Many drivers view the check engine light as a sign of concern. Indicating that something is wrong, the check engine light can come on for many reasons. If it comes on going down the road, you might immediately wonder, “Does the check engine light come on for an oil change? When was the last time I changed my oil, anyway?” Turns out that oil has its own indicator light, which represents oil life and is shaped like an oil can. However, there are some oil-related issues that could cause the check engine light to shine.

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What is the Check Engine Light?

The check engine light is a warning that is on the dashboard of most modern-day cars. It is in the shape of an engine and has CHECK in capitals. Whenever there is a problem with the electronically controlled emissions system, the light switches on to alert you to the problem. The check engine light will flicker on for small reasons, as well as way more serious problems.

Check engine lights can be static or flashing. Static is most likely what you see when the sensors are saying, “Hey, something’s up, but it’s no big deal (yet).” If your check engine light is flashing, your car is going through a catastrophic time and needs help ASAP.

Does The Check Engine Light Come On For an Oil Change?

As you already know, there is a sensor in your vehicle that is programmed to go off whenever you get close to needing an oil change. That is known as the oil life indicator. It can be a little inaccurate, depending on how routinely the oil sensors are reset and how often you change your oil. But that sensor will tell you when your oil is getting low.

But what about the check engine light?

Your check engine light will not come on when you need an oil change. The only time the check engine light comes in is after an oil change. Usually, this is because the oil dipstick is not placed correctly or the oil fill cap is fitted incorrectly. Sometimes, the sensor that measures oil pressure or volume takes a little while to reset after you replace the oil; the check engine light comes on because it believes there is either low oil pressure or too much oil.

Lastly, the check engine light might switch on if you used the wrong oil doing your oil change. For example, if you put a 10W-30 in your engine when you needed a 5W-30, your car could end up heating up too fast. The check engine light will come on due to that excess heat.

Other Reasons Why The Check Engine Light Comes On

So you know that the check engine light does not equal the oil life light. Furthermore, the check engine indicator could point to issues pertaining to a recent oil change. However, those are not the only reasons for the check engine light. If you have ruled out needing an oil change and checked the dipstick, oil fill cap, and reset the sensor, then consider the following:

  • Oxygen sensor failure: Monitors the exhaust coming out of the engine, so air-fuel mixtures can be adjusted. Dysfunctional O2 sensors can increase fuel consumption, among other things.
  • Faulty spark plugs: Without properly working spark plugs, your car may misfire and won’t perform. Fortunately, this is an easy fix.
  • Catalytic converter problems: As part of the exhaust system, the catalytic converter converts carbon monoxide into CO2 and gets rid of that through your car’s exhaust. If it is malfunctioning, the emissions will set off the sensor.
  • Ignition coil failure: These provide electricity that ignites the spark plug.
  • Mass airflow sensor failure: Monitors how much air is going into the fuel injection system.
  • Loose gas cap: Since your gas tank is connected to the combustion chamber, leaving the gas cap loose messes with the internal pressure, triggering a sensor to switch on the check engine light.

You can also check out this video for more details:


Does the check engine light come on when you need an oil change? No, not unless the engine is affected in other places. The only time you will see a check engine light associated with oil changes is after you have one done. Make sure the dipstick is in the right place and that the oil fill cap is on correctly. Most of the time, the check engine light is for other problems, such as sensor or spark plug malfunctions. Nevertheless, if you see a flashing check engine light, get your car to a mechanic as soon as you can!

Categories: Oil Guides


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