Overdue Oil Change Symptoms

Overdue Oil Change Symptoms

If you're a car owner, you know how important it is to keep up with routine maintenance to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly. One of the essential tasks is getting your oil changed regularly.

But what happens when you neglect an oil change for too long? It can cause some severe problems for your car, which is why it's crucial to know the various overdue oil change symptoms.

In this article, we'll review some of the most signs of an overdue oil change, the risks of neglecting this vital task, and how often you should change your oil.

What Happens During an Oil Change?

Start by checking the oil level and condition to identify any issues that need addressing. Next, the car will be lifted or driven into a pit, draining the old oil into a container by removing the drain plug.

While the old oil drains, you will need to remove and inspect the old oil filter and replace it with a new one. This step is crucial because a dirty or clogged oil filter can prevent oil from circulating correctly, leading to engine damage.

Once the oil filter change is successful, you will put the drain plug back in place and refill the engine with fresh oil, using the grade of oil recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer.

It's important to note that using the wrong grade of oil can impact your car's fuel efficiency, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Using a bad oil grade can reduce gas mileage by 1% to 2%. So, it's crucial to trust a trained professional to perform your oil change and use the correct grade of oil.

Overdue Oil Change Symptoms

Neglecting to get your oil changed regularly can lead to issues that can impact your car's performance, efficiency, and safety. Autocareaids.com highlights several common symptoms of an overdue oil change:

1. Low Fuel Economy

A drop in fuel economy is one of the most significant indicators that your car's oil needs changing.

When oil is dirty or has lost effectiveness, your engine has to work harder to burn more fuel.

Therefore, if you notice a decrease in your car's gas mileage, it may be time to change your oil.

2. Dark Exhaust Fumes

Another symptom of an overdue oil change is dark exhaust fumes. If you see black smoke coming out of your car's tailpipe, your engine is likely burning old, dirty oil, which can cause harmful emissions.

Similarly, dark or dirty oil on your dipstick is another sign that your car is overdue for an oil change.

Oil past its prime becomes thick and sludgy, making it less effective at lubricating engine components and causing increased wear and tear.

3. Burning Smell

A burnt smell from your car's engine can also indicate that your oil needs to be changed. As oil loses its effectiveness, it can break down and begin to burn, causing a distinct smell.

Additionally, an overheating engine can be a sign of an oil issue. Old oil that has lost its lubricating properties can cause engine components to rub together, generating excess heat and overheating.

4. Other Signs

Other symptoms of an overdue oil change can include hard starting, unusual difficulty in shifting gears, and unusual loud noises from the engine.

In some cases, the engine warning light may also come on, indicating an issue that needs fixing.

It's essential to pay attention to these warning signs and get your oil changed promptly to avoid more significant problems down the road.

Regular oil changes are crucial for maintaining your car's performance and preventing costly repairs.

Awareness of the symptoms of an overdue oil change can help you identify potential issues early on and get your vehicle the care it needs to keep running smoothly.

Risks of Neglecting an Oil Change

According to US News, proper engine lubrication is vital for the smooth functioning of a car's engine.

Over time, however, the oil in the engine will break down and lose its lubricating properties due to high temperatures.

This is known as thermal breakdown, and when it occurs, the oil becomes incapable of providing the necessary lubrication for the engine's metal parts.

Without sufficient lubrication, the moving joints in the engine will start to rub against each other, leading to premature wear and damage.

Another significant risk of neglecting an oil change is sludge buildup in the engine.

Old oil can begin to solidify and form sludge, which can clog oil passages and cause oil starvation to critical engine components like crankshafts, bearings, camshafts, and other valve train components.

As a result, these parts will not receive the necessary lubrication, leading to increased friction and damage. If left unchecked, sludge buildup can cause significant engine damage, and in severe cases, engine replacement or rebuild may be necessary.

Additionally, oil has a limited capacity for holding particulates, and neglecting to change it can lead to corrosion and damage.

Particles can settle in the old oil, making it less effective at lubricating engine components and causing increased wear and tear. Over time, this can cause costly repairs and decreased engine performance.

To avoid these issues and ensure your car runs smoothly, it's essential to follow the manufacturer's recommended oil change intervals and get your oil changed promptly by a trained professional.

How Often Should You Change Your Engine Oil?

According to autocareaids.com, the oil change intervals for different drivers can vary.

However, the recommended oil change intervals can vary depending on several factors, including the type of oil used, driving conditions, and the make and model of the vehicle.

Traditionally, many drivers have followed the 3,000-mile rule for oil changes, but modern engine technologies and advancements in oil chemistry have allowed for longer oil change intervals.

Generally, most mechanics and car experts recommend oil change intervals between 5,000 to 8,000 miles, depending on the car and driving conditions.

If your vehicle uses Full Synthetic motor oil, you can set oil change intervals between 15,000 – 16,500 miles. Full synthetic oils have a longer lifespan than conventional or synthetic blend motor oils, making them a popular choice among drivers.

However, it's crucial to check your car's owner's manual for specific oil change recommendations from the automaker. This is because different cars have different needs, and following the manufacturer's guidelines will ensure that your vehicle runs smoothly and remains in optimal condition.

How Long Does an Oil Change Take?

According to MechanicBase, an oil change typically takes 20 to 45 minutes. During the process, the technician will remove the drain plug to allow the old oil to drain into a container. After that, they will install a new oil filter before adding the fresh oil.

Once the oil has been drained and the new filter installed, the drain plug is reinserted, and the fresh oil is added to the engine.

The entire process is relatively straightforward and should be completed promptly, ensuring you can quickly get back on the road with a well-oiled engine.

Factors That Can Affect Oil Change Time

Several factors can affect the time it takes to change your engine oil. These factors include:

1. Person Changing the Oil

The experience and skill level of the technician performing the oil change can play a significant role in how long the process takes.

Experienced mechanics who have performed numerous oil changes will typically complete the job more quickly than someone new.

2. Engine Size

The size of your engine can also affect the time it takes to change the oil.

A larger engine generally takes longer to drain the old oil and add the new oil than a smaller engine. This is because there is simply more oil to remove and replace.

3. Vehicle Type/Accessibility

The type of vehicle you have and its accessibility can also impact the time it takes to complete an oil change.

Cars with a low ground clearance may require a ramp or jack stands to access the drain plug and filter. This can add additional time to the process.

Similarly, some vehicles may have components that need to be removed to access the oil filter, which can also increase the time required for the oil change.


Neglecting to change your engine oil can cause severe damage to your vehicle's engine and reduce its lifespan, so pay attention to the overdue oil change symptoms mentioned above.

Regular oil changes are crucial to vehicle maintenance and help ensure your car's optimal performance.

The recommended oil change interval can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, driving conditions, and the type of oil used.

Following the automaker's guidelines outlined in your car's owner's manual is essential to maintaining your car's performance and avoiding costly repairs in the long run.

Regularly changing your engine oil is a small investment that can prevent significant repair costs and ensure your car's longevity.