To inspect the spark plugs, you need to pull them out and see things for yourself. If the spark plugs are oily, wet, or have untypical soot on them, it’s a sign of oil burning.
So, after cleaning the plugs, ensure to fix the component causing the oil burning.
7. Oil Drains Rapidly
When your car is burning oil, you’d have to change/refill oil frequently – sooner than your oil change intervals.
So, when you start noticing this – changing oil sooner than you used to – that could be due to oil burning. Yes, oil-burning causes oil to drain faster.
8. Oil Pressure Icon Is On
In some car dashboards, you’d find an oil pressure icon; it is different from the check engine light. If your car comes with this oil check icon, once it’s illuminated, that’s a clear sign that you need to check the oil in your engine.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Car That is Burning Oil?
The average cost of fixing a car that is burning oil is between $100 to $5000+. This depends on the type of car and what is causing the oil to burn. For example, a blown head gadget replacement can cost over $500.
Dark oil can also be one of the car burning oil symptoms you may notice in a car. When the oil in your engine is constantly dark, even you changed oil recently, that’s a sign of oil burning.
A thorough inspection would help to identify the cause of the oil burning, and you should fix it as early as you can.