Why Is The Check Engine Light On After Oil Change? Causes And Fixes

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When you hit the road with a fresh oil change, there’s an expectation of improved engine performance. However, that hope can be quickly shattered when the Check Engine light suddenly appears on the dashboard.

 If you find yourself in the dark, not knowing why the check engine light has rudely interrupted your optimism after an oil change, there’s no need to panic. In this article, we’ll delve into ten potential scenarios and fixes that focus on the check engine light after an oil change.

[10 Reasons] Why Check Engine Light Come On For Oil Change

Below are ten possible reasons that could cause the Check Engine light to illuminate after an oil change

1: Low Oil Level:

Low oil levels can occur for various reasons, including incorrect quantities during an oil change, oil consumption due to engine wear, or external oil leaks. When the engine oil level drops significantly below the recommended levels, it can trigger the Check Engine light as a warning sign. The primary concern with low oil levels is that they can lead to inadequate engine lubrication.

If you continue to drive with consistently low oil levels, it can indeed result in increased friction and overheating. Inadequate lubrication can cause excessive wear and tear on engine components, leading to severe engine problems over time.

How To Fix: Check the engine oil level using the dipstick and add the recommended oil as per your vehicle’s specifications. Ensure there are no external oil leaks. 

2: Using the Wrong Oil:

Using the wrong type or low grade of engine oil can affect the engine’s performance. The wrong type of oil may not provide the necessary lubrication for engine components, leading to increased friction and wear. Modern vehicle engines are indeed designed to work with specific oil formulations to function correctly. 

Suppose you change the oil in your engine with a product that does not meet the specific criteria recommended by the manufacturer. In that case, it can lead to poor lubrication, increased friction, and sludge formation. The Check Engine light may illuminate to signal these problems.

How To Fix: Drain the incorrect oil and replace it with the recommended oil type and grade specified in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. If necessary, replace the oil filter as well.

3: Low Oil Pressure:

Oil pressure is necessary for proper lubricant within the engine. Low oil pressure indicates that the oil isn’t circulating through the engine effectively. This can occur for several reasons, including low oil levels, a failing oil pump, or blockages in the oil passages.

Low oil pressure can lead to insufficient lubrication, engine overheating, and, as a result, check engine light is illuminated.

How To Fix: Low oil pressure can be due to various factors. First, check the oil level and ensure it’s within the recommended range. If oil levels are adequate, consult a mechanic to diagnose and repair potential issues such as a failing oil pump or blocked oil passages.

4: Overfilling the Oil Pan:

Overfilling the oil pan with an excessive amount of oil can cause issues. The excess oil can froth or aerate, leading to pressure imbalances within the engine. This can result in oil leaks, oil starvation, and potential engine damage, prompting the Check Engine light to illuminate as a warning.

How To Fix:  Drain the excess oil from the oil pan to bring it to the correct level. This may require professional assistance, as it’s essential to remove the excess oil without causing damage to the engine.

5: A Faulty Oil Pump:

The oil pump is responsible for circulating oil throughout the engine. If the oil pump malfunctions, it can’t maintain proper oil pressure, leading to inadequate lubrication of engine components. Low oil pressure triggers the Check Engine light to alert the driver to this problem.

How To Fix: Consult a mechanic for a comprehensive inspection and potential replacement of the faulty oil pump. The oil pump is a critical component for maintaining proper oil pressure and lubrication.

6: An Oil Leak:

Oil leaks can occur due to damaged gaskets, seals, or oil pans. When an oil leak happens, it causes a gradual reduction in oil levels within the engine. Low oil levels lead to poor lubrication, which can result in engine overheating and excessive wear. The “Check Engine light comes on as an early warning sign of this issue.

How To Fix: Identify the source of the oil leak, whether it’s from damaged gaskets, seals, or the oil pan. Repair or replace the affected components and ensure that oil levels are replenished to the correct level.

7: Excess Oil:

Having too much oil in the engine can be as problematic as having too little. Excess oil can cause foaming and aeration, which hinders the oil’s ability to lubricate engine components efficiently. This can lead to poor performance and, ultimately, trigger the Check Engine light.

How To Fix: Similar to overfilling, drain the excess oil to reach the correct level. Seek professional assistance to do this correctly without damaging the engine.

8: Oil Dipstick Not Fully Seated:

When the oil dipstick is not correctly seated or inserted into the oil reservoir, it can provide inaccurate oil level readings. This can lead to misunderstandings about the actual oil level, possibly causing unnecessary oil changes or neglecting a legitimate issue that the Check Engine light is trying to signal.

How To Fix: Ensure that the oil dipstick is correctly seated and provides accurate oil level readings. This is a simple fix, and no additional parts or repairs are usually necessary.

9: Missing Oil Fill Cap:

The oil fill cap is vital for maintaining the integrity of the engine’s oil. If it’s missing or not securely fastened, contaminants like dirt and debris can enter the engine. These contaminants can degrade the oil quality, potentially leading to engine problems and triggering the Check Engine light.

How To Fix: Replace the missing or unsecured oil fill cap, ensuring it’s properly fastened. This will prevent contaminants from entering the engine.

10: Oil Filter Is Not Properly Seated:

During an oil change, the oil filter is replaced to ensure that clean oil circulates through the system. An improperly seated or loose oil filter can result in oil leaks and reduce the effectiveness of oil filtration. 

This can compromise engine performance by allowing contaminants to circulate within the engine, leading to potential issues that trigger the Check Engine light.

How To Fix: During an oil change, ensure that the oil filter is correctly seated and tightened to manufacturer specifications. This prevents oil leaks and maintains proper oil filtration.

In all cases, when the Check Engine light comes on, and it’s related to an oil issue, it’s crucial to address the underlying problem promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the continued proper functioning of your vehicle. 

1: How To Reset Check Engine Light After Oil Change?

Here are two ways to reset the check engine light after an oil change:

  1. Using an OBD-II scanner. This is the most common and effective way to reset the check engine light. An OBD-II scanner is a device that plugs into the OBD-II port in your car and allows you to read and clear diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). To reset the check engine light with an OBD-II scanner, simply plug the scanner into the OBD-II port, turn the key to the “ON” position, and select the “Clear DTCs” option.
  2. Manually resetting the check engine light. This method varies depending on the make and model of your car. However, there are a few general steps that you can follow:
  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable for 30 seconds.
  2. Reconnect the negative battery cable.
  3. Turn the key to the “ON” position for 30 seconds without starting the engine.
  4. Start the engine and let it idle for 5 minutes.
  5. Turn off the engine.

If the check engine light is still on after following these steps, then the problem has not been resolved, and you will need to have your car diagnosed by a qualified mechanic.

Important note: If the check engine light comes on after an oil change, it is important to have the problem diagnosed as soon as possible. The check engine light can come on for a variety of reasons, some of which can be serious. By having the problem diagnosed early, you can help to prevent further damage to your car.

Also Read: Can Low Oil Cause Check Engine Light to Flash?

2: Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Check Engine light can illuminate for various reasons after an oil change, including low oil levels, using the wrong oil, low oil pressure, overfilling the oil pan, a faulty oil pump, an oil leak, excess oil, an oil dipstick not fully seated, a missing oil fill cap, and an oil filter not properly seated.

Here are some tips to avoid triggering the Check Engine light after an oil change:

  • Use the correct type and quantity of oil as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
  • Ensure that the oil filter is properly seated and tightened to manufacturer specifications.
  • Check the oil level regularly and add more oil as needed.
  • Be aware of any potential oil leaks and have them repaired promptly.
  • Have your oil changed regularly according to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule.

By following these tips, you can help to keep your engine healthy and prevent the Check Engine light from illuminating.

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