I Put the Wrong Engine Oil in My Car. Now What?

Do-it-yourself auto maintenance often seems like a great idea to people looking to save a few bucks. If you invest in the proper training and you purchase the correct products, you can service some parts of your Santa Rosa Mercedes-Benz. YouTube can teach a lot, but it can't validate that you serviced your car correctly. Even for the seasoned auto hobbyist, it's easy to make mistakes. When something does go wrong, what should be done, and more specifically, can putting wrong oil in a car hurt the engine or damage it entirely?


If you're at home, give us a call and we'll walk you through what to do. If you're driving and you realize this, pull over when convenient and give us a call. The next step is probably just coming into our shop, so we can flush your oil, change your filter and apply the correct oil.

We should note, too, that the amount of incorrect oil that you put in is a relevant factor in the severity of the issue. If you realize your mistake after only one quart, you might be able to continue as normal without issue. If you put in eight quarts of a completely different oil than what your Mercedes-Benz requires, it might need to be flushed soon after.


It doesn't happen all the time, but it's possible to accidentally put a lubricant or other fluid besides motor oil in your oil pan.

We've seen cars where the driver accidentally put transmission fluid into the oil pan. The driver was fully literate and knew the difference between the two fluids, but they were in such a rush that they made the mistake anyway. In case anyone is unaware, transmission fluid is tinted red to indicate its identity among other car fluids.

If you put transmission fluid or any other fluid in the wrong reservoir in your car, calmly pull over and give us a call. Depending on which incorrect fluid you used, how much you used, and where you put it, our advice to you can differ.

We might advise that it's too dangerous to drive your car to our shop. In that case, we'll advise you to get it towed to our shop. Otherwise, we'll give you the all clear to drive to our shop at your earliest convenience, so we can repair the problem.

Again, the severity of misapplying a fluid in your car often depends on which fluid you used, how much you used, where you put it, and how long you've been driving the car with the incorrect fluid.

Our expert Mercedes mechanics will never give you grief about one of these mistakes. We treat all our customers with the utmost respect, even when they make mistakes servicing their own cars. It's our job to restore your car to optimal condition and keep it that way.


We've seen it all when it comes to botched DIY auto maintenance. It's more common than you might think for a car owner to put the wrong oil in his or her car engine. Your car requires a motor oil with a specific viscosity. Viscosity describes a fluid's resistance to flow.

Motor oil viscosity is commonly described with the “XW-XX” convention. For example, 5W-30. The “W” stands for winter, not weight as is commonly thought.

The number before the “W” indicates how motor oil flows at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower the number out front, the less the oil thickens in cold temperatures. In other words, a 5W-30 is more viscous in cold temps than a 0W-30, but less viscous in cold temps than a 10W-30.

The number after the “W” indicates how motor oil flows at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This number indicates how much an oil thins at high temperatures.

A Mercedez-Benz in Detroit in the middle of winter will need a different oil than a Benz sitting in beautiful Santa Rosa. Similarly, a Mercedez-Benz sitting in Death Valley may benefit from a different oil than one sitting in Santa Rosa.

Every car has an acceptable oil viscosity range detailed in the owner's manual, and it's up to the car owner to work within that range based on the driving environment.

Other oil considerations include conventional, synthetic, a blend of the two and high-mileage motor oil. The difference between them is commonly the additives or lack thereof. Mercedes generally advises you to use full-synthetic motor oil in your Benz, but always consult your owner's manual. If you're unsure of which oil is best for your Mercedes-Benz, we can advise you.


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