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  • avatar zaken1 12/07/09 10:55 pm PST

    The price that a vehicle sells for has little or no bearing on the expected rate of oil consumption. Jaguars and Porsches often use twice as much oil as your car does!!! The image of a high priced car not requiring any care or attention is absolutely untrue!!! In addition to checking the oil regularly, it is also the owner's responsibility to check the coolant level, the tire pressures, and the windshield wiper fluid level. Any one of those items, if neglected, could cause a sudden mechanical failure and possibly an accident. Tires will often lose enough air in a month that the pressure becomes dangerously low. But many people never bother to check their tires; and leave it up to the people who change the oil once a year. The radiator coolant level can go down unexpectedly, if a sharp object damaged a hose, or if the radiator was damaged by gravel coming off the top of a truck (as once happened to my van, and ruined a relatively new radiator by filling it full of tiny holes). And we have received many reports of sudden oil loss on late model vehicles (among both mediocre and also in the highest quality brands). Some of this was due to improper servicing; which can happen to any car. Some was due to unexpected and as yet unpublicized design flaws (which can also happen in any vehicle).

    The rate which a vehicle consumes oil depends on many factors. The way it was driven during the first 500 miles has a major impact. And one of the biggest mistakes owners make is to be too gentle on the motor during break in. If the motor is not given a series of vigorous accelerations up to freeway speed during the first few hundred miles, the piston rings will not seat well; and this will result in a car which consumes more oil than most other vehicles of that model. On the other hand; excesive sustained speeds and heavy loads during break in will also increase the engine's oil consumption rate.

    The use of extremely lightweight (5W-20 or similar numbers) motor oil is often recommended by manufacturers, and sometimes mandated by federal fuel efficiency laws. However, the downside to these oils is that they are consumed faster. Those owners who desire the longest engine life and lowest oil consumption rates know that synthetic oil serves both of those goals better than petroleum oil. There are also high performance grades of Mobil 1 which protect far better and are consumed much slower than other oils. 0W-40 is the most effective of that group. But the dealers are prohibited by federal law from using those oil grades which are not labeled as "energy conserving." Also, if the oil is changed to ester based synthetic (all synthetics except Mobil 1) before the engine has gone more than 10,000 miles; it can permanently increase an engine's oil consumption rate. This happens because synthetic oil reduces friction and wear so much that the piston rings will not seat properly if synthetic oil is used before the motor is fully broken it.

    It may turn out that your car's oil consumption becomes less by the time the car has gone 15,000 or so miles. But it also may not change. A quart used in 1,500-2,000 miles used to be the expected standard not so long ago. And even today; that rate of oil consumption is still considered to be within normal limits. And this is why anybody who wants to avoid potential mishaps and to optimize their vehicles life expectancy takes the trouble to give their vehicle this type of preventative care.

Answers

  • zaken1 12/07/09 10:55 pm PST

    The price that a vehicle sells for has little or no bearing on the expected rate of oil consumption. Jaguars and Porsches often use twice as much oil as your car does!!! The image of a high priced car not requiring any care or attention is absolutely untrue!!! In addition to checking the oil regularly, it is also the owner's responsibility to check the coolant level, the tire pressures, and the windshield wiper fluid level. Any one of those items, if neglected, could cause a sudden mechanical failure and possibly an accident. Tires will often lose enough air in a month that the pressure becomes dangerously low. But many people never bother to check their tires; and leave it up to the people who change the oil once a year. The radiator coolant level can go down unexpectedly, if a sharp object damaged a hose, or if the radiator was damaged by gravel coming off the top of a truck (as once happened to my van, and ruined a relatively new radiator by filling it full of tiny holes). And we have received many reports of sudden oil loss on late model vehicles (among both mediocre and also in the highest quality brands). Some of this was due to improper servicing; which can happen to any car. Some was due to unexpected and as yet unpublicized design flaws (which can also happen in any vehicle).

    The rate which a vehicle consumes oil depends on many factors. The way it was driven during the first 500 miles has a major impact. And one of the biggest mistakes owners make is to be too gentle on the motor during break in. If the motor is not given a series of vigorous accelerations up to freeway speed during the first few hundred miles, the piston rings will not seat well; and this will result in a car which consumes more oil than most other vehicles of that model. On the other hand; excesive sustained speeds and heavy loads during break in will also increase the engine's oil consumption rate.

    The use of extremely lightweight (5W-20 or similar numbers) motor oil is often recommended by manufacturers, and sometimes mandated by federal fuel efficiency laws. However, the downside to these oils is that they are consumed faster. Those owners who desire the longest engine life and lowest oil consumption rates know that synthetic oil serves both of those goals better than petroleum oil. There are also high performance grades of Mobil 1 which protect far better and are consumed much slower than other oils. 0W-40 is the most effective of that group. But the dealers are prohibited by federal law from using those oil grades which are not labeled as "energy conserving." Also, if the oil is changed to ester based synthetic (all synthetics except Mobil 1) before the engine has gone more than 10,000 miles; it can permanently increase an engine's oil consumption rate. This happens because synthetic oil reduces friction and wear so much that the piston rings will not seat properly if synthetic oil is used before the motor is fully broken it.

    It may turn out that your car's oil consumption becomes less by the time the car has gone 15,000 or so miles. But it also may not change. A quart used in 1,500-2,000 miles used to be the expected standard not so long ago. And even today; that rate of oil consumption is still considered to be within normal limits. And this is why anybody who wants to avoid potential mishaps and to optimize their vehicles life expectancy takes the trouble to give their vehicle this type of preventative care.

  • morin2 12/09/09 9:01 pm PST

    Wow, what an outstanding response from Zaken - that one deserves a thumbs-up.

    Last time I responded to one of these oil consumption questions, I got a thumbs down by suggesting that the owner should have checked his oil at least once in the 45000 miles he'd driven it (possibly without an oil change) - until he ran out of oil. So, I'll go out on a limb here and ask if you checked your oil before 6000 miles - not to place any blame, but really because it would help to know if the oil loss was gradual or sudden.

    You're right that $30k is a large investment in a vehicle. All the more reason for vigilance and constant attention to it. My own kids think its excessive that I check all fluids, air, etc. every single weekend, and have done so for nearly 40 years - but its insurance against problems developing. At least I know that they are driving cars that have been checked no longer than 7 days ago.

    I would also be unhappy with that rate of oil consumption. The now 16 year old subaru that I maintained & sold to my son consumes no oil between oil changes - maybe just luck, but also maybe due to the old-fashioned diligence. I know it works, so why change now.

    Let's hope your oil consumption changes for the better. If not, I'd also be unhappy and ask for some engine checks like oil pressure, compression, cylinder leakdown, etc.- under warranty.

    Good luck.

  • davidvanman 12/09/09 9:26 pm PST

    Thanks to both of you. Very good responses. I did not check my oil prior to running 3 quarts low at 6,000 miles. I know you should check your oil, but since none of my previous cars had burnt oil, I assumed the same with this van.

    It appears Honda's don't have a major problem with burning oil, as a search on the internet did not net many results.

    I am hoping maybe the rings are still setting, but I now have 9,000 miles. When are we past the point of no return?

    Is there anything that I can check myself since the dealer does not act as this is a problem?

    Thank you!

  • morin2 12/09/09 10:29 pm PST

    You can't check the rings without disassembly - so that's out of the question. About all you can do is to check your oil often. You seem to be driving about the same number of miles/month as I do (2K miles/month) and I check my oil every weekend. Pick a day and after a few years, it becomes part of your normal routine. With this rate of consumption, I would start to keep records - record every check of your oil level, how much oil you added and the type of oil. You could even record it all on an Excel spreadsheet - just in case it becomes a warranty issue, because you may need to prove your case to a regional rep. Do you change your own oil? If so, examine the bottom of your drain pan for metal particles. If excessive in quantity or size, save a sample of the metal to help with diagnosis.

  • zaken1 12/10/09 1:17 am PST

    You can also take a sample of the oil, after it has been used for a few thousand miles; and send it to a laboratory that specializes in motor oil analysis. There are several reputable labs in this country which offer this service; because many fleets use the results of oil analysis to determine when the oil in a given vehicle should be changed. Oil analysis will test for and list the quantities of a series of metals which are indicators of specific types of wear or certain mechanical problems. For example; if significant amounts of copper are found in the oil; this would indicate that excessive bearing wear was taking place (as copper is one of the main metals used in plain bearings). Oil analysis will also indicate whether the additive package contained in the particular brand of oil you are using is appropriate for your vehicle model and driving conditions. And analysis will also give an indication of how long the expected service life of the oil now in your motor will be. The article referenced below, which was written by Chevron scientists, will provide more detailed information.

    Source: http://www.oilanalysis.com/article_deta
    i...

  • davidvanman 12/28/09 10:49 pm PST

    Hey guys. Thanks for all of your help. I sent a letter to Honda Customer Service in Torrence, CA. I heard back from Honda a few days ago, via phone, and was greeted by a quite argumentative Honda representative.

    Have either of you seen another post on Edmunds about this? Apparently, it looks like this might be a more widespread issue than previously thought...

    Anyway, Honda is claiming that unless a quart has to be added before 1,000 miles, the oil consumption is acceptable due to industry standards.

    Still, unacceptable to me.

    Any ideas that you all have, I'd love to hear.

    Thank you!

  • dendro 01/09/10 4:18 pm PST

    Has anyone had problems with the varible engine VCM 6cyl, 2008 Honda Odyssey with LOW OIL OR NO OIL, or massive OIL consumption, along with NO LOW OIL warning light coming on with 3,8000 miles since las oil change. This is a truck with 22,000 miles on it. Has anyone started a CLASS ACTI8ON law suit against Honda for this problem, seems to me they are covering up. How can any car which is a 6 posssibly use that much oil? I purchased a Honda thinking it was one of best of the market, I have personally purchased 10 brand new trucks from the Cadillac to Nisson, Mercury, Ford, Crysler, even the 8 cyc big engine Cadillac did not come close to that kind of oil consumption. I think Honda has a problem and they are going to wait until enough people are cheated and complain before they do anything about it. I talked with two Honda dealers and they all said including the Regional Honda Rep. they had never heard of such a thing. I think or I know they are lieing to me and I didn't even get a kiss. Help anyone who has reported this to Honda or BBB or anyone the Federal Governement Consumer let me know before I start my list of complaints. I will not take this. I have never been treated this badly with any new car dealer in my life, and I did have a few problems with my past trucks, Let me know, your story and what you did thanks a million, these big companies can't keep getting away with stealing and not backing up their product

  • dinog 05/24/11 11:46 am PST

    I also have a 2009 Odyssey EX-L that burnt 2 1/2 quarts of oil on a road-trip (10,000 to 12,000 mileage), and now still burnt 7 ozs/1,600 miles per the dealer's last oil consumption test (after he adjusted the software to minimize the cooling of the VCM-shut-off cylinder-rings). If zaken (above) is correct that it is my fault by not doing what he recommended as far as the way my wife and I should have driven and type of oil we should have put in it the first 500 and 10,000 miles, then why did not Honda direct us to do this (in the maintenance manual for example)? How are we to know otherwise? Honda dealer was the first to change my oil at 5,500 miles (when the maintenance minder notified that it needed to be, there is no other maintenance schedule). I changed it every time the Maintenance Minder told me to (using NAPA Synthetic Oil). At 17,000 miles Honda Dealer told me that I must not have replaced enough oil when I changed it since they could not find any oil leaks as a cause. Subsequent oil changes were at Honda Dealer, no mention of oil consumption. Did they not look for it, or did they just overlook it? At 34,000 miles I had the oil changed at a favorite after-market mechanic. He told me that the oil was several quarts down and that this could in no way be normal. I am in the middle of the dealer's oil consumption test, but it seems that their only response will be to "adjust the software" to try to minimize this design failure of the VCM (variable cylinder management) system. Honda's non VCM engines do not burn oil (nor do Toyotas, Subarus, or any others) and only a few (lemons?) of their VCM engines do. To me this is a design flaw. One Google-find said Honda recognized this by changing the composition (molybdenum) of the piston rings and adding piston skirts to all 2011 VCM engines Does anyone know about this? If it is a design flaw and are cars are still under the 5yr/60,000-mile Warrantee, shouldn't Honda cover this under Warrantee? I think so and am willing to join anyone's class-action suit (if the dealer and BBB doesn't satisfy).


    Dino

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