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ASK THE EXPERTS The Drive team answers your questions

Sydney Morning Herald

Friday February 4, 2011

I drive a 2002 model BMW 318ti with 168,000 kilometres on it.I noticed excessive oil consumption of about a litre of oil every 200 kilometres to 300 kilometres. My mechanic replaced a faulty PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve and also replaced a leaking vacuum pump on the rear of the cylinder head. These two replacements have slowed down the oil consumption but it's still using a litre every 600 kilometres or so. I don't believe the piston rings are a problem since there's no blue smoke from the exhaust. Should I use thicker oil, such as 20W-50? I am currently using 10W-40 oil.NathanHigh oil usage is not uncommon with these engines; the manufacturer suggests oil usage of 0.9 litres in 1000 kilometres is acceptable, so your case does sound high. These engines can have issues with sludging or gumming up in Australia if you don't use the recommended full synthetic oils and premium fuels. Your best bet is to have a mechanic remove the rocker cover and inspect it for sludging. When an engine suffers from bad sludging, it's a good bet the piston rings will get clogged up, which can allow oil to pass by them and be burnt in the combustion chamber, sometimes with little evidence of smoke from the exhaust. If that is the problem, your mechanic should able to remove the rocker cover, sump and oil pick-up and have them chemically cleaned, then put an engine flush through to free up the rings. But the ideal fix is to pull the engine down and repair as necessary. If the engine is sludged up, it's very important not to just put an engine flush through, as this can make matters much worse; the flush will soften the sludge and it can move through the engine, blocking oil pumps and galleries, which would leave you with a full engine rebuild.I have a three-year-old Corolla Ascent sedan. I made the mistake of not getting cruise control when new and when I asked how much it would cost to get one fitted by the dealer, the quote was about $1200. Is there a reliable, integrated and cheaper alternative to the Toyota genuine article? If so, where can I get one?JoachimThere are some good aftermarket cruise-control systems available these days. With the sophisticated wiring systems in cars, the aftermarket suppliers have followed with units that can monitor all the vitals on a vehicle just as a factory-fitted unit can. Make sure you do some homework and choose a reputable company. Also, make sure you get it installed by an authorised fitter and that the system has a warranty that covers workmanship and the system itself. If the price is the same or close to genuine Toyota, it's best to go genuine, especially for resale purposes, as a non-genuine system may deter a buyer.

© 2011 Sydney Morning Herald

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