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My car runs out of oil. Can I avoid replacing the engine?

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I have a 2005 Mazda3 Sport GS with a 2.3-litre engine. It was bought new, has been dealer-serviced its entire life, and now has 93,000 km on it. I recently had it to the dealership for the third instance of the engine being almost devoid of oil. Apparently some 2.3-litre engines from the 2004-07 Mazda3 run into oil consumption problems.

Mazda wants $8,500 for a factory remanufactured engine and independent shops want $4,800 for a used engine. That's too much for our family budget to deal with. In order to keep driving this car, what engine oil should I use? Mazda recommends 5W-20 for the engine. which is most likely not helping the consumption issue. Should I try 5W-30 or 10W-30? Or another type of oil to slow the consumption and avoid needing to top up the oil every two weeks? – Brett

You don't indicate the rate the engine is using oil. There is a big difference between consuming a litre every 1,000 or 1,500 kilometres and one every 100 km.

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If it's every 100 km, you had best start thinking of a replacement, if it's every 1,000 or 1,500 km, that is not that unusual. Get in the practice of carrying oil with you and topping up every second or third time you fill the gas tank.

There is some disagreement as to whether thicker oil is the answer. One issue to be wary of is using heavier oil with winter just around the corner. This could make the engine difficult to start and provide less lubrication for the first few seconds of operation.

Similarly, there are two schools of thought regarding additives. I am not a fan of additives and would take the approach of using oils developed specifically for high-mileage engines. Most of the major motor oil companies have this type of oil available. They commonly contain additives designed to help stop leaks from seals and rings and reduce consumption.

Send your automotive maintenance and repair questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

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