How Long To Let Oil Drain (2023)

Changing the oil is a simple task that most vehicle owners can perform themselves with the right tools and proper guidance. If this is your first time changing your own oil, you might be wondering how long you should let the oil drain from the engine before putting the drain plug back in and proceeding with the process. After all, getting rid of all the old oil is important. For your convenience, we did the research to bring you the answer.

You should let the oil drain for at least five minutes after removing the oil pan drain plug or until the oil flow becomes a light trickle. But if possible, you should wait until oil is no longer dripping from the oil pan to proceed with the process.

If you still have some questions about draining oil from your engine, don't worry. In this post, we'll discuss the topic at length. We'll also talk about whether you should wait for the oil to completely stop dripping, whether you should let the oil drain overnight, how long it takes for engine oil to settle after an oil change, and much more. Without further ado, let's get into it!

How Long To Let Oil Drain (1)

How Long To Let Engine Oil Drain

How Long To Let Oil Drain (2)

The industry standard for allowing engine oil to drain is five minutes or until the oil is barely dripping from the oil pan.

Depending on the engine size (and thus the amount of oil in the engine), the flow of oil might become a light trickle or stop altogether before five minutes have elapsed, but five minutes is still the general standard.

Should I Wait For Oil To Stop Dripping?

With that said, it's preferable to wait until the flow of oil completely stops to proceed with the process. If you're able to wait this long, it will ensure that all of the old oil is out of the engine.

This is beneficial because it means more debris is being expelled from the engine. What's more, if all of the oil is able to drain, you can rest easy knowing that your engine won't inadvertently end up being overfilled after you add the fresh oil.

Can I Leave Oil Draining Overnight?

If you're one to err on the side of caution with all things car maintenance, you might feel inclined to let the oil drain overnight to ensure that every last drop has the chance to drip out. However, this really isn't necessary, and depending on your particular vehicle, it could cause the oil pump to become unprimed.

In addition to this potential issue, the other danger is possibly forgetting that the engine doesn't have oil the following morning and accidentally starting it, as this can quickly cause catastrophic engine damage.

If you still decide to let the oil drain overnight, don't forget to finish the job the next day before starting the engine.

Is It Best To Change The Engine Oil When It's Hot Or Cold?

How Long To Let Oil Drain (3)

Another thing to consider when it comes to changing your engine oil is the oil temperature.

It's preferable to change your oil when the oil is warmer. When engine oil gets warm, it becomes less viscous (thinner). This will expedite the draining process, and it will help ensure that more oil drains from the engine.

With that said, it's important to note that caution should be taken here. It's preferable to change the oil when it's warm, not hot.

Keep in mind that engine oil can get upwards of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid being burned during the job, give the engine a while to cool down a bit before getting started if the engine has been running for quite some time. You want the oil somewhat warm to help it drain; you don't want it scalding hot.

What Is The Torque for The Oil Drain Plug?

Ensuring that the oil drain plug is tightened to the appropriate torque specification is an often overlooked detail of the oil change process.

Depending on the material of the oil drain pan, the drain plug should be torqued down to 20-30 pound-feet of torque. If your oil pan is made of aluminum, aim for closer to 20 pound-feet of torque. If your oil pan isn't made of aluminum, aim for 25-30 pound-feet of torque.

Most people forgo the torque wrench and instead opt to guesstimate with a wrench or socket, but using a torque wrench is preferable in the interest of precision. After all, the drain plug is the only thing preventing the oil from leaking out, so the more precise you can be, the better.

How Long To Let Oil Drain (4)How Long To Let Oil Drain (5)

Click here to see this torque wrench on Amazon.

How Long Does It Take For Engine Oil To Settle After Oil Change?

How Long To Let Oil Drain (6)

It's never a bad idea to check the oil dipstick following an oil change. To ensure a good reading, give the fresh oil a few minutes to make its way down to the sump.

However, it's worth noting that the dipstick method should only be used as a general confirmation; the primary method of ensuring the engine is filled with the correct amount of oil is to ensure the correct amount goes into the filler port in accordance with the manufacturer's guidance.

Can I drive my car right after an oil change?

There's no danger in driving your car right after an oil change. After all, cars are driven from oil change shops immediately following an oil change all the time.

Again, if you're one to err on the side of caution with automotive maintenance, you might consider waiting at least a minute or so after pouring the fresh oil into the engine to start driving just to be sure enough oil has dripped down into the sump. But this really isn't necessary.

What Happens If You Run Your Car With Low Oil?

Oil is the lifeblood of a vehicle's engine. It serves all kinds of purposes, but in the short term, engine oil's primary job is to provide much-needed lubrication to the engine's components.

Without enough oil, the moving parts inside the engine will create too much friction (and thus, heat), with the immediate ramification being significant damage that will ultimately result in the engine seizing up.

What does a car sound like when it runs out of oil?

An engine that is low on oil will make loud grinding, clunking, and knocking sounds. In other words, it will be apparent that something is severely wrong with the engine.

How long can a car go without an oil change?

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How long a car can go without an oil change largely depends on the car's age and the type of oil being used (and these two things generally go hand in hand).

It's also important to note that oil change frequency should also be based on driving conditions. Vehicles that see frequent stop-and-go traffic will need more frequent oil changes than vehicles that are primarily driven on the highway.

Thus, there's no clear-cut figure here but rather a range.

Older vehicles generally use conventional engine oil which doesn't last as long as synthetic engine oil. If you drive an older vehicle that uses conventional engine oil, you should have the engine oil changed every 3,000-5,000 miles or every 3-6 months, whichever comes first.

Newer vehicles generally use synthetic engine oil which lasts significantly longer than conventional oil. If you drive a modern vehicle that uses synthetic engine oil, you should have the oil changed every 7,500-10,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first.

It's also worth noting that many modern vehicles have an oil life indicator that uses all kinds of factors—engine temperature, driving behavior, idle time, engine strain, etc.—to let the vehicle owner know when it's time to change the oil.

In Closing

We hope this guide has given you the information you need to ensure a successful oil change. Allowing the old oil to fully drain is an important part of the process that shouldn't be overlooked. Remember, it's preferable to change the oil when it's warm, not scalding hot. Good luck!

Before you go, be sure to take a look at these related guides:

Does Car Engine Oil Expire?

8 Engine Oil Additives that Stop Burning Oil


How Long To Let Oil Drain? ›

Bottom line: Drain engine oil hot, and let the car sit and keep draining for at least a half hour. Wear mechanic's gloves to minimize the chance of getting burned.

How long should I let my oil drain for? ›

Hold on to the drain plug as you remove it; the oil will start pouring out as you pull it away from the oil pan. Allow the engine to drain for five minutes or until the flow of oil has slowed to a trickle.

Should I let all the oil drip out? ›

While it might seem easy to ignore a few drops of oil on your driveway, it's always a bad idea. Left unaddressed, a small oil leak can grow into a larger, much more expensive repair. Plus, if the leak worsens while a vehicle is in operation, it can cause the engine to seize.

How long does it take for oil to drain back into pan? ›

Wait five minutes after switching off a warm engine to give the engine oil time to drain back into the oil pan. After withdrawing the dipstick, hold it vertical with the end pointing downwards so that the engine oil does not track back up the dipstick resulting in an incorrect reading.

How do you know when to stop pouring oil? ›

It should be closer to the top mark than the bottom, usually as close as you can get it. However, unless the level is at or below the minimum mark you do not need to add more oil.

Is it OK to drain oil overnight? ›

Warming the oil up gets the contaminates back into suspension so it drains out with the oil. Letting the oil sit overnight allows these contaminates to settle in the oil pan, so when the cold oil is drained most of these contaminates aren't removed.

Is it better to drain engine oil hot or cold? ›

Most oil experts say it's better to drain the oil when it's hot instead of when it's cold, for several reasons: Oil viscosity is thinner when it's hot, so it drains more quickly and completely out of the engine than when it's cold.

What happens if I out too much oil? ›

“Too much oil can damage your engine. If you notice an overfill of oil, the excess should be drained out of the engine. Therefore, we recommend checking your dipstick regularly.”

Will excess oil burn off? ›

Excess oil will burn if it gets into contact with heated engine parts. Oil puddle underneath your vehicle could be a warning sign that your oil might have overflown.

What to do after draining oil? ›

After pouring the mixture, cover the drainage to keep the fizzing effect for at least 10 minutes. Then, you can add one kettle of boiling water to flush the drainage.

How long should you wait after putting oil in your car? ›

Once you have your oil, make sure your car is again parked on level ground. Your engine should be cool, and you should wait at least 20 minutes to give the oil time to drain fully back into the sump. 4. Check the level again using the dipstick, and keep adding oil in small amounts until you are happy with the level.

How long does engine oil take to circulate? ›

It normally takes 12 to 15 seconds for oil to circulate completely in the engine.

How long does it take for engine oil to settle? ›

If your engine oil has fully made its way to the bottom of the engine oil pan, you're able to maintain an accurate reading of your engine's oil level. It usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes for a vehicle's oil to settle and the engine to cool.

Is it OK to add new oil to old oil? ›

The practice of topping off your oil is essentially just like it sounds — you're adding fresh oil on top of existing oil. However, the trouble with mixing new and old oil is the new oil can become contaminated in the process or allow impurities to continue building in your engine.

Will oil dry up? ›

We Will Never Run Out of Oil

At least not in a physical sense. There will still be oil in the ground 10 years from now, and 50 years from now and 500 years from now.

How much oil do I add if it's low? ›

If the level of the oil is between the two lines, your vehicle has enough oil. If it's at the low mark or below, it's time to add a quart.

Can I leave oil for 30 minutes? ›

"One should not leave hair oil for more than 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your dosha imbalances. As soon as you finish oiling, you must take a head shower," suggests the Ayurveda expert.

Can I leave oil for 3 days? ›

In general, it is not recommended to leave oil on for more than 6-8 hours, as that might make things tricky. The oil can attract a lot of dirt, dust, grime and get them to stick to your hair!

What to do before draining oil? ›

The oil will warm up to about 100 degrees, which is not hot enough to burn you, but warm enough that it will flow easily. If the vehicle has been driven, open the hood to let air circulate and let the car sit for 20-30 minutes before draining the oil.

Is thicker oil better for engines that burn oil? ›

So why do some engines burn more oil than others? To slow oil consumption, a higher viscosity grade oil can be used, especially an oil with a higher operating temperature viscosity. Oil burns when at its hottest and therefore thinnest viscosity.

Does engine oil get thicker when cold? ›

During cold weather, an engine's motor oil becomes thicker. It flows more slowly through the engine and is harder to pump through the engine block. This puts additional strain on your vehicle's battery, which is weakened in cold weather .

Why is the oil warmed up before draining? ›

You warm up the oil so it's less viscous and it flows better. That way, less of the old oil remains inside the engine — stuck to the walls of the oil pan and other engine parts. Recently circulated oil also picks up more contaminants and holds them in suspension.

Will an extra quart of oil hurt my engine? ›

When too much oil is added, the level in the oil pan becomes too high. That allows a fast-moving lobed rod called the crankshaft to come into contact with the oil and essentially aerate it. The result is a foamy, frothy substance that cannot properly lubricate the engine.

What happens if you overfill oil by 1 quart? ›

A quart or more of excess oil in a car can cause engine damage. Overfilling engine oil raises the level of oil in the pan, allowing the crankshaft to come into frequent contact with it. The crankshaft moves fast, essentially whipping your oil into a froth that can't be properly distributed by the engine.

Will engine oil leak if overfilled? ›

A: Overfilling an engine with oil can put additional pressure on seals and, over time, can cause an oil leak.

Is half a quart over too much oil? ›

An extra half a quart of oil in your crankcase is not going to do any harm to the engine. If the crankcase were seriously overfilled — say, more than a quart — then the spinning crankshaft could come into contact with the liquid oil, and churn it up.

Will my car smoke if I put too much oil in it? ›

The symptoms of too much car oil

If it is overfilled, the following may occur: Dense white smoke – If you drive your car and see plenty of thick, white exhaust smoke, excess oil may be burning within the engine block, although fluids such as antifreeze may also be the culprit.

Can too much oil cause jerking? ›

It's a frustrating feeling, and you may wonder if the oil change is to blame. While an oil change is essential for your car's health, it can also cause problems if not done correctly. The wrong type of oil or too little or too much oil can lead to engine damage and other issues that can cause your car to jerk.

Can you drive straight after putting oil in? ›

It is generally recommended to wait a few minutes after adding oil to an engine before driving your car. This allows the oil time to circulate and reach all the moving parts of the engine, which helps to lubricate and protect the engine.

Can you drive immediately after oil change? ›

Yes, assuming everything is up to operating temperature. Remember, after changing the oil it'll be cold, even if the engine coolant is at operating temperature. And it takes roughly 15–20 minutes for the oil to get up to full operating temperature.

Does oil circulate when idling? ›

Idling your car or truck longer than is necessary causes it to burn more oil. The longer you let your engine run, the more motor oil circulates and burns. That means spending more money on more frequent oil changes. Excessive idling also decreases your car's performance.

How many miles does it take for oil to sludge? ›

The problem can occur after just 4,000 miles of simulated driving.” With oil, it's more about using the right type of oil for your vehicle: conventional, synthetic, synthetic blend, or high-mileage.

Does engine run smoother after oil change? ›

Does your car run better after an oil change? While it may not be noticeable, the answer is yes! Fresh engine oil will allow the engine to run optimally and you'll protect the engine from dirt build-up and metal-to-metal damage.

Why does my car say change oil but I just changed it? ›

If your oil light stays on even after changing your engine oil, you're going to want to check the sensor first to rule out a malfunctioning sensor as the cause. Dirt and other particles can make their way into the oil pump, causing the sensor to falsely identify oil issues.

What happens if you change the oil but not the filter? ›

Over time, if the oil filter is not replaced, it collects all the dirt in the engine oil and gets clogged, rendering it less effective. It is thus recommended to change your oil filter every time you change your engine oil, in order to ensure the health of your engine.

How long does synthetic oil last? ›

If you own a car that runs on synthetic oil, you're probably wondering, “How often do you change synthetic oil?” Depending on the type of car you have, most synthetic oils last between 7,500 miles and 15,000 miles. However, you'll need to check your owner's manual for more specific figures.

Is the Earth still making oil? ›

By 1906, that number was 126 million barrels per year. Today, the U.S. produces about 6.8 billion barrels of oil every year. According to OPEC, more than 70 million barrels are produced worldwide every day. That is almost 49,000 barrels per minute.

How many years of oil is left in the world? ›

World Oil Reserves

The world has proven reserves equivalent to 46.6 times its annual consumption levels. This means it has about 47 years of oil left (at current consumption levels and excluding unproven reserves).

How many years of oil is left in the US? ›

Oil Reserves in the United States

The United States has proven reserves equivalent to 4.9 times its annual consumption. This means that, without imports, there would be about 5 years of oil left (at current consumption levels and excluding unproven reserves).

What color should oil be on dipstick? ›

Motor oil should be tan, amber, or caramel-hued in color. This is usually the color it is when it comes out of the bottle, so if you see this hue and you also notice that the oil level is between the two tic marks on the dipstick, you're in good shape.

How many miles will 2 quarts of oil last? ›

The majority of manufacturers consider one quart of oil in the range of 1,500 miles to be acceptable. It should also be pointed out there are some performance vehicles that will consume a quart of oil in less than 1,000 miles and is also considered acceptable.

How should oil look on dipstick? ›

So, let's take a closer look at the oil on the dipstick. The oil should look smooth, shiny, and somewhat transparent. It's time to change your oil if you have muddy deposits or grainy dirt particles. The same is true if the oil appears to be too thick, too dark (opaque), or has a putrid smell of rotten cheese.

How much oil do I put in my car after draining it? ›

After the drain plug is replaced and the new filter installed, use a clean funnel to fill your car with new oil. Consult your owner's manual to find out the correct viscosity and volume you should pour in, but most cars take 4–6 liters.

Will pouring oil down the drain once clog it? ›

While it may seem convenient to dump leftover grease down your sink drain once you've finished cooking, pouring grease, doing so is far more hazardous than people realize. Grease and cooking oil can cause extensive damage to your drainage system, garbage system and even sewer system by contributing to blockages.

Does all oil drain during oil change? ›

In contrast, the oil is fully drained during an oil change and both the oil and the oil filter are replaced. With the used oil discarded, the new oil can lubricate your engine's parts to keep your vehicle operating its best.

How much is 5 quarts of oil change? ›

Five quarts of conventional oil and a new filter will set you back around $30 depending on where you live. For synthetic motor oil and a new filter, it'll cost around $45 plus tax. Consult your local auto parts store for actual prices.

Does all oil come out during oil change? ›

You get at least 70% of the oil out. With synthetic fuel that's plenty. Your new oil filter will continue to collect contaminates (a big reason to change your filter with every oil change and go with the high capacity filters) and that old oil will burn off anyway and you'll likely put fresh oil too.

What dissolves oil in drain? ›

Use a 50:50 mix of boiling hot water and white vinegar. The hot water will melt the fat; the vinegar removes it from the lining of the pipes, and the flow of the water will carry it away down the pipe, so follow up with more hot water in a few minutes.

Can you overtighten oil drain plug? ›

Unfortunately, you can do damage by overtightening, too. If you over-tighten the drain plug, you can strip the threads. And while it's harder to do, you can damage the rubber gasket atop the oil filter if you really overtighten it.

How do I know if my oil drain plug is tight enough? ›

You never want the drain plug too loose as losing the drain plug and leaving your oil along the interstate isn't fun. The best advice on the drain plug is to tighten it finger tight where the gasket touches the drain pan surface, then roughly a quarter turn on the drain plug.

Is it OK to slightly overfill engine oil? ›

If you've accidentally put too much oil into the engine, it is best to try to discard the oil until below the maximum limit. Driving with too much oil will only make your engine deteriorate quickly. To do this, just like changing your own oil, drain the excess oil through the drain plug at the bottom of the engine.

Will an extra half quart of oil hurt my engine? ›

An extra half a quart of oil in your crankcase is not going to do any harm to the engine. If the crankcase were seriously overfilled — say, more than a quart — then the spinning crankshaft could come into contact with the liquid oil, and churn it up.


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