Too Much Oil In Car, Uh Oh! What Do I Do?

It’s happened to all of us. We’re filling up our car with oil and we go just a little too far. Suddenly, we have an overflowing mess on our hands and realized we’ve put too much in the car. Has this ever happened to you?

It’s easy to think that adding more oil to your car is always better, especially if you’re not sure how much it needs. But did you know that putting too much oil in your car can actually cause some big problems?

If this has happened to you, don’t worry, we got you covered.

Causes of Overflowing Engine Oil

Motor oil is designed to lubricate engine parts and protect the engine from wear. When too much motor oil is added to the engine, it can overflow from the engine crankcase. There are several reasons you may find overflowing engine oil:

Using dipstick to check engine oil level.

1.     You Added Too Much Oil to Begin With

The most common reason for too much engine oil is adding too much at one time. When the oil level is too high, it spills over onto the ground or it can get into the air filter or other areas of the car.

Overfilling the crankcase with oil can also cause the oil to leak out through the seals and gaskets. If too much oil is present, it will push the piston rings up off their seats, which will allow oil to escape past them into the combustion chamber. This causes excessive smoking and can damage the engine.

Using the dipstick to measure can help you determine how much oil to use.

2.     Adding Too Much Oil At One Time

If your car has been running low on oil, adding too much at once can cause it to overflow as well.

If your car naturally burns oil, you may not know how much oil to add. Your first instinct may be to add several bottles, but it’s important to add half a bottle at a time and properly measure with the dipstick so you know exactly how much there is!

When it comes to engine oil, it’s important to make sure that you don’t add too much. Overfilling engine oil is one of the most common causes of engine problems. When too much oil is added, it can cause the engine to overheat and eventually seize up.

What Happens if the Engine Oil is Overfilled?

If too much oil is put into a car engine, it will not work properly and may even cause the car to break down. The excess oil will not be able to lubricate the engine parts properly, which can lead to damage. It’s important to be careful when adding oil to a car engine and to make sure that you don’t add too much.

So, what can happen if the engine oil is overfilled?

Broken car on the road.

1.     Your Engine Can Malfunction

If too much oil is put into a car engine, it will not work properly and may even cause the car to break down. The excess oil will not be able to lubricate the engine parts properly, which can lead to damage.

Your engine can malfunction because there isn’t enough space for all of the oil. The oil doesn’t get circulated around the engine parts like it’s supposed to. The extra liquid will sit on top of the parts – leading to damage over time.

Excess engine oil can creep into the crankshaft pipe and flow directly into the combustion chamber. It will get clogged and overload the engine!

2.     Less Lubrication

Just because there is more engine oil to work with, doesn’t mean extra lubrication. It’s actually the opposite! What happens is, the excess oil comes into contact with the crankshaft and it discharges the oil. It creates a foamy substance that does not lubricate the engine as oil would.

3.     Greasy Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are important in a car because they provide the spark that ignites the fuel and air mixture in the engine. They need to be clean and free of oil and grease in order to function properly.

Excess engine oil can get onto the spark plugs and cause contamination. When this happens, it can affect the fuel consumption of the vehicle or how the engine accelerates.

Symptoms of Excess Engine Oil

If too much engine oil is allowed to build up in a car, it can start to cause problems. The most common symptom of too much engine oil is an illuminated warning light on the dashboard. The light may be labeled “OIL”, “CHECK ENGINE” or some other variation. If this light comes on, it’s important to take the car to a mechanic right away.

Other signs you have excess engine oil include the below:

1.     Engine Knocking

If there’s too much oil in the engine, it can cause the engine to knock because the oil is preventing proper combustion. Engine knocking can damage the engine over time and should be fixed as soon as possible.

2.     Excessive Smoke From Exhaust

If there’s too much oil in the car, it can cause excessive smoking from the exhaust. This is usually due to burning oil, which is when oil leaks into the combustion chamber and is burned along with gasoline.

Car exhaust while leaving a smoke.

3.     Leaking Oil

Too much oil can leak out of the engine, and it can even cause the engine to fail. Leaking oil can also damage other parts of the car and it can be a fire hazard. If too much oil leaks out, it can cause the engine to overheat and catch fire. You’ll notice if your car is leaking oil if there is a black puddle under your car.

4.     Burning Oil Smell

This one is pretty self-explanatory. You’ll be able to recognize this smell right away when driving. It’s usually accompanied by smoking from the exhaust but not always!

5.     Your Vehicle Will Perform Poorly

Engine oil is designed to lubricate the moving working parts of your vehicle! If you have too much it gets in places it shouldn’t be. And you’ll end up with oil being moved all around your car. You’ll be left with a car that has issues speeding up in a timely manner, or easily stalls out. It may have difficulty starting and be more susceptible to overheating.

Expert Tip: If you notice any of the above, it’s important to check the car for excess oil and get it removed! Luckily, it’s not as difficult as you might think!

How Much Engine Oil Should I Fill in my Car?

Every vehicle is different and has different oil requirements. It’s important to know how much your car needs before adding it! Never guess or you risk overfilling the oil.

The amount of oil needed will be in quarts. Most standard vehicles need between 3 and 8 quarts of oil. There are a few ways to find out how much engine oil you’ll need to fill your car.

1.     Read the Owner’s Manual

This is the easiest and most obvious resource. Your car’s owner manual will have the exact information you need! It will also tell you the type of engine oil your car requires! It doesn’t get any easier than that. However, if you have lost the owner’s manual or your vehicle didn’t come with one, there are a few more options.

2.     Call a Dealership

Your next option is to call a local dealership specific for the make and model of your car! They are trained professionals who will have this information on hand. They may even be able to help you get a new owner’s manual for your vehicle!

3.     Check Online

Some car part stores like Advance Auto Parts allow you to add your vehicle to their site and look for parts specific to your vehicle. I recommend using your car’s VIN number to be as specific as possible!

4.     Call a Mechanic

Find a car shop local to you, take your car down there, and ask a trained mechanic. It might cost a little bit, but at least you’ll know! It will be worth it compared to your car having the issues we described above!

Car mechanic checking the engine for repair.

5.     Use This Rough Guide

Here is a rough guide on the amount of oil you can expect to use if you know the engine capacity:

  • 4-cylinder engines use around 5 quarts
  • 6-cylinder engines use around 6 quarts
  • 8-cylinder engines use around 8 1/2 quarts

Verify through using one of the first three methods!

Filling Your Car With Engine Oil

To fill your car with engine oil, unscrew the cap on the oil filler’s neck. Some cars have a dipstick. If your car has a dipstick, pull it out and wipe it off with a cloth. Stick the dipstick all the way back in and pull it out again.

The oil level should be between the two lines on the dipstick. Add or subtract oil as needed until the level reaches the correct mark. Screw the cap back on or put the dipstick back in place.

When in doubt, it’s always best to have a trained professional do it for you!

How to Remove Excess Engine Oil From Your Car

It’s entirely possible to remove excess engine oil from your car yourself! Here are the 8 steps you’ll need to take.

Step 1: Locate the oil dipstick. The dipstick is typically a metal rod with a rubber or cloth sleeve on the end that you can pull out of the engine. Some engines have two dipsticks, one for checking the level of oil and one for checking the level of transmission fluid.

Step 2: Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag or paper towel. Be sure to get all of the oil off of it, as any residue will affect your reading.

Step 3: Reinsert the dipstick into the engine all the way until it’s fully seated. Then pull it out again and check where the oil level falls on the stick. If it’s above the “full” line, then you have too much oil in your engine.

After you have determined you have excess engine oil, you’ll need to safely raise the car and be prepared to crawl underneath it.

Step 4: Find the oil drain plug. The location of the drain plug will vary depending on your vehicle, but it’s generally located near the bottom of the engine block.

Hand reaching engine oil drain plug under the car.

Step 5: Place an oil pan or other container beneath the drain plug to catch the oil as it drains out. Then use a wrench to loosen and remove the drain plug. Be careful not to strip it as this can make it difficult to re-install later on. Be sure not to loosen it too much. Work slowly until the oil begins to drip.

Step 6: Allow the oil to drain completely.

Step 7: Clean the drain plug with a rag or paper towel and then re-install it. Be sure to tighten it securely, but don’t over-tighten it as this can strip the threads.

Step 8: Lower your car back to the ground. Add fresh oil to your engine, using the type and amount specified in your owner’s manual. Once the new oil has been added, check the level again with the dipstick to be sure it’s at the correct level.


After doing this, if you have any concerns, take it to a mechanic. It may be best to do this to ensure there is no oil corrosion on the engine or other parts. A mechanic will also know how to clean the inside of your car.

Wrapping Up

As you can probably see now, you don’t want too much oil in your car. It can cause you many unnecessary issues down the road in your vehicle. If you suspect your car has too much oil, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible! Your engine will thank you for it!

Fortunately, it’s a problem that can easily be fixed and avoided in the first place!

Get to know your car and how much oil it needs to run efficiently! Keep an eye on the oil level and always change it when a service is required. Taking these small but crucial steps will allow you a peace of mind knowing your vehicle can last you many years to come!

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About Matthew Webb

Hi, I am Matthew! I am a dedicated car nerd! During the day, I am a journalist, at night I enjoy working on my 2 project cars. I have been a car nerd all my life, and am excited to share my knowledge with you!

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