How Much Is Too Much Oil in a Car?

Unless you have the experience, gauging the right amount to put in your car can be tricky. In most instances, when the engine oil light turns on, your next stop is the nearest auto shop. You then buy some oil, pop the hood and fill up the engine. You only realize you’re in trouble when the dipstick shows you the oil level is way beyond the max reading. Between panicking and figuring out what to do, you keep asking yourself, “How much is too much oil in a car?” Let us analyze your predicament and see what you can do about it.

What’s the Danger of Putting Too Much Oil in Your Car?

Engine oil is necessary to keep all the moving bits well lubricated and free from corrosion. Additionally, it slows down the regular wear and tear process. It’s probably why you were quick to top up the oil when you saw the warning light. However, too much oil introduces other problems to the engine. Here is what too much oil can do to your vehicle:

What's the Danger of Putting Too Much Oil in Your Car

Damage to Engine Parts From Poor Lubrication

You’d expect no lubrication issues from extra engine oil, but too much is counterproductive. The crankshaft sits above the oil pan, out of touch with the oil. Overfilling the engine means dipping the crankshaft with oil. It’ll beat the oil into foam as it rotates, losing its lubricating qualities. Therefore, all moving bits in the engine will suffer the effects of friction. Furthermore, the oil will cease to flow well, leading to engine overheating.

Seals and Gaskets Malfunction

As the crankshaft beats the oil into a foam, it will also introduce air into the engine. That mixture creates pressure higher than what the seals and gaskets can handle. Replacing those seals is complex and expensive.

Spark Plugs Failure

Once the oil escapes and coats the spark plugs, the insulation from the oil will prevent them from firing correctly. You’ll notice frequent engine misfires, or the engine may not start.

Damage to the Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter cleans exhaust gases before releasing them into the environment. If oil seeps into the catalytic converter, it’ll clog the device and hinder its ability to function correctly. The converter could allow dangerous substances out through the exhaust, or it could heat up and start a fire.

How Much Oil Overfill Is Too Much?

Under normal circumstances, overfilling by not more than half a quart isn’t a big deal. Anything above that, and you’re inviting trouble.

How Much Oil Overfill Is Too Much

You can tell there’s too much engine oil in your car when you see these symptoms:

  • The smell of Burning Oil: You cannot miss that acrid and overbearing stench from burning oil. It indicates that excess oil is burning after leaking into hot engine components.
  • Blue Smoke: Blue smoke is another indicator of burning oil. In case you somehow missed the acrid smell.
  • Oil Puddles Under Your Car: Once the seals and gaskets fail, leaking oil can drip into the ground. Therefore, you’ll notice the oil pooling under your car.
  • High Oil Pressure Warning: Some vehicles have mechanisms that notify you when the oil pressure is too high. You’ll know then that there’s excess oil in the engine.
  • Erratic Engine Oil Indicator Movements: You may also notice the engine oil gauge switching between little and full quickly and weirdly. Usually, the gauge sweeps across the range gradually and smoothly.
  • Misfires and a Stalled Engine: When the spark plugs fail to fire correctly, the engine will stall or stutter. Such behavior is usually an indication of excess engine oil.
  • Loud Engine Noises: Since there’s poor lubrication for engine parts, you’ll start to hear loud banging noises from the engine at high speed. At low speed, you’ll hear grinding and scratching noises.
  • Overheating Engine: You’ll get more than usual engine overheating warnings. Since there’s no proper lubrication, those engine parts will heat up, leading to faster wear and excess heat.
  • Poor Overall Car Performance: It’ll be challenging to drive faster and longer. You’ll notice other vehicles overtaking you more than usual and too many engine condition warnings.

What Is the Right Amount of Engine Oil?

Most engines need between four to eight quarts of engine oil. However, different engines may have special engine oil requirements. Here is a breakdown of average engine oil amounts per engine cylinder configuration:

  • Four-cylinder engines take up 5 quarts of oil
  • Six-cylinder engines need 6 quarts of oil
  • Eight-cylinder engines require between 5 to 8 quarts of oil

Therefore, check your engine configuration to understand how much is safe to add. Most car manuals instruct you on when and how much oil to add when the warning flashes.

Are 2 Quarts of Oil Too Much?

Adding 2 quarts of oil isn’t too much for eight-cylinder engines. That is to say, the amount of oil you add depends on the engine cylinder. Generally, the larger the engine, the more oil you’ll need to top up when you receive a prompt.

How Do I Remove the Excess Engine Oil?

The common suggestion is to use a suction pump to remove excess engine oil through the dipstick tube. Others suggest going through the crankcase cap. While these may seem the less messy option, they aren’t the safest options. For example, the dipstick tube’s design doesn’t factor in removing that amount of oil. Therefore, the best way to remove excess engine oil is by performing a fresh oil change.

You’ll need a container to drain the oil and a drive socket wrench. Allow the car to cool down before you start the process. Hot engine oil is difficult to handle, and removing it immediately could damage the engine components. Once the engine is cool, place the container below the oil plug. Use the wrench to loosen the plug and allow the oil to drain into the container. You then need to remove and inspect the oil filter if it needs changing. Next, tighten the plug before adding the right amount of fresh engine oil for your engine.

You should dispose of the old engine oil the right way. A good practice is to take it to your auto repair shop, which likely collects such oil.


Excess engine oil causes so many engine problems. Therefore, you need to avoid putting too much oil into your car. It can be difficult to answer how much is too much oil in a car. However, this article provides an insight into the effects of too much oil and a recommendation of the right amount. Therefore, you have a way to ensure you don’t have engine trouble from excess oil.

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