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Thread: 2001 Toyota Corolla Burning Oil

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    NE Kansas

    2001 Toyota Corolla Burning Oil

    I have a 2001 Toyota Corolla which I got used that for as long as I can has burned oil. It wasn't until recently that I learned that burning oil was anything other then a nuisance. So I am looking for some advice on how to fix the burning oil problem.

    The corolla has around 72,000 miles on it currently and I normally run the manufacturer recommended 5W30 oil.
    So the three easy solutions I heard when researching was;
    1. An engine/oil treatment of some sort. I picked up a bottle of Lucas Complete Engine Treatment and added it to both the oil and engine earlier today.
    2. Use a heavier weight oil such as 20W50 or W30. With the Lucas I also added maybe a quart and a half of 10W40.
    3. Replace the PCV. I have not looked into how to replace it but since it is only a $5 part it might be worth a try.

    So I am wondering if anyone has any experience with fixing a car that burns oil at and has any methods or products to recommend. I have heard that the various engine/oil treatments are snake oil and don't work or work well. I also heard that the heavy oils like 20W50 can seriously harm an engine, though this was mentioned in the context of winter.

    As an aside if anyone has an easy way to remove the black stain on the bumper and trunk cause by the burning oil that would be helpful. I tried diluted Dawn and that didn't work as well as diluted Simply Green. So far the only thing that has worked is Turtle Wax Scratch and Swirl remover with an applicator pad. It works but it is not the most effective or efficient.
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  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    The question that needs to be answered is why is it burning oil? Do you have any mechanics tools such as a compression gauge?

    Also, how much oil is it burning?

    It’s not a benign process either. You’re gonna have issues with your cats and O2 sensors.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

    jcren's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    South, Central Ok
    With that low of miles it may be a stuck piston ring due sludged up oil. Try a oil flush before the next oil change. I use Berryman's chemtool and dump the pint into the oil, fire it up and let it idle for 10-15 minutes then shut it off and drain the oil as usual. Won't believe the gunk that will come out. May take several tries, but will eventually clean up a neglected engine.
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  4. #4

    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Land of 10,000 Lakes
    Why is it more than a nuisance?

    Those little toyota engines are known to go for a long time(300K to 400K), so 72K miles is nothing for one of them.
    If it's had reasonable oil changes, there has just GOT to be something mechanically wrong with it, like a defective/cracked valve.
    I think you need to talk to a good engine mechanic. It may not be worth doing the correct repair, but at least you'll know what it probably it.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Kaneohe, HI
    Have you checked for oil leaks????
    With 72,000mi, unless it's been neglected, it shouldn't be burning oil.
    Need to find out if it's burning oil or leaking oil.
    Check the plugs is the easiest way to see if it's burning.
    Pull the plugs with the engine cold first. Oily plug could be valve stem leak.
    With a flashlight look into the plug hole to see if it's wet on the piston.
    If OK, go on a drive until engine reaches temp.
    Pull plug and check for oil.
    If you can, find someone to do a leak down or compression test. Compression test both wet and dry.
    To check for leak, look for wet under engine. Might have to remove the splash pan to see where it's coming from..
    Valve cover gasket, crank seal are the main cause of leaks.
    Black stain from the exhaust????
    How is the engine running????
    Check Engine light on????
    Most of the time, if you have black from the exhaust, the engine is running way to rich.
    Leaking injector.
    If you are burning that much oil, the converter and O2 are shot.
    Hope this helps.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Central Virginia
    First - How much oil is it losing and is it burning it or leaking it?
    Second - The "engine rebuild in a bottle" is a fools errand. That includes ALL of the wonder products that promise to fix your engine and using thicker oil to slow the loss of oil.

    A 2001 Toyota? With 72K miles? That's a 17 year old car. That's about 4200 miles per year and is way below the average mileage for a car that old.
    You must ask yourself - "What am I willing to put into this 17 year old car"?
    It isn't just the engine, the rest of the car is 17 years old also. Now, Toyotas will routinely go 300K+ miles but you don't want to dump thousands of dollars into a engine only to have another major failure someplace else. Unless you know the history of that car, I would be a bit skeptical about that mileage and reluctant to spend a lot of money on the engine.

    Now if you know the history of the car and everything else is in excellent condition, it might be worth it to repair or replace the engine.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Go to Aurozone and have the codes read. Could be ingition, MAP,O2, guides, rings, injctors, etc.How long have YOU had it? How does it run?

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

    HangFireW8's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Central Maryland
    A low mileage older Corolla burning oil is probably stuck rings. Look into freeing them up by pulling the plugs and doing a solvent soak, followed by an oil change.

    If that fixes the problem... It'll come back. The real fix is updated rings.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Putnam County, NY
    I'd bet it's a leak at the cam shaft seal or leaky valve cover. Is it blowing smoke? Do you have oil on the ground? Oil on the engine or chassis?

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy dnepr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Kenora ON Canada
    Quote Originally Posted by HangFireW8 View Post
    A low mileage older Corolla burning oil is probably stuck rings. Look into freeing them up by pulling the plugs and doing a solvent soak, followed by an oil change.

    If that fixes the problem... It'll come back. The real fix is updated rings.
    What he said I did this a fair bit years ago when I was a mechanic at a Toyota dealership

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    In my experience most oil leaks have been from valve cover gaskets. Had an older corolla that was loosing oil. Since back then I was a kinda shade tree mechanic. Swapped out the valve cover gaskets and no more lost oil. Had this happen to the Toyota, Ford Grand Marquis and Isuzu Trooper. Suggest you look at the back of the valve covers and wipe the area down with paper towels. If leaking replace the gaskets. Also check the valve cover screws as they can loosen up due to vibration. Easy check and if no leaking oil around the valve covers you know at that point your ok with the valve cover gaskets. My wife had a Chevy Chevette we used to call the bomb. Drove me crazy checking the oil once a week. Checked the PCV valve and sorta kinda sticky. Again cheap to replace and once I did no more disappearing oil. But always kept a small crate in the trunk with oil, anti freeze and rags and other car care stuff. Heck drove my 1970 Dodge Dart over 120,000 miles. Sold it for what the new tires cost me. Frank

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    I have a chevy with 257,000 miles on it. it burned oil(1 qt / 3000 mi) until I switched to mobil 1 syn oil at 100,000 miles. Took 2 or 3 oil changes but it quit burning/using oil. Still not using oil.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy glockfan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    partly VT,partly canada
    is the smokes comes from the exhaust? if it,s the case, obviously a ring is off specs and let the oil goes through then is burnt in the chamber. otherwise it may be a leak which burns somewhere on the exhaust ,finding from where comes the leak should be an easy task.if it's a ring, well, that means a rebuild. you can't change just one ring; you must do em all.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Central Virginia
    A 17 year old Toyota with 72,000 miles on it ! REALLY !

    Do we really believe this used, 17 year old car has 72,000 miles on it ?????

    Let me guess, it was owned by a little old lady that only drove it to church on Sundays

    The OP said he purchased it USED. Come on, it has a real 72K on it after 17 years, in Kansas?

  15. #15
    if there are no external leaks, first thing I would do is change the thermostat.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy zardoz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    I had a '91 Caravan some years ago. Probably had about 75,000 miles on it when bought. Had the Mitsubishi 3.0 V6, and it burned so much oil that the seller called it "Old Smoky". I got it for quite a low price. Those engines had big problem with valve stem seals getting hard after so many years. Oil would leak down from the valve spring retainer, right down the valve stem and valve guide. It got sucked into the combustion chamber on the intake stroke, and there it was. Compression was still very good on the motor.

    One weekend, I got a kit of new valve stem seals. Held the valves up with compressed air into the spark plug hole, and used a star wheel type valve spring compressor to remove the retainers. Got the valve stem locks out with a magnet. Yep, most of the seals were hard as a rock and crumbled into bits. I did the work laying prone on a 2 x 12, one end propped on a step ladder rung and the other on the radiator support beam on top. Otherwise it would have wiped my back out.

    Long story short, after that was done I buttoned it back up. No more oil burning. I worked with the guy I bought it from, and he asked "new engine?", after seeing me drive up without the blue cloud behind. Nope, about $15 worth of gaskets and seals, and a great many conjuring words.
    Last edited by zardoz; 06-01-2018 at 02:43 AM.
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
    Traffer's Avatar
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    Feb 2016
    Central Wisconisn
    It appears that you have very limited knowledge of mechanics. The million dollar question is like many are saying here "WHY IS IT USING OIL?" I suggest that you find SOMEONE who is either a mechanic ...a former mechanic or actually knows about cars to check it out for you. There can be a thousand reasons that a car will use oil like that. And again, like someone said THAT CAR WITH 72K MILES SHOULD NOT BE USING OIL. It could be an easy fix.
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  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    If its burning oil, it may be one or more of a few problems.
    You will need a leakdown tester not a compression tester. It screws into the spark plug hole, and with the piston at tdc on the ignition stroke you add air with a compressor and it allows you to measure the leak past the piston rings, or head gasket or valve seats. If the leak is above 5 or 6% you have a problem some where. With air pressure in the cylinder listen at the oil filler cap, the exhaust outlet and the engine air intake. If you can hear hissing at any of these points, it will assist in diagnosis, eg. worn piston rings/bores, leaking exhaust or intake valves, and even leaking head gaskets. If all is good above, then there is the possibility of bad valve stem seals, which may be hard, broken or missing. The symptom for valve stems and seals are smoke from the tailpipe during engine braking. find a long hill and head down it, then take your foot off the gas so that the engine it trying to slow the vehicle and even change down a gear, then take a look out of your rear view mirror and look for smoke, or have someone follow you to check it out.
    Try accelerating hard, uphill if you can. If it smokes under hard acceleration, then the piston rings are the problem.
    Good idea to replace the PCV valve first.
    Leakdown testers are used for aircraft engine testing. Most garage repair shops and mechanics dont know what they are.
    I test all my engines before I even fit them to the vehicle, and my rebuilds come out with less than 3% leak down. I have taught a few mechanics how to use one.

  19. #19
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    Mar 2005
    Somers, Montana, a quaint little drinking village,with a severe hunting and fishing problem.
    I seem to recall some models of Toyota had a sludge problem. Do a search for it.
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master
    HeavyMetal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Orange county, Ca.
    just a thought, have you looked at the spark plugs?

    if the plugs are oily and wet with oil, plus fouling, even one plug you've got internal problems.

    if not you've an external leak of some type and it needs tracking down, I won't make suggestions where to start because every engine is different!

    now having said that check the oil pressure sending unit first! you'd be surprised how many leak and the owner think rear mean seal or oil burning.

    after that seals and gaskets, try youtube search for your year and may turn up something as well.


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