Your vehicle’s check engine light is a warning indicator on your dashboard that signals an issue with your engine or emissions system. It’s designed to alert you to potential problems that need to be addressed by a professional mechanic.
While a check engine light can come on for a variety of reasons, it’s not uncommon for it to turn on after an oil change. In fact, there are several potential causes for this issue, some of which are relatively simple to address, while others may require professional diagnosis and repair.
In this article, I’ll explore the common causes of a check engine light coming on after an oil change, and provide tips on how to diagnose and fix the issue.
I’ll also share some preventative measures you can take to keep your check engine light from turning on after future oil changes.
Common Causes of Check Engine Light After Oil Change
1. Dipstick Isn’t Seated Correctly
A common cause of the check engine light coming on after an oil change is a dipstick that isn’t seated correctly. The dipstick is an important component of your engine’s oil system, and if it’s not inserted all the way, it can cause oil leaks or low oil pressure. This can trigger the check engine light to come on.
To check the dipstick, make sure the engine is off and cool. Locate the dipstick, which is typically located near the oil filler cap. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag.
Reinsert the dipstick all the way back into the dipstick tube until it seats firmly in place. Pull the dipstick back out and check the oil level against the markings on the dipstick. If the dipstick isn’t seated correctly, repeat the process until it is.
2. Low Oil Pressure
Another possible cause of the check engine light coming on after an oil change is low oil pressure. If your engine is not getting enough oil pressure, it can cause serious damage to the engine and trigger the check engine light to come on.
Low oil pressure can be caused by a variety of issues, including a clogged oil filter, a malfunctioning oil pump, or a damaged oil pressure sensor.
To diagnose low oil pressure, start by checking the oil level and ensuring that it’s at the correct level. If the oil level is low, add more oil until it reaches the correct level.
If the oil level is fine, it’s time to check the oil filter and oil pump. A clogged oil filter can restrict oil flow and cause low oil pressure, while a malfunctioning oil pump may not be able to circulate oil properly. In either case, the affected component should be replaced or repaired as soon as possible.
3. Oil Fill Cap Is Installed Incorrectly
An incorrectly installed oil fill cap can also cause the check engine light to come on after an oil change. The oil fill cap is responsible for keeping oil from spilling out of the engine and maintaining proper oil pressure. If the oil fill cap isn’t installed correctly, it can cause a vacuum leak, which can trigger the check engine light.
To check the oil fill cap, locate the oil filler hole and remove the oil fill cap. Check the underside of the cap and the threads on the filler hole for any signs of damage or wear.
Then, wipe the oil-fill cap clean with a rag and reinstall it firmly. Ensure that the cap is screwed in tightly and seated securely to prevent oil leaks and vacuum leaks.
If the oil fill cap is damaged or worn, it should be replaced immediately to avoid further issues. A replacement oil fill cap can typically be found at your local auto parts store or dealership.
4. Wrong Oil
Using the wrong type of oil can also cause the check engine light to come on after an oil change. Every vehicle is designed to run on a specific type of oil, and using the wrong type can cause a variety of issues, including poor engine performance and premature engine wear.
It’s important to use the correct type of oil for your vehicle to ensure proper engine function and longevity. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual should specify the type of oil that is recommended for your specific make and model. This information can also typically be found on the oil cap or dipstick under the hood of your vehicle.
To check the type of oil specified for your vehicle, refer to the owner’s manual or consult with a trusted mechanic. Once you have determined the correct type of oil, ensure that it is used during every oil change. Using the wrong oil can cause sludge buildup, reduced fuel efficiency, and engine damage.
5. Too Much Oil
Too much oil during an oil change can cause the check engine light to come on as well. The excess oil can cause problems such as oil leaks, oil foaming, and oil pressure issues, all of which can lead to the check engine light being triggered.
To check if there is too much oil in the engine, wait for the engine to cool down and park on a level surface. Then, remove the oil dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag.
Re-insert the dipstick fully, remove it again, and check the oil level. If the oil level is above the maximum level on the dipstick, there is too much oil in the engine.
To drain the excess oil, locate the oil drain plug on the underside of the vehicle and place a container underneath it to catch the oil. Remove the drain plug and allow the excess oil to drain out until the level reaches the correct amount.
6. Sensor Didn’t Reset
Many modern vehicles have oil change reminder sensors that need to be reset after an oil change. These sensors monitor the vehicle’s mileage and calculate when the next oil change is due based on the driving conditions.
Failing to reset the sensor after an oil change can cause the check engine light to come on as the vehicle’s computer may still be registering that the oil change is due, even if it has already been performed.
Resetting the sensor ensures that the computer is aware that the oil has been changed, and the check engine light should turn off.
To reset the oil change reminder sensor, follow these simple steps:
- Turn the ignition key to the “on” position without starting the engine.
- Locate the “reset” or “mode” button on the dashboard or steering wheel.
- Press and hold the button until the oil change light on the dashboard begins to flash.
- Release the button and press it again to reset the sensor.
- Turn off the ignition and then start the engine. The check engine light should turn off, indicating that the sensor has been reset.
How to Reset the Change Engine Oil Light on Your Car
The “change engine oil” light is a common warning light that indicates when it’s time to change the oil in your vehicle. This light is different from the check engine light, which typically indicates a more serious problem.
Resetting the change engine oil light on your vehicle is a simple process, but the method can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Some vehicles require a manual reset, while others have an automatic reset function.
Here are the steps for resetting the change engine oil light on different types of vehicles:
- Manual reset: For vehicles that require a manual reset, start by turning the ignition key to the “on” position without starting the engine. Then, press the accelerator pedal to the floor and release it three times within five seconds. The change engine oil light should begin flashing, indicating that it has been reset. If the light does not flash, repeat the process.
- Automatic reset: For vehicles with an automatic reset function, start by turning the ignition key to the “on” position without starting the engine. Wait for the change engine oil light to go out, which may take up to 30 seconds. Then, turn off the ignition and start the engine. The light should be off, indicating that it has been reset.
It’s important to note that not all vehicles have an automatic reset function. If your vehicle does not have this feature, it will require a manual reset.
How to Prevent Check Engine Light After Oil Change
Preventing the check engine light from coming on after an oil change requires proper oil change maintenance and procedures. Here are some tips to help you avoid issues:
- Use the correct type of oil: Using the wrong type of oil can cause the check engine light to come on after an oil change. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or consult with a professional mechanic to determine the correct type of oil for your vehicle.
- Use the correct amount of oil: Adding too much oil can cause the check engine light to come on after an oil change. Make sure you check the oil level after adding oil to ensure that you have added the correct amount.
- Change the oil filter: Changing the oil filter during an oil change is important to maintain the proper oil pressure and flow. A clogged oil filter can cause the check engine light to come on after an oil change.
- Tighten the oil filter and oil drain plug: Loose oil filters and drain plugs can cause leaks, which can trigger the check engine light. Tighten the oil filter and oil drain plug to the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Reset the oil change reminder sensor: Some vehicles have an oil change sensor that needs to be reset after an oil change. Failing to reset the sensor can cause the check engine light to come on. Follow the steps outlined in your owner’s manual to reset the sensor.
The check engine light coming on after an oil change can be a frustrating and confusing experience for any car owner. However, by understanding the potential causes of this issue and how to fix them, you can avoid costly repairs and ensure the longevity of your vehicle.
We have covered some of the most common causes of the check engine light after an oil change, including the dipstick not being seated correctly, low oil pressure, an incorrectly installed oil fill cap, using the wrong oil, adding too much oil, and the oil change reminder sensor not being reset.
To prevent this issue from happening in the future, it is important to follow proper oil change maintenance and procedures, including using the correct type and amount of oil, checking and re-seating the dipstick and oil fill cap, and ensuring the oil change reminder sensor is reset. If you are unsure about any of these steps, it is always best to consult your car’s manual or a mechanic.
Ugo is a passionate car enthusiast with a Bachelor of Electrical and Electronics Engineering degree and hands-on experience in troubleshooting and fixing automobiles.
I combine my electrical and mechanical engineering knowledge with practical skills to address car-related issues.
My love for cars and dedication to educating others led to the creation of Fixandtroubleshoot.com!