If you’re a car owner, you’ve no doubt heard time and time again to change your oil on the regular. At the 3,000 mile mark, you go to the auto shop, grab a bottle of oil off the shelf, and realize after you’re home that you’ve purchased the wrong type. What could possibly go wrong after putting the wrong oil in your car? Oil is oil, right? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that.
The Symptoms Of Putting The Wrong Oil In Your Car
The technicians who designed your vehicle recommend a certain type of oil for a reason. The right type of oil helps your engine function optimally by reducing friction and preventing overheating. Putting in the wrong type of oil may not be a catastrophic mistake, but you may start to notice your vehicle acting a little differently than usual.
1. Your oil is leaking
Oil leaks can happen for several reasons, one of which is adding the wrong type of oil to your engine. This particular issue typically occurs when you add synthetic oil to an older vehicle that is designed to use conventional oil. Synthetic oil flows more smoothly and flows through tight areas inside of your engine more easily than conventional oil, which can cause it to leak between components.
2. It’s difficult to start your car when it’s cold outside
If you’ve added oil that is too thick for your vehicle in a cold environment, it won’t flow easily when you try to start the engine. This can make it difficult to start your car, although it will function normally once your engine has warmed up.
3. You’re hearing a ticking sound from your engine when it’s cold
For the same reason as the point above, thick oil in a freshly-started cold engine can cause the components inside your engine to knock or ‘tick’ against each other as it idles. Once the engine and the oil have warmed up, the ticking sound will stop.
4. Your gas mileage isn’t what it used to be
Thicker oil is valuable in certain cars and environmental conditions, but it isn’t used universally for a reason. In effect, your engine has to work harder than usual to get the same amount of power when it’s pumping oil that is too thick. If you’re noticing lower gas mileage and more frequent trips to the gas station after adding oil to your car, too-thick oil may be the culprit.
Like many of the other items on this list, gas mileage is another problem that can stem from many sources. If you’re noticing lower gas mileage but haven’t changed your driving habits, it may be a good idea to visit your mechanic to make sure there isn’t something more serious going on.
5. You smell burning oil
Burning oil can happen for several reasons. If you’ve recently changed your oil and weren’t sure if you added the right oil, then the wrong type of oil may be the culprit. This problem typically occurs if your oil is too thin in hot conditions. As your engine runs, too-thin oil gets hot and starts to overheat, causing the burning smell.
What if you mix the types of oil in your car?
It happens to the best of us – you forget whether you put synthetic or regular oil in your car or what weight you even used last time. Without having the old bottle in hand to know what you grabbed, what happens if you mix the types of oil in your car?
- Over the course of one oil change, it likely won’t make much difference if you mix your oil with a thinner type.
- If you mix your oil with a thicker type, you may notice some of the symptoms we discussed above.
Does it hurt if you mix brands?
If you mix brands for one oil change, it likely won’t make much of a difference to your car’s performance as long as you put the right type of oil in. However, the additives that each brand uses differ, so try to stick with the same brand from one oil change to the next.
Easy Oil Changes And More At T3 Atlanta
Some of the symptoms of putting the wrong oil in your car overlap with other vehicle issues. Remove all doubt and get to the bottom of the problem with T3 Atlanta. We’ll help you stick to your regular oil change schedule and identify if the problem lies elsewhere. We can optimize the lifespan of your Lexus, Nissan, Infiniti, or Toyota for years to come. Give us a call and we’ll pen you in for an appointment today.