How Can a Bad Oil Change Affect a Car?

by Jennifer Garcia

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Getting an oil change is a necessary evil if you own a vehicle. Though manufacturers usually recommend that you take your vehicle to a certified dealer to have an oil change, not everyone has time to do this errand. Dealerships often take hours to get the job done. In contrast, quick lube shops can have you in and out of their store in about half an hour. However, not all quick lube shops are reputable and getting a bad oil change can be detrimental to the proper operation of your vehicle. Having an oil change that is done improperly or poorly can literally cause you thousands of dollars of damage. In some cases, a bad oil change can damage parts of your car so badly that it will be rendered inoperable.


A bad oil change can cause a variety of different problems depending on what happens during the procedure. For example, if the oil plug is not put back properly or is accidentally left off, the oil will run out of the engine. If this is not noticed before all of the oil runs out, the car's engine can be permanently damaged by running with no oil. Another result of a bad oil change can be parts of the engine that become damaged because of oil that is spilled during the oil changing process. Often, the person changing the oil will spill oil onto the engine's manifold, or will spill oil on other parts of the engine. If oil is spilled on the manifold, you are likely to smell a "burning" odor for a few days until the oil burns off. Another effect of a bad oil change can be damage caused to other parts of the engine because of oil that has leaked onto them. For example, if oil gets into the area where the timing belt is located, it can cause damage to the gears that hold the belt. The oil can also break down the belt, causing major repair costs because the whole engine will most likely need to be removed in order to change the timing belt.


The best way to ensure that you do not have car trouble as a result of a bad oil change is to take it to a certified dealership to have the oil changed. If you absolutely cannot do that, then make sure that you are well educated about the quick lube that you choose. Look the business up on the Internet and make sure that there are no complaints about its practices. Ask the employees what sorts of guarantees, if any, their company makes for oil changes that are not done properly. Will they stand by their work? If they don't make any guarantees, then you might want to consider shopping around for a better location. The most important thing to remember is to do your research.

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