Engine Seized After Oil Change (Causes, Signs and Solution)

There’s hardly any other engine problem that is as frustrating as a seized engine. While your car can run in the presence of some engine faults, nothing works in the case of a seized engine. If your engine seized after oil change, that’s a costly problem.

However, I will expose some of the reasons for engine seizure after oil change, the symptoms of a seized engine, how to fix the problem, and the corresponding cost.

Whether or not you’re experiencing engine seizure, the information in this article is highly vital for every car owner. So, dedicate a few minutes to digest the content below.

engine damage after oil change

Reasons for Engine Seized After Oil Change

There are several reasons for engine seizure after an oil change. While some causes are directly related to oil issues, others are caused by indirect issues. The following may be responsible if your car’s engine suddenly seizes after changing the oil.

Wrong oil type

Manufacturers design their vehicle engines to be compatible with a specific oil type. However, sometimes, it is possible to use a different brand or engine oil type with a slight difference in viscosity and avoid any challenges.

Nevertheless, shifting to using an engine oil type with a viscosity level far from the recommended and mixing different viscosity oils can cause serious engine problems, including an engine seizure.

For example, shifting from 0w40 to 5w40 may be easy; but switching from 0w40 to 20w40 can come with serious engine problems.

Lack of oil/poor lubrication

Lack of engine oil is the primary reason for a seized engine. The fluid is designed to provide proper lubrication for the engine’s moving metal parts and also helps to cool the components from generating excessive heat.

Unfortunately, when the engine oil is low, the engine parts will suffer from poor lubrication and high temperature, which can cause engine seizure, especially if the engine has been running without oil for a long time. So, even after an oil change, engine seizure can still occur in this case.

Contaminated oil

Using contaminated oil is another culprit to engine problems after oil change. Using fresh and pure oil is as important as changing your car’s engine oil in the first place.

If you decide to utilize just any engine oil that comes by when changing your vehicle’s oil, you stand a risk of experiencing an engine seizure. Hence, getting your car oil from trusted suppliers or auto parts shops is crucial.

Oil filter issues

The oil filter traps dirt and other impurities from entering the engine as the oil circulates. Therefore, using the wrong oil filter or a poor quality oil filter can compromise the safety of your car’s engine as impurities may quickly get accessed.

Usually, when dirt and other contaminants get access to your car’s engine, they can interfere with the proper lubrication of the internal engine parts.

Also, a leaking oil filter can alter the amount of oil available for the proper lubrication of the engine, resulting in overheating, which can further trigger the engine to seize.

Other related Issues

Besides issues directly related to an oil change, water in the engine, rusty engine parts, broken/stuck engine parts, and timing belt or chain issues can also trigger an engine seizure.

Therefore, if your car’s engine suddenly fails, carefully diagnose the problem to ascertain the real cause of the seizure. This will enable you to avoid trying to fix the faulty component.

Sometimes, a single fault may be responsible for the engine damage after oil change. Other times, it can as well be a combination of defects. That’s why a seized engine can be very costly to remedy.

How Do I Know If My Engine Is Seized? (Symptoms)

There are signs that reveal an engine seizure is imminent. Meanwhile, some specific symptoms also indicate a complete engine failure. If you’re contemplating how to tell if your engine is locked up, look out for these signs.

Engine won’t start

When you try to turn on your car’s engine and nothing happens, you likely have a seized engine. However, you can turn on the radio, lights, heater fan, etc. But the engine will not start no matter how hard you try. In most cases, you will hear a knock sound as you turn the engine.

Engine noise

What does a seized engine sound like? In some cases, in an attempt to start the engine, the starter may impact the flywheel, thereby producing a clunking sound.

In other cases, you may hear random light tapping and faint knocking sounds before the engine seizes completely.

If you hear any random sounds from your car’s engine, ensure to stop and check what could be wrong. Otherwise, while you may be thinking it’s something else, it could be a seizing engine sound. The seized engine sound like a hard knock or it will have no sound at all.

Visible defects

Suppose a broken part, such as the connecting rods or piston, is responsible for the engine seizure. In that case, you will eventually find the broken part lodged somewhere it doesn’t belong within the engine compartment.

So, if your car engine locked up and you discover a stuck, broken part somewhere within the engine, especially in the crankcase. It’s a sign that you have a severe problem to deal with.

Can You Fix A Seized Engine and How?

Can a seized engine be fixed? Yes, you can fix a seized engine, depending on the exact cause of the engine problem and the extent of the damage. If the damage is not so severe, repairing the faulty part will help revive the engine.

If the engine seizure was caused by a defective oil filter, rust, broken parts, or water in the engine, an expert auto mechanic will be able to pull down the engine and dismantle the parts to identify the real issues and replace the faulty components.

However, if there is a crack in the head cylinder or the engine block, the only option would be to replace the head cylinder, engine block, or the complete engine as the case may be.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Seized Engine?

Fixing a seized engine costs around $3,000 – $5,000, depending on the type of car and the extent of damage. This is why some older vehicles are abandoned in the junkyard. Spending such an amount to revive the engine isn’t worth it.

In any case, repairing a seized engine is as good as buying a new one. So, I strongly recommend a new engine replacement if you have a seized engine rather than trying to fix it.


Engine seizure occurs for several reasons, as revealed above in this article. So, if you’re contemplating why your engine seized after oil change, contact a professional auto mechanic to diagnose the problem, especially if you need to learn how to check if engine is seized.

After that, you will be able to know what to do. However, if the cause of the engine seizure is very severe, it would be best to get a new replacement instead of attempting to repair or rebuild the old engine.


Mr. Shafiqule Islam is a graduated Mechanical Engineer and has more than 15 years experience of repairing and maintenance of different brand vehicles like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Mercedes, BMW etc. He is also giving training to Mechanics. He has started writing to share his practical knowledge to Vehicle Owners, Drivers and Mechanics to keep their cars at best fit.

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