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Old 02-03-2009, 11:49 AM   #1
sps SOHC
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Default Catalytic convertor hiding oil burn?

My oil consumption has just gone through the roof lately. Causing me to switch to wal-mart dyno oil just to save some money.

It appears I lost a quart of oil in the last 250 miles. (I think that's the worst so far but recently it's been 300-400 miles per quart)

I don't know where it's going. I frequently watch the exhaust (side-exit) w/ my mirror and can't ever see anything until very high rpms. I've checked for oil leaks and can't find any. I set a big piece of cardboard under my car for 8 hours and not a drop fell on it. If it's only coming out under pressure I would assume it would build up enough to form an oily spot somewhere in the engine bay. But there is nothing. (there used to be from the front seal but that was fixed)

I even watch the exhaust when I first start up in the morning and I never see any smoke. I guess my valve seals are good (they should be since they were replaced 10 months ago).

So is it possible that the cat is covering up a lot of the smoke from the oil consumption? Or is there just some secret hidden leak that is being extremely covert. I don't like putting in a quart a week.
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-96 SC2 gets 35 mpg mix city/hw.
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:03 PM   #2
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Default Re: Catalytic convertor hiding oil burn?

If no sign of leaks, must be burned. A quart every tank is a bit excessive and may well be beyond the reach of the simple soaks and treatments, but they may be worth a try. Adding oil is usually cheaper than an overhaul.

Have you tried the usual suspects for reducing consumption; i.e., .
Using 10W-30 rather than 5W-30 (local temperatures permitting).
Making sure you PCV valve is up to OEM spec and working.
MMO Soak (try a couple)
AutoRX treatment (probably 2 cycles = 6000 miles so this is a slow process)
GM Top Engine Cleaner
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Catalytic convertor hiding oil burn?

phosphorous from the oil can , over time , foul the converter

I'd do the MMO soak (limit 2 hours) , multiple times.

sometimes leaks allow oil to push into cooling jacket , but not generally in quantity. keep an eye on the antifreeze too , though
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Catalytic convertor hiding oil burn?

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sometimes leaks allow oil to push into cooling jacket , but not generally in quantity. keep an eye on the antifreeze too , though
That's not a leak. That constitutes a blown head gasket (or cracked head). MUCH more serious than an external leak.
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Old 02-03-2009, 02:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: Catalytic convertor hiding oil burn?

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Originally Posted by DonP View Post
If no sign of leaks, must be burned. A quart every tank is a bit excessive and may well be beyond the reach of the simple soaks and treatments, but they may be worth a try.
That's the thing, at a quart a tank I would expect to see a very noticeable amount of smoke coming from the exhaust. I noticed it from my old SL2 and it was only doing 1qt per 600-700 miles.

I can sit at idle and rev it up and not see a thing.
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-96 SC2 gets 35 mpg mix city/hw.
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Old 02-03-2009, 04:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: Catalytic convertor hiding oil burn?

That seems awfully common with our oil-burners. And I think it's been hinted here before, that indeed, it's the catalytic that conceals it, probably to its ultimate demise.
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Old 02-03-2009, 05:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Catalytic converter hiding oil burn?

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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
That seems awfully common with our oil-burners. And I think it's been hinted here before, that indeed, it's the catalytic that conceals it, probably to its ultimate demise.
I'd like to do a complete rebuild of an engine and swap it in there. I have the money I just don't have the time. Not too long ago it was quite the opposite.

She has almost 170k miles on her. Not too many.

I'm going to do some of the oil burning remedies listed and a complete lookover for any leaks (engine running and not). If I can get it to an OK level (600+/qt) then I'll just swap the converter and be satisfied.
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-96 SC2 gets 35 mpg mix city/hw.
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Old 02-03-2009, 07:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: Catalytic convertor hiding oil burn?

More than likely needs rings... no amount of mmo soak will cure this amount of oil consumption.... ( trust me on this one) If you sit in the driveway and rev the engine several times to 3000-4000 rpm you will see the blue smoke.

I have rebuilt many saturn engines because of high oil consumption . my first saturn used a quart every 200 miles and i never saw smoke. I tried every black magic trick in the book , but in the end it got rings . end of story
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Old 02-04-2009, 09:05 AM   #9
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Default Re: Catalytic convertor hiding oil burn?

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More than likely needs rings... no amount of mmo soak will cure this amount of oil consumption.... ( trust me on this one) If you sit in the driveway and rev the engine several times to 3000-4000 rpm you will see the blue smoke.
I've done that. No smoke.
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-96 SC2 gets 35 mpg mix city/hw.
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