Hoping for the doomsday answer...
My '78 Volare station wagon has a problem. Gasoline is getting into the oil. Before I spend a fortune trying to fix it, could you please tell me what might be causing it?
RAY: We have bad news, Bobbie. This Volare could hang on a while longer!
TOM: I bet you were hoping we would give you the doomsday answer so you could dump this heap and buy a new car. But unfortunately, the problem could be something as simple as a cylinder that isn't firing.
RAY: If the gasoline in one of the cylinders isn't getting burned, it would seep down past the rings right into the oil pan.
TOM: And the cylinder may not be firing for any number of reasons. It could be nothing more than a bad spark plug or bad plug wire--either of which cost a few bucks. So have your mechanic start there.
RAY: If the car is running on all of its cylinders, the next thing I would suspect would be a flooding carburetor. A flooding carb would dump too much gas into all of the cylinders. And again, the excess gasoline would leak down past the rings and into the oil.
TOM: The easiest way to check for that is with an emissions test. If the emissions test reveals that the car is running too rich, the carburetor may have to be rebuilt. But even that's only about a hundred bucks.
RAY: We're sorry if this isn't the answer you wanted to hear, Bobbie. Next time, if you want to justify getting rid of this '78 Volare, just put the words "doomsday answer" in a P.S. at the end of your letter and we'll gladly oblige.