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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
How to prevent oil and power loss in a Kia Soul GDI engine

compiled by westslope with input from GeekOnTheHill, GeoSoul and SportsterDoc

Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engines can be more efficient than multiport injection (MPI) engines but require more pro-active maintenance. Increased oil loss signals problems that could lead to increased operating costs, lower fuel efficiency, more polluting emissions, and in the worst case scenario catastrophic engine failure.

This thread outlines a maintenance schedule that should prevent or solve problems and keep your Kia Soul GDI engine operating smoothly for years to come. It is primarily aimed at do-it-yourself mechanics but also contains suggestions on how to best use the dealership or qualified independent mechanic.


Strict minimum must do maintenance
  • Check the oil level often between oil changes. Once or twice a month when the engine is cold.
  • Make sure the oil level is full but not overfilled.
  • Change your oil and oil filter on time.
  • Err on the side of shorter oil change intervals.
  • Check the oil level shortly after an oil change. And then check it a week later.
  • Use synthetic motor oil.

Best practice maintenance suggestions
  • Use top quality synthetic oil rated at GF-6A and API SP.
  • Although top quality synthetic oil can last much longer than standard synthetic oils, oil changes on GDI engines should be kept to shorter intervals. Many advise changing the oil frequently, at intervals not exceeding 8,000 km or 5,000 miles. Kia recommends changing oil and filter every 12,000 km or 7,500 miles under ideal driving conditions.
  • Some council switching to 5W30 synthetic oil after the break-in period to forestall deposit build up that can later lead to oil loss. Switch immediately to the heavier grade 5W30 oil if oil loss is or becomes a problem. A few of us use 5W20 synthetic oil with success but remain vigilant. Both grades are recommended by Kia. 10W30 would also work in warmer climes.
  • Use Top Tier brand name, detergent-rich gasoline. If not available in your region, consider frequent fuel treatments (see below under Do it yourself treatments).

Synthetic oil suggestions

Synthetic oils have continuously improved over the years in ways that reduce engine wear, in particular timing chain wear, reduce oxidation and deposits, help prevent low-speed preignition (LSPI) problems in turbocharged gasoline GDI engines, and so on.

Popular brands of oil rated GF-6A and API SP are Pennzoil Platinum, Mobil 1, Castrol Edge Advanced and Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic. Total Quartz 9000 is recommended by Kia.

Extended oil change interval varieties of motor oil can last 24,000 km / 15,000 miles and even longer in some multiport engines. They cost a little more. Examples: Pennzoil Ultra Platinum, Mobil 1 Extended Performance, Castrol Edge Extended Performance. Some of us shop them on sale but still stick to short oil change intervals.

The Kia dealerships sell a box of oil filters that are good, inexpensive and protect the warranty.


Do it yourself treatments

Two treatments are popular. They can be performed a week or month prior to regular, scheduled oil changes, or every few months depending on the condition of the engine and available fuel quality:

Intake valves

Clean out the intake valves with a spray can such as CRC GDI IVD Intake Valve and Turbo cleaner or Berryman Intake Valve and Combustion System Cleaner. This procedure works better with two persons.

Fuel additives

Add a bottle of fuel additive which will dissolve carbon deposits in the engine and help keep the injectors clean. Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus with a high PEA content is popular. PEA stands for polyether amines. Red Line SI-1 fuel system cleaner also has a high PEA content. Gum Out All in One has PEA as the primary cleaning agent. Do not exceed concentration recommendations.

Fuel additives may not be required if constantly using Top Tier gasoline.

Option: Some who regularly fill up on discount brand gasoline, add small amounts of PEA fuel additive every fill up though adding some every forth fill up might be sufficient.

Technically Advanced Option: Pull and examine the condition of the spark plugs. They should be dry and exhibit brown or grayish-tan deposits. Oil deposits on the plugs likely point to oil leaking into the cylinders.


Short jaunts only

If the vehicle is frequently driven short distances, the motor never gets a chance to fully heat up and boil off condensation. This can be partially resolved by occasionally taking the Soul out onto the highway and driving more aggressively at high speeds.

If only driven short distances, intake valve cleaning should perhaps start before the first oil change. Shorter oil-change intervals should also help. For severe driving conditions such as short jaunts only with no highway travel, the oil change interval should be shortened to as little as 5,000 km or 3,000 miles. Kia recommends that the oil be changed every 6000 km or 3,750 miles under severe usage conditions.


For serious oil loss

If the vehicle is already experiencing noticeable oil loss between oil changes, consider more frequent, perhaps monthly fuel treatment and intake valve cleanings as well as reducing the oil change interval.

If there is a serious oil loss problem that appears not to be correcting with the above methods, a couple of more radical methods are available: 1) piston soak, and 2) walnut blasting.

A piston soak can be performed by a lay mechanic willing to acquire the right tools and chemicals.

Walnut blasting of the pistons must be performed by a qualified shop but is likely a cost-effective option compared to continued oil loss, higher emissions and substandard performance. Replacing the engine or the car would be even more expensive.


Less frequent maintenance

► Emission system components should be occasionally inspected and either cleaned or replaced.

The PCV valve is easy to remove and inspect. PCV refers to positive crankcase ventilation. It can be cleaned with degreaser or brake cleaner and then blown out with pressurized air. Or it can be inexpensively replaced with an OEM part from the Kia dealership. Perhaps do this once every 40 to 50 thousand miles / 64 to 80 thousand kilometers.

Option: some enthusiasts replace the PCV valve with an oil catch can.


► Infrequently, clean the air throttle body intake and valve with a soft cloth and a tooth brush. This will help the engine idle and accelerate smoothly as well as reduce carbon deposits.


Dealership or other qualified mechanical shop maintenance
  • You can either ask for top quality synthetic motor oil or supply it yourself (but ask the shop first).
  • Check the oil level immediately after you leave the shop. Then check it a few days later. Look where the vehicle is parked for any signs of oil leaks.
  • Many of us shy away from quick oil change shops but if you use one, please note that actually seeing new clean oil on the dipstick under fluorescent lighting can be difficult. Make sure the quick oil change shop does not overfill the motor oil.

For background reading

Keeping GDI and T/GDI Intake Systems Clean

Preventing and Addressing Oil-Burning Problems in a GDI Engine

Check Your Number, Because 3,000 Miles May Be Too Early to Change Your Oil – CalRecycle

TOP TIER™ Detergent Gasoline Brands

Automotive Oil Change Intervals Severe vs. Normal Driving Filter Manufacturers Council, October 2006

Kia Soul: Maintenance under severe usage conditions

AAA FUEL QUALITY RESEARCH: Proprietary research into the effectiveness of fuel additive packages in commercially-available gasoline

Latest Oil Categories API Introduces Three New Gasoline Engine Oil Standards, ILSAC GF-6A, GF-6B, And API SP
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Great job, westslope!

Kia also recommends 10W30... Above -5F or -15C.

Thanks Doc.

Right you are about the 10W30. Page 8-8 of the 2015 manual. For those living in warm climes and experiencing oil loss, would the 10W30 noticeably reduce oil loss as compared to using 5W30?
 

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5-30 oil is not a bad idea, Kia actually does recommend it in many situations, keep your oil change interval at 5k or less if severe driving and lots of idling. EGR don't worry about as Gen2s don't have one. Carbon cleaning, hmmm I have never seen much good done with CRC, as a matter of fact I did a little test on a head I was going to rebuild on a 1.6 with like 125k on it. So I was leaving on a Friday afternoon and I tipped the head on it's exhaust side so that the intake ports would face up and I could fill them with liquids and come back Monday and see what removed the most carbon off the valves. Mind you I left the ports absolutely filled with the fluid not the little mist that might come across it when you spray it in your intake. In one port I just put regular gasoline, in the next port I put in standard Gumout carb and choke cleaner, one CRC, and the last one I just filled it with brake cleaner which is acetone and heptane (pardon my spelling if I screwed up, I am a mechanic not a chemist) I came back Monday to see how they did. Yes some of the gunk got loosened up on the valves but not very good results at all, I blew it all out with compressed air and yes all the fluids turned black and some effect could be seen but not really very good at all. I pulled out all the valves and cleaned them up before I replaced the valve seals and reassembled the head. The only way that anything even remotely cleans the valves a bit and definitely removes carbon from your engine would be those machines that shops and dealers have. I am one of those skeptical guys as I call those services with additives "snake oil" till I see them work. So it is just a very industrial chemical that goes in there (we useBG), we hook it up to a "dispenser" plug into the vacuum line from your purge valve (to be past the throttle body or more importantly past the turbo on turbo cars) When you run that stuff through there and rev the engine a handful of times in the process giant smoke of carbon comes out and then you have to give the car the "Italian tune up" because it will buck and keep spitting stuff out of the exhaust. You don't want to try this at home as you will think you hurt your car and you will also need a scan tool to reset the codes the car will spit out 1 to 3 times as you do this and on the subsequent drive but be my guest if you have the tools and skills. I have proof of that it does work as I take these cars apart and recently even had a car with 107k on it that came in low on power but when I test drove it watching data it basically just kept pulling timing from knock control, I ran the treatment and test drove it again and even much more aggressively and it never pulled timing once. I will post the screenshots of the first and after treatment test drive on the scan tool if anyone wants to doubt it but I am now convinced that this is a good idea and will treat my car every 3rd oil change or so.
 

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Thanks Doc.

Right you are about the 10W30. Page 8-8 of the 2015 manual. For those living in warm climes and experiencing oil loss, would the 10W30 noticeably reduce oil loss as compared to using 5W30?
That is a more subtle a change than I have direct experience with. Probably decrease oil consumption in cooler weather... short trips. My experience 30 or so years ago was using 40 weight instead of 30 weight on a vehicle with worn rings.
Eldest daughters first car was a 1973 Toyota Celica with 135K miles and a leaking mechanical fuel pump diaphragm which diluted the oil (first clue was smelling it on the dipstick)... bought it anyway as it was only $650, circa 1988. Changed the fuel pump and replaced oil with heavier weight...eliminated the puffs of blue smoke for the year she drove it.




.
 

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Thoughts:

1. Nice job on the list. Quite thorough and nothing on that list is a bad idea.
2. I did everything on that list and still ended up with (I'm virtually certain) heavily deposited valve seats and very noticeable (1 qt every 1.5-3k miles) oil consumption. Check it out:

Original owner. Nothing but synthetic oil until the oil consumption got to be significant enough to not warrant the wasted money (maybe 145-150k mile mark). 95% of my driving is non-stop long distance interstate driving, about 50 miles twice a day. Techron in the tank as recommended. Kia oil filters. Top-tier gas on every fill-up. New PCV valve. 7000 mile oil change intervals (and had an oil analysis done which had it pegged that it could go longer). Always clean air filters. Tried changing oil viscosity to slow down consumption, had zero effect (didn't go beyond 30W).

Bottom line is that everything you mention is a good idea but none of it is going to stop oil consumption as these GDI engines gain miles. Without the fuel wash there's simply no good way to clean the valve seats. And I'm not convinced on the "on the engine" valve cleaning method (especially since big chunks of carbon can score piston walls or break piston rings) so my remedy will be the tried-and-true pull the cylinder head and have the valves cleaned the right way. I'm not there yet - the car runs pretty good, and a quart of oil every 3-4 weeks is still cheaper than pulling the head - but if I keep this car long enough (I'm already at 8+ years) I will be there. In my day of driving American V8s (well, I still drive a Ram so there's that...) if you did any of your own wrenching it wasn't unusual to pull a set of heads at 100k and have them freshened up. Hell, I did a few in my garage with a valve lapper and some lapping compound. Usually got you another 20-40k miles if you did it on the bench, or 100k if you took them to the machine shop.

I'm not complaining. I have got 160k trouble-free miles out of this car and it's been one of the cheapest vehicles per-mile I've ever owned; I'm down to about 8 cents per mile, and that's with still owning the car. I'm sure I could sell it tomorrow for $3k, which would put my cost of ownership at 6 cents per mile (this excludes basic maintenance and consumables and only includes purchase price and repairs; I don't bother with adding in the cost of gasoline, oil, etc - I'm not that stickler about it). For a person who's drove a lot in his life - I have well over a million miles of ass-time in cars in my life - there's only been a couple of cars that have beat it. Still, given my preferences, I would have taken the 1-2 MPG hit and preferred a TBI system instead, which based on how well everything in this engine has done would have probably doubled the engine life.
 

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My concern about using 5W-20 oil after run-in, is that oil passing the rings, slightly more than would do so if it were 5W-30, will cause more contamination which may lead to piston rings "sticking"... one of the causes of increased oil consumption. Hence my suggestion to use 5W-30 or 10W-30 at the first oil change.

Another cause of oil consumption is an engine running hot, which lowers the actual oil viscosity. However, that was not an issue on my 1.6, as it ran rather cool and very consistent.

I will continue to recommend not exceeding 5,000 miles, even with a good brand of pure synthetic.
 

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Also, regardless of how well an oil tests, there must be some abrasiveness to suspended particles which would contribute to piston ringwear.

So, when I pull the dipstick and the oil is darkening I may change the oil sooner than the normal mileage marker.
 

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Not much response on this survey attempt, but the questions may be worth considering:

JDMartin: Is there oil on your sparkplugs?
 

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For those who want to check their spark plugs this site may be helpful to read them:


If only one spark plug is becoming oil fouled, then the problem is narrowed to one cylinder, whether from worn piston rings or valve guide seals.
 

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Use synthetic oil (less volatility) and an oil catch can after the PCV (and before the intake). Drain at 2000 miles (at lest to start, to see how much it is) or, if the can is bigger capacity, at evrey oil change.
 

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Bottom line is that everything you mention is a good idea but none of it is going to stop oil consumption as these GDI engines gain miles. Without the fuel wash there's simply no good way to clean the valve seats
You don't need to worry about the valve seat, the buildup is always on the bottom of the valve stem and on the back side of the valve. It can get real heavy but you don't need to pull the head to clean it. You can just pull the intake off and get right at it. Kia does not have an approved method for this but other manufacturers such as VW do so you can just use that and put each cylinder at TDC with the intake off and go to town on them. It takes a half hour for a novice to remove and replace the intake and the intake gasket is cheap. Running industrial cleaners does work, I have tore down enough Kia and other engines to tell you that. A bottle of CRC is not enough, check out how much "industrial" cleaner in this case BG has to be run through it to make a difference. I'll take a picture close up of the valves next time I get one so you guys can see exactly what is happening. I will tell you that having had intakes off cars with under 20k that it starts pretty quickly and builds up from there.
 

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You don't need to worry about the valve seat, the buildup is always on the bottom of the valve stem and on the back side of the valve. It can get real heavy but you don't need to pull the head to clean it. You can just pull the intake off and get right at it. Kia does not have an approved method for this but other manufacturers such as VW do so you can just use that and put each cylinder at TDC with the intake off and go to town on them. It takes a half hour for a novice to remove and replace the intake and the intake gasket is cheap. Running industrial cleaners does work, I have tore down enough Kia and other engines to tell you that. A bottle of CRC is not enough, check out how much "industrial" cleaner in this case BG has to be run through it to make a difference. I'll take a picture close up of the valves next time I get one so you guys can see exactly what is happening. I will tell you that having had intakes off cars with under 20k that it starts pretty quickly and builds up from there.
That would be awesome, posting up a decent picture of what these valves look like as they get gunned up. I was using valve seat in a generic way, meaning bottom line is that the valve doesn't seal closed the way it should.
 

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Oh the valve seals, the build up gets so thick it disturbs the air flow that much particularly at low engine speeds when a smaller amount of air is coming through. I used to run a flow bench back in the 90s and I can tell you that the most improvement one could do to a head was right at the bottom of the port and the carbon blocks right there where it all collects.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
.... EGR don't worry about as Gen2s don't have one.....
Right you are. VVT (variable valve timing) took over that function. Will edit.

Thanks for this all the great feedback man! Very happy to have you on board.
 
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The build up is always there on the bottom of the stem and on the back face of the valve. Usually (meaning I haven't seen one yet) the edge of the back of the valve face where it contacts the seat is clean and so is the top of the stem. It usually starts below where the stem goes into the guide, wish I had some pictures saved but I will get you some in the near future as it probably won't be long before I have one apart. I actually just pop the valves out run them under a soft wire wheel (it is not actually a wire wheel it just looks like one, it is a soft material that is safe for cleaning up the aluminum heads as it is specifically soft enough to not score aluminum and put a mark in a head and head gasket would not seal) The actual face of the valve on a maintained car doesn't have any carbon stuck to it although I have seen a few oil burners that had some gunk stuck to them. Kia heads are machined exceptionally well, we use the reverse torque sequence to remove the head bolts by just breaking them slightly loose in reverse sequence and 99% of the time they turn out to be not warped. Had a car last week, 2018 Soul 1.6 that someone ran out of oil with 33k on it (we found the drain plug still in the undertray and don't get me started on quick oil shops that do not realize you have to replace the crush washer every time you pull drain plug out) So this car having been run out of oil needed a short block, head, cams etc... Kia doesn't have complete heads so we just get a bare casting and used the old valves, springs etc.. in the new head. Another mechanic at the shop put all the valves in the same order and buckets as well (1.6 uses shim buckets vs 2.0 is hydraulic lifters, you don't have to be in order on the 2.0 although I always put valves in order just because it came out of that guide and may be worn or tapered for that guide) and checked clearance with the new cams and not one had to be re shimmed, all were in spec. Motor runs quiet and perfect.
For the valve seals you speak of, they are silly difficult to break loose off the head. The tool Kia gives us for it specifically is useless and will not get them, I use a small air chisel with a blunt punch on it to try to spin it first and then they will pop off.
 
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