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Article posted: 9/8/2013 12:10 AM

Car that burns oil will damage parts

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By Doug McAllister

Q. If your car burns oil and you fill it back up on a weekly basis, do you still need to get an oil change?

A. You are going through an enormous amount of oil, that's for sure. If you don't have any intentions of getting this problem resolved and you are just going to drive this car till it drops, I don't think you need to worry much about oil changes. It would probably be helpful to change the oil filter at the normal interval, though.

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With that amount of oil consumption you may run into other problems a lot sooner, like fouled spark plugs, O2 sensor or catalytic converter.

Q. When is enough, enough? How much has to be wrong with a car before you decide it's time to let it go?

A. This is a decision only you can make because anything can be fixed -- all it costs is money.

Like the car discussed above, it could be in perfect shape other than this oil consumption problem. Hypothetically now, what if a $3,000 engine would put this car in like-new condition; would it be worth it?

A question you can ask yourself is, what if this car was advertised for sale for $3,000 with a new, perfect engine? Would that be a good deal? In many cases you could not go out and buy a good used car for the amount of money needed to put your current paid-for car in "like new" condition.

There are instances though where you may have let the car go to a point where there are multiple problems, when you can find a nice car in better shape for less than what it would cost to repair yours. Let's say it has an engine problem and it needs brakes, tires, a catalytic converter, shocks and struts, a steering rack and the body is all beat up. Guess what? Enough is probably enough.

Q. If the manufacturer says a vehicle needs premium fuel, what happens if you use mid-grade or regular?

A. The car will run on regular, but it has been designed to run on the higher octane fuel. The simplest way to describe this is in order for it to run on regular gas, the computer will need to detune the engine a bit, sacrificing performance and fuel economy.

As a result, you will probably burn more fuel and gain nothing in cost savings -- and your car will not run optimally.

If your car calls for premium fuel, you should put premium fuel in it, and if your car does not call for premium fuel there is no advantage to you using it.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit douglasautomotive.com. Send questions to underthehood@dailyherald.com.

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