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Lexus Burning Oil


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I just bought a 1996 Lexus ES300. Upon taking delivery of the vehicle, I took it to the nearest Toyota dealership to get the oil changed. I noticed that a little smoke came out ot the tailpipe when it was started so I asked the service people about it. They said it probably needed to have the induction system cleaned out so they performed a procedure on it where they blew out all the buildup in the fuel/air system. When they did this it literally filled the service center with white smoke. Now when I start the car, it bellows white smoke out. I called the service people and they said that it would eventually all get blown out and quit.

Since they performed this service, I've learned that it's burning oil. I'VE ALREADY PUT 3 QUARTS IN IT IN JUST 300 MILES!!! What's confusing to me is that it only smokes when I start it up, but the service guys told me to expect this because it takes awhile for the induction treatment to clear up. Also, I would expect sooting on the bumper or rear of the car if it's burning this much oil, but there is none.

What should I do?

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the smoke is normal after that kind of treatment. especially if you had a lot of carbon buildup in the intake system.

maybe it is not burning oil, but leaking it...what color is the smoke? is it white or does it have a bluish tint?

you could have an oil leak that only leaks when the engine is running...

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does the white smoke smell like oil or petroleum burning?

are you loosing oil when the car is parked, any major puddles. Maybe the oil pan plug is loose, or the filter is loose and the oil is flowing out there. Look around the oil filter and see if it is all wet. Sometimes when the old filter comes off, the gasket stays on and then the new filter is put on on top of the old gasket. Giving you a total of two gaskets. This will allow oil to seep out, but you will see it all over the side of the engine.

Take the car back immediately to the shop. 3 quarts in 300 miles is way way too much loss.

Look under the car and see if there is oil trails going out the back of the underside of the car. I had a pressure sensor go bad and the oil was coming out the side of the block where the sensor screwed in.

The bad things could be a blown cylinder head gasket (but the smoke would be white and smell like maple syrup) and wouldn't explain the oil consumption.

If your rings are shot or valve seal(s) are blown or leaking then you may be getting oil into the combustion chamber.....but the smoke should be more of a blue color.


Edited by steviej
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When you buy a used car you must insist on seeing service receipts. They are your best assurance the car does not have serious mechanical wear and tear. Just say no to sellers that cannot provide proof that all or most of the required scheduled maintenance was performed on time.

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This is exactly what is happening to my 96 that I just bought. I took it to the Lexus dealership and they pulled the head cover off. There was sludge all inside the engine. They said it was due to lack of regular oil changes. They couldn't find any records on the car except when it was first sold. Like yours, it was burning oil too much-I was having to put at least two quarts in each week. On start up, it would smoke for awhile but after the engine warmed up, it would stop. I would have them take a look inside and see if you have too much sludge built up. This will also kill your gas mileage. If not corrected, they said it will eventually lock up the engine. Hopefully, it won't be as bad as mine. When their done-I'm looking at 3000-3500.00 in repairs, parts, labor. :(

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sounds like a similar problem I'm having with engine oil gelling. I have a 2000 ES300 with a little over 50K on it (purchased used with 31K last summer). Last week the wife noticed "idiot" light came on. It was 1-1/2 quarts low on oil. Added the oil and placed cardboard under the car in garage to watch for leaks over the next few days. After 5-days checked again and found it was a quart low....strange thing was no leaks were discovered on the cardboard.

Took car into Local Toyota dealer and had mechanic take a look. Seems to be a oil gelling issue....but shouldn't the technician have noticed when filling with oil after a change? Since we purchased the es I've had the toyo dealer service every 4000-5000 miles.

Called Lexus 800 number and "local" Lexus dealer (300 miles away). Explained that the vehicle was at the Toyo shop and would like to get info on the possible coverage under the Customer Support Program for engine gelling problem. After some Q&A (mainly to verify the history of the oil change frequency), the lexus rep connected me to the lexus dealer's service manager to discuss the problem. SM is having the car towed to lexus shop and is picking up the tab AND is getting us setup with a rental. MAN that is alright!

Anyway, we'll see how this turns out. I'll try to keep the group posted. Sorry for the long winded post....I'm a newbie here :)

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 months later...


The issue turned out to be a very positive experience. Lexus dealer in San Antonio had the car towed to dealership, provided us with a rental, and had the car back to me in a week all at no cost! Luckily, we had taken our es to the toyo dealer every 4000 miles for the oil change, so we had a print out from the toyo dealer to prove it. Overall, I'd give Lexus an A+ on this one. :D

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