Most drivers have been in a situation where they know you need an oil change but you don’t have the time to stop at a lube shop and have one done. That may lead you to wonder, “How many miles can you go over an oil change?” It’s a gamble that you probably do not want to try. The typical oil change happens every 3,000 miles with conventional oil or 5,000-7,500 miles with a full synthetic. Going beyond that, even by 300 miles, could be devastating.

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Why Do Oil Changes Matter?

You may think you have time to get an oil change once you have hit the 5,000-mile mark, but it depends. Frequent oil changes are essential for maintaining the condition of your car’s engine. There are a couple of functions of motor oil, but the main function is lubrication. Without plenty of lube inside the engine, your car will not be able to run properly. Motor oil also protects against friction and sludge and can diminish heat buildup.

The longer you go without replenishing the engine oil in your car, the greater the chance of your engine failing completely.

How Many Miles Can You Go Over an Oil Change?

As mentioned earlier, most cars can go around 5,000 to 7,500 miles before needing an oil change. Some can last for 10,000 miles or longer. If you do not drive your vehicle 5,000 miles, you still need to consider changing out the oil every 6 months.

But does this mean that the moment you go 50 miles over the 7,500-mile mark or into the seventh month that your car is going to combust?

Probably not.

Although it is not recommended to wait too long to get an oil change once you have gone past the recommended service mileage, it depends. There is no accurate way to predict how many miles or months you can go over an oil change, but you can look for signs of needing an oil change and then estimate from there.

When To Get an Oil Change

Your car will let you know when you need an oil change, even if the oil indicator is not yet lit up on your dashboard. (Keep in mind that the check engine light and oil life light are two different things.)

Here are some signs to look out for:  

  • Irregular oil texture. When oil needs to be changed, it looks black, grimy, and may feel thicker to the touch. Check the dipstick for black oil—that means it’s time for an oil change pronto.
  • Exhaust smoke. If you notice smoke—like smoke from a fire smoke—your car needs an oil change now.
  • Vibrations when idling. Does your car shake like a leaf at the stop light? That is not a good sign and may indicate that you are low on oil.
  • Knocking sounds coming from the engine. Ticking noises are also common during idling.
  • Issues shifting gears, especially in manual cars.

If you plan on driving with a car that needs an oil change, it is best to top off your oil if it is low, and take it to a lube shop. Oil changes can be quick—sometimes less than 45 minutes—at a shop or dealership. Do not attempt a road trip if you are due for an oil change!

What Happens If You Go Past an Oil Change?

Going for longer without an oil change than recommended is not the best decision. Such a scenario is a little like pouring gas around a fire and seeing how long it takes to explode. In fact, waiting too long means that your car’s engine is going to have to work twice—maybe three times—as hard to perform. Your vehicle is susceptible to damage and other major issues that could require extensive repair.

Signs You Need an Oil Change

  • A loss of your vehicle’s warranty. A perk of driving a new or used car with a warranty is the peace of mind of knowing that if something happens, the warranty will cover it. Well, that is not the case when it comes to ignoring your car’s required oil change. If you try to get your car serviced after causing damage because of an overdue oil change, you will be shocked to find that your warranty is voided.
  • Blown head gasket. This will halt your car wherever it is. Blown head gaskets are costly to repair. Sometimes, depending on the model year of the vehicle, may result in total loss of the vehicle.
  • Damaged engine components. There is a reason you need heat dissipation within the engine while driving. Exposing some of the metal components to high heat can cause warping, which may cause some pieces to fight against or push into one another. Your engine may seize up when this happens, and that is impossible to fix.
  • Decreased performance. Clean engine oil is filled with additives, like detergents, to keep your car’s engine unclogged. Oil turns to sludge the longer it is in the engine; sludgy conditions make for poor performance. Plus, your car will guzzle even more gas to compensate. This is why it is also important to change the oil filter each time you change the oil.
  • Engine failure. As mentioned earlier, if you go way past the oil change, your car will suffer—permanently. Engines without clean engine oil will start to smoke white exhaust, get overheated, and seize up, forcing you to the side of the road. Seized engines cannot be repaired, meaning you would have to get a brand-new engine. Because of this, most people will sell their now-useless vehicles as-is for scrap, but this also means you have to buy a new car.

Don’t Go Without an Oil Change

How many miles can you go over an oil change? It depends, but you should not make a habit of doing it. Ensure you are within the 5,000-7,500 mile range. Otherwise, you risk extensive damage done to your vehicle or even the loss of it. If you need to go slightly over the recommended oil change range, be sure to check the quality and quantity of your oil before driving for extended distances.

Categories: Oil Guides


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