What Happens if You Put the Wrong Oil In Your Car? It’s Different

So what happens if you put the wrong oil in your car? To put it simply, a lot of bad things might occur to its engine. For example, you may notice a significant diminishment in performance. In addition, your vehicle can also emit a burning smell, emit bad engine noises, and fail to start in cold weather.

In this article, I’ll be discussing everything that may happen to your automobile if it’s filled with the wrong kind of engine oil. Besides that, I’m also going to talk about everything else that’s essential to know regarding the subject so that you shall know everything that there is to it.

What Happens If You Put The Wrong Oil In Your Car?

Using the wrong oil in your car can cause damage to the engine and potentially result in costly repairs. It is important to use the type of oil recommended by the manufacturer to ensure proper lubrication and protection of the engine.

What Happens If You Put Wrong Oil In Your Car

Wrong Oil In Car Symptoms

Several telltale signs can inform you that you’ve put the wrong engine oil in your car. 

First of all, it won’t run as it used to when it was brand new. Secondly, your vehicle may make strange bothersome noises. Thirdly, it might emit a burning smell and bring down fuel efficiency.

Now with all that being said, having the wrong oil in your engine doesn’t necessarily necessitate a trip to the mechanic. It’ll still be possible for you to drive your vehicle until the time it’s due for service. 

Even so, we recommend that you always head on the road with the right engine oil. The reason why is because using the wrong type of oil for prolonged periods can cause permanent damage to your automobile’s engine, rendering you without a means of transportation.

oil buildup at bottom of the engine
Source: reddit@travischom

Other Things Happens If You Put Wrong Oil In Your Car?

Vehicle Emitting A Burning Smell

Some engines that are misfiled with low viscosity engine oil tend to have that oil degrade much faster in hotter conditions. 

Due to that, it loses its ability to properly lubricate and cool your engine’s components. Often, when this happens, your auto begins to emit a burning smell.

Keep in mind that running your car with hot oil for prolonged periods is not a good idea. It could lead to further damage to your vehicle’s engine.

Your Car Starts Leaking Oil

Engine Oil Leak Place

Regardless of viscosity ratios, synthetic oil causes oil leaks when put inside older engines that are designed to be used alongside regular motor oil. 

The reason why is simply because synthetic motor oil possesses different characteristics in comparison to regular oil.

The difference in these characteristics can cause your engine’s synthetic oil to leak through any tight spaces. Though such leaks are not damaging to your car, they do bring about the need for more frequent oil changes.

Oil on outside of engine
Source: reddit@bakerk95

Fuel Efficiency Gets Worse

Engine oil that’s too viscous for your engine can significantly lower fuel efficiency.

How come? Because the thicker motor oil will introduce higher resistance to your engine’s many moving parts. As a result, your car will have to work harder and use more fuel to achieve the same level of performance that it normally would have were it filled with the right sort of oil.

Strange Noises From Your Engine

Synthetic oil causes newer and higher-mileage vehicles to become noisier. In most instances, it is when you fire up your car that it makes the loudest noise. 

Now, what’s the reason for this? Synthetic engine oil, as mentioned earlier, has properties that let it slip faster into your engine’s clearance in comparison to regular motor oil.

Cold Weather Prevents Vehicle From Starting

If your engine is filled with high viscosity oil that’s too thick, your vehicle may not be able to start in cold weather. Now in case it does start, it’ll take time to do so which can be a major hassle. After all, quick access to your vehicle means a lot, especially during sudden emergencies.

What Oil Should You Use?

So what engine oil should you utilize? 

The answer to this question all depends on the engine of your vehicle. You see, newer models are equipped with engines that are designed to run using synthetic oil. Meanwhile, older or higher-mileage automobiles often make use of regular motor oil that’s most often thicker.

Of course, the only real way to know what oil is best for your vehicle’s engine is to check out the owner’s manual. Alternatively, you may also visit a mechanic that can help you. That said, if you opt for this route, be prepared since any trip to the local auto shop shall surely cost you cash.

What Should You Do If You Put the Wrong Oil In Your Car?

What Should You Do If You Put the Wrong Oil In Your Car

If you’ve completely filled your engine with the wrong sort of oil, then your best course of action should be to visit a qualified mechanic. That mechanic will drain your engine, clean any leftover residue, and fill your vehicle’s engine with the right kind of motor oil.

Now if you’ve only partially put the wrong oil in your car, then you shouldn’t worry. Although it is not advised, it’s indeed possible to mix synthetic engine oil with regular engine oil. Needless to say, if ever you notice a diminishment in your car’s performance, perhaps it’s best to service it.

The best way to avoid loading your car’s engine with the wrong kind of oil is to read its owner’s manual thoroughly. That way, you can be sure you’re loading your vehicle with the right type of engine motor oil.

Engine Oil Myths That Are Completely Wrong

Below is a list of engine oil-related myths that are completely wrong:

  1. Regardless of what your car’s manual says, an oil change is needed every 3000 miles
  2. Your engine will get damaged if you switch engine motor oil brands
  3. Mixing synthetic and regular oil will destroy your automobile’s engine
  4. Dark engine oil must be changed immediately
  5. The “W” listed on most oil packaging stands for weight (It actually stands for winter)
  6. High viscosity oil is better for prolonging any engine’s lifespan
  7. A well-running vehicle doesn’t need to use quality engine motor oil
  8. Synthetic oil causes leaks when used in the long run
  9. It’s unnecessary to change your engine oil filter when you change your engine oil

There are many more misconceptions out there regarding engine oil. As such, you must do your research and become an informed consumer before buying oil for your vehicle. That way, you’ll be able to avoid issues such as filling your car engine with the wrong type of oil.


Can The Wrong Oil Cause Overheating?

Yes. However, there are many other causes of engine overheating. For good measure, here are a couple of examples:

  • A failed coolant system
  • A water pump that’s broken
  • Issues regarding your radiator
  • Failure with your car’s thermostat
  • Problems with hoses and belts
  • Your car’s heating core got plugged in

Now if your vehicle is overheating because of engine oil, it’s because you need an oil change as soon as possible. You see, due to your engine’s depleted motor oil, its many moving components aren’t able to operate at their optimal running temperatures.

What Happens If You Put 5W 20 Instead Of 5W 30?

5W-30 oil is more viscous, and therefore, brings about a slight reduction in fuel economy as well as reduced performance. All that is a result of the oil’s thicker nature that makes it harder for your engine’s components to move. In the long term, this will result in permanent engine damage. Thus, it’s best to refrain from putting 5W-30 oil and stick to 5W-20 motor oil.

Now with all that said, if your auto’s manual recommends that you use 5W-30 engine oil, then by all means use it. After all, the best oil to put in your car is what its manufacturer recommends.

Putting It All Together

A lot of things can happen if you put the wrong kind of engine oil in your car. However, you shall only need to pay a visit to the mechanic if you load an empty engine with the wrong sort of oil. 

Otherwise, you shouldn’t worry as mixing oil brands along with regular or synthetic isn’t as bad for your engine as many people would like to think.

The best thing to do before performing an oil change is to become an informed consumer. Doing this will prevent you from ever putting the wrong type of oil in your vehicle. On top of that, it will also keep you informed about what to do in case of an engine motor oil-related vehicle problem.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top