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1.5 Million Vehicles on the Road Burn Oil Excessively

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Photo: Stock.xchng
Photo: Stock.xchng


  • Audi, BMW and Subaru top list
  • Manufacturers claim oil usage is normal
  • Some consumers suing auto manufacturers

Some new vehicles burn oil excessively, nonprofit consumer organization Consumer Reports reveals in its annual auto survey.

The survey examined nearly 500,000 vehicles, model years 2010-2014, with most still under manufacturer warranty.

While the oil-change industry recommends oil changes every 3,000 miles, auto manufacturers say improvements in oil and engine technology mean vehicles only need oil changes every 7,500 to 10,000 miles.

However, many car owners are finding they need to fill their oil reservoir between oil changes, sometimes as often as once a month. This is adding to the cost of ownership with the average quart of synthetic oil costing $9 and some cars needing seven to nine quarts between oil changes.

The excessive gas burners account for 2% of all the vehicles surveys, but that’s equal to 1.5 million vehicles on the road.

Of the top 30 oil guzzlers, the majority are BMWs, Audis and Subarus. The worst was the BMW 5 series, which consumes oil at a rate 27 times higher than average.

There was no connection found between excessive oil consumption and engine problems.

“While it’s normal for cars to burn a little oil as they age toward 100,000 miles and beyond, we believe that for a late-model car to burn a quart or more of oil between changes is unacceptable,” Mark Rechtin, Consumer Reports’ Cars Content Development Team Leader said. “It’s also our strong opinion that any engine that burns oil between changes should be repaired under the powertrain warranty.”

Class Action Lawsuits

BMW, Audi and Subaru all say the oil consumption on their vehicles is normal. BMW and Audi say one quart burned per 600-700 miles is normal while Subaru says one quarter every 1,000-1,200 miles.

While the auto makers have authorized repairs for some car owners, others are denied, the excessive oil consumption blamed on driving habits.

As a consequence, Audi and Subaru are facing class action lawsuits.

Honda and Toyota weren’t in the top 30, but the automakers have extended warranties.

Honda extended the warranty on the 2010-2011 CR-V four-cylinder engines and the 2008-2011 Accord, citing sticking piston rings for excessive oil usage.

Toyota extended the warranty on some of its 2007-2011 models after a class action lawsuit in California.

Consumer Reports found 39% of drivers never check their vehicle’s oil.

Key Statistics – Global Oil and Gas Market (source: MarketLine)

  • In 2014, the oil and gas market generated revenue totaling $3 trillion globally. Between 2010-2014, this represented a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5%.
  • Between 2010-2014, market consumption volume increased at a CAGR of 1.2%. In 2014, it reached 46 billion barrels equivalent (BOE).
  • The market’s performance is forecasted to slow. For the five-year period 2014-2019, a CAGR of 1.2% is anticipated. By the end of 2019, the market is expected to be valued at $3 trillion.

By Melina Druga for
Melina Druga is an author and freelance journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @MelinaDruga .

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