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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, so I changed my oil back in October and everything was running fine until about a couple of weeks ago. Back in october I used mobil1 0w-40 and I thought everything was great, or so I thought. I check the dipstick atleast once a week. I do put on atleast 300-350 miles a week for the commute to work. Now, a couple weeks ago checked it and nothing on dipstick. I just didn't understand where all the oil went.So i ran out and bought mobil1 15w50, the heavier weight, and add about 4-5 quarts. The oil was in range so I tried not to think about it. Last week I checked it again and low again so I had to add another 3 quarts. I checked it again last night...nothing on dipstick. So I add another 3 quarts until its in range. Where is all this oil going? Its gotta be a leak or being burnt off. Where can I start looking? When I'm driving and put the window down I do notice a burning smell. Also inside of muffler does have black soot.

Side note: when the engine is warm, at idle, oil pressure plummets and temp rises to around 225.

Any ideas on how I can diagnose this problem? I don't want to drive it if this continues, but its my only car and need it to get to work. Any insight is greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Luciano
 

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Luciano

Did you check your oil filter for tightness, look under the car and see if this area is wet with oil or very clean. Maybe it was a bit loose when you change it last October? If you changed the filter with the inital oil change.

Any oil in the coolant?

If above are not evident, then a compression check would be next.

All ALFA's have a fine black soot in the rear tail pipe but it's not greasy. Comes off the fingers with a little soap , not hand cleaner.

Mobil 15-50W is what I use and have no had an excessive oil consumption problem. My LS is a medium milage car - 115,000. What's your milage?

Search "high oil comsumption" and see Black Alfa's discussion on 'spark plugs'.

Frank
 

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I would start by firing the car up and bending down to look under the car for drips or streams of oil coming out, because a leak like that, you are going to see. I suspect you have a loose oil filter or the gasket behind the oil cooler has failed. You will want to fix either problem ASAP. Then again, the rear main seal could have failed, allowing oil to drip on the exhaust pipe, giving you the burnt oil smell.
Charles
 

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So before oil change in October what kind of oil was being used in car? Was car using oil then?

If you don't have a visible leak on the ground and oil usage went crazy after you went with Mobil1 and you were using regular oil before that maybe the problem.

If you can't find a external leak you could have a clogged up black oil seperator on back of intake or drain hose and port from bottom of it into rear head and you are sucking extra oil into intake and burning it up in cat convertor.
 

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I agree with the oil in the coolant comment, in cold weather the car will cool fine and run well, but usually a little oil will leak in the coolant via head gasket failure. You will not notice, then the first really warm day of summer in traffic you will most likely kiss your head gasket off goodbye. So, check for oily deposits in the coolant reservoir. Next, typically the oil pressure sending unit loves to be a pain in the neck if it comes loose, look between the heads on the distributor side, you will notice oil pooling if that is the case. Ultimately by the harmonic balancer, the cam gears, etc as it was suggested above. You can also pull your plugs, if you are going to do a compression check like Multicam suggested, look at your plugs when you remove them. If one looks oily, then you have worn rings or maybe bad valve seals, but ultimately if any are really clean like the day you put them in, it means the head gasket is slowly going and maybe you are beginning to burn a little coolant as well as letting oil in the coolant at the same time. The rear bank towards the firewall is usually the first one to fail being that it is located behind all of the other components, hence does not enjoy from the full benefits of engine cooling fan.

Steve,
you never cease to amaze me...
 

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Let's hope for a simple oil leak before talking head gasket. :eek: If it turns out to be a head gasket issue, you could to a retorque on both heads without removing the heads or replacing the actual headgaskets, to see if it seals up the leak. So all may not be lost if it is a headgasket leak, don't despair yet. Is your oil pressure light coming on, or just the gauge shows low pressure. The gauge showing low pressure at idle is very common and doesn't really mean there is a problem (cause they almost all do that), but if the light is coming on, than you really do have low oil pressure and you should not be running the car at all. The temp should go to 212*F or so indicated on the gauge, so also not necessarily a problem especially in bumper to bumper traffic. Does the car actually overheat (boil over)? I think you just have a simple oil leak, unless you tell me something that changes my mind. Centro64 - this engine is not an air-cooled engine, so the fan does virtually nothing to cool the engine, it only pulls air through the radiator (which does the cooling). The only reason rear head gaskets normally are the issue, is that the factory specified retorque doesn't happen on that head, 'cause a lazy mechanic only retorqued the front head and didn't want to remove the intake to get to the rear one, hence the rear one never got its retorque.
Charles
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Multicam: 95' 164 LS has 60,000 miles. Will check for oil in coolant reservoir and filter for tightness.

Steve: car was running synthetic mobil1 15w-50 in previous months before I changed to 0w-40 because I thought it would be better for cold weather start up. Driveway has couple drops of oil every so often..usually size of a silver dollar. There is excessive smoke from exhaust, but I thought it be normal with these older vehicles.


Will check all the above when I get home. Thank you for the responses everyone.
 

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Smoke out the exhaust is NOT normal for these cars, let along one with 60k. Sounds like you are leaking oil and very possibly burning it.
Charles
 

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Charles,
Indeed this is not a Panda 750 by no means, and the radiator does do 95% of the work. The rear head often is the pain in the neck of the lazy mechanic because you have to remove the plenum and a bunch of extra components to access even the plugs, but I sincerely believe that it will always run at a higher temperature than the front one. Even by a bit more, it is common sense, if you move forward, no matter how many CFMs your fan will draw away, you still have air entering the engine at different speeds from the front of the car/underneath, so, by physics even if a little, the air will make a difference.That rear head is cooled in the same fashion than the front, but the heat buildup inside the engine compartment cannot be the same in the rear where you have the motor, the exhaust manifold, and a bunch of other components a few inches from the firewall the general temperature has to be higher, even by a few more degrees. In any case, no, you are correct, it does not purely cools by means of airflow, otherwise he would not have to check for oil in the coolant, because it would be an air cooled engine indeed.So, I may have been confusing and incorrect by saying that the rear head does not enjoy the air movement of the fan, what I meant was, the front head enjoys from a better life cycle than the rear because it is less neglected and is located at an advantageous location. In my small and limited experience, the rear head is the first to burn off the gasket, or leak for that matter because it does not get torqued down, the cover tightened as often as the front one, etc. At any rate, excessive smoke from the exhaust means you are either burning oil or coolant, depending on the smell of the smoke.
 

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Multicam: 95' 164 LS has 60,000 miles. Will check for oil in coolant reservoir and filter for tightness.

Steve: car was running synthetic mobil1 15w-50 in previous months before I changed to 0w-40 because I thought it would be better for cold weather start up. Driveway has couple drops of oil every so often..usually size of a silver dollar. There is excessive smoke from exhaust, but I thought it be normal with these older vehicles.


Will check all the above when I get home. Thank you for the responses everyone.

Pull off top hose to black oil seperator and see how much oil in hose. Some normal as is some inside black corragated hose betweeen air flow meter and intake throttle body but should not be excessive. If it is you need to verify oil seperator, drain hose and drain port is not clogged and oil getting sucked into engine.

Hopefully it is something "minor" like this and not a real engine problem with rings or valve seals.
I say minor because getting to drain hose and drain port behind engine still a bit of a chore.
 

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I would throw my hat into the ring for a big oil leak, as in my experience, none of the other internal engine problems would not consume that much oil (~100 miles/qt?) without really causing the engine to run very poorly or showing mucho oil in the coolant. My 91S, when I bought it, consumed oil like this but turned out to be a big leak from the back side of the engine. Previous owner hadn't bothered to fix it, but I knew it would be easy. I suspect the oil filter is not tight enough, should be firm hand tight with gasket lubed with oil. Do not use a wrench to tighten. Or maybe it is a defective filter.

One thing to check for is whether or not you had removed the old oil filter gasket (rubber ring, usually stays with the old filter) before you installed the new filter. Friend had a Milano where it ended up with a big oil leak from the filter area. Turns out the old filter left it's gasket behind, and so he had double gaskets, which ended up shifting after a while and letting a lot of oil leak out.

Hot idle oil pressure, with 15W-50, in the 94-95 engines should read somewhere from 15-25 psi if you have a properly working sender. If the sender has faded, the pressure could read 0 to 10. What is the pressure at cruise, ~3000 rpm. Should be about 45-55 or in that range. Otherwise, with a bum sender it might read as low as 20-25. Evidently the oil level sensor in your engine must not be working, as it would show a warning light if you had run the engine that far down in oil.

Not to worry if the temp at idle rises to about 225F. That's ok (my 94LS does the same thing but everything is working fine) but you might check to see if the radiator fan comes on when it should. These V-6's run hot (190-225F) as normal. Colder is not best for the engine.
 

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My 91L is running on Mobil 1 10W 40 "high mileage" for older engines and it likes it. Frankly, that 0W 40 is great for newer engines but the Alfa V6 is pretty long in the tooth now and needs "thicker" oil.

I use Mobil 1 0W 40 in my 97 SAAB Aero and my 2001 Audi S4 and they both like it fine.

The Alfa has run well on Castrol Syntec 5W 50, Pennzoil 5W 50, SINT 2000 5W 50 and Selenia 10W 40.

Consumption since new has remained constant at about a quart (liter) every 3,000 km in winter and 2,000 km in summer, approximately.

Mind you, Mobil does recommend Mobil 1 0W 40 but only for below 0 F use. if you select above 0 F then it punts you up to the 10W 40. 0 F is pretty cold for most places when you consider that Mobil is asking what is the "usual" temperature you will be operating at not the most extreme. No doubt the 0W40 will start better below 0F than the 10W 40 but when the engine is hot it will slip past those valve guides like water. 10W 40 fully synthetic gives excellent cold start performance well below 0F (We know, we do). The 10W 40 Selenia ARDONA supplied when the car was new started just fine way down to -35 C (-37F) so Mobil 10W 40 will do the same.

I had a 1986 SAAB 9000 Turbo that just did not like Quaker State 5W 50. It would drink it down the valve guides like nobody's business. Switched to Castrol Syntec 5W 50 and oil consumption was actually less than with conventional 20W 50.

Older engines are weird that way as the clearances were all larger than for modern powerplants. Some old engines just do not like super thin synthetics. they protect the engine just fine but won't stay behind the seals.You MUST use these thin oils for some modern engines as the thicker stuff won't flow properly through the clearances and the oil film will break down due to overheating.

What's the right oil for my car?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Update

Update: bad news

I'm somewhat a newbie to fixing cars, but I'm learning more and more as I go along with this car. If anything this a good, but costly learning experience. There were no leaks to be found so I went to see my Alfa mechanic a couple weeks ago.We took off both front and rear heads, pulled spark plugs. Found oil crud on 2 spark plugs on rear head. After, pulled off intake runners and saw oil soaking valves on cylinder 1 & 2. So bad valve seals/guides. Need to bring it back in when I have the extra dough to have heads taken off and bring it to machinist.

In the meantime I have been continuing to add oil every 2-3 days for the commute to work. I'd hate to drive it like this, but its my only car and I'm currently stuck in a rut.

In retrospect, I guess I went wrong with using Mobil 0w-40 in this vehicle. It might not have been so bad at first, but the 50 mile commute to and from work probably allowed the engine oil to get too hot/thin thereby slipping past valve guides. I think I learned my lesson, but at a costly price...
 

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Definitely switch to a 5W 40, 5W 50 or 10W 40 to reduce the oil consumption. If you live in a mild climate consider using 20W 50 conventional oil.
 

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Mine is also thirsty on the semi-synthetic 10W40 I'm using, but the Citroen is much worse on that matter.

The sump looks a bit oily but it's just around the plug. Also, the filter is pretty tight. Still, the light does come on when it goes a little under idle. I'll put some heavier oil the next time.

For now, I'll wash the engine and watch the oil cooler hoses, I suspect they might be leaking a little.

This is the 4-cylinder turbo, so I'm never expecting anyone here to have the same engine issues.
 

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In retrospect, I guess I went wrong with using Mobil 0w-40 in this vehicle. It might not have been so bad at first, but the 50 mile commute to and from work probably allowed the engine oil to get too hot/thin thereby slipping past valve guides.
I find it hard to believe that a change of oil grade can cause any type of leak in these engine.
Oil may affect things adversely in the long term but not from one service to the next.
There must be some other cause.....
 

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Change in oil viscosity or brand can cause oil burning to change radically. Rated viscosities are a performance measure rather than actual oil viscosity characteristics. Oils of different brands with the same SAE rating can flow quite differently in any given engine.
 

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This is the 4-cylinder turbo, so I'm never expecting anyone here to have the same engine issues.
True but still interesting all the same, it IS a 164 after all :)
My FIAT 4-cyl turbo is of similar vintage. I think it uses a bit more oil when driven hard, but I don't drive it much.

The real concern was the high oil consumption in my 156 - I use that car most of the time - the 2L Twinspark was using a litre of oil every 800km, very inconvenient. The solution was to hone the bores the old-fashioned way and fit new rings of the earlier wider style, specifically the 3mm oil control ring in place of the 2mm ring used on the Euro3/Euro4 engines like mine. Result, one litre in 7000km which I'm reasonably happy with. Perhaps not perfect but the engine does have 245,000km on the clock and I might have been a bit generous with the honing, I kept going until all the shadow/ridge was gone from the top of the bore.

The thing is (and I think this is relevant to the current topic) there were never any clouds of smoke when it was burning off one litre every 800km. The oil was being left as a thick film on the cylinder walls, all the time. I did notice some crusty white buildup on the spark plugs but the exhaust seemed clean (three catalytic converters probably working hard).

-Alex
 

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Seating rings is pretty important. Modern engines tend to have fast break in periods but I am sceptical about that. I always run in any new engine regardless of whether the manufacturer says I should or not. I think many people incorrectly believe that a new engine should be babied leading to inadequate seating of the rings. The key thing to avoid when seating new rings is high piston speeds. It is important to provide some loading periodically during the break in as the rings are gas sealed. Without some loading they do not press onto the cylinder walls hard enough to really seat. Low piston speeds should be avoided also, especially high load and low piston speeds. Peak piston speeds and peak loadings should be increased as the break in progresses to ensure that the "no wear ridge" forms at the very top of the travel of the top ring and does so progressively. Break an engine in too gently and for too long and you may damage the top rings when you finally let her rip.

The irony of high oil consumption engines due to poor piston ring sealing is they last a long time, merrily burning way more oil than they need to. Having said that the 164 V6 is a "loose" engine by design and that is one of the reasons they had to stop making it. The engine uses more oil than is now permitted by emission regulations and that was a design aspect. I doubt there is a single tight 164 V6 out there. It might be interesting to know who owns the Alfa V6 with the lowest oil consumption. Mine seems pretty good at a liter every 2,000 to 3000 km summer and winter respectively.

All modern engines sold in North America have to be oil tight to meet the emissions testing.
 
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