Your vehicle’s check engine light is an excellent feature that lets you know when your car needs to be serviced, but does it turn on for oil changes?
Yes, check engine lights come on for oil changes. This is the most common reason for a check engine light to turn on and it’s likely due to low engine oil levels or old/dirty oil. Once the check engine light is on, inspect your car’s dipstick and take it for an oil change.
After extensively researching automotive maintenance forums, I have gathered enough information to determine how the check engine light works on cars. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at what your vehicle’s check engine light does, and how you can use it to assess the condition of your car.
What to Do When a Check Engine Light Turns On
The most common reason that a check engine light turns on is to let you know that you need to change your oil. This is a very convenient feature that virtually all modern cars are equipped with, and it enables drivers with limited automotive experience to take action when their vehicles need to be maintained or repaired.
If a check engine light turns on around the time that your car is due for an oil change, this is a good sign that you probably need to change your oil. When a check engine light turns on for an oil change, it will likely be connected to one of the following reasons:
- Low engine oil levels
- Old or dirty oil
1. Check Dipstick
Whenever I get a check engine light for an oil change, I always like to confirm this is actually the problem before I take action.
The best way to do this is to check your car’s dipstick to see the condition and level of your engine oil. You can check your car’s dipstick by following these steps:
- Open the hood of your car
- Look for the dipstick near the left side of the engine
- Remove the dipstick
- Wipe the dipstick with a cloth or rag
- Insert the dipstick
- Remove the dipstick (again)
Once you remove the dipstick, see what level your oil is at and look for any signs of dirty oil. Low levels of dirty oil imply that you need an immediate oil change.
2. Change the Oil
Changing engine oil is one of the most routine maintenance jobs that come with owning a vehicle.
There are a couple of different ways that you can approach this. If you are handy with tools and familiar with basic automotive repairs, you can change your car’s engine oil at home. This is not a very complex task, but it will require using standard tools.
With that said, most people prefer to get their cars serviced professionally. Although changing engine oil is not very complicated, having it done professionally is affordable and it guarantees that it will be done right.
Take your car to your dealership or preferred mechanic to have them inspect the vehicle and change the oil.
Why Is My Check Engine Light Not Turning Off After an Oil Change?
If the check engine light turns on because of a needed oil change, the light generally turns off by itself automatically.
However, there are certain situations where the check engine light stays on, implying that there is a minor issue with how the oil change was done, or that your car is experiencing a different problem altogether.
Improperly Inserted Dipstick
A check engine light will stay on if the oil dipstick was not properly inserted after the oil change.
This is very easy to fix, and you likely just need to pop open your hood and reposition the dipstick for the check engine light to turn off.
Too Much Oil
If your oil was overfilled, then it could result in the check engine light failing to turn off.
You can check the oil level of your engine by looking at the indicator on your dipstick. Draining a little bit of the overfilled oil should fix the problem.
Your engine has a sensor that monitors oil levels. This sensor triggers when you need to change your oil, but it could potentially be malfunctioning which would cause it to give unreliable readings.
Dirt, debris, and sludge from dirty oil can build up on the sensor, causing it to malfunction. Cleaning or replacing the existing sensor will be required to fix the check engine light.
Issue Not Related to Oil Change
If you’ve ruled out all of the above possibilities and the check engine is still not turning off, there’s a good chance that there is a separate issue with your car not related to the oil change.
The check engine light on your vehicle is designed to let you know when a variety of different problems develop in your car. With that said, keep the following potential issues in mind when your car’s check engine light turns on:
- Loose gas cap
- Damaged oxygen sensor
- Worn-out spark plugs
- Damaged catalytic converter
- Overheated engine
Can You Drive a Car When the Check Engine Light is On?
You should avoid driving a car when the check engine light is turned on until you have resolved the issue. In general, if the check engine light came on while you were driving, it should be safe to use the vehicle sparingly until you get it fixed.
With that said, you should approach driving the car with caution. There could be any number of reasons behind the check engine light, and continuing to use the car could irreversibly damage the vehicle’s components.
In addition, a serious mechanical issue could pose serious safety risks. That is why you should get your vehicle serviced as soon as possible to diagnose the problem and fix it before it gets worse.
- Yes, check engine lights come on for oil changes.
- Oil changes are the most common reason for a check engine light to turn on and it’s likely due to low engine oil levels or old/dirty oil.
- Once the check engine light is on, inspect your car’s dipstick and take it for an oil change.