You might own a car that hasn’t been driven for a while. Is the engine oil still usable, you might wonder? Does the oil require replacement? Normal conventional oil typically lasts between 5000 and 7500 miles with normal usage, whereas synthetic oil can last for about 7,500 to 10,000 miles.

Therefore, you may wonder how long the engine oil will last if the car is not driven for a long time. We will talk about this in more detail in this article. First, let us understand why you should change the oil even if you are not driving.

Should You Change Oil If Car Has Been Sitting

Even if you don’t drive much, the engine oil needs to be changed at some point. As time goes on, the oil in the engine starts to lose its viscosity. Sludge can accumulate in the oil due to air and moisture invasion. Additionally, air bubbles can collect in cold engine oil and turn it milky.

These air bubbles typically burst when the oil is heated during engine operation. Long drives in the car also cause moisture to evaporate. However, if the car is not driven for an extended period, the oil can lose its lubricating properties after 6 months. It will eventually be necessary to drain the old oil from the engine and refill it with fresh oil.

Another case when you should look for change is when you spot condensation in the oil. This can cause rust to accumulate and further damage the other parts of the engine.

How long does oil last in an Idle Car?

Now, we know that you should change the oil even if the car is not being driven. If we discuss the oil change interval, this usually ranges between 6-12 months, depending on some factors.

How was the oil before you decided to stop driving the vehicle?

This significantly impacts how long your engine oil will last when the car is not driven. If the oil was bad when you stopped driving, it would most likely be unusable in one or two months. 

Old oil and metal particles are likely to come into contact with air and moisture, degrading the oil more quickly, which is bad for the engine. If the oil was new when you stopped driving, it should easily last 6 months.

What kind of oil are you using?

The type of oil also influences how long the oil will last if the car is not driven. Synthetic oil typically lasts 2,500 – 3000 miles longer than conventional oil. The synthetic oil should last around 6-12 months if the car is not driven. Synthetic oil contains additives that prevent sludge buildup, which helps them last longer. 

Low-viscosity oil can also last longer in cold environments. This is due to the thin layer of low-viscosity oil, which allows bubbles to burst easily and not be stored in cold oil.

Can oil last for more than 6 months in a car not driven?

We have seen that good oil can be left in the car for 6 months without harm. If your oil is new, chances are it is still in good working order after sitting for more than 6 months. 

Many external factors influence oil age, such as air, moisture, or other contaminants. Engine oil has an expiry date of up to 5 years, so chances are that oil can sit longer than 6 months in the engine. You will surely need to flush the engine oil out if it has passed its expiry date.

But if it has not expired, It is recommended that you thoroughly inspect the oil before using it after a car has not been driven for an extended period.

How can you tell if the oil in the engine is bad?

Here are some methods for determining whether engine oil is bad:

  1. The new engine oil appears transparent and light brown on the dipstick. If the engine oil is dark brown or black, it is most likely old and clogged.
  2. Take the oil on the dipstick and rub it between your fingers. If the oil feels thicker or smells like burnt oil, it is likely that it contains external contaminants and is no longer usable.
  3. Try starting the engine. If you hear a cranking sound from the engine or the oil light comes on, your engine oil is contaminated and must be replaced. 


Even if you do not drive frequently, the engine oil will eventually become unusable. As the oil sits, it becomes clogged and loses its lubricating properties. To avoid serious engine damage, it is recommended that you change the oil every 6 months.


To summarize, the oil in a car degrades over time as it sits. You should drive the car for long distances at least once every three weeks to maintain the engine’s and oil’s overall health. If the car is not driven, the oil can easily last more than 6 months. 

Because the car is not driven, the engine’s lubricating power may be reduced over time due to air, moisture, and contaminants. This can cause overheating, friction, or noises in engine parts, resulting in wear and tear. If you’ve been driving for a while, make sure to check the oil. If you notice any changes in the thickness or color of the oil, have it changed with a fresh one.

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