To preface this, I was a complete idiot.

My 2002 Honda Accord was a couple thousand miles over the recommended oil-change period and I was being pestered about checking the oil, as it could be fairly low and dirty by that point. I checked the dipstick and completely misinterpreted the dots provided, believing that the oil was in fact dangerously low.

To put it simply. The oil wasn't low, and I added a full 5 quarts to it.

Of course I do this when I am a solid 20 miles away from my house and did not have the idea of calling AAA to come assist, so as I hop on the highway the engine starts burning oil. I pulled over until the engine stopped smoking, but I did complete the 20 mile drive on this stupidly high amount of oil. Several times during that drive I could feel the car lurch, seeming as though it was starved for air.

The oil has already been taken out and replaced with the proper amount, but I fear the amount of damage that could have been done to the engine. I'm aware similar questions have been asked more than enough times, but I haven't run across one where the car had been driven a fair distance with the oil still in the engine.


2 Answers 2


Don't worry. You have lubed your engine very well. :D Check your air filter, change it if it is "oily". If your oil level now is correct, keep driving and enjoying. It might be a bit smoky for a while, but after a longer journey it'll be just fine. You can only start to worry if it will be smoky after another 20 - 30 miles.


First off, +1 for your preface, the first step is admitting we have a problem :P

If you did any damage by overfilling, there's not much you can do about it now.

As I'm sure you've read, overfilling the engine will cause the oil to foam. Since the oil pump can't move air, you may have starved certain parts of the engine of vital lubricant, and burnt the oil in other spots (since there was no oil to keep that spot cool, or to push the overheating oil into the oil pan).

As you've already drained the oil to the correct level, I would add a product like Seafoam to the oil and drive for ~100 miles, then do another oil and oil filter change. You don't want to drive too far after adding the Seafoam, as any deposits the product helped free up could clog your oil lines or filter.

Going forward, I would regularly check the oil level every time you fill up with gas to make sure you aren't burning excess oil. If you can go 3000 miles to your next oil change without losing more than a quart (or without catastrophic failure), then it's safe to say you managed to avoid damaging the engine.

Good luck!

(Note: I am in no way affiliated with Seafoam or their distribution network, but I have used, and am a fan of their products.) .

  • If there is damage, what kinds of damage could be expected?
    – Mathieu K.
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 22:21
  • And as for the "not much you can do about it now", is there service to the engine that could be performed to detect any damage done and preempt any further damage? (This comment is prompted by the remark about possible catastrophic failure.)
    – Mathieu K.
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 22:26
  • @MathieuK.Rod knock would be a worse case scenario. Much of Paulster's answer is applicable here: mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/24555/… Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 22:29
  • Is the probability of current engine failure, times the work it would take to replace the engine, less than the work to check for engine damage?
    – Mathieu K.
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 1:44

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