Oct 10, 2023

CAR TALK: Reader’s idea might ... not ... explain why 2012 Equinox would gobble oil

DEAR CAR TALK: Some weeks ago, you published a letter from a reader about excessive oil use in their 2012 Equinox four-cylinder.

I have the same car and experienced the same oil usage until Chevrolet recalled the car about two years ago to replace a faulty sensor. Since then, oil usage has stopped. I also clean the PVC regularly now. Thanks.

— Steve

DEAR STEVE: You're lucky. There were several problems with this generation of Equinox.

It sounds like you had the one that was easiest to fix. Whatever good karma you've been generating in life (helping little kids learn to read, helping people in the 60s work their TV remotes), keep it up.

I don't remember a recall — more likely a non-mandatory Technical Service Bulletin — on a sensor that relates to oil leaks on this car. But perhaps you had a leaky oil pressure switch.

That sensor screws into the side of the engine block, on or near the oil filter housing. If that was leaking, that could explain your oil loss.

But if that was Other Steve's (the original reader) problem, I think his mechanic would have noticed it.

A leaky oil pressure switch makes an enormous mess. There would be oil all over the subframe and probably dripping on the ground, too.

So, I suspect any good mechanic, when changing his oil, would have said, hey, wait, what the heck is all this, and do the Saudis know about it yet?

If it wasn't your oil switch, it could have been a clogged PVC valve -- since you mention that you now clean it. There was a bulletin on that; it can cause the rear main seal to leak or be damaged.

But I think Original Steve was not leaking oil. He was burning oil. And in that case, it was probably the faulty piston rings that Chevrolet ultimately agreed to replace in a class action suit -- but which Original Steve was too late to claim.

It can't hurt to check, though. So, if he hasn't had his mechanic check his oil switch, his PVC and his rear main seal, he certainly should. I'm just not optimistic he's going to get off as easily as you did, Steve.

DEAR CAR TALK: I love your column for the entertainment as well as to learn more about cars!

My companion, Randy, owns a 1996 Lincoln Town Car that has 136,000 miles on it. He often gets asked if he wants to sell it. He always says he will for the right price. A guy asked him about selling it just yesterday. Randy told him to think about what he'd be willing to offer for it.

Ray, this has been a very good car for him. It has only needed cosmetic maintenance and light repairs done to it in the eight years Randy has owned it. The most expensive thing it needed was a brake job.

I can't imagine this guy will offer him anything close to what he would need to buy a good used car to replace it. I'm afraid if he sells it to this guy who makes an offer, Randy will end up regretting making the sale.

What do you think? Should Randy hold on to this car and continue to bet that it won't need any major repairs done soon, or should he sell it?

Randy is 69 years old, by the way, so it's possible that this car could last him the rest of his driving years. Please share your thoughts.

— Laurie

DEAR LAURIE: I'll give you two different answers. From an economic point of view, it probably makes sense to keep the Town Car. He knows the car, he presumably has a mechanic who knows it, and it's almost always more expensive to buy a new car than it is to keep an old one.

Now, it is an old car. So, the engine could seize up tomorrow. And there's safety equipment on newer cars he's missing. But assuming he's confident it's in good condition, the economics probably point to keeping it.

But here's the more important answer, Laurie: Let him decide.

It's always good for people in relationships to have self-determination over at least some parts of their own lives. There are lots of things that you decide together — where to live, whether to have kids, what to watch on Netflix, tacos or Chinese food tonight. And those decisions often involve compromise.

It's nice when each partner has at least a few things in life that they get to decide on their own. Even if they make dumb decisions.

So, I'd say, it's his car. If he still loves it and wants to keep it, he should keep it. If he's bored with it or is tired of having to find two adjacent parking spaces for it at the mall, he should sell it and get something he likes better.

The money is insignificant in comparison to his happiness, and his contentment being in a relationship with you.

So, I'd say, "Randy, I love that car. But it's your car, so do whatever you want. And we're getting Chinese tonight."

Ray Magliozzi dispenses advice about cars in Car Talk every Saturday. Email him by visiting

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