Why does my car shake after an oil change?

If you have recently changed your vehicle’s engine oil, you probably expect the car to run a lot smoother. If you feel stronger vibrations at idle or while driving after the oil change, something is most likely done wrong in the oil change process.

mechanic performing oil change

Causes of Vibrations after an Oil Change Service

Below I will discuss some of the most likely causes of these engine vibrations, especially after an engine oil change service.

1. Too Much Oil

One of the most probable causes of a shaky engine after an oil change is adding too much engine oil past the upper limit.

Adding too much oil to your car’s engine causes your crankshaft to dip inside the oil and form froth when running at high RPMs.

These air bubbles do not allow the oil to form a uniform thin layer over the rubbing bodies properly and introduce instability in the system.

This results in increased vibrations from the engine bay, which can feel from the cabin.

Draining the oil in a rush can cause some of the old oil to remain inside the engine. And when new oil is added, even in the recommended quantity, the oil level surpasses the maximum recommended limit.

Always make sure all of the old oil has been drained entirely before pouring the new one.

2. Disconnected Sensor

It can happen quite often that you accidentally disconnect a sensor while performing an oil change service. Or disconnect a sensor for cleaning purposes and forget to install it back on.

This can cause the engine to vibrate or shake more than usual due to several factors. Incorrect air/fuel ratio or incorrectly installed spark plugs can cause instability and lead to heavy vibrations from the engine.

3.  Not Enough Oil

Adding too little oil can also lead to heavy vibrations from the engine. The lack of sufficient lubricant can lead to misfiring, increased temperatures, and premature wear of the engine components.

This can cause the engine vibrations to feel much more than regular.

An inadequate amount of oil in the engine can lead to the failure of several components inside the engine due to increased friction and wear.

Always ensure the oil drain bolt is tightened correctly along with the new oil filter before pouring in the new engine oil.

4. Choked Air filter

Although it might sound quite dumb, some people forget to remove the packaging on the air filter while installing a new one on the oil change service.

This can lead to engine choking, which can cause the engine to idle poorly after service and vibrate heavily.

5. Wrong Oil

Adding the wrong oil grade or a substandard oil can also lead to vibrations in the cabin after an oil change.

Using thinner oil than what is recommended by the manufacturer can result in a lack of lubricant in between the moving parts, leading to a rough idle and vibrations.

What should you do if you get rough vibrations after an oil change?

1.      Check Oil Level

Park your vehicle on a level road and turn off the engine. Let the oil settle down for 30-40 mins or overnight.

Using the dipstick, check the oil level by first cleaning the dipstick with a towel and inserting it back inside.

Take the dipstick out and read the oil level on the stick. The minimum and maximum recommended engine oil levels are mentioned on the dipstick with a hole or a cutout (refer to the vehicle’s owner manual for vehicle-specific instructions).

The oil level should be anywhere in between the upper and lower level mentioned on the dipstick.

If the level is above the maximum limit or below the minimum limit, avoid starting the engine back to prevent potential damage.

You should drain the extra oil or top up if needed to reach the optimum level before starting the engine.

2.      Check for any disconnected sensors

Check for any disconnected sensors in the engine bay or a check engine sign on the dashboard. Check whether the MAF, MAP and O2 sensors are correctly connected. Check for any loose or cut wires in the engine bay.

3.      Air Filter

Check if the air filter placed in the housing is clean and unpacked.

4.      Spark Plugs

Check whether the spark plugs are tightened in their slot correctly. If the gap between the spark plug tip was adjusted, get it readjusted to remove the additional vibrations in the vehicle.

Can wrong oil cause rough idle?

Yes, using the wrong engine oil grade or any other oil not recommended in the vehicle’s owner manual can also lead to a rough idle.

Using an oil that is too thin or too thick for the particular engine can result in insufficient or improper lubrication between moving parts.

This can introduce wear, friction, high temperatures, and instability in the engine that results in vibrations at idle.

Can low engine oil cause misfire?

Yes, a low engine oil level can lead to low engine oil pressure, resulting in an engine misfire. In addition, engines with VVT require sufficient oil to adjust the timing correctly, and engines with VTEC also need adequate engine oil to shift the cam profile successfully.

Hence low engine oil levels can easily cause misfiring on modern engines, which can lead to damages for other components if not taken care of timely.

What other factors cause a rough engine idle?

A rough engine idle can be caused due to many other reasons. We have mentioned some of the most common causes of a rough engine idle below.

  1. Dirty or defective MAF, MAP, or Oxygen sensor can lead to incorrect air to fuel ratio that is too rich or too lean to idle the engine properly.
  2. ICV (Idle Control Valve) gets dirty over time and stuck close or open.
  3. EGR (Exhaust Gas Return) valve stuck close or open due to soot or dirt deposit over time.
  4. Worn-out spark plugs and faulty ignition coil or wires lead to inadequate spark for proper combustion.
  5. A failing fuel pump, or defective fuel injector.
  6. Vacuum leaks in the engine air intake manifold.

Does car run smoother after oil change?

While usually, you shouldn’t notice any significant difference, it is possible that following an oil change, you might see your car running smoother. There can be several causes, such as using the wrong oil type before or not performing an oil change service on time.

What most of the customers notice after having their oil changed is a better MPG.

How long should I idle my car after oil change?

After performing an oil change, leaving the engine running for at least 5-10 minutes is recommended to ensure the oil pressure is normal and there are no leaks. Furthermore, it is essential to allow oil to circulate through the engine and then perform an oil level check. This will show whether or not you used enough oil.


Having your oil changed might sound like an easy job to do, but several issues can appear if not performed correctly. I recommend having the oil change done by a professional mechanic to ensure it is done to the highest standard and the right oil is used.