I am not a very “handy” guy. I have a tacit understanding of the way things work; turn screws clockwise for tight, hammer the big round end of a nail, don’t whiz on the electric fence. Still, I had always thought I was clear on one thing – change your engine oil every 3,000 miles. So when the wife and I were on a recent trip which included a 6,000 mile coast to coast to coast excursion, I had thought that I’d needed to do some housecleaning on the car. I knew that I had been due for an oil change. The 3,000 mile mark since my last oil change had actually been hit before the 800 mile trip from Charleston South Carolina to Connecticut we’d made just ahead of our 6,000 mile undertaking. So I knew I had to get some new oil in there.
Towards the end of our big trip, I stopped off at a service station in Illinois and figured I would add two quarts of oil to my oil tank. It had been several thousand miles and undoubtedly the car needed it. I’d done the same thing before, adding a quart or two here and there and it had never really been an issue.
When I finally got the oil changed at a service station recently the tech approached me towards the end of my cars tune up and asked me where I’d gotten my last oil change. I told him the same chain where I was at presently. He sort of scratched his head a little confused.
“You got it done here?” he asked.
I confirmed that it was indeed the same chain. Then it hit me and I told him about my adding two quarts of oil. “But the car really needed it,” I enthused.
That was when my service tech told me the deal. He said I had overfilled the oil tank and that this was a real bad idea. He asked me if I had noticed any problems driving the car. Actually I’d noticed that when trying to accelerate I had lost some of my get up and go. He said that my crankshaft could have been affected. He also said that if I ever need to add oil, I should always check the dipstick to see where the levels are. Just adding oil to an already full oil tank could do all sorts of bad things, flood the air intake, begin ‘burning’ and really cost damage to my catalytic converter.
If you’re thinking about trying to save twenty bucks by adding in your own engine oil at 3,000 miles, you should always drain the old oil out first. If you don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t want to take the time to learn then you should probably just take your car in for a service at a station and leave all that jazz to the professionals.
…Or you could end up doing something avoidable and foolish like overfilling your car’s engine oil!