Q: oil usage

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My '04 Ram 1500 4x4 with a 5.7 liter Hemi is using oil. It will go through 1 1/2 qts before I get to the change point at 5000 miles. I don't see smoke idling or driving. Otherwise the truck runs fine. This started, 2008, when I did a "quickie mart" oil change using Penzoil and a drive from Central Florida to Houston loaded down and towing a 25' sailboat, approximate weight 4000 lbs. I normally use Valvoline oil. There was also a knocking noise for a while around that time, but it has since stopped. My mileage was still under warranty <50000. The truck runs ok but this has bugged me all this time, I would really like to know why. The Dodge dealer tried to sell me own the notion that 750 miles/quart was normal usage. HA! When I challenged that he quickly changed it to 1000/quart. In my way of thinking, that's a junker. Thanks Scotty. Bruce

My car has 86000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Your oil usage of 1.5 qts over 5000 miles is not anything to be concerned about. I know that GM considers up to 1 qt per 2000 miles usage normal.

There are a few different ways that oil can be "used" by an engine. One of the most common is a problem with the PCV system. This system draws combustion vapors out of the crankcase back into the intake of the engine to be burned. If the PCV valve gets gummed up it can allow engine oil to be sucked into the intake and burned. It’s not enough to create the tell tale blue smoke but it can be enough over time to use over a quart depending on your oil change interval.

Next would be the piston rings being gummed up with carbon. When using extended oil change intervals with conventional oil, the oil will break down and leave deposits. When these deposits build up in the piston ring, it causes the rings not to seal as well. When this happens oil will work its way up the cylinder walls instead of being scraped off by the rings.

I am very familiar with GM V8 engines that have this problem and have seen many engines that got all the pistons replaced under warranty due to using 3 quarts every 2000 miles due to the piston rings being stuck with carbon.

Since your oil usage is not very bad right now, it would be a good idea to have the PCV system checked in your truck and look into adding new performance oil to your car. This service will help clean these deposits and may help lower your oil consumption.

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