Can The Wrong Oil Cause Overheating? Other Impacts

Many car owners are usually negligent about the type of oil they put in their vehicles—they believe motor oil is universal.

However, this is a false reasoning, as putting in the wrong oil can cause severe damage to your engine and car performance.

Even professionals may accidentally put regular oil instead synthetic in their engines. Now, the question is, can the wrong oil cause overheating?

This articleexamines the impact of the wrong oil on an engine, whether it can result in overheating, and remedies for using the wrong oil. Other related questions you may have are also addressed in subsequent paragraphs.

putting wrong oil in car

Can the Wrong Oil Cause Overheating?

Using the wrong oil in a car could cause overheating and other severe damage to the engine. If you are putting wrong oil in car, your vehicle runs a risk of increased friction, causing heat to build up. It becomes a severe issue if left unchecked.

Oils act as lubricants to the engine parts and come in different viscosity levels designed for specific engine types. Usually, the oil type is imprinted on the oil cap of the engine by the manufacturer.

In addition, oil viscosity is the engine oil’s flow level in response to specific temperature conditions. Why is this important to consider? Some engines are not designed to run certain oil textures.

Also, another engine oil purposeincludes collecting heat and debris within the engine, allowing for better circulation.

What Happens If You Use the Wrong Engine Oil?

Many things can go wrong when you use the wrong oil type. These include engine damage, leakages, engine stalling, difficulty starting, reduced fuel economy, engine noise, burning smell, etc.

We will discuss the wrongoil in car symptomsyou should know:

1. Oil leaks

Using the wrong oil for your vehicle could cause overheating of some engine parts. Because some of these parts are plastic, they tend to expand or crack from the heat, causing oil leakage.

Signs of the cracks include leaks or a pool of oil underneath the car when you park.

Furthermore, synthetic oil flows better than conventional oil by transporting generated heat and preventing leakages from seals and gaskets.

2. Problem starting the car

Oil might not flow through the engine and adequately lubricate parts of the engine. As a result, resistance is built in those parts, making it difficult for the engine to start.

It may take several cranks before the engine finally starts during a much colder temperature. In some cases, your vehicle will not even start.

3. Burning smell

Using the wrong oil in a carcould also cause a burning smell from the engine or smoke coming out under the car’s hood.

Because low-viscosity oil breaks down faster under heat, it tends to burn faster. The implication is that the engine runs low on oil faster than normal, causing overheating. Engine is less lubricated, and components rub against each other, causing serious wear and tear.

4. Reduce fuel economy

The use of engine oil plays an essential role in fuel efficiency. Fuel efficiency relies on the ability of the engine to work optimally. If the wrong oil is used, the engine cannot work optimally and will have to overwork to meet performance–hence, reduced fuel economy.

5. Engine noise

Engine noise is another symptom of using the wrong engine oil for your car. Lack of lubrication cause the engine part to rub against each other, causing grinding or squeaking sounds from the engine.

Will Thicker Oil Damage My Engine?

If you drive a more recent model of car, then you should avoid thicker engine oil and stick to the one recommended by the manufacturer.

Older engines are better suited for thick oils, but you should always consider manufacturer recommendations.

Thicker oils have higher viscosity and don’t flow well. It makes them less suitable in cold weather.

Heat build-up is more common with thicker oils, which could damage your engine parts. They can also form thick sludge and deposits within the engine, causing engine failure.

In addition, the information above also answers the question: will the wrong oil damage my engine? Use your vehicle manual if you need an idea of what kind of oil your car uses.

How to Fix the Issues of Using the Wrong Oil in a Car?

Fixing the wrong oil in the engine will depend on particular situations. If you are yet to drive for a long distance and there are no signs of the symptoms listed above, all you need is an oil change. You might need to flush the engine if you suspect sludge and deposit build-up due to the oil’s draining condition. You can do this using a particular chemical or, better still, get a professional to help you with the process.

Materials required

Vehicle recommended oil, new oil filter, wrench set, Oil filter wrench, oil drain pan, funnel, jack stands or ramps (to raise the vehicle), Gloves and goggles for protection and rags or paper towels

Steps to drain the oil

  1. Prep your vehicle, including warming your vehicle so the oil loses and flows better. It should be done only for a few minutes.
  2. Raise your car to all for space to work freely. Do this on a flat surface.
  3. Locate the oil plug drain. It is usually a large nut on the oil pan underneath the vehicle.
  4. Position the drain pan to collect the oil.
  5. Lose the oil plug using the appropriate wrench and allow the oil to drain completely.
  6.  Change the oil filter with a new recommended oil filter.
  7. Also, replace the oil drain plug with a new one.
  8. Refill the oil with new synthetic oil.
  9. Start the vehicle and check the oil level.


Using the wrong oil type and viscosity can cause a series of issues for your car, including overheating. We recommend only using the manufacturer-required oil for your vehicle, preferably synthetic oil.  If you have used the wrong oil, get professional help to drain and flush the engine.

Akindayini Temiloluwa

I am Akindayini Temiloluwa, an automotive expert writer and car enthusiast. I have over three years of experience in the automotive writing niche and have completed over 300 pieces of content from 50 projects. I have vast knowledge and skill in vehicle repairing, all mechanical work, car upgrades and maintenance. My goal as an automotive content writer is to simplify the most challenging concepts for my readers, help them self-diagnose what may be wrong with their vehicles and offer real value for their time.

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