My recently purchased Minivan is "using" oil... what to do?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brian Mansure, Sep 23, 2002.

  1. Brian Mansure

    Brian Mansure Second Unit

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    Hey all,
    So here's the deal.
    Just 5 months ago my wife and I bought a used 1993 Plymouth Voyager. It's in pretty good shape overall but just recently (past 3 weeks) has starting using more than it's fair share of oil. Possibly using, burning, leaking more than a half a quart each week.[​IMG]
    I've taken the van to our mechanic, he installed oil dye to find where the leak was coming from. After a week of normal driving with the dye in, went back to the garage and the mechanic showed me there was a small leak on the side of the oil pan but in his opinion it wasn't the major cause of the van using that much oil.
    Our van was bought with 76,000 miles on it and no signs of major "usage" of oil till recently. We now have just over 80,000 miles and the oil almost seems to disappear from the engine. I was only seeing small amounts of white smoke from the exhaust pipe a month or so ago but just yesterday noticed a plume(sp?) of white smoke from behind the van just after sitting at a long red light. So now I'm actually seeing that the engine is burning the oil.
    I don't have the tools or skill to DIY repair or the funds to have the internal rings and seals replaced but need to keep the van running for at least the next year or two while it's being payed off.
    What can I do to help keep my voyager minivan running?
    I know the disliking of oil treatments and quick fixes in general when it comes to vehicles but what other options am I left with when I just can't have the engine repaired correctly?
    Should I just step up the weight of the oil even in winter months and find the cheapest stuff out there since it's being burnt up anyhow?
    Just incase it might help the engine is the Mitsubishi v6 3.0 liter.
    Any and all experiences, suggestions and opinions are appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Brian
     
  2. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    The general idea behind mechanical problems are simple, it works or it doesn't, and if it doesn't, you can fix it or not.

    You've already established the probable cause of the problem (piston rings and various seals, probably around the cylinder head), and know what to do, have them replaced.

    Much like cancer, ignoring the problem will only make it worse. If you want it fixed, you have to throw down the coin and fix it. "miracle" oil additives may seem to help, but burn off in short order, leaving you to buy even more of the stuff, and they do nothing to repair the damage beyond a few hundred miles (at best).

    The low-down: Fix it now or you'll suffer worse failure in the future (the ring could deteriorate completely and the piston could gouge the cylinder-wall..then you need the engine-block rebored).

    Thicker oil in winter? Sure, if you keep it outside, once your engine reaches normal tempurature (within a few miles), it wont make a differance, but a thicker oil might help for cold starts.

    Cheaper oil? Sure. Your burning the stuff fast enough anyway, and any good that would have come from using a synthetic oil has long since past (until you get the engine rebuilt, then you can switch to synthetic oil and reap the benefits with you "new" engine).
     
  3. Andrew W

    Andrew W Supporting Actor

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    if the engine needs rebuilding it is more likely that the smoke will be blue. White smoke usually indicates there is some water burning too and means the head gaskets are shot.
    Still expensive, but not a new engine. Have your mechanic check it out.
     
  4. DaveHo

    DaveHo Supporting Actor

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    Those 3 liter Mitsu engines are known to be junk. The rings wear prematurely and they all burn a ton of oil when they get up to the mileage range you are at. If you search the net you will find more angry people than you can shake a stick at. I believe there are numerouus technical service bulletins about the problem. You're basically looking at a rebuild.

    -Dave
     
  5. Brian Mansure

    Brian Mansure Second Unit

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    Thanks for the replies.
    Yeah I kinda figured that major repairs could not be avoided if I want to keep driving the van for another year.
    I certainly understand everyone's point with fixing it properly, it just so happens we really don't have the money right now to pay a mechanic $600 - $1000 for the repairs and I don't have the tools or know-how to fix the darn thing myself.
    It's always a risk buying a used vehicle and till now I've been fortunate enough to not experience high repair bills nickel and dimming me on my used car purchases.
    We bought this van at what I consider a reasonable $3300.00 all said and done and I'm not sure I can justify spending what will probably be over 1/3 of the total purchase cost to repair an older vehicle which will most likely need a timing belt and water pump soon not to mention maintenance an anything else that decides to break. Add it all up and I'll almost be spending in repairs what I paid for the minivan in the first place.
    The original thinking behind us getting this "in-between" minivan was so we could have a larger family vehicle that the four of us would be comfortable in and that we could financially handle till we can save up for our "permanent family vehicle" so to speak.
    We intend to purchase a new minivan or SUV, maintain it properly from the start and drive it for years to come. Well this "in-between" minivan seems to have other plans so now I'm stuck on what I want to do.
    Anyhow, enough of my crying and babbling [​IMG]
    Dave,
    Actually I did some research on the net and found a great website for Mopar vehicles at www.allpar.com .
    The site goes into the many problems with the Mitsubishi V6 3.0 liter engines. It also has instructions on how to fix the engine but again I believe it's a repair out of my league... I can change a head lamp though [​IMG]
    Just wish I would have found that site before handing over the check for the Voyager.
    Thanks again for the suggestions,
    Brian
     
  6. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    got any friends/relatives/cousins/coworkers that are handy with a wrench? maybe someone can "assist" you in the repair, aka do it while you watch? [​IMG]
     
  7. Chris PC

    Chris PC Producer

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    Ditch the minivan before dropping a huge amount of cash into it. I guess you need to weigh your options. You might not be able to afford to "replace" it, but be sure you're not getting yourself into a losing proposition. An old mini-van will surely have lots of other things go wrong on it in addition to the engine problem you are having now.
     
  8. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Dump it now. Look for a good used Toyota Previa to replace it--good for 300k at least if decently maintained.

    I work in a Toyota dealer service dept and regularly see high mileage Previas that run like new, burn no oil. The engines on these are exclusive to the Previa and are commercial/taxi units.
     
  9. Brian Mansure

    Brian Mansure Second Unit

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    Really Steve?!?

    I don't remember where I heard it from but a few years ago someone said next to the early Mazda MPV minivans you couldn't do worse than the Previa. I couldn't even tell you what reasons they gave just that I remembered someone saying that to me.
    But hey, you work in a Toyota Service department so you would know which vehicles have "issues" and which don't. I'm not arguing or disagreeing with you.
    I appreciate you giving me the inside word.

    Any particular model year for the Previa better than the others, reliability being the main factor?

    How much money do you think someone would be looking for to sell a used Previa these days?

    Not sure who I could "dump" my minivan to. If I sold it, I'd feel obliged to tell the potential buyer of the oil burning and therefore probably get next to nothing for the van. Oh well who knows maybe a hobby mechanic would give me a few bucks for it and make it their next project car.
     

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