How to Fix Burning Oil in an Engine

Written by jayme richards
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How to Fix Burning Oil in an Engine
Burning oil is common in older vehicles but can prevented or fixed, depending on the source of the burning. (engine image by Tomasz Pawlowski from

Oil is integral to ensuring that a vehicle's engine runs smoothly. If you smell burning, see leakage under your car or, even worse, notice a cloud of black smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, it is an indication that engine oil is being burnt. Although burning oil is common occurrence in older vehicles, there are many things that can cause an any engine to burn oil, some of which can be easily fixed or prevented.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wrench
  • Cardboard
  • Oil filter
  • Heavy-weighted oil
  • Alemite CD 2
  • Flathead screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Check the valve cover and oil pan of the vehicle for any leaks. It can help to place a piece of cardboard under the pan for a period of time. Check back and see if any leaks are occurring. If you find a leak, it might be caused loose bolts. Use a wrench to tighten any bolts you feel might be causing a leak.

  2. 2

    Inspect the gasket for any deterioration that is leading to leaks and the burning of oil. Take off the valve cover by removing the bolts with a wrench and pry the gasket from the groove in the valve cover. You might need a flathead screwdriver to help force it out. Replace the gasket with a new one and return the valve cover onto the vehicle. Ensure that the valve cover is secure by tightening the bolts.

  3. 3

    Drain the old oil and replace the oil filter with a new one. Instead of simply replacing the old oil with a fresh batch, change the oil to a heavier grade. During warm weather, use 40 weight oil. In cold weather, use 20 or 30 weight. The thicker oil may be less prone to leakage.

  4. 4

    Add two cans of Alemite CD 2 to the new heavier oil. The Alemite will replace one quart of the oil you would usually add when changing the oil. Alemite releases a substance that will build up between the ring and cylinder wall, creating a seal that also will help cut down on leakage.

  5. 5

    Drive your vehicle 20 to 35mph after adding the Alemite mixture for at least 50 miles. Keeping a moderate speed during the first 50 miles assists in a fast seal build-up. After you have travelled 50 miles, you may bring the vehicle up to a highway speed.

Tips and warnings

  • If oil is still burning after following all steps, it is best to take the car into a service shop where a mechanic can determine if the problem is because of a more complicated issue.
  • Be careful when working under vehicles. Ensure that the emergency brake is on and that the car is in park when on jack stands.

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