Major Oil Change Mistakes You Need to Know

Changing the oil of your car is one of the most vital maintenance practices, that many people are able to perform without professional help.

However, it is nearly inevitable that they won’t make one or two common mistakes when changing car oil at home. Engine oil has the leading role in the performance and optimum mileage coverage of a vehicle.

The engine is made up of diverse components, all of which need to stay lubricated in order to keep your car running. The lubrication for the engine parts is provided by the oil, along with its many other roles.

Over time, the engine oil gets old and filled with dust particles and debris from driving around. When such a thing happens, the engine ceases to work at its maximum performance, indicating that your engine oil needs to be changed.

Experts suggest changing the oil of your vehicle after every 3000-7000 miles distance, depending on the oil. As it is important to change your oil regularly, make sure you avoid these typical mistakes of changing oil listed below.

Oil Change Mistakes When Changing Oil at Home:

To make your oil changing experience smooth and error-free, here is a list of mistakes to avoid while changing your car oil:

1. Losing Track of the Previous Oil Changes

The rule of thumb for the regular oil change states that you should change your oil after covering around 3000 miles.

However, many people forget to keep a track of their mileage covered and hence their oil replace history. Not being able to keep a track of previous oil changes can be damaging for the engine.

You can either start changing your oil too soon or keep on driving way past your due date of changing car oil. Both of these scenarios create a lot of trouble for the drivers and their cars and should be avoided.

2. Not Using the Right Oil for Your Vehicle

One of the major mistakes you’re making while changing your car oil is not knowing which oil is the right one for your vehicle.

People often end up with engine oil that is either too cheap or an oil brand that is unnecessarily costly and not suited to their car. The engine of each vehicle is created to bear oil of a certain weight and viscosity.

Getting the oil with the wrong viscosity for your car is a mistake that hinders the engine performance greatly. To avoid this mistake, it is better to buy manufacturer recommended engine oil for your car.

They recommend the oil for your engine that matches its weight and fuel requirements.

3. Draining Oil When It is Cold 

It is general knowledge that oil flows best when warm yet draining the engine oil while it is cold is one of the most common DIY mistakes.

People who change their vehicle oil on their own make this mistake a lot. The cold oil not only takes a lot more time to flow out of the engine but there is also the possibility of leaving some of it behind.

Draining the oil when it is extremely hot is also not wise as it can burn your hands. The best way of draining the oil is by starting your engine for five to ten minutes and then turning it off before the oil change.

When the engine runs for a smaller period the oil gets warm enough to be drained quickly.

4. Pouring an Inadequate Quantity of Oil 

Your vehicle needs a certain amount of oil to work perfectly, adding too much or too little oil to the engine is not healthy. While changing the oil of their cars, people sometimes tend to fill the engine a little lower than the required quantity.

This mistake can lead to engine issues because of the reduced lubrication and more heat. Similarly, avoid adding too much oil, it may not harm the vehicle but you will have to spend some time draining it out.

This mistake does not cost your vehicle as much trouble as some of the other mistakes people make, but still, you must avoid it.

5. Not Changing the Oil Filter

The oil filter serves as a screening agent for the engine oil, it reduces the chances of dust and debris mixing with the oil. Many people ignore the significance of the oil filter and make the mistake of not replacing it during the time of changing oil.

Make sure you never make that mistake as the purpose of the oil change is not completely fulfilled unless you replace the oil filter too.

6. Using the Wrong Oil Filter

Another mistake people make that needs to be avoided is not getting the right oil filter for their car. Not every filter that fits in the engine block is the right filter for your car, each engine has its own requirements.

Otherwise, Issues like your engine not getting enough oil supply to feed its parts and the filter not filtering enough dirt as it should may arise.

So to prevent troubles of this nature, you must be well-versed in the knowledge of your car to be able to buy the right filter when the need emerges.

7. Under or Over Tightening the Filter

This is a mistake people changing their oil filters at home make quite frequently because they lack mechanical skills. They place the oil filter incorrectly by making it either too tight that the O-ring starts to break, or too loose that it leaks.

Tightening of the oil filter determines how well the oil filter will perform its functions. Auto experts have devised a simple rule for knowing when to stop tightening the oil filter.

It says that turn the filter with your hand until you see the filter gasket touching the engine surface. Then take a wrench and turn it about a quarter to half, and your filter is fitted perfectly.

8. Not Lubricating the Filter Gasket

When applying the new filter, you have to put some of the oil on the new filter gasket to avoid leaks from excessive friction. However, oftentimes people changing the oil in their cars keep on spinning the filter without lubricating it first.

A dry gasket makes the filter get loose and therefore an oil leak is most likely to occur from the oil pan.

The chances of the O-ring breaking due to overtightening increase multifold with a dry filter gasket, because of the lack of lubrication among the parts.

To avoid this mistake, dip your finger in the oil and rub it around the filter seal to make it damp and provide better lubrication.

9. Forgetting to Change the Drain Plug Gasket

There are different kinds of oil drain plug gaskets used for the oil pan of the cars, some are reusable while others can only be used once.

When changing the oil of your vehicle you have to make sure which kind of gasket your vehicle has. The mistake people make at this step is that they don’t replace the single-use drain plug gasket.

Modern cars have gaskets made of copper which deform when you open and close the drain plug once. Not changing it after the oil change can cause leaks due to the dented copper gasket.

Always visit your nearest auto store to get a new one each time you change your oil.


1. How many miles can you go without an oil change?

You can go up to 7000 miles without an oil change, but it is best to change your car oil after 3000-5000 miles distance. Vehicles using pure synthetic engine oils are expected to go as long as 15,000 miles without an oil change.

2. Will the wrong oil damage my engine?

Putting the wrong oil in your vehicle once will result in a burning smell and sometimes leaks, but it won't damage the engine entirely.

However, putting the wrong oil over and over can lead to permanent engine damage, due to the increased friction.

3. Can I change oil without changing the oil filter?

Yes, you can change the oil of your vehicle without replacing the filter but the performance of the engine will be a bit compromised.

The oil filter is responsible for eliminating the contaminants from the oil and enhancing its efficiency. Therefore, not changing the old filter during the oil change will decrease the level of screening the filter provides.

4. How do you know if your oil needs to be changed?

Many factors signal that it's time for an oil change, such as; a noise coming from the engine while driving, and your car releasing smoke. The most important indication is the specific mileage coverage and the engine oil levels dropping.


Changing your engine oil at home is not a difficult task, but there are few mistakes everyone makes at some point. Not knowing when to change the oil and which oil to use can be the leading cause of ending up making such mistakes.

If you are uncertain how to perform the engine oil change accurately, it is better to take your car to professionals to avoid errors.

No one should repeat these mistakes while changing the oil of their vehicle, because of their consequences on the engine.

In case, you have been facing any of these errors, it is never too late to make amends and be more careful next time.

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