Having your car serviced with a fresh oil change seems like a straightforward maintenance task. However, sometimes unexpected issues can arise afterwards like shaking or the check engine light coming on. If you just had an oil change and are now experiencing these problems, don’t panic. Here’s a rundown of the most common reasons this happens and what you can do about it.
Table of Contents
- Diagnosing the Source of the Car Shaking
- Why the Check Engine Light Turns On
- Steps to Diagnose and Stop the Shaking
- Why an Oil Change May Cause Shaking and Warning Lights
- How Loose Parts Can Cause a Shaky Ride
- What Triggers “Check Engine” Warnings
- Getting Your Smooth Ride Back
- What To Do if Your Car Has Shaking and Check Engine Issues After an Oil Change
- Preventing Issues in the Future
Diagnosing the Source of the Car Shaking
A vibrating car that shakes while idling or driving after an oil change could stem from several mechanical causes. Here are some of the most likely culprits and how to identify them:
1. Low Oil Level
This is one of the most common causes of a shaky car after service. If your technician didn’t refill your engine with enough new oil or overfilled it, this can create air pockets that lead to low oil pressure. Signs include:
- Shaking that gets worse at stop signs or lights when idling
- An oil level dipstick reading that’s below the full mark
- Rattling noises from the engine bay
Check your oil level as soon as shaking starts. Top it off or drain excess until it reads full. This should stop vibrations.
2. Faulty Oil Filter
Another oil-related issue is a defective new oil filter. Low quality or damaged filters can’t properly filter engine oil. Dirty oil then circulates causing lack of lubrication and shaking. Watch for:
- More intense shaking when accelerating or going uphill
- Oil light coming on your dashboard
- Filter seal looking cracked or filter itself looking bent or damaged
Have the oil and filter changed again, sticking to a reputable brand of filter. Be sure it’s secured tightly.
3. Loose Engine Accessories
From the oil pan to alternator, loose parts around the engine can move and cause vibrations. This may happen if something wasn’t fully tightened after an oil change. Listen for:
- Metal rattling sounds coming from the engine bay
- Shaking that’s more pronounced at certain speeds
Inspect the engine area and have any observed loose parts tightened. Check bolts on pulleys, the fan, brackets and accessories.
Why the Check Engine Light Turns On
It’s also not uncommon for warning lights like check engine or oil to illuminate after an oil change. Here are some typical reasons:
1. Reset Needed
Many shops simply unhook battery cables during oil changes. This temporarily erases computer codes and warning lights. Once cables are reconnected, the check engine light turns back on until reset. A diagnostic scan tool is needed to clear it.
2. Loose Gas Cap
If your mechanic left your gas cap loose by accident, this can set off the check engine light. The cap seals the fuel system. A loose cap leaks vapors that sensor will detect, triggering the warning. Tightening it completely should go off after a few driving cycles.
3. Oil Cap Left Off
The oil fill cap left off after a change is another oversight than can cause the check engine light to come on soon after. Sensors detect the open cap as an emissions leak. Putting the cap back on securely should clear the code.
4. Drained Battery
To open space for an oil change, some technicians disconnect the battery too long. This drains voltage required to power sensors and keep codes cleared. Jump starting and fully recharging should get things working normally.
5. Contaminated Oil
If the new oil poured into your engine was dirty, mixed improperly or the wrong viscosity, this can clog sensors. The check engine light turns on if sensors can’t take proper readings. Ask your shop to drain the faulty oil and replace it correctly.
Steps to Diagnose and Stop the Shaking
Don’t ignore shaking and warning lights that happen after an oil change. Here is a summary of steps to pinpoint and resolve the issue:
- Test drive the car, trying to isolate when and how intense shaking occurs. Note any audible sounds.
- Check oil level on the dipstick, topping it off if low or draining excess if overfilled.
- Inspect the oil filter, cap and area around engine for leaks, damage or loose parts.
- Have diagnostic codes scanned by an auto parts store or repair shop to identify any sensor issues.
- Clear any codes present and reset computer using a scan tool once underlying problems are repaired.
- Take the vehicle back to the shop that did the oil change if you suspect errors on their part. Have them inspect issues and rectify mistakes.
- Switch brands or shops for future oil changes if problems persist. Find an ASE certified mechanic you trust.
While it’s frustrating dealing with these glitches after a routine oil change, identifying the source is 90% of the battle. In most cases, it’s a quick fix and you’ll be back on the road vibration and worry free. With a systematic approach, you can determine what requires attention and get your car running smoothly again.
Why an Oil Change May Cause Shaking and Warning Lights
Just had your oil changed and now your car is shaking with the check engine light on? An oil service is supposed to help your car run better, not trigger new problems. But several common slip ups during oil changes can cause noticeable vibration and warning lights soon after. Understanding what might have gone wrong can help you get back on the road.
How Loose Parts Can Cause a Shaky Ride
If your vehicle suddenly starts vibrating or shaking right after an oil change, loose engine components are a prime suspect. When technicians open the hood for the oil service, they disturb all sorts of parts. It’s easy to accidentally leave things looser than they should be.
1. What Can Come Loose
Some of the most likely causes for rattling and shaking include:
- Oil pan bolts – These fasteners on the bottom of the engine often get removed so old oil can drain completely. If they aren’t tightened back down firmly, the whole oil pan can vibrate.
- Pulleys – These spin key accessories like the alternator. If pulley bolts are left loose, they’ll make noise and shake as they turn.
- Oil filter – A loosely installed oil filter lacks a tight seal and can essentially vibrate off, causing leaks and shaking.
- Accessory brackets – Brackets that hold pumps, AC compressors and more get disturbed during oil changes. If left loose, vibration ensues.
2. How to Firm Things Up Again
If something got left loose once, an easy fix is to just tighten it back up:
- Carefully check components like pulleys and brackets closest to the oil drain and filter. Tighten any loose bolts.
- Have an assistant start the vehicle so you can listen for rattling sources. Tighten these spots.
- Finally, take it for a test drive and make sure vibration is gone before hitting the road again.
Catching and fixing loose parts quickly prevents further damage down the road.
What Triggers “Check Engine” Warnings
Oil changes also involve disconnecting sensors and electronics. All it takes is reconnecting things improperly to trigger a warning light. Here’s what might cause a check engine light to click on:
- Loose or missing oil cap – This important cap seals the valve cover and oil system. Sensors will detect vapors escaping and assume an engine issue is occurring.
- Unplugged sensors – Many sensors get disconnected so they aren’t coated in oil. If something like the crankshaft position sensor stays unhooked, codes will set for faulty readings.
- Draining computer power – Battery cables often get disconnected too. This temporarily erases error codes. When power gets restored, unfinished codes resurface as check engine lights.
- Contaminated oil – Bad oil or improper filter can clog sensors so they can’t accurately read conditions. Fault codes set off the light.
- Accidental bumps – Colliding with something during the service can physically damage a sensitive sensor.
Fortunately, warning lights just due to disconnected sensors or low power are temporary. Once everything is hooked back up properly, the computer just needs time to reset and the light should go off.
Getting Your Smooth Ride Back
Don’t settle for a shaky, light-ridden ride after simple maintenance. If an oil change triggered these annoying issues, speak up right away! Most shops will thoroughly inspect their work and fix mistakes that let things come loose or triggered warning lights. In just an oil service and quick test drive or two, they can get noise and warning lights remedied so you’re back on the road in a smooth, quiet ride once again.
What To Do if Your Car Has Shaking and Check Engine Issues After an Oil Change
Routine maintenance like an oil change is supposed to help your car run great. But if you suddenly have shaking and warning lights right after a service, something obviously got missed. Check engine lights and vibration from a recent oil change point to overlooked steps that created problems. Here’s how to get the issues diagnosed and fixed.
Key First Steps
If your car starts sputtering with a shaking sensation and ominous check engine light after its oil was just changed, stay calm and take these initial steps:
- Safely pull over if shaking is severe. Otherwise keep driving normally to reach a shop.
- Note if shuddering changes with speed or when idling. Listen for odd sounds too.
- Check the oil level on the dipstick. Top it off if low or drain excess if overfilled.
- Tighten oil fill and drain plugs if they weren’t already secured.
- Visually inspect the engine area for anything loose or damaged.
Getting a handle on initial symptoms helps shops better pinpoint where technicians goofed up. Never ignore new problems following any service.
Getting Codes Scanned
The check engine light indicates the computer detected some out-of-bounds readings from sensors. To decipher why:
- Have the codes scanned at almost any auto parts store. Write down the exact codes.
- Research what those codes mean for your make and model. This reveals what sensors are suspect.
- Call the shop that did the oil change and report the codes. They likely disconnected or bumped sensors.
Codes provide insight if oil got contaminated, the wrong viscosity was used or a part like the oil pressure sensor was disrupted. Make the shop aware so mistakes get fixed at no charge.
Detecting Loose Parts
If the main issue is pronounced shaking or rattling, the oil service likely left some components loose. To isolate the source:
- Open the hood with the engine on and listen for locations of noise. Feel for vibration.
- Systematically check common spots like oil pan bolts, pulleys, belts, the fan clutch and brackets. Tighten anything loose.
- Test drive it again to make sure shuddering is gone before extended driving.
Don’t ignore strange new vibration. The underlying loose component can fail catastrophically if left rattling.
Preventing Issues in the Future
While a reputable shop should make things right on their dime if their mistakes caused problems, you can still take preventive measures for peace of mind:
- Request the mechanic double check for tightness of engine parts after oil changes.
- Only use shops approved by your dealership or with ASE certified technicians.
- Learn how to spot and check fluid levels and loose components yourself.
- Buy your own code scanner so you can quickly read and clear any warning lights.
With a few prudent steps, you can drive on worry-free despite the occasional oversights that happen during repairs.