Why is the oil drained from my car less than the amount put in?

A confusing conundrum
by Ferman Lao | Jul 26, 2017

Hi Top Gear Philippines! I just want to ask. Every time I have my oil changed, the amount of oil drained from my car is so little. I put in four liters of oil in my car every oil change, but when I drain it not even one liter pours out. My mechanic checked my car for holes or leaks, but he found none—even the tailpipe is clean. Any possible reasons? I read an article of yours about sludge, could that be it?

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Thanks Top Gear Philippines. Mabuhay! My car is a Kia Picanto by the way, 2006 model.

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Jandi dela Torre

Hi Jandi,

If you've been encountering this situation for quite some time, I would recommend that you change mechanics. Any good mechanic should know that what's happening in your situation isn't normal. However, there are some engines that do consume a certain amount of oil between change intervals. Owners of the older generation Civics with the K-series motor would generally encounter something similar but perhaps not to your extent; this happens particularly to owners who explore the upper limits of their engine's power band.

Without knowing what your service interval is, it's unlikely that anyone who doesn't have any personal experience with the same model car can diagnose it effectively. If you are concerned about sludge, however, either dropping the oil pan or opening up the valve cover will help in shedding some light on the issue. Either of the two locations should show signs of sludge, or will show signs of unusual build-ups that may explain what's going on with your engine.

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As an aside, if you notice anything out-of-the-ordinary with your vehicles, getting them checked at a trusted or reputable service shop would be the best thing you can to in order to avoid possible future repair expenditures.

Thank you for writing in. Let us know how it turns out.

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