Can I Drive My Car With 0 Oil Life (Answered)

To avoid costly maintenance issues, you might want to change your car’s engine oil frequently. Modern cars come with a change engine oil indicator that lets you know when to change your engine oil. But sometimes people forget about it.

If you too forgot to change your car’s engine oil, you may wonder – can I drive my car with 0 oil life?

Well, you can. At 0% oil life, your car can travel several thousand miles depending on the condition of its engine and related components. You may ride your car until you hit the oil change interval. But once you get the oil light, you shouldn’t push your car anymore.

That’s just a quick answer to your query. There’s much more to oil life and dos and don’ts regarding it. For your ease, we have prepared a dedicated segment on this topic. If you’re interested to know more, read long.

0 Oil Life – What Does It Interpret?

Almost all cars nowadays feature an oil minder that shows you the engine oil life of your car. It takes all the information about your car engine to give you an estimate of when to change the engine oil.

It considers factors such as engine RPMs, temperature, speed, and time running to project the oil life. Once the indicator reaches 0, it means you should change the engine oil of your car.

But as it is an estimate, it is not fully correct all the time.

When the meter hits 0, it shows that you have utilized the engine oil and it has lost its working properties.

At that time, maintenance becomes overdue and you should service your car. Not changing engine oil in time can have a long-term impact on the engine.

For that reason, many manufacturers recommend changing the engine oil when it has 10-15% health. But people tend to wait till it falls to 0-5%. Even if the oil life becomes 0, you can still squeeze many miles out of your car.

Can I Drive My Car With 0 Oil Life? – Explained

can I drive my car with 0 oil life

Engine oil doesn’t go bad suddenly. If you have left your house with 5% oil life and you see the meter going down to 0, don’t panic. You can still drive your car for quite a long without having to worry about your car collapsing while driving.

According to professionals, you should be able to travel somewhere around 5000 to 7500 miles on a single oil change.

It is a safe estimate as per the general instructions. But you can push beyond that and that depends on different correlated factors.

If your car is newer, it is safe to assume that your car’s engine and other components are in very good shape.

In such conditions, you can drive your car several thousand miles even with 0 oil life. It is tricky for older cars as the condition of the engine varies.

Also, the program that estimates the engine oil life isn’t perfect at all.

As the estimates depend on factors like engine RPMs, speed, temperature, and running time, it is debatable if the oil has actually gone bad or not when the meter shows 0 oil life.

It is mainly the oil interval that you should really be worried about. You simply can’t exceed the oil interval stated by your car manufacturer.

If you exceed the oil interval, your car will have serious damage. It’s not the case with oil minders though.

So, you shouldn’t worry too much if you see the engine oil meter is exhausted. You are good to drive many more miles.

But be informed that it may put extra pressure on your engine to squeeze out the remaining juice of the leftover engine oil.

Thus, it can impact your car engine and other components significantly in the longer term. Just to be on the safer side, change engine oil once you see the meter at 0%. But you can still drive your car.

Implications Of Driving With 0 Oil Life

As mentioned earlier, driving with 0 oil life for an extended period may cause your car engine quite some damage. Engine oil is a lubricant that helps the engine components to run smoothly so that they can function properly.

Once the engine oil is exhausted, there’s a lack of lubrication inside the engine which disrupts the smooth workflow of your car engine and causes frictions. This friction can be fatal for the engine over a longer period.

More friction in the moving engine components means the engine will start overheating. It will send an alert via blue link to you that the car needs maintenance. If your car’s blue link isn’t working, that’s an additional issue to take care of.

If your engine overheats, it will seriously damage the car components. That will lead you to a maintenance burden in the near future.

As changing engine oil has one of the cheapest maintenance, it is better to change the oil frequently to avoid such issues.

In emergency situations, you can make a case for not changing engine oil right after it has gone down to 0 life. But if you make it a habit, not changing engine oil frequently will end up costing you a lot more. So, don’t take it lightly.

Our Recommendation

Yes, you can drive with 0 oil life. If it is an emergency situation, you may continue driving for some miles. But change the engine oil as quickly as you can.

With a fresh oil change, you would recommend you to travel somewhere from 5000 to 7500 miles. Do not forget to reset the oil minder, once you have changed your engine oil. It doesn’t reset by itself.

To avoid the oil being obsolete quickly, we always suggest using high-quality engine oil. Good engine oil will serve you longer than regular ones. Here we have listed some of our favorite engine oils that have superior oil life –


When should I change the engine oil?

Manufacturers recommend you to change the oil when the minder is at 10-15%. You are still okay by a long shot if you change the oil at around 5% life.

What is the safe range of travel after an oil change?

Well, it depends on the car, engine condition, and oil quality. But around 5000 to 7500 miles is a good shout. 

What happens if I don’t change the engine oil for long?

As the oil becomes old, it loses its working properties. So, it won’t absorb heat from the engine. Thus, the engine will get severely damaged due to overheating.


So, that’s a wrap! Now, you know about oil life in-depth and got the answer to your question – can I drive my car with 0 oil life? If you need to change the engine oil, send your car to maintenance or try in your garage.

Best wishes!


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