Bizarre oil consumption (300 miles per quart)

  • 2009 AUDI A4
  • 2.0L
  • 4 CYL
  • 4WD
  • 54,000 MILES
First, here are some details on my car:

I purchased this car a year and a half ago with 33,000 miles on it. Lately the oil has been burning up at an alarmingly fast rate. I have been tracking the consumption rate and over the past nine hundred miles the car has required two separate top offs of a quart of oil (one quart per top off). The first top up after my latest oil change lasted only 600 miles. The second top off lasted half that long (300 miles). I know this can be a sign of complete engine failure, but I am in denial. I have a long way to go towards my auto loan and was hoping to avoid a major issue until the car was pushing 100,000 miles. At 54,000 I simply cannot believe it. I was told during my last visit to the dealership that my water pump had a slight leak and that it should be okay for now but will need to be monitored. Could this be impacting the oil consumption? I would assume not, as the engine never overheats or smokes. The water pump seems to be doing its job. I am lost.

I am in between jobs right now, and driving my car for Uber and Lyft is how I am paying my bills, which makes this whole situation a lot more pressing. Is my car doomed? There are no visible leaks. I just had an oil change 1,700 miles ago at the Audi dealership and have since poured in three quarts. I know that 2009 Audi A4's were a part of a class action lawsuit for oil consumption discrepancies, but that litigation suggested that some drivers were topping up every 1,000 miles. 300 miles is a major difference.

Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.

All the best,

Do you
have the same problem?
Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 AT 10:17 PM

1 Reply

If there is no external leak, the oil has to be burning in the engine, and that much consumption would leave a huge blue exhaust cloud with no mosquitoes for miles. The first thing I should mention, even if it's not related right now, is every engine for the past few decades uses some oil between oil changes, and to address the high number of complaints, you will no longer find "full" and "add" on the oil dip sticks. You will find "Min" and "Max". As long as the level is above the "Min" mark, there is no need to add any oil. At some oil-change places, they only put in just enough to get it to the "Min" mark, so it won't take long before you need to add. Check the level before driving out of the parking lot when you get the oil changed, and have them add half a quart if the level is close to the "Min" mark.

If you fill beyond the "Max" mark, it is possible for the oil in the pan to be hit by the spinning crankshaft. That can whip air into it and it can overload the oil control rings on the pistons. That would promote burning oil and the blue exhaust smoke, but that would gradually subside as the oil level went down.

Also be aware that on some car models, leaking oil can pool in a hidden cavity in the cross member where it can't be seen, then it sprays out on the highway. Usually you'll see evidence of that on the bottom of the car, but not always.

If this continues, you can add a small bottle of dark purple dye to the oil, then search a day or two later with a black light. The dye will show up as a bright yellow stain that you can follow back to the source. If the oil is burning in the engine, you'll find the dye inside the tail pipe. Auto parts stores sell the dye for the fluid you're testing, and those that rent or borrow tools should have a black light.
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Friday, September 16th, 2016 AT 2:15 PM

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