Can an overdue oil change cause check engine light?

Will an overdue oil change cause a check engine light?

Let’s delve into a common concern: the connection between an overdue oil change and the notorious check engine light.

The check engine light is a signal on your car’s dashboard that turns on when there’s an issue with the emissions control system.

It might be as simple as a loose gas cap or indicate a more serious problem with the car.

When the check engine light appears, it’s crucial to have your car inspected by a mechanic promptly. Ignoring the light might lead to more significant issues later on.

An image of a mechanic pouring fresh engine oil into a car
A mechanic pouring fresh engine oil into a car Photo courtesy: Freepik

Can an overdue oil change trigger the Check Engine Light?

Indeed, if the check engine light comes on, it could indicate that your car needs an oil change.

The check engine light in your car typically points to three issues: a loose gas cap, emission control problems, or low oil.

If the light comes on and you haven’t had an oil change, it’s a sign to check and add more oil.

Why an overdue oil change can cause a check engine light

1. Dirty or Contaminated oil

Engine oil in your car is essential for lubricating the moving parts of your engine and preventing friction, heat, and wear.

Over time, the oil gets dirty and contaminated with dust, debris, metal particles, and other impurities.

This reduces the oil’s effectiveness and can cause damage to your engine.

2. Reduced Oil Level

Additionally, the oil level can drop due to leaks or consumption, which can also affect the engine’s performance and health.

Yet, if your oil level is too low, it can lead to low oil pressure, triggering the check engine light.

Low oil pressure is a serious issue that can impact your car’s performance and even disable it if not promptly resolved.

3. Low oil pressure

One of the components that monitors the oil condition and level is the oil pressure sensor.

This sensor detects the oil pressure in the engine and sends a signal to the car’s computer.

If the oil pressure is too low, the computer will turn on the check engine light to warn you of a potential problem.

Therefore, if you have an overdue oil change, you may have low oil pressure and a check engine light.

Causes of low oil pressure

Low oil pressure can be caused by several reasons, such as a faulty sensor, a clogged oil filter, a worn-out oil pump, or simply a low oil level.

An image illustrating low oil pressure and low oil levels

4. Ignoring oil life monitor alerts

Another component that monitors the oil condition is the oil life monitor.

This is a system that calculates the remaining oil life based on various factors, such as mileage, driving habits, and engine conditions.

The oil life monitor will alert you when it is time to change your oil, usually by displaying a message or a symbol on your dashboard.

If you ignore this alert and continue to drive with old oil, the system may trigger the check engine light as a more serious warning.

Can I Keep Driving If the Check Engine Light Is On?

The question remains—should you be concerned when the check engine light appears?

Opinions vary, with some advising an immediate pull-over-and-turn-off approach, while others argue that continuing to drive won’t lead to harm.

So, what’s the real scoop?

Whether It’s Safe to Drive with the Check Engine Light On Depends on the Cause.

Serious issues require immediate attention, while minor ones may not affect your drive.

Depending on the issue’s severity, you can fix it by yourself or Seek Professional Repairs.

If opting for repairs, ask for proof and consider a second opinion if costs seem excessive.

If you’re not sure about the issue, a quick fix is resetting the check engine light. Just disconnect your car’s battery for around 30 seconds.

If the light returns after that, it’s likely due to either a faulty sensor or wire in the emissions system or a loose fuel cap.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can I reset my check engine light

The most common method is to disconnect the battery for around 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can unplug a sensor from the car’s computer system if the battery method doesn’t work.

2. If the check engine light returns, is it necessary to bring my car in for repairs?

If the check engine light reappears after resetting, it likely indicates a bigger issue, usually requiring professional repairs.

Check your owner’s manual for specific guidance.

3. Why did my check engine light turn on following the oil change?

If something went wrong during the oil change, like a broken part or a leak, the check engine light might come on.

This is more likely if you use low-quality parts or the wrong type of oil.

Ensure you use the right parts, have them installed correctly and the correct type of oil to avoid this issue.

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