Doctor Diesel

A new take on the expression “oil burner”?

dd 2Dear Doctor, I just wondered if you are aware of any issues surrounding any Volkswagen group engines, recent ones, using high levels of oil? I have a new Skoda Superb, 187bhp 2.0-litre TDI, that has suddenly started to do so. It has just under 4,000 miles on the clock and is, of course, still under warranty, so I am not too concerned as yet. It’s a Euro-6 engine using AdBlue, by the way.

It has recently suddenly started doing only about 100 miles or less to a litre of oil, which gets expensive. It is definitely not a leak, and there are no smells of any sort in the car. The car runs well, although I would say that it’s possibly slightly less punchy then when I first got it, and there are no warning lights of any sort. It doesn’t seem to visibly smoke, except for a slight grey cloud under pressure, and just for a couple of seconds. The exhaust tailpipe inside is thick with black soot though. The mpg still seems alright, at around 42mpg, according to the on board unit, and there are no unexplained noises. The coolant temperature is normal and oil temperature runs at around 97 to 102 degrees Celsius, depending on what you are doing. Only the correct low ash Castrol Edge oil has been used (VAG 507) to top up. The car is booked into the Skoda garage next week, but I would like to have a bit of background knowledge when I go there. There is, apparently, some sort of update or recall for this engine (not emissions related), but they would not be specific as to what it related to. Any thoughts from your point of view? 

Also, do you have mail address for Skoda UK, who I think are in Milton Keynes? 


I have not as yet picked up any pattern of oil consumption problems with this engine, nor for its 168bhp predecessor, of which there are actually good reports on how little oil they used. I have not heard of any recalls either, other than one for a fuse box related electrical one – but then recalls are strictly safety related. What are called Technical Bulletins are often issued for purely mechanical problems without any related safety issues.

Judging by your fuel consumption (assuming that you are not seriously down on power) you do drive the car enthusiastically, which eliminates one possible cause that I might otherwise have suggested – the engine not being run in properly. I am also assuming that you did not mollycoddle the engine in its early life. But then you did say that it had suddenly started using all this oil, so this is not good – that is certainly a very high oil usage rate. Do not let the garage mess you around. If in doubt, and if they try to fob you off, you should make direct contact with Skoda Customer Services (contact details supplied) to record your concerns. The exhaust tail pipe should not be thick with black soot. With that level of oil consumption you are polluting the atmosphere and you might even be breaking the law. Point this out to the garage and see what they say.

This is a Euro-6 engine and should be churning out exhaust air that you can almost breathe! You might even want to record on paper your right to reject the car, if the problem is not solved reasonably rapidly. You have to give them reasonable time and possibly several attempts to solve the problem, but it might be wise to record your rights on paper now. You may think that I am being somewhat aggressive, but you might look back and have regrets if you are too easy on them now. You might even like to consider demanding an acceptable loan car, in view of the oil costs, and leave the car with them until they get it sorted. It will not be doing the engine any good whatsoever running it daily whilst it is using this high amount of oil. If they should hand you back the car, then I would ask them to supply some free oil!

Doc D

As I write, D.S. has just updated me to say that, following the Skoda garage visit, the Superb is having a monitored oil consumption test, hopefully over 186 miles – that’s 300 kilometres, for the curious! But he tells me that it is already half way down towards the “fill” mark after just 60 miles!

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