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I purchased a 2009 Outlook XR AWD last June. 3 months and 4000 miles later, when driving around 40 mph, I started to notice the transmission shifting back and forth roughly between two gears until I sped up or slowed down. After reading around online I thought for sure this was the beginning of the 35R waveplate issue. I took the car to a GM dealer and they found the engine oil was nearly empty! They filled it up, said they didn't see any leaks, and charged me $150. They said it was normal to lose a quart or two every 2000 miles, which sounded like a lot to me. The shifting issue did go away after they added oil. I've been keeping an eye on the oil ever since. It looks good for the first 2000 miles or so after an oil change, but after that, it starts to drop pretty quickly. At 4000 miles the oil is barely on the dipstick. I don't smell anything burning and there are no signs of oil leaking on my garage floor. I checked the antifreeze tank and that looks normal. Where is the oil going? Whenever the oil starts to get low, the shifting issue shows up again. I just change the oil and filter and cross my fingers I make it to the next change. Any ideas what the problem could be? At this point I wish it was the 35R waveplate as I just got a letter in the mail yesterday about the extended coverage.
 

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This is pretty common in these engines. I follow the Oil Life Monitor and I usually have to add a quart or two to keep things topped up until the next oil change. It consumes just enough oil that its within spec for the engine (someone posted what the GM spec is for "normal" oil consumption previously) so I couldn't get anything done while in warranty.

I believe some of the oil is lost through "blow back" into the air intake tube (there is a little sump area where it collects). This doesn't explain all of it, I'm not sure where the rest goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply.

Is the erratic shifting normal when the oil starts to get low? I just don't want to be masking another problem by topping off the oil all the time.
 

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nbroyer said:
Thanks for the reply.

Is the erratic shifting normal when the oil starts to get low? I just don't want to be masking another problem by topping off the oil all the time.
I would say no....the only thing I've noticed when the engine oil needs toping up is a noisier engine idle sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That's what I was thinking as well. I didn't quite buy their explanation at the time but the problem did go away temporarily. I'm not sure what to do now. I am up to 120,900 miles (900 over the cut off for the extended coverage on the 35R waveplate of course, but I did take it to the dealer well before that). It would be my luck that this is the real issue that is some how getting masked by adding in more oil, but I can't imagine how the two are related.
 

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I am the original owner of my 2007 Outlook. With over 190,000 miles, it doesn't really use any oil. Granted, I have always used full synthetic oil and had it changed at around 5,000 miles. Have you checked to see if your car smokes? White smoke means coolant. Dark smoke means oil...
 

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I have always used synthetic in my other vehicles, but with this one using so much I wanted to figure out the issue with conventional oil first. I could try synthetic with the next change to see if it makes a difference. The car does not smoke at all.

I'm still trying to figure out the relationship between low engine oil and the transmission. Could it have something to do with the computer? It senses the low oil and tries to compensate somehow, adversely effecting the shifting? Maybe I'm thinking about this wrong. If the engine oil is low, what could happen in the engine that makes it feel like it's shifting back and forth a few times around 40 mph?
 

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My 2008 with 85,000 miles has always used some oil. I would say close to a quart per 1,000. I have been using synthetic since the engine had about 10,000 on it. Recently I changed brands of oil and I used considerably less oil than I have been. I switched from Castrol Syntec to Mobil 1. Not sure if that has anything to do with it but I will be keeping track of usage more closely now.
Tim C.
 

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You should open up the air intake to the throttle body and see if there is oil collected in the catch can. You may have a blow by condition which may be caused by a clogged PCV system. Search for "oil in the air intake", "milkshake" on these forums, Enclave, Acadia, Traverse.
 

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hey guys so i'm at 168k on my 2009 saturn outlook we bought the car with less than 92k miles, never lost a drop of oil, until we took it to a shop to have the window wiring fixed and a evap canister and oil change, well I told them what oil and filter to use. (mobile 1 high milage and K&N white filter) got the vehicle back it had cheap penzoil and a purolater filter and the oil drain lose and leaking, my wife picked the car up from the shop... smh. ever since that shop touched my car I'm now loosing oil. cant smell it in the exhaust, coolant is also loosing some here and there. anyone figure this problem out? I'm redoing all of the steering and suspension currently.
 
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