You can think of oil as the blood of your car. Without it, your vehicle will simply not be able to function. The liquid is used to protect your engine and lubricate its various parts - in turn, this reduces the friction and heat generated while you drive (the biggest enemies of a car).

Over time, it is normal for the oil in your car to become contaminated as it is used by the engine. For this reason, it is vital that you replace the oil in your vehicle regularly. However, it is not unheard of for car owners to accidentally put the wrong type of oil into their cars.

So what happens if you put the wrong oil in your car? In this article, we will be discussing a few of the most common symptoms that your car will experience after it has been filled with the wrong oil. So let's take a look so you can understand what issues may arise.

Choosing the Correct Oil Type for Your Vehicle

There are different types of oil to choose from when you visit your local vehicle supply store. In fact, there are so many options that it can be an extremely complicated and tricky process. It is no wonder that so many car owners accidentally purchase the incorrect type of oil when it comes to the specifications and needs of their vehicle.

Unfortunately, your car will encounter several problems if you fill it with incompatible oil. For this reason, it is vital that you research exactly which type of product you will need before purchasing anything.

To determine which oil you should buy, you will need to refer to the owner's manual of your car. The manual will tell you exactly what type of oil the automaker recommends for your vehicle.

Symptoms That Your Car Will Experience When the Wrong Oil Is Used

As we have already mentioned, there are various symptoms that your car will experience when you fill it with the incorrect type of oil. Below, we have made a list of five of the most common problems that car owners encounter when this happens.

It Will Be Hard To Start In Cooler Weather Conditions

If the viscosity of the oil that you have chosen is too high, your car may not be able to start in colder weather conditions. In this case, the thickness of the oil prevents it from properly lubricating the various parts of your vehicle. This creates additional friction and heat, preventing the engine from starting. For this reason, your owner’s manual will recommend that you use a less viscous oil type if you live in a colder area.

You Will Experience Plenty Of Oil Leaks

If you have an older or a high mileage car, it is not recommended that you use synthetic oil. If you do, your vehicle may start developing oil leaks that would not have occurred with a conventional oil type.

This occurs because of the different characteristics between the two oils. Synthetic oils flow more easily and will be able to get into tighter areas than conventional oil. Even though this does not cause any damage to your car, it does mean that you will need to fill it with oil again sooner than if you used the more compatible option. In the end, you will have spent money on wasted oil.

You Will Smell Burning Oil

If the hot viscosity of the oil is not high enough for your engine type, it may start burning and breaking down when you drive. When this occurs, the oil does not properly lubricate the engine and its parts, creating extra resistance, heat, and friction. In the long run, the tension between the metal components of your engine will lead to long-term damage.

You will notice a burning smell when this occurs. It is very important that you take your vehicle to the auto repair shop as soon as possible in this scenario.

Your Car Will Have Poor Fuel Economy

As we have already mentioned, there are plenty of different oil types out there for you to choose from. Some of these options have a much higher viscosity than others. If you fill your vehicle with an oil that is too thick for your engine type, you are likely to have to make many more stops at the gas station than you would like.

When the oil is too thick, the parts of your engine do not move as efficiently. The viscosity of the motor oil will increase the resistance experienced by the engine, causing it to work much harder when you drive. For this reason, the gas in your tank will burn much quicker, and you will have to fill up much more regularly than if you had used a thinner oil type.

Your Engine Will Tick

When the oil that you use is too thin for your engine, you are likely to hear a ticking noise while you drive. This is due to the fact that the oil does not cover and protect the moving parts adequately, allowing them to bang together and make a noise.

The ticking noise is normally loudest when you start your engine. As you drive, it should begin to fade. This problem can be solved by using a slightly thicker oil type.


There are many options to choose from when it comes to changing the oil in your car. Unfortunately, if you select an option that is not compatible with your engine, your vehicle will experience a number of problems.

The most common symptoms include the car being very difficult to start and experiencing oil leaks. Also, you may smell burning oil while driving. If you use an oil that is too thick for your engine, you are likely to have to fill your tank much more frequently than necessary. Finally, if the oil is too thin, you may hear a ticking sound when you start your car.



I grew up working on my own cars and motorcycles and 15 years later I love still getting my hands dirty.