How Long Can You Go Without Changing the Oil?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on December 18th, 2022

How long can you go without an oil change after the light comes on? When your car’s ‘change oil’ light illuminates, it might be worrisome. The amount of time you can wait varies by automobile. In this post, I’ll explain how long you may go without changing your oil when the light turns on.

If your car’s oil change light illuminates, you should replace the oil within the following two weeks. If the light turns on, you should change the oil before driving another 500 miles.


If your automobile has an oil pressure light and no ‘oil change’ light, you must pull over and turn off the engine. Otherwise, you will damage the engine.

It is also conceivable that the oil light does not signify that you need to replace the engine oil but rather that you need to top up the oil. However, if the light shows that the oil needs to be changed, you must do it within the next 500 miles. The advice is to act as quickly as possible.

Continue reading to find out how long you may go without changing your oil once the light turns on.

How Long Can You Go Without Changing the Oil Once the Check Engine Light Comes On?

According to most automobile manuals, the ‘change oil’ light illuminates every 3,000 miles under typical driving conditions. That suggests the engine oil’s friction-reducing properties have already reached their limit. As a result, it must be replaced.

If your automobile handbook does not state this explicitly, you may only need to top off the oil. Most automobiles, however, do not have this ‘change oil’ light. They have an oil pressure light, which solely shows the amount of engine oil. You should pull over and call a towing service if this light comes on. However, if you continue to drive the automobile, you will damage its engine.

Furthermore, if your vehicle displays a ‘change oil’ light, it is essential to replace the engine oil within 1 to 2 weeks. This oil change light is not the same as the oil pressure light. The manufacturer’s safety plan advises you to replace the oil within the next 500 kilometers. So, when your automobile lights up, you may drive it for 500 miles without changing the oil.

You must not forget when driving your automobile to replenish the engine oil regularly according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular oil changes ensure that your vehicle lasts longer and runs more efficiently.

What Are the Causes of the Oil Change Light Coming On?

There’s no reason to be concerned, as we’ve already stated. If you have a modern automobile, you will see two oil light indicators on the dashboard. One of them is to remind you when it is time to change your oil. If this is the one that lights up, there is still time to replace the oil.

However, if the other oil light illuminates, there is a problem with your vehicle that must be addressed quickly. This indicator is usually red to indicate that the situation is critical. This is what we’ll talk about in this part. What if this red light suddenly illuminates? Here are some possible explanations:

There is insufficient oil in the car.

Engines can leak oil for various causes, including cracked valves, blown head gaskets, and more. Regardless, if oil leaks from your car, it will begin to suffer and may eventually sustain catastrophic damage. As a result, when there is insufficient oil in the automobile, the oil light will illuminate.

The oil pressure in the vehicle is low.

A vehicle’s oil pressure must be adequate for it to run optimally. However, various circumstances (clogged oil filter, faulty pressure gauge, insufficient oil in the engine, etc.) might cause oil pressure to become excessively low. When this happens, the oil light will illuminate.

The Oil Pressure Sensor is not working.

Another cause for your oil light to illuminate is a faulty oil pressure sensor. This happens randomly, usually due to normal wear and tear. If not repaired, your car will not receive the proper amount of oil pressure, resulting in more damage over time.

The Oil Pump Is Faulty

The oil pump in a car might fail due to wear and tear over time. The oil light will very certainly respond to this. At that point, the only option is to repair the pump since if you don’t, your engine will suffer from excessive friction and die much sooner than expected.

If a red light appears, do not disregard it. Pull over and come to a complete stop as soon as it is safe. Close the hood and check the oil level after turning off the engine. You should know how to perform this since it is recommended that you do it every day before driving your automobile.

The engine’s oil level will be displayed on the dipstick. Remove it from the engine; if the oil level is low, open the oil intake at the top and add more oil.

Changing Your Car’s Engine Oil

You should also have a can of motor oil in your car for emergency usage. If not, take the automobile to the nearest gas station and have a service attendant fill it up. After you’ve topped off the oil, start the engine and check whether the red light is still on. If not, you are free to go. However, you must still inspect your vehicle. It would be helpful if you were certain that the light was turned on for no other purpose.

Examine for Leaks, Smoke, and the Smell of Burnt Oil.

Examine the engine for leaks, especially if you have to add oil when it is not yet time. If you park the car in your garage or the workplace car park, look for oil spots or puddles on the floor beneath your car, particularly around the engine region.

In addition, keep an eye out for blue smoke from the car’s exhaust pipe or the odor of burnt oil from the engine. These are the first two symptoms of an oil leak. If one of these is present, take it to an auto repair shop to get it fixed.

If the red light remains on after replacing the engine oil, another issue must be addressed. You will need to contact a towing company. But what are the most likely issues? One obvious cause is that the oil pressure sensor is faulty or has become detached, broken, unclean, or otherwise damaged. In this scenario, it must be replaced.

Another possibility is a defective oil pump. This problem is more expensive to fix. You may need to replace it. However, remember that this is less expensive than rebuilding the automobile engine because you did not resolve the red oil light issue. That’s how crucial this light is.

How Long Can a Typical Car Go Without an Oil Change?

Previously, the maximum distance between oil changes was 3,000 miles. However, recent automobile engine technology advancements have increased this restriction from 5,000 to 7,000 miles for each oil change. Furthermore, if the automobile utilizes synthetic oil, it can last between 10,000 and 15,000 miles before needing to be replaced.

However, keep in mind that the values provided are relative. They are only recommendations. These statistics will vary depending on the vehicle model and engine oil used. It’s also a good idea to consult the operator’s manual for a safe estimate.

What Does ‘Change the Oil’ Mean?

The engine is the major driving power of your vehicle. While the automobile is driving, pistons within the engine move up and down the cylinders hundreds of times each minute. Because the cylinders and pistons are steel, this activity generates a lot of friction.

Car engines are made up of several moving elements, most of which do so simultaneously. As they move, they brush against one another, creating friction and, as a result, heat. Engine oil is made to absorb heat and lubricate moving components. It allows the engine to run efficiently and without overheating.

If these engine elements are not lubricated with oil, the pistons will cling to the cylinders in minutes. It will halt, and your vehicle cannot travel forward or backward. Given enough time, the engine oil becomes polluted by unburned gasoline residue as it performs its function.

Because not all of the gasoline injected into the cylinders is burnt. The engine oil becomes nasty and dark over time. That is why it should be replaced regularly. Running your motor with unclean engine oil may cause engine harm. It is less expensive to change this oil than to replace it.

What Is the Advantage of Changing the Oil regularly?

The engine will stay clean if you regularly replace the oil in your automobile. The engine will run smoothly and effectively with clean oil lubricating and flowing inside. Its internal components will all function properly, and it will endure longer.

If you replace your car’s engine oil regularly, you will gain the following advantages:

  • Your engine will last longer, and so will your vehicle. If you decide to sell it in a few years, it will be worth a good amount.
  • Your engine’s performance will increase.
  • You will lower your car’s carbon footprint.
  • You’ll get more miles per gallon.
  • Your engine will be cleaner as a result.

We’ve addressed the question, “How long can you go without changing the oil once the light turns on?” Now let’s look at what happens if you don’t replace the oil quickly enough.

Examples of More Regular Oil Changes

You may require an oil change sooner, depending on your environment and driving habits. Some automobiles, for example, require an oil change every 3,000 miles if they are subjected to “extreme driving conditions,” which might include:

  • Being stuck in endless stop-and-go traffic
  • Short journeys of fewer than five kilometers in normal weather and ten miles in the cold are common.
  • Driving on roads that are dusty, sandy, or gravelly
  • Heavy machinery towing or hauling

Because all of these variables might impact when an oil change is required, it’s better to be proactive. You can lower your car’s long-term running expenses by receiving frequent oil changes and boosting its reliability.

What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Oil Quickly Enough?

If you don’t change the engine oil for an extended period, the engine will use all the oil. This condition has the potential to cause serious issues with your engine. The engine oil is intended to lubricate, clean, and cool the engine’s internal components. It must be clean and free of soot, unburned fuel, and other pollutants.

Not changing the engine oil for an extended period will likewise be too hard on the engine. It will almost certainly result in long-term issues, if not catastrophic engine failure. Changing the oil regularly is even more important if your automobile has a turbo engine.

At the absolute least, your car’s emissions will get the attention of government officials, and you will be punished. Worst case scenario, your engine will shut down, overheat, catch fire, and meltdown. Which one would you want to try?

Warning Signs That Your Vehicle Needs an Oil Change

If you’re unsure whether an oil change is necessary, there are certain warning signs to look out for…

  • Color and consistency change: When engine oil is clear, it becomes transparent and amber. As the oil functions, it will begin to gather particles, turning the oil dark and gritty. Remove the dipstick to check the color and consistency. If you can’t see the dipstick through the oil, it’s time for an oil change.
  • Burning oil odor: If you smell burning oil within the cabin, there is likely an oil leak.
  • Engine knocking: Oil is used to keep the engine’s moving parts from grinding against each other. When these components are not adequately maintained, the engine creates a loud knocking sound. You’ll need an oil change before the engine overheats and shuts down.
  • The oil change light will illuminate the dashboard if there is insufficient oil in the vehicle. If the check engine light turns on, problems have grown so bad that the engine is in danger of being damaged. In any case, your car must be inspected as quickly as possible.

When Should You Change Your Oil?

When an oil change should be conducted varies depending on the manufacturer. It’s critical to keep an eye on the odometer or the oil monitoring technology available in many vehicles. You may also consult your owner’s handbook to determine when your vehicle needs an oil change.

If you’re not sure when the last oil change was, here are some things to watch for while driving:

  • The engine makes a loud clanging sound.
  • Inside the automobile, there is an odor of oil.
  • More frequent excursions to the gas station.

The most common symptom is regular, loud engine noise. Clean oil keeps the engine operating smoothly. The engine will create sounds if the oil is not changed because it is not adequately lubricated by clean oil. We’ll gladly provide an oil change so your automobile can operate smoothly again.

How to Make Your Car Run Longer Without Changing Oil Frequently

The type of engine oil you use in your automobile will also influence how long you can go without changing the oil. Use synthetic engine oil if you don’t want to replace your engine oil regularly.

Engine oil is classified into four types: normal, high mileage, synthetic, and synthetic mix. You will benefit from using synthetic oil if you do the following:

  • You will lessen the frequency with which you replace your oil.
  • Your engine will use less gasoline.
  • The engine oil will be more coagulation-resistant.
  • Your vehicle will emit fewer pollutants.
  • Your engine will be cleaner as a result.
  • In cold weather, your car’s performance will increase.

Using synthetic oil, you may expect a change in oil frequency of 10,000 to 15,000 miles based on all parameters. However, keep in mind that they are only averages. A lot will depend on the sort of vehicle, its age, your driving habits, and so on.

What Kind of Oil Do I Need For My Car?

Depending on whether you own an older or modern vehicle, you can either:

  • Oil from conventional sources
  • Synthetic oil or a synthetic combination of oils

Older vehicles often use traditional oil; however, synthetic oil is healthier for your engine and reduces problems, especially in extremely low temperatures.

So, when it’s time for an oil change, consider switching from traditional to synthetic oil. However, keep in mind that synthetic oil is more costly. That’s where a synthetic mix comes in handy since they’re less expensive than synthetic oil and far more efficient than regular oil.

Note: If your owner’s handbook recommends a certain oil, use it. If it doesn’t, get assistance from your technician or a service expert. They will assist you in selecting any oil that is both cost-effective and performs well.


To summarize and answer the question, ‘How long can you go without changing your oil when the light turns on?’ You must have your car’s oil changed within the following two weeks. Or, at most, within the next 500 miles.

However, if your vehicle does not have an ‘oil change’ light and merely an oil pressure light, you must immediately pull over and turn off the engine. You will ruin the engine if you do not.


Editorial Staff

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