Consumer Reports: Nearly 1.5M Vehicles Have Higher-Than-Average Oil Consumption

When I first started driving, I remember being told to change my car’s oil every 3,000 miles. More than a dozen years later – and after several advancements in vehicle production – most cars can go 5,000 miles to 10,000 miles before they need a fresh dose of oil. But according to a new analysis from Consumer Reports, those mileage markers may be a bit too optimistic, as many new cars actually require additional oil between changes – and that’s not really acceptable.

According to a new in-depth analysis from our colleagues at Consumer Reports – which appears in the August issue of the magazine – several automakers have built engines that excessively burn oil between changes, requiring the owners of nearly 1.5 million vehicles to add a quart of oil to their engines as often as every month.

The CR “Thirsty 30” list of oil-guzzling models is based on 498,900 vehicles from the 2010 to 2014 model years, many of which are still under their powertrain warranty.

Topping the list are several Audi, BMW and Subaru models including the Audi A3, A4, A5, A6, and Q5; BMW 5, 6, and 7 Series, and X5; and Subaru Forester, Impreza, Legacy, and Outback.

“While it’s normal for cars to burn a little oil as they age toward 100,000 miles and beyond, we believe that for a late-model car to burn a quart or more of oil between changes is unacceptable,” Mark Rechtin, Consumer Reports’ Cars Content Development Team Leader said. “It’s also our strong opinion that any engine that burns oil between changes should be repaired under the powertrain warranty.”

The analysis found that in the worst case scenario, owners of the BMW 5 Series with V8 engines were 27 times more likely to suffer excessive oil consumption as owners of an average vehicle.

When asked about the oil-guzzling nature of some of their vehicles Audi, BMW and Subaru said it was a natural part of a car’s operation.

In fact, Subaru considers a quart burned every 1,000 to 1,200 miles to be acceptable, while BMW and Audi consider one quart every 600 to 700 miles to be reasonable.

According to CR, if a driver has to add a quart of oil every month, that could add up to seven to nine quarts of oil between changes. And all that oil, well, it costs a pretty penny.

While such excessive oil consumption is worrying and taxing on an owner’s wallet, CR didn’t find there to be any directly correlated engine problems with the guzzling.

Still, according to the data, if a car burns oil early in its use, it will burn even more as it ages.

Of course, not all cars suffer from exorbitant oil use. CR’s analysis found that 98% of 2010-2014 cars don’t require extra engine oil between changes.

Consumer Reports Reveals: ‘Thirsty 30’ List of Oil-Guzzling Late-Model Cars [Consumer Reports]

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