Auto Care FAQs by Carter Volkswagen: Why is my Engine Low on Oil?
A modern car should have the same amount of oil in it when you visit for your next oil change that they put in during the last one — but when something starts to go wrong, your oil level could begin to drop. You might have a leak somewhere allowing oil to slowly seep out. The car might be burning oil in the engine, slowly enough that you don't notice until your car's oil level warning light turns on. But either of those possibilities is bad news. You'll want to have the engine checked out by the professionals to see if they can't find a leak, or prevent your engine from burning excess oil.
We've compiled below the most common reasons for a low oil level in your Volkswagen. If these symptoms sound like your car, schedule an appointment with our service team to have it inspected by factory-trained technicians. Our service team knows more about caring for your Volkswagen than anyone else in Seattle!
Most Common Engine Oil Leaks
If you haven't noticed any smoke coming from the tailpipe as you drive, but your driveway is starting to look like a grey and black Jackson Pollock painting, you've probably got an oil leak. But if the leak is a little slower, and hasn't been leaving oil stains where it's parked, you might want to peek under the vehicle. Grab a flashlight and get as low to the ground as you can, and peer under the vehicle. Look for signs of moisture, or places where liquid appears to be dripping. If you notice a drip or ooze in a brownish color, that's likely your engine oil leak.
No signs of a leak? It could be that your engine is burning the oil internally instead — but if it's a small enough leak, you might just not be able to see it. We'll use special tools and plenty of experience in our service center at Carter Volkswagen to find your engine leak.
The most common places for an engine to spring a leak include the rear main seal, the oil pan gasket and the valve cover gasket.
Why is my Volkswagen Burning Oil?
If your engine isn't leaking, but the oil level continues to drop, you've likely got an engine that's burning oil.
Luckily, one of the most common reasons an engine burns oil is an inexpensive part that's quick and cheap to replace! A clogged PCV valve will begin sucking oil into the engine, and your car will burn it. Replacing the PCV valve is a fairly fast and easy procedure for your local Volkswagen authorized service center.
That said, if your PCV valve isn't the reason your engine is burning oil, you have a big problem in your car. You likely have bad valve seals or bad piston rings. That means oil is getting past these seals and being burned inside the engine.
The act of burning oil itself isn't typically a problem in your car, but you may notice a bluish-grey smoke coming from the exhaust if your engine is burning enough oil. That said, bad valve seals and piston rings can be costly and time-consuming to fix. It's a sign that your engine is simply getting old and starting to wear out. In many cases, it's more economical to just add oil as necessary and continue driving the car until the engine dies completely. If your car is newer and under warranty, piston ring or valve seal replacement will help your car last longer and stop burning oil. So be sure to consult with a friendly service advisor at Carter Volkswagen to find out what's best for you and your car.