If your check engine light is on, it can be alarming. After all, there’s no such thing as a good time for a breakdown.
While it may seem bad, there’s no reason to panic.
The check engine light appearing after your oil is changed occurs because the oil filler cap was put on backward or the oil dipstick isn’t fully seated. Removing and replacing the cap properly or re-seating the dipstick should fix the problem. The engine light may take up to three engine start cycles to disappear.
Keep reading to learn the top reasons the engine light may appear and how to fix the issue after an oil change.
Why A Check Engine Light Might be on After an Oil Change
Oil changes are essential maintenance tasks for any vehicle. If you fail to get these regularly, they may cause serious vehicle trouble.
However, some situations cause concern. This is especially true if the check engine light shows up after your oil change.
Some of the reasons the check engine light may turn on after having the oil change include:
Insufficient Oil Pressure
The check engine light should not appear when the oil is changed properly. When the oil is drained from the engine, it will reset the oil pressure gauge.
Replacing the oil and installing a new filter won’t give the gauge enough time to provide a proper reading.
This causes the check engine light to turn on because the car “believes” its oil levels are low. Give it a few minutes to circulate the new oil throughout the engine.
Crooked Gas Cap
The check engine light may sometimes appear for another reason besides the oil change. For example, the check engine light may appear in some modern vehicles if the cap was put back on wrong or crooked.
Check the cap and replace it properly. Start the engine, wait a few minutes, and see if the problem resolves itself. If the cap is damaged or cracked, you may have to replace it to get the check engine light to go off.
Dipstick Not Fitted Properly
The dipstick is used to check how much oil is in your engine. The dipstick is removed, cleaned, and re-seated a few times during an oil change to check the oil level.
The dipstick should fit into the dipstick tube, and the O-ring will create a seal when the dipstick is pushed inside.
If the dipstick isn’t seated properly, unmetered air can get into the engine, which can cause problems.
Too Much Oil
If there is too much oil in the engine, it may cause the check engine light to come on. In some cases, the engine may begin to feel sluggish, too, misfire, oil leaks may occur, or there could be smoke emitted from the tailpipe.
In some cases, your car won’t start at all.
Too much oil is bad, but too little oil is worse.
Other Reasons Your Check Engine Light May Appear After an Oil Change
If you tried all the “fixes” mentioned above, it’s worth considering that the check engine light is on because of another problem. The best way to know for sure is by using a code reader.
Code readers are not expensive, and they are used to finding an array of problems with all makes and models of vehicles.
Without a code reader, you can make an educated guess about what has made the check engine light appear after an oil change. Some of these things include:
- Loose EVAP wiring
- Oil cap left off
- Sensor wiring disconnected
- Oil spill on the sensors
- Faulty gas cap
- Loose gas cap
If you can’t find the problem yourself, it’s a good idea to take your vehicle back to the shop where the oil change was done. They can find the problem and resolve it so the check engine light will turn off.
How to Reset the Check Engine Light After an Oil Change
You can use a few methods to reset the check engine light after an oil change.
- Without turning the engine on, turn the ignition key and wait for the indicator lights to appear.
- Find the “reset” stick until the check engine light begins to blink, which shows you have reset it.
You can check to make sure this worked by removing the key from the ignition, replacing it, and starting your car. At this point, the light should be off if there are no other issues with your engine.
- Repeat the first step above.
- Press the gas three times quickly within five seconds of each other.
- Start your engine.
If you reset the light, it should not appear when you start the car.
Will The Check Engine Light Eventually Go Off Automatically?
The only way the check engine light will go off automatically is if the issue that caused it to come on is remedied.
If you were doing a lot of highway driving prior to changing the oil, the specs might drop back to normal levels. When this happens, the light will turn off.
You can drive your vehicle if the check engine light is on. The only time you should not do this is if the check engine light is blinking.
This usually indicates an emergency, such as an engine misfire. Irreversible damage will likely occur if you continue to drive with the light blinking.
Can Too Much Oil Trigger a Check Engine Light?
As mentioned above, excessive oil can cause the check engine light to come on. If this happens, it’s necessary to remove the excess oil to resolve the issue.
The best solution is to return to the garage that performed your oil change. However, if this isn’t an option, you can siphon the oil from the engine using the dipstick tube.
You will need an oil siphon to do this, and they are affordable and let you do this without making a huge mess.
Once the excess oil is removed, you should see the check engine light turn off after a few engine cycles.