Overdue Oil Change Symptoms and Solutions

If you overlook the oil light and overdue an oil change, it’ll overheat your car engine and cause the engine to stall. Other common overdue oil change symptoms are low oil level, burning smell, loud noise, and engine misfire.

You can’t avoid any of these signs and must change the oil to avoid expensive repairs. Though it isn’t recommended, you can keep driving around 500 miles with an overdue oil change problem in an emergency. Let’s discuss this briefly!

Most Common Overdue oil Change Symptoms

Today’s vehicles alert owners about the right time for oil change. If you have an older vehicle, you have to measure the mileage or check the calendar to refill the oil at the perfect time. But if you notice any of these symptoms, your car is already due for an oil change:

Low oil Level

It’s a common and first sign that you’ll notice if overdue oil changes. To verify, go under the hood and check the oil level manual. Take the dipstick out of the tank and clean it. Pull in and out the dipstick again and check the fluid level. If the level is too low, your car is due for an oil change, and it needs to top off.

Low oil Level

The oil Change Light Is On

Your modern vehicle should activate the oil change light to make you aware of any possible issue in the oil tank. It can activate due to overdue oil changes, oil pressure issues, or other reasons. Your car may also turn on the check engine light at this time. After noticing any of those error lights, turn off the engine immediately and call an expert mechanic.

The oil Change Light Is On

Burning Oil Smell

Due to a lack of sufficient oil, the remaining oil in the engine begins to break down and collect debris. It starts emitting a burning odor. So if you smell a burning odor during driving a car, it’s a symptom of an overdue oil change.

Burning Oil Smell

Unusual Noises

Old engine oil drop into the engine’s moving parts. Hence, moving parts make excessive friction and cause an irritating screeching sound. So if you hear a weird loud noise from the engine, it can be a sign of an overdue oil change. 

Dark or Dirty Oil

While fresh oil cleans deposits and sludge in the engine, dirty oil adds more slush and turns into the dark. So if you notice black oil in the engine, you have to change the oil. Otherwise, it can overheat the engine and damage it severely.


Old engine oil deteriorates and can’t lubricate the engine’s metal parts. It can increase the friction between metal and overheat the engine. At a time, smoke may also come out from under the hood. In this case, stop driving the car, cool the engine, change the oil, and then you can start driving.


Difficulty in Shifting

Dirty or old engine oil can make it hard to shift between gears. Low engine oil, low transmission fluid, or clogged oil filter can also be responsible. So if you struggle shifting gears check the oil level and clean the oil filter.

Engine Misfire

An overdue oil change can clog the tiny oil return holes in the pistons with carbon and sludge. It can cause overflow in the piston and foul the piston rings. Neglecting this situation too long can foul the plugs with oil and cause a misfire. It can end up causing engine stalls with blocked catalysts.

Engine Misfire

Can you Add Oil instead of changing it when an Oil Change is Overdue?

Though you can extend the oil change interval, it isn’t recommended. Old engine oil gets dirt and loses lubricating properties which ceases the bearings and damages the engine severely.

An overdue oil change also means that the oil becomes useless and can’t protect the engine. If you simply add oil to the engine instead of changing the old oil, it can damage the engine due to overfilling.

While changing the oil and filter is cheap, it’s expensive to replace engines and turbochargers. Adding too much oil can also cause froth or bubbling as well as excess oil pressure which can lead to gasket leakage or seal failure.

To avoid those issues, change oil between 3000 to 5000 miles as it is preferred as standard. If you’ve gone over it, check the dipstick and decide accordingly. Write down the mileage after changing the oil.

How long can you go without an Oil Change?

You should change engine oil every 3000 miles to avoid causing overdue oil changes. However, you can wait for around 5000 to 7000 miles before changing the oil, thanks to the improved engine technology and oil chemistry.

How long can you go without an Oil Change

If your car’s engine uses synthetic oil, you can drive up to 15000 miles between oil changes depending on your car’s make and model. You may also need to change the oil frequently particularly if you drive a car at high speed or in hot weather.

In an older car, the oil level drops too quickly today’s car need to change the oil in shorter interval. To determine the right time for an oil change, check the oil color of your older car’s engine. While light color means newer oil, dark color indicates the oil is starting to break down and needs change.

How Long Can You Drive With Overdue Oil Change?

While you may have enough time between oil change intervals, an overdue oil change won’t give you much time. You can only drive 500 miles with this concerning issue. You shouldn’t try to pass this limit.

Otherwise, if you wait for long time, your clean and smooth oil become slush. If this happens, the engine will start working harder to fight against the muck buildup. The engine will lose its lubrication and the heat-absorbing ability will also be reduced. So you’ll face a major issue.

So no matter whether you drive the car regularly or occasionally and have an older or newer car, change the oil on time. Though you can drive around 500 miles with an overdue oil change, you shouldn’t take this high risk. Otherwise, you can find yourself trapped in the middle of the road or may need to pay thousands for repair.

What if you Overdue Oil Change by 2,000 Miles?

Though it won’t kill your car but will shorten the lifespan of it. Your car’s performance will also suffer till the next service. The more you’ll wait, the more cumulative wear your engine will get. However oil performance doesn’t drop rapidly, it’s a slow process. The potential consequences also depend on your driving style, the brand and type of oil you use, and the environment you live in.

What if you Overdue Oil Change by 2,000 Miles

Even you shouldn’t keep driving in this condition particularly if you are planning thousands of miles of road trips in dry and hot conditions. You shouldn’t also push your car to its limit or tow heavy items. Check the engine oil. If it is very low or super black, add at least a quart until you change the whole oil.


Does needing an oil change affect acceleration?

Yes, changing oil lubricating, and cooling the engine parts to maintain its optimal performance. If you wait too long to change the oil, it can increase friction, reduce efficiency, and impact acceleration.

Does an overdue oil change prevent the car from starting?

An overdue oil change won’t cause your car no start unless the engine runs out of oil. In this case, turn on the crankshaft with your hand to see if the engine starts. If it doesn’t, you may need to check and replace the starter.

How much does overdue oil change cost?

An oil change usually costs around $50 to $200. However, it varies depending on the car and the brand of oil you use. For example, a BMW oil change costs around $135 to $175 while it cost $75 to $180 for a Lexus car. If you have a Toyota car, you have to pay around $50 for changing the oil.

Final Words

If you’ve passed the recommended oil changing interval, you should see activated oil light or oil warning oil on your car’s dashboard. It isn’t concerning as you have enough time to change the oil and you can keep driving thousands of miles with this error message.

But experiencing overdue oil change symptoms means something goes wrong with the engine. A burning smells loud noise, overheating, and engine misfire; you can’t take any of these signs lightly. Even, if you don’t want to kill the engine completely, change oil as soon as possible.

My name is Henry Roberts and I am an experienced car mechanic with over 15 years of expertise in the automotive industry. I am currently running a Auto Repair Shop in Denver, Colorado. I have been servicing and repairing vehicles at my shop, where i have built a solid reputation for my skill and knowledge. I am passionate about sharing my automotive knowledge through blogging and my goal is to provide accurate and helpful information to car owners to keep their vehicles in perfect condition.

Leave a Comment