Top 9 Overdue Oil Change Symptoms

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What are the overdue oil change symptoms that you need to always look out for to know when to change your oil. It is generally recommended that you change the oil in your engine after driving a certain mileage. Some people would suggest oil change intervals of 7,500 miles to 10,000 miles.

But, you must not wait until you drive a certain mileage before changing the oil in your engine. Motor oils play a crucial role in making car engines function at their best, and they also help to prolong engine life.

When the oil in your car engine is due for a change, you’d start noticing quite different signs and symptoms, such burnt smell, dark exhaust fumes, irregular loud noise, etc.

Once these signs start showing, it is advisable to go for an oil change immediately, or you may be risking a fatal engine failure.

Overdue Oil Change Symptoms

Overdue Oil Change Symptoms

Oil is like the blood your engine needs to keep functioning. If you don’t pay attention to the oil in your engine, you may end dealing with an expensive engine repair.

1. Unusual Loud Noise

This is practically the first sign that shows your car needs an oil change. When the oil in the engine goes down, friction would increase between the moving parts; thus, you may notice an unusually loud noise as you start the car or during acceleration.

Notwithstanding, the oil in your engine may not have gone down, but because it’s not the oil you ought to use for your engine, you may still notice this sign. This happens because the oil is unable to properly lubricate the engine parts as supposed.

2. Burnt Smell

Another common sign that your engine needs an oil change is when you start perceiving a burnt oil smell in your car’s internal cabin. It’s not normal to perceive such smells – you’d only perceive that when the oil in your engine is dripping on hot parts.

Yes, when oil drips on hot engine components, it’d burn off, and that’s why you’re perceiving the bad odor.

Literally, this shouldn’t count as an overdue oil change symptom; however, old oil in the engine can cause overheating, which is one of the things that can cause fatal engine damage.

Related Posts: Difference Between Oil Change and Mileage

3. Dark or Dirty Oil

You can only notice this via manual checks. If you frequently check your engine oil, and a day comes you noticed the oil is very dark or dirty; that’s simply a clear sign that you need to put in fresh oil.

What your car engine needs is clean, fresh oil, which would clean out sludge and buildups that have formed inside the engine. When the oil is dirty, it can’t clean the engine, instead, it’d add more dirt, which is not good for any engine.

Buildups and sludge inside the engine can cause overheating, and also affect the performance of your car.

Read Also: Difference Between Clean and Dirty Oil

4. Dark Exhaust Fumes

Under normal circumstances, the gaseous air from the engine, released through the exhaust pipe won’t be dark (looking dirty).

When you start seeing dirty vapor coming out from your car exhaust, it’s a sign that the oil is already bad and needs to be changed. Notwithstanding, oil leaks can also cause dark exhaust fumes; so, you’d need to also check for leaks.

5. Poor Fuel Economy

There are many things that can cause poor fuel economy – a bad or dirty oil is one of them. When you’re not using the recommended oil for your engine, it is possible to notice a significant drop in fuel economy.

Similarly, when the oil in your engine is too old, and no longer does its function, the engine will try to use more power (fuel) to function as supposed.

6. Warning Lights On Your Dashboard

All the icons on your car’s dashboard aren’t fancy; if some of them have never been illuminated before, it means the components they’re connected to are still functioning very well.

Depending on your car model, the check engine icon or oil change icon would illuminate on your dashboard. If your car doesn’t include the oil change icon, then you should pay serious attention to your engine once the check engine light illuminates.

Modern cars are highly computerized; virtually all the components send signals to a central computer, which interprets the signals and resend them to other sensitive components.

When your car’s central computer senses a wrong/faulty component, it would trigger the respective icon to illuminate on the dashboard.

Well, there are many situations that can cause the check engine light to come on. So, when it does, one of the things to check is your oil.

7. Unusual Difficulty in Shifting

It is the oil inside the engine that lubricates the moving parts, make them carry out their various functions with less or no friction.

When the oil is unable to do this – probably because it’s old or dirty, friction would increase between the components; thus, causing difficulty in shifting. This can actually cause more serious damages if allowed to occur for a while.

Read Also: What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Oil For 10,000 Miles?

8. Hard Starting

When your car is hard starting, one of the culprits is the oil. There are pretty many things a bad or dirty oil can cause. Oil is the “blood” of any engine; thus, when the engine is short of oil, it can exhibit different unusual signs.

Again, there are quite many things that can cause hard starting. If you change your oil and your car is still hard starting, maybe you should check the injectors, carburetors, and other small components that make up the fuel system.

9. Overheating

Yes, overheating is one thing you must try to avoid; it can wreck an engine. Overheating is caused when friction increases between the moving parts of an engine.

It is important to note that if you use thinner oils, they can “thin out” in high temperatures. For example, a 5w20 oil is possible to thin out in summer when temperatures can go above 20oC in certain cities.

In this case, what you need is to get a motor oil that has a higher viscosity rating for high temps and the issue might just be fixed.

When Should You Change Your Engine Oil?

The truth is that different drivers have different intervals for oil changes. Some people change their motor oil every 3,000 miles.

However, it is generally recommended to keep your oil change intervals between 5,000 to 8,000 miles. But if your engine uses Full Synthetic motor oil, you can set oil change intervals between 15,000 – 16,500 miles.

Full synthetics have a longer life than conventional or synthetic blend motor oils. More so, the exact duration between oil changes for your vehicle should be clearly stated in the owner’s manual by the automaker.


The importance and benefits of following oil change intervals strictly cannot be overstated. It does not only keep your engine running at its best, but it also contributes to making your car drive with less noise.

An oil change is something you can do yourself if you’ve got the exact oil for your car at home (in the garage). You can always buy the motor oil for your car from online stores or local auto shops.

Finally, you should also change the oil filter at intervals – maybe after two oil changes, the next change would include installing a new oil filter. This helps to ensure that the engine gets clean oil for better performance.

Related Post: Will Your Car Shake If You Need An Oil Change?

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