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Getting a car oil change is one of the most important components of owning a vehicle. However, sometimes people either decide to do it themselves or need to add engine oil between changes. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s possible to use the wrong oil in your vehicle. So, what happens when you do this? Does the engine explode, or does the car simply not run correctly?

Here’s what happens when you use the wrong oil in your car.

Using the wrong oil for a car oil change can harm your engine

One of the best parts of getting a professional car oil change is knowing that the mechanic more than likely used the right oil for your engine. However, mistakes can happen regardless of if you do it yourself or if you take it to an automotive professional. Unfortunately, using the wrong oil in your car will cause both immediate and prolonged damage to your vehicle.

Essentially, our vehicles need oil to lubricate the engine components. This is why running low on the substance harms your vehicle. The other problem is that using the wrong oil doesn’t provide the proper lubrication for your engine. This means that friction between the various components still occurs. Of course, the friction then causes the parts to wear down.

Using the wrong engine oil is bad for your car
A Car smoking | Apiwan Borrikonratchata via iStock

Some less daunting but annoying things can happen when someone uses the wrong oil for a car oil change. For one, your vehicle will use more fuel. This decrease in fuel economy is because the pistons and other necessary components are more constrained. You could also notice a burning smell. Typically, you’ll also experience a change in your vehicle’s performance.

If you think you have used the wrong oil in your car, you should get it checked out as soon as possible. This will result in needing a new car oil change if you catch the mistake soon enough.

Types of oil

According to Firestone Complete Auto Care, there are four main types of engine oil for your car. The grade of oil will dictate several aspects of the substance, but viscosity is one of the most important. This factor determines the speed oil can flow, which is why your engine needs the proper viscosity when you get a car oil change.

4 types of engine oil

  • Synthetic- Various vehicles need synthetic oil. They include newer models, high-performance vehicles, and cars with turbo or superchargers.
  • Synthetic blend- Various vehicles, but especially newer models
  • Conventional- Older cars with simple engines
  • High mileage oil- Typically over 75,000 miles.

Using the wrong oil for a car oil change has many consequences. Drivers who even think for a second that this has happened should get their vehicles checked out as soon as they can because having the wrong oil is almost like having no oil at all.