After a gazillion repairs, why is my daughter's Nova burning MORE oil than before?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

My daughter has a 1986 Chevy Nova which is using about two quarts of oil a week. The car is being driven less than 200 miles a week, and now has 89,000 miles on it. She recently replaced the timing belt, the clutch and clutch master cylinder, the water pump, the fuel pump, and the head gasket. We've also had the cylinder head repaired, and many other parts changed.

Prior to having all this work done, the Nova used five to eight quarts of oil a year, and shortly after this work, it started using two quarts a week. In your opinion, could any of this repair work caused the problem? Could some part have been left out or some faulty adjustment made? My daughter would like to trade this car in, but with smoke pouring out the exhaust, she won't recover what she paid to have it repaired. Do you know of any additive we could use to lessen the smoke exhausted or the oil being consumed?

TOM: Yeah, we know of an additive that will stop the smoke, James. Dollar bills. About 1,500 of them.

RAY: My guess is that you needed a head gasket and cylinder head job recently because the car overheated. And I suspect that when it overheated, your daughter kept right on driving anyway. That ruined not only the gasket and head, but probably the pistons, rings, and cylinder walls, too. And the only thing that will fix it is an engine rebuild.

TOM: I can sympathize with your request, James. I mean, since the time of the Pharaohs, people have been looking for a magical "additive" that would stop an engine from burning oil. It's a little known fact that when they opened up the pyramids in Egypt, in addition to the bodies of the Pharaohs, they also found hundreds of empty bottles of "Motor Honey."

RAY: Your daughter has to decide how much she likes this car, James. If she's willing to drive it a few more years, then spend $1,500 and rebuild the engine. At least you know you won't need a clutch or fuel pump, right?

TOM: And if she's really determined to get rid of it, then swallow hard, stuff a couple of bananas in the crankcase, and see what the dealer will give you for it. Good luck.

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