Top 5 Reasons Your Car Is Burning Oil

Is there a burning oil smell in your car? Find out why your car might smell like oil, what repair costs you might be facing and what your options are.

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When your car is running normally, it doesn’t emit a burning smell—or any other strange smells for that matter. However, any burning smell is a cause for concern as it can indicate a serious issue.

If repairing your vehicle is out of the question, click here to get an instant value quote now.

Below, we explore why your car might be burning oil and what you can do about it.

How Do You Know If Your Car Is Burning Oil?

Motor oil is supposed to remain inside your engine components. However, if it makes its way into the combustion chamber – where it burns—then, you have a problem.

You’ll know this is happening when your car displays these burning oil symptoms:

  • Your car’s oil level is dropping faster than usual.

  • You notice a consistent burning smell.

  • Your tailpipe emits blue smoke.

  • Your car smells like burning oil after driving.

In the content ahead, you’ll find out what causes burning oil, what does burning oil even smell like, and much more.

Why Is My Car Burning Oil?

car burning oil smell

Motor oil burns when it interacts with a hot surface. When your car is working the way it should, the oil does not touch any hot surfaces. For this to happen, one or more of the components in your engine must be damaged.

Here are the most common burning oil causes:

  1. Worn-out PCV valve: The PCV valve gets rid of the toxic gasses that are created during the internal combustion process. Those gasses circulate through the combustion chamber before being eliminated through the exhaust. If this part breaks though, motor oil can get sucked into the combustion chamber instead of the gasses, causing the oil to burn.

  2. Worn-out piston rings: Piston rings prevent combustion chamber gases from escaping and oil from entering by creating a seal in the engine. When they wear out, oil can enter the chamber.

  3. Damaged valve seals: Valve seals are in place specifically to prevent motor oil from flowing into the combustion chamber. So, if they wear out and break, the oil will get into the chamber and burn.

  4. Broken gasket: Gaskets prevent motor oil from leaking out onto engine components that it’s not supposed to interact with. These wear out over time due to the heating and cooling processes constantly happening in the engine. Once they wear out, oil can leak out through gaps and cracks.

  5. Damaged oil pan: Uneven roads, debris, and accidents can all cause damage to the oil pan. This damage can cause cracks, resulting in the motor oil leaking out. While the oil pan won’t cause the burning smell, the leaking oil can get onto hot surfaces on your car and burn.

Can You Drive A Car Burning Oil?

It is never a good idea to drive a car that is having issues—this includes a car that is burning oil.

car burning oil symptoms

Even if you don’t experience any significant issues initially, you’ll notice that your oil runs out quickly and burns a hole in your pocket with all the oil replacements you’ll be doing.

If you continue driving with burning oil, you will eventually notice one or more of these symptoms:

  • Spark plug damage

  • Overheating or malfunctioning catalytic converter

  • Rough engine

  • Reduced engine performance

  • Illuminated check engine light

  • Low coolant levels

  • Engine misfiring

  • Blue burning oil smoke

You will also likely notice a burning oil smell. When an engine is burning oil, you’ll smell a rancid and caustic scent.

If you don’t address the source of the burning oil, symptoms will accumulate and you might eventually find yourself with a seized and broken engine.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Burning Oil In A Car?

The only way to stop your engine from burning oil is to get it fixed. The cost of repairs for a car that’s burning oil varies depending on the cause of the issue.

In some cases, the fix is simple, quick, easy, and relatively affordable. In other cases, you can be looking at several hundred dollars or more.

On average, it costs about $600 to fix a burning oil issue in a car. Below is a breakdown of the costs associated with different burning oil repairs:

Service/ Part Cost
Spark Plug Replacement $16 - $100 per spark plug
Piston Rings Replacement $75 - $200 per complete set
Gasket Replacement $100 - $900
Valve Seal Replacement $40-$150
Oil Pan Replacement $50 - $575
Motor Oil Replacement $50 - $120
Coolant Replacement $15 - $100
Total Engine Replacement $1,500 - $5,000+
Labor $250 - $5,500

Labor is undoubtedly the priciest item on this list. There is such a large range because different repair jobs require different levels of involvement and time.

For instance, a motor oil replacement takes less than one hour. On the other hand, a piston ring replacement can take as long as 10 hours and requires the mechanic to take apart the engine and put it back together again.

Sell Your Car With WeBuyJunkCarsFast

Repairing a car with a burning oil issue can be expensive. In some cases, it might not even be worth it.

In such instances, you would be better off selling your damaged car and using that money to get a new one.

WeBuyJunkCarsFast can help you do just that. We buy junk and damaged cars of all kinds, including those that are burning oil and require pricey repairs.

We’ll buy your car as-is and you’ll walk away with a great deal. Here are the simple steps:

  1. Get a fair market quote by using our online calculator.

  2. Accept our offer and schedule a pickup.

  3. Hand over your keys and get your check.

Getting your estimate takes less than two minutes and a check for your exact quoted price will be in your hands in 24 to 48 hours. Best of all, it’s free and you don’t have to leave your home to get a great rate on your damaged car!

What Causes A Car To Burn Oil?

For you to notice oil burning in your car, it has to have made it outside of your engine. The way this happens is through broken components, allowing the oil to leak out into the combustion chamber—where it doesn’t belong.

Wear and damage will cause parts to crack and break, letting the motor oil out. Normal wear and tear, collisions, and poor driving habits can all cause damage to these parts.

Why Is My Car Losing Oil But There’s No Leak Or Smoke?

If your car is losing oil but there’s no visible leak or smoke, then your car might be using up motor oil inefficiently. This can happen when you use the wrong kind of oil for your car. For instance, performance and off-roading vehicles require higher quality, longer-lasting oil.

On the other hand, the oil might be leaking from smaller parts like seals and rings and burning up too fast for you to notice. If this happens, then you’ll likely also be asking yourself “why does my car smell like burning oil?”

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