Learning about “what happens if you go too long between oil changes?” helps drivers never underestimate skipping their oil change. In general, when skipping an oil change for too long, the engine temperature increases significantly, which might lead to significant engine damage.
It's not rare to get into a situation where you realize that your vehicle passed the oil change due date. It's probably about 300 miles above what the sticker on the corner of your windshield says.
Unfortunately, many drivers who got into this situation think that it's OK to continue driving the vehicle for another couple of hundred miles and then change the oil when they have time. However, what they're not aware of is going too long between oil changes leads to catastrophic results.
Among the regular difference maintenance, an oil change is considered one of the most critical ones to maintain properly. Furthermore, without proper oil change at the right time, your engine can overheat and can't get distilled disrupted in no time.
Let’s learn about what happens when you go too long between oil changes.
What is the purpose of engine oil?
Before we go through the details about “what happens if you go too long between oil changes?” It's critical to understand the main purpose of the engine oil.
Your engine oil is one of the most crucial fluids that you need to maintain in the vehicle to prevent significant damages.
In any combustion system, the internal moving parts are interacting with each other continuously. As they interact, they generate a lot of friction leading to a significant increase in the engine temperature. Without proper lubrication using the motor oil, the increased temperature can result in premature engine breakdown and an increase in the engine temperature beyond the safe level.
Unfortunately, your vehicle's engine oil is not designed to last forever, and you must change it from time to time. Depending on the type of oil and depending on your vehicle’s manual, the oil change frequency differs significantly.
Among the different available oil types, conventional and synthetic is the most common. Although conventional oil is cheaper, many drivers decide to go with synthetic oil to reduce the frequency of oil changes which can be a headache.
What happens if you go too long between oil changes?
Understanding what happens if you go too long between oil changes is an important skill to help prevent disastrous situations.
As the oil gets older, it collects debris and contaminants and turns from a nice-looking clean oil into something like engine sludge. With the new characteristics, the oil loses its capability to reduce the engine temperature and lubricate the moving components properly.
Let's take a closer look at some of the consequences of going too long between oil changes:
Damaging the engine
The more you wait on the oil change, the closer you are to a complete engine failure. If the engine does not receive the right level of lubrication, its temperature will increase significantly, causing engine self-destruction.
Besides the increased temperature, the oil will not be able to clean the engine's pathways. As a result, these pathways will be filled with contaminants and debris that could impact the engine's overall performance.
Reduction in the fuel economy
And the engine loses its capabilities of producing the right power; it will request additional fuel from the fuel tank. Thus, you'll notice that the more you wait on the old change, the more you must go to the gas station and fill your tank.
Blowing the head gasket
A blown head gasket is one of the most critical undesirable situations that none of the drivers would like to get involved in. In addition, a blown head gasket requires very expensive repair costs, which can be easily prevented by just performing a quick oil change.
Damaging the engine components
If the engine's interacting components do not receive the right level of lubrication, there is a very high chance that they will wear out and get damaged prematurely. The longer you wait on the oil change, these components cause severe damage to each other
Voiding the warranty
If you're driving a brand-new vehicle, you are manufacturer will require you to perform the scheduled maintenance at the right time to maintain your warranty. Unfortunately, the longer you wait on the oil change or even skipping an oil change might result in avoiding your vehicle's warranty.
Thus, if you're not ready for this huge loss, it is recommended that you perform the oil change and never forget it. Typically, many dealerships will remind you of the next oil change before the due dates. However, do not rely on their reminder and make it your full responsibility to maintain the oil change, not to lose the warranty.
The reason for this linkage between the warranty and the scheduled maintenance is to maintain the vehicle. The manufacturers know exactly the negative consequences of skipping the oil change and the other scheduled maintenance. Therefore, they know that if you skip those little things, there's a very high chance to deal with major damage like complete engine failure for transmission issues. So thus, to save themselves a lot of money, they ensure that you perform the simple maintenance and never skip any of them.
How many miles is it safe to go over your oil change?
The number of miles you can go over the oil change is specified clearly in your vehicle's owner’s manual. However, it is hard to say a specific number without considering all factors, including the type of vehicle you’re driving, the stress level, and the type of oil you decided to go with.
According to some expert’s opinions, most oil changes should tap in between 5000 miles and 7500 miles. But, again, if you're using synthetic oil, your vehicle can work just fine up to 10,000 miles in some scenarios.
How often should I change my vehicle's oil?
It all depends. Depending on what's specified in the new vehicles owner’s manual and depending on the type of oil you're using, you might get a different threshold.
An oil change is typically based on the mile is a threshold. Your vehicle's owner’s manual should have a page listing all other scheduled maintenance, including the oil change.
In general, most manufacturers recommend changing your vehicle's oil once every 5000 miles. However, if you decided to go with synthetic oil, you don't need to change your oil up to 7500 miles, if not 10,000 miles.
In some scenarios, you might even need to change your vehicle's oil before the 5000 thresholds, especially if you are running or vehicle under one of the following conditions:
- You only drive your vehicle for shorter distances that do not exceed 5 miles
- You're driving in an extremely cold or hot environment
- You're driving in an area where you rely on stop and go continuously
- Your vehicle is hauling some heavy loads
- Your vehicle is towing a large trailer or another vehicle
If the mentioned situations sound familiar, it indicates that your vehicle was continuously exposed to a lot of pressure. With that, the oil is expected to break down prematurely, which means that you must change it as soon as possible. Usually, mechanics and automotive experts referred to these situations as severe service situations.
Can I really go 10,000 miles between oil changes?
It all depends. For example, if you or your vehicle is equipped with synthetic oil and you do not drive your vehicle often, it might get you up to 10,000 miles without needing an oil change.
However, you recommend that you stick with what's specified in your vehicle's owner’s manual to stay on the safe side. Also, consider the severe service in cases of any of the mentioned situations where your vehicle is under continuous stress.
Can your car catch on fire from not changing the oil?
Typically, skipping oil change does not necessarily result in your vehicle catching on fire. However, if there is an oil leak associated with skipping the oil change, there might be a chance where the hot oil drops on some rubber components and start the fire.
But the bottom line is that skipping or waiting too long between oil changes does not necessarily have to do anything with fire risks.
Does a car run better after an oil change?
Of course! Immediately after the oil change, you will notice a significant difference in your vehicle's overall performance. In general, oil change provides you with the following benefits:
Improve the efficiency of the engine
Once the engine receives the right level of lubrication, it doesn't need to work hard, and there won't be a lot of stress on the engine. Thus, it will only use its energy to generate the necessary power to get your vehicle going. As a result, the engine will not use too much fuel, and you will notice a significant improvement in the vehicle's fuel efficiency.
When the engine fuel economy is improved, you can go longer distances without meeting and gas refill. Obviously, maintaining the oil change helps save a lot of money on gas and other aspects of engine repairs.
Extend the lifespan of your engine
The cleaner the engine, the longer it can last, and the more it can help you hear it with frequent oil changes; you are continuously cleaning and removing any contaminants or debris from the engine's pathways. Thus, the engine will work at its full capacity without any stress.
Also, when you change the oil frequently, the oil can provide the right amount of lubrication to the internal moving components inside the engine. Thus, these components don't interact with each other to produce a lot of friction and increase premature damages.
Thus, one of the main benefits of a frequent oil change is extending the engine's lifetime.
Help the environment
When your vehicle has clean oil, the engine does not burn too much fuel, releasing very harmful gases to the environment. Also, since there is no sludge built up in the engine, the generated gases after the combustion process are considered relatively less harmful than other gases generated when the engine is contaminated.
Maintain the engine temperature
The engine must operate within a certain range of temperature. If the engine temperature exceeds the optimal threshold and overheating is expected. So one of the best benefits of oil changes is introducing newer cleaner oil that can maintain the engine temperature properly and prevent engines from overheating.
Pass the emission test
When your engine is working properly and does not produce any harmful gases, you can easily pass the emission tests. You don't have to worry about all the headaches of rescheduling the test or performing unexpected repairs to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
An oil change is one of the most critical scheduled maintenance that drivers should never skip. Going too long between oil changes can be a huge disaster and result in catastrophic outcomes, including significant engine failure.
This article highlighted some of the consequences of your vehicle when you go too long between oil changes. Typically, the longer you go, the more severe the consequences. For example, by skipping the oil change for a long time, you expect to void your vehicle's warranty, damaging the engine's internal components, blowing the head gaskets, reducing the overall engine fuel economy, and causing a significant engine failure.
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