Reasons Your Jeep Wrangler Is Burning Oil (Explained)

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The Jeep Wrangler is an excellently built vehicle that should hold up for many years with proper care and maintenance. But after a while, you may notice that the oil levels are getting low between oil changes. So, when should you be worried about your Jeep burning oil?

A Jeep Wrangler normally burns a small amount of oil between oil changes. If your Jeep burns more than 1 quart for every 1,000 miles driven, however, there may be an issue. Check for a leak first, then look for smoke, engine vibrations, or dirty spark plugs to determine if your Jeep is burning oil.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the signs as well as the causes of your Jeep burning oil so that you can take the appropriate action to fix the issue. 

What Does It Mean if My Jeep Is Burning Oil?

A campsite in the Nevada Wilderness with a tent and a Jeep

The term “burning oil” is commonly used to refer to the fact that the engine oil level in your Jeep is constantly going down. That means that you might check your engine oil and find it at one level, then check it again later to see it at a different one. 

While the term “burning oil” sounds ominous, it really just means that your engine is using oil. An engine uses oil by burning it, which explains the term.

A Jeep engine burning oil isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as this is part of the normal operation of your Jeep. The problem comes about when your Jeep is burning more oil than expected — or is burning it so rapidly that you can’t seem to keep it full. 

Usually, when someone refers to their Jeep burning oil, they’re referring to the negative connotation of this phrase, and they mean that their Jeep is burning off more oil than is expected or practical. 

How Much Oil Should a Jeep Normally Burn?

As we mentioned earlier, it’s perfectly normal for your Jeep to burn some oil over time. This is why there are manufacturer recommendations on when you should have your oil changed. Doing so ensures you get your oil filled before it’s too low.

In general, you should expect to lose a little oil every 1,000 miles that you drive your Jeep. Jeep oil dipsticks display an acceptable range where you can burn a little oil and still drive safely. 

After an oil service, your oil should be near the top of the acceptable range, and as you drive your car a few thousand miles, you’ll notice the oil level approaching the bottom of the range. As long as the oil level is within this range before it’s time for your next service, your Jeep is burning a normal amount of oil. 

If, however, your Jeep is burning more than 1 quart of oil every 1,000-2,000 miles, then there’s reason for concern; this is not a normal amount of oil for a Jeep to burn. 

Why Am I Losing Oil When There Isn’t a Leak?

If you check your oil levels and find that they’re low, your first instinct should be to check the ground beneath your Jeep for oil. If you don’t see any there, you might assume your Jeep doesn’t have an oil leak. 

This may not be the case, however, as you could have an oil leak in the engine or another internal part of your Jeep that you can’t see. Because the leak is internal, the oil may be burning off rather than ending up in a puddle on the ground. 

You can see that your car is burning oil in this way by monitoring the exhaust as well as the performance of the engine. If your engine is misfiring, or if there’s a large amount of smoke coming out of your tailpipe, then it’s likely that you have an internal oil leak somewhere, and the oil is being burned. 

How to Check if Your Jeep Is Burning Oil

If you suspect that your engine is burning oil, there are a few things you can check to know for sure. 

Oil Levels

Before you do anything else, check your oil levels. If the levels are low, or much lower than when you checked recently, it’s likely that your engine is burning oil.

Remember to check the ground as well to ensure there isn’t a puddle beneath your car; traditional oil leaks are much more common than burning oil. 

Inspect Your Spark Plugs

If your oil is low and there’s no puddle on the ground, then you’ll want to check your spark plugs. You’ll need a spark plug wrench (on Amazon) to do so, and if you aren’t experienced with checking spark plugs, it’s a good idea to have a mechanic do this for you. 

Remove one spark plug at a time and look to see if it’s dirty, oily, or wet.

If you see any of these signs, that’s the remnants of your Jeep burning oil. You’ll need to check each spark plug individually as the leak may only affect one spark plug

Unnatural Vibrations

If you don’t have the tools to check your spark plugs but your engine is vibrating unnaturally while you drive, then you likely have an engine that is burning oil.

Or, if your engine backfires, this could be a sign that oil is igniting somewhere in the engine.

Why Is My Jeep Burning Oil?

The most common reason why a Jeep begins to burn oil is that it’s an older, high-mileage vehicle. While Jeeps are built to last a long time, they aren’t built to last forever. 

Burning oil tends to occur as your piston rings age and don’t seal properly, allowing oil to escape. It can also happen when your valve seals age, releasing oil into places where it shouldn’t be.

You can deduce whether it’s your piston rings or valves that have failed by starting up your engine (ensure there’s oil in the vehicle before you attempt this!). If, on startup, a large plume of smoke comes out of your engine, then it’s likely that the valve seals that have failed rather than the pistons. 

In order to be sure, you should always have a certified mechanic look at your vehicle for the source of your oil burning before you attempt any repairs. 

Can I Fix It Myself?

If you’re able to deduce why your engine is burning oil, then you’re probably able to fix the problem yourself by replacing the valves or pistons that have gone bad.

That being said, Jeep engines are very complex. It’s not recommended for you to try to solve your own oil-burning problem unless, of course, you’re a mechanic. 

Even then, you may want to get a second opinion before you begin taking apart your Jeep. 

When to Take It to a Professional

A Jeep Wrangler in the desert

If you think your Jeep Wrangler has an oil-burning problem, then it’s best to take it to a certified mechanic right away. If your engine is truly burning oil, then you’ll begin to have other problems with the pistons and spark plugs if you don’t remedy the problem immediately.

As soon as you begin to suspect your Jeep is burning engine oil, you should call to make an appointment. Remember: Never drive your Jeep without oil, and check your oil levels before you head to your appointment!

Final Thoughts

If your Jeep Wrangler is burning oil, it’s likely because it’s aging and some parts of the engine need to be replaced.

It can be very difficult to discern the exact cause of oil burning, though, so it’s best to take your Jeep to a mechanic to have it looked over.