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Overdue Oil Change Symptoms (10 Signs)

Are you driving around wondering when the last time your car had an oil change was? Sure, it’s not one of those things that immediately comes to mind but putting off this maintenance task can cause some serious problems and prove costly in the long run.

In this article, we will explore 10 common signs, including various overdue oil change symptoms, that indicate it’s time for an oil change, to help you avoid expensive repairs down the line.

1. Low Oil Level and Irregular Oil Texture

One common symptom is low oil level. If you notice that your oil level is too low, it’s a good indication that you need an oil change or at least a top-up.

Another sign of overdue oil change is irregular oil texture. As the oil circulates through your engine, it picks up dirt and particles that turn it darker. So, if you observe dirty oil on the dipstick, it’s a surefire sign that you need to change the oil.

2. Burning Oil Smell

Have you ever noticed a distinct burning smell while driving? If so, it could be a sign that your car is overdue for an oil change. This is because when the oil in your engine starts to break down and collect debris, it can emit a noticeable odor.

4. Knocking Sound From Engine

If you hear a knocking sound from your engine when you accelerate, it could be a sign that the oil in your vehicle is overdue for an oil change.

Over time, oil breaks down and becomes less effective at lubricating the engine. This can cause increased friction between metal parts, resulting in knocking noises.

5. Excessive Dark Smoke Coming Out Of The Exhaust

Overdue-Oil-Change-Symptoms (1)
Overdue-Oil-Change-Symptoms (1)

If you notice excessive dark smoke coming out of your exhaust, it could be a sign that the oil in your engine is overdue for an oil change. When oil breaks down, it can cause increased levels of combustion in the engine, resulting in darker smoke being emitted from the exhaust.

6. Overheating Engine

An overheating engine is not something you’d want to ignore. It could indicate a cooling system issue, such as a malfunctioning thermostat, clogged radiator, or a faulty water pump. Or, it could be due to something as simple as dirty oil, preventing the engine from working efficiently.

7. Weak Fuel Economy

If you have been neglecting your oil changes, you may start to notice a decrease in your car’s fuel economy. This is because an engine that is not properly lubricated with clean oil cannot perform at its best.

8. Stalling Engine

That feeling of the engine seizing up is not a pleasant one, and it could be a warning sign that your car is overdue for an oil change. Low engine oil or a bad oil leak may be the culprits behind this issue, especially if it tends to happen more frequently in cold weather.

9. Service Warning Lights

Ignoring the warning signs of an overdue oil change can have serious consequences, and service warning lights are often the first indication that something is amiss. These lights can take many forms, from a simple “check engine” symbol to more specific warning icons that indicate low oil pressure or overheating.

In newer vehicles, the service light may even flash a message on the dashboard, telling you that it’s time for maintenance

10. Vibrations When Idling

Your car vibrating or shaking when it is idling can be a sign of an overdue oil change. This happens when the engine’s parts are not adequately lubricated, which can cause increased friction and vibration in the engine.


What Does Oil Look Like When Its Old?

When oil is fresh, it typically has a rich amber hue and a smooth consistency. However, over time, exposure to heat and contaminants can cause it to break down, darken, and thicken into a sludgy mess. If you notice your oil turning black and sludgy, it’s likely time for an oil change.

Related: How Long To Let Engine Cool Before Adding Oil?

What Happens if Oil Change Is Overdue?

Overdue-Oil-Change-Symptoms (3)
Overdue-Oil-Change-Symptoms (3)

If you neglect to change the oil in your car, it can cause irreversible damage to your engine. Without regular oil changes, dirt and other particles will build up in the engine, causing wear and tear on the parts and potentially leading to a costly repair bill.

Additionally, without fresh oil to lubricate the engine’s components, they will start to grind against each other, resulting in increased friction and decreased performance.

Over time, this can cause the engine to overheat and seize up. So, it’s always best to stay on top of your oil changes and prevent costly repair bills in the future.


How Do I Know If My Engine Oil Is Still Good?

One simple way to check is by using the oil dipstick. If you can see the dipstick through the oil, it’s a good sign that your oil is in good condition. However, this isn’t the only factor to consider. You should also monitor the color and consistency of your oil to make sure it’s not too dark or thick.


What Color Should Old Oil Be?

Ideally, used oil should be a dark brown color, as this indicates that the oil has done its job of lubricating the engine and collecting contaminants.


FAQs about Overdue Oil Change Symptoms

Can you drive with overdue oil change?

Neglecting to change your vehicle’s oil for an extended period of time may result in the engine seizing up or encountering other significant issues.

What happens if you go 10000 miles over an oil change?

Well, you could be in trouble. You may have heard that driving a bit longer than the recommended 15000 miles for an oil change won’t cause any harm, but anything over 20000 miles is a whole other story. If you neglect to change your oil for that long, you run the risk of complete engine failure.

Is it bad to go 15000 miles over an oil change?

Some manufacturers recommend intervals of 10,000 to 15,000 miles for synthetic oil changes, which can save you time and money in the long run. But be aware that going too long between changes can still have negative consequences.

Can an overdue oil change cause your car not to start?

Yes, an overdue oil change can potentially cause your car not to start. Low engine oil or a bad oil leak may be the culprits behind this issue, as they can result in reduced lubrication and increased friction in the engine.

How long can you go with overdue oil change?

According to experts, cars can typically go 5,000 to 7,500 miles before needing an oil change. However, this can vary depending on a variety of factors such as driving habits and the type of oil used.

Why change oil every 6 months?

Many people are unsure of how often they should change their oil, but it is recommended to change it every 6 months or 5,000 miles. One of the main reasons for this is due to moisture buildup in the oil. When oil doesn’t get hot enough to evaporate water, it results in degradation of the oil, which can have negative effects on the engine.


Now that you know the 10 common overdue oil change symptoms, make sure to keep your car running optimally by staying on top of the regular oil changes. Uneven tire wear, clunking, and loss of power are just a few of these warning signs that shouldn’t be ignored.

By keeping an eye out for any potential issues and proactively having the oil changed when it’s supposed to be, you’ll save yourself time, money and a lot of frustration in the long run. Thank you for reading!

Timothy Ballard

I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.

1 thought on “Overdue Oil Change Symptoms (10 Signs)”

  1. Symptoms of Overdue Oil Change and When to Take Action:

    1/Increased Engine Heat: Dirty or old oil fails to dissipate heat effectively, causing the engine to run hotter than normal.

    2/Reduced Fuel Efficiency: Neglected oil change leads to decreased fuel efficiency, resulting in more fuel consumption.

    3/Dark, Dirty Oil: Overdue oil change results in dark and dirty oil, indicating the need for immediate replacement.

    4/Check Engine Light: Ignoring an oil change can trigger the check engine light to illuminate, signaling potential engine issues.

    Decreased Performance: The performance of the vehicle may decline due to old and contaminated oil that fails to provide optimal lubrication.

    5/Smoke from the Exhaust: Neglected oil change can produce smoke from the exhaust, indicating engine problems that require attention.

    6/Unusual Smells: Overdue oil change may result in unusual smells, signifying potential damage to engine components.

    7/Make sure to address these symptoms promptly to maintain the health and performance of your vehicle.


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