Effects of the Wrong Oil?

I just left an oil change from a new mechanic with a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Sure enough, when I checked the manual, I realized that the (organic) 10W30 he had used was not the 0W20 (usually synthetic) my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid’s manual called for. I’m going to have him (or someone else if he balks) change out the oil and the filter. Did I just damage my engine by driving the 5 miles home with the wrong oil?

That distance probably caused no damage. Talk to the mechanic about changing it to the correct spec. He should be amenable, and depending on oil change cost you paid, there may be an additional charge for the OW20, which is more expensive that the 10W30 you got.

No damage is likely, just get the correct weight oil put in it as soon as possible.

“Mechanic” or quickie-lube worker? Or other “auto care” chain worker?

Most actual mechanics know better. Most people who change oil at quickie-lubes & corporate chain places aren’t mechanics.

No damage, none at all. You may even be able to drive until the next scheduled oil change with your 10W30 without concern. But since this is eating you, go ahead and have it replaced.

Steve is correct, there is not enough difference to worry about unless you live in a very cold climate…

But as with any motor oil thread, you will get at least 50 replies with 20 different answers. Take your pick!

I agree with Steve…this is bugging you. Change it, and ease your mind. I doubt the overall impact of the oil will have any effect on the motor, though.

All motor oils are pretty darn good and their differences lie in there ability to handle extreme conditions of heat, cold and long change intervals, not normal driving conditions. This is especially true of organic vs synthetic oils. You have done NOTHING to harm your car. Your car will turn over more easily in cold weather with 0-20 synthetic oil on start up. Some increase wear over the life of the car will occur if you don’t use it for it’s lifetime. Nothing measurable in one oil change. I might do the oil change a little earlier before too cold weather sets in. That would be he ONLY reason I would worry…slightly.

The replies seem to miss the point that the one doing the oil change has to be held responsible for his mistake . The car may or may not be all right but the one that did the change is NOT alright .

If your car had a turbocharger, I would say change it out right away. However, your car uses thin oil to get that last little bit of gas mileage for the manufacturer to meet the CAFE standards.

I would change it out soon if you live in a cold climate though, and put in what the manufacturer recommended. A 0W20 HAS to be synthetic; you cannot formulate a decent 0W20 from normal mineral oil.

Once the warranty runs out, I would use 0W30 synthetic, which will give you the maximum engine life with only a tiny penalty in gas mileage.

The oil change places are running out of shelf-space to store all the different grades and types of oil…Next thing you know, they will have 10 or 15 different dispensing hoses hanging down from the ceiling…

Or the computers that print out the customer receipt will be programmed to enter the correct type of oil regardless of what was actually pumped into the engine…Problem solved…Now we are back down to two or three drums of motor oil…

The engine in your hybrid operates under vastly different circumstances that a regular car. The lower viscosity oil is required in part to negate the repeated start cycles and to improve fuel economy. Most engine wear occurs during start-up, and a lower viscosity oil will flow quicker and more freely on start-up. Depending on traffic conditions, your engine may start/stop 20 times on your drive to work.

I’d have the garage change it back to 0w20. I mean, it’s not going to cost YOU anything, right?

I don’t think the oil they used is going to hurt your engine one iota and personally I wouldn’t worry about it.
However, it’s on the mechanic to make sure they use what is called for and what you want, with the option to go a different route put into your court.

Since the following problem appears to be in plague status now, I would ask how often you have the oil changed both as to miles and time. The car is an '06 and I’m wondering if the oil change regimen is too long then the type of oil is pretty much irrelevant.

There is no danger to use that oil at all. The 0-20W is to aid in efficiency of the engine…that weight oil is like water…very thin…this reduces parasitic drag compared to the thicker oils. I wouldn’t sweat it at all unless you live up near the North Pole…in those temps a thinner oil is best so it can flow at those very low temps.


Well there is one consideration not expressed here and that is the oil change interval. If you are on an extended interval (over 5000 miles recommended between oil changes) or you have an oil change monitor that lights up an icon on the dash to tell you to change the oil soon, then there is a problem. It’s not a terribly serious problem, just that you should not go over 5000 miles on this oil. Some would say 3000, but I don’t care which, just don’t go over 5000 at the very most on this oil. Change it sooner if you like.

I never take my car to quickie lube places…especially if its an older car. I once had a 1992 plymouth laser and once it hit 100k miles, started taking it to an automotive shop instead of a quickie lube place and yes it was more expensive but the Automotive shop was more through. Not only did they change my oil, they check for other problems that may crop up as well…When my 1992 laser was at 101 k miles took it for an oil change and the mechanic pointed out to me that it had an oil leak that was dripping onto the timing belt and said it would be best to get that leak fixed before the timing belt snapped as a result and could do some valve damage. So had him fix that problem and he replaced all the belts for me…problem solved before it became a more expensive fix.

“especially if its an older car”

Many of us on this forum say don’t stop at those quickie places even to ask directions!

Amen brotha

I’ll go a little farther…don’t even look over at a quickie oil change place as you are driving by.

I agree with everyone else, no damage.

The OP didn’t say he/she went to a quicie lube, but I agree that nobody should. The thought of it gives me the willies. And that, my friends, is based on personal experience.