The Kia Soul is a fun, funky compact car that delivers style, versatility, and value. But like any vehicle, it can develop common mechanical issues. One problem that some Soul owners encounter is excessive oil consumption—better known as burning oil. What causes this annoying problem and how can you fix it?
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Understanding Kia Soul Oil Consumption
All engines naturally burn a little bit of oil during normal operation. Pistons moving up and down cause slight wear and tear which produces oil consumption. The Soul’s small 1.6L and 2.0L 4-cylinder engines are designed to safely use about 1 quart of oil every 2,000-3,000 miles.
However, burning more than this rate is excessive and can lead to low oil levels, lubrication issues, and eventual engine damage. So if you have to add a quart of oil monthly or every thousand miles, you likely have an oil-burning problem in your Soul that needs attention.
Top Causes of Excess Oil Consumption in Kia Souls
A variety of issues can cause a Soul engine to guzzle down oil rapidly. Here are some of the most common causes:
Worn Piston Rings
The piston rings seal the combustion chamber and control oil consumption. Over time, they lose their tension and allow oil to seep past into the cylinders. Replacing the rings can fix this.
Damaged Valve Guides or Seals
Worn valve stem seals and guides permit oil to leak into the cylinders as well. New seals and guides are needed to prevent this.
Clogged PCV System
A clogged crankcase ventilation valve or hose forces excessive blow-by vapors into the intake, burning oil. Cleaning the PCV system restores proper flow.
Incorrect Oil Weight
Using the wrong viscosity oil can increase consumption. Always use the weight specified by Kia for optimal performance.
Aftermarket Oil Filters
Some aftermarket filters have poor construction and don’t filter well, allowing contaminants to damage engine parts and raise consumption.
Thick, sludgy oil can obstruct oil passages and coat vital components, increasing wear and oil usage.
Damaged Catalytic Converter
If the catalytic converter breaks down inside, it can dump debris into the cylinders that accelerates wear and oil burning.
Cooling System Leak
An internal coolant leak into the cylinders dilutes and contaminates the oil, making it thin and volatile.
How to Diagnose Oil Consumption Problems
Annoying oil loss isn’t always easy to detect in a Soul. Here are some good ways to determine if your engine is burning excessive oil:
Check Oil Regularly
Frequently check the dipstick to monitor rate of consumption. Mark the dipstick to track oil use between changes.
Inspect for Leaks
Look under the car thoroughly for any external leaks that could cause low oil. Burning oil won’t leak externally.
Remove and Inspect Spark Plugs
Check for oil residue baked on the plugs, which indicates oil is getting past the rings into the combustion chamber.
Perform Compression Test
This can identify compression issues that allow oil past the rings. Compare readings across cylinders.
Do Oil Pressure Test
Low oil pressure signifies worn main bearings that can raise oil consumption.
Check PCV System
Inspect PCV components for obstructions and confirm they are functioning properly.
Look for blue-gray exhaust smoke, which means oil is burning in the cylinders.
Stopping Kia Soul Oil Consumption Problems
Once you’ve pinpointed the cause of excessive oil loss in your Soul, you can have the necessary repairs done to stop it. Here are some common fixes:
Replace Piston Rings
New piston rings seal the cylinder bores properly and cut oil usage dramatically. Requires extensive engine work.
Install New Valve Seals and Guides
Worn seals and guides can be replaced to cut oil loss past the valves. Valves may need grinding/replacement too.
Clean or Replace PCV System
Clearing obstructions in the PCV system or installing new components curtails oil vapor loss.
Switch Oil Weight
Using the manufacturer specified viscosity may help slightly. Try a high-mileage oil as well.
Replace Catalytic Converter
If internally contaminated, a new catalytic converter prevents cylinder debris damaging the oil control rings.
Fix Engine Issues
Any issues causing blow-by like bad rings, valves, or cylinder bores must be addressed to stop oil burning.
Engine Overhaul or Replacement
Excess sludge, wear, or damage may require a full engine overhaul or replacement.
Maintaining Your Soul to Minimize Oil Consumption
The best way to avoid excessive oil consumption in your Kia Soul is preventative maintenance:
Use Recommended Oil
Always use the factory weight oil. Synthetic blends provide better protection.
Change Oil Regularly
Follow the maintenance schedule and replace oil at least every 5,000 miles.
Use OEM Filters
Genuine Kia oil filters are superior to aftermarket versions.
Inspect PCV System
Periodically check the PCV components for blockages to keep air and vapors flowing properly.
Avoid aggressive acceleration and speeding which stresses the engine and causes more wear.
Watch Coolant Levels
Top off coolant as needed to prevent leaks into the cylinders.
Clean Intake Deposits
Have fuel injectors and intake valves cleaned to remove deposits that impact piston rings and oil consumption.
Being diligent with routine care makes a big difference in curtailing oil usage in your Soul. But if your efforts fail, be sure to address excessive consumption promptly to avoid further engine damage. With some targeted diagnosis and repairs, you can stop annoying oil loss and burning in your Kia.