I've been very bad to my car

So I’ve gone about 50,000 miles since my last oil change. I’m sure I’ve done some irreparable damage to the engine, but being a poor college kid with no garage and not enough cashflow to take it in somewhere in order to keep up with routine maintenance left me with few options. Now that I finally have the resources to maintain the vehicle, does anyone have any tips on how to make sure that the car will at last as long as it can and maybe correct the last year & a half of neglect?


Make, model, year, miles? Did you at least check and maintain the oil level? How is the car running?

Ed B.

If you wore a hole in your shoes, would any amount of care and polishing fix the hole? The damage is done. All you can do is try to keep it at its current damaged condition. When you see blue smoke out the back, might as well just trade.

Kind of hard to believe a car could have run 50k miles without maintenence. There is nothing you can do to correct the past. Did you at least add oil and keep it full? The best thing to do is to look in your owners manual and start following the maintenence schedule. Get the oil & filter changed ASAP at your local shop (avoid the quick lube places) Have the shop look the car over and give you guidelines on what work needs to be done. You are looking at coolant flush, transmission fluid change, brakes, tires, maybe plugs.

The damage, whatever it may be is done. I don’t see how one couldn’t scrounge up $30 for an oil change at some point during the last 50k miles. When I was in college, I could always cough up the $20-$30 for a DIY oil change a couple times a year. Then again, pretty much most of my money (I had a part time job), was spent on fueling the 9-11 MPG Bronco I had at the time.

Your biggest problem will be sludge as long as you kept it full. If you really waited that long, I would change it to Rotella. It has a very high detergent rate. Change it at 3k. Then 5k miles for ever after with synthetic.

Assuming that this thread is not an attempt at trolling, here is my take on the issue:

It may not be possible to totally un-do this type of vehicular abuse, but I would recommend that you have an oil change done immediately, then have the oil changed again in 3 or 4 weeks, then have the oil changed again in another 5 or 6 weeks, and then to adhere to a regimen of changing the oil every 4 or 5 months.

This may remove most of the accumulated sludge in the engine, but then again it might not. This is truly a crap-shoot, given the total lack of maintenance.

Additionally, you need to play catch-up with all of the other maintenance that you have skipped, although since we have no idea about the type of vehicle that you own, we can’t be absolutely accurate with these recommendations.

Most likely the needed maintenance will include…
Changing the transmission fluid and filter
Changing the spark plugs (and possibly plug wires)
Changing the timing belt
Changing the brake fluid
Changing the coolant

I can understand how a college student could let maintenance go. I don’t understand how a college student can average over 30000 miles a year.

If I Had a car go 50k miles without an oil change and had the resources, I would chnge the oil immediately then drive it down to a dealership and trade it in.

"I don’t understand how a college student can average over 30000 miles a year. "

That is why I strongly suspect that this thread was created as an attempt at trolling.

@dagosa The OP did not tell us what the vehicle was . If it is older with a lot of miles a dealer will just wholesale it ( most likely to a buy here pay here lot ) and it will be detailed and sold to some unsuspecting soul. It really won’t matter if it had fresh oil in it anyway.

Or, being mostly highway miles, the reason he made it 50K…

I’m hoping its not a trolling. So, I second @knfenimore‌ 's suggestion to exchange it using Rotella 15w-40, but also recommend sticking with it @3k changes to help continue to clean out any sludge or coking. You may luck out that way, and it is the cheapest option at this point.

The tragic result of too much beer pong… :smiley: (Just kidding…)

No harm no foul, look at recommended maintenance and go from there.

Thanks for the replies so far. It’s a 2011 Mitsubishi Galant, I got it with about 28,000 miles on it and just passed 85,000. I’ve heard some horror stories about leaving the oil go that long from people I know, like all the seals leaking after they finally changed the oil and started doing what should’ve been done from the get-go. She runs good, just makes a bit more noise than when I bought it.

@VolvoV70 I would not continue to drive a car nor take it to a dealer nor put it up for sale with the last oil change 50k miles ago.
The car is what it is. If it functions now, the condition will at least be stabilized with service. But then, I always clean a car up for sale or trade and tell the perspective buyer or dealer exactly what has been done or not for service. At least they know…it’s had one oil change in 50k miles…though like VDC, it’s kind of a stretch believing the whole post. A good hypothetical discussion. I can’t deal in “most likey” or what the dealer might do. We can only deal with what we do.

See what the owners manual suggests and do catch-up on the deferred inspection and maintenance items. Also inspect tires and replace if the wear bars are showing (or sooner if you can afford to.) The battery may be toward the end of its life so be aware of that.

As far as oil and filter, change both now, using the weight recommended in the owners manual. Check its level and color frequently. It will probably turn dark pretty quickly. That’s not necessarily a bad sign. Change both again in April, then change both every 6 months or so (or every X,000 miles - your manual will tell the value for X (possibly 4 or 6 or ?) - as long as you have the car.

While it isn’t an ideal situation, I think it’s possible to put 50K on a car without changing the oil and not cause extreme damage. As long as the oil is frequently topped off before it gets too low on the dipstick that is. Which I assume is the case here. It sounds like this car was driven a lot of miles per year, which is actually a good thing in this case.

The thing to do at this point is get out the owner’s manual and see what the maintenance schedule says, then find a good shop and start bringing each item up to date.

Since there’s been more than one suggestion to use Rotella, I’ll do that. If I can figure out how to post pictures, I’ll put some up when I do finally change the oil. The Maintenance Guide I found online doesn’t list much else beside a bunch of things to check or inspect, which I would assume are fine or else I’d really notice them by now.
For those of you wondering how I racked up all those miles, it was a 45-mile one way trip from home to school that I was making 4 days a week, plus running around on weekends.