What Is 5% Oil Life And How Long Can You Drive?

The 5% oil defines the remaining useful life of oil. This message warns that only one out of twenty parts of oil life is left. That means nineteen parts of oil life are already used by the car. The lifetime of 5% oil depends on various factors. Typically it lasts about 150 to 500 miles.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Much important information is yet to be discussed. So keep scrolling!

What is 5% Oil Life?

5% oil life indicates the remaining useful life of the car oil. Car oil plays a very important role in the movement of the car. However, car oil doesn’t have an infinite life. The useful lifetime of car oil reduces significantly with time.

The oil has a 100% life when it is inserted into the car. It means 100% of the oil life is left and can be used by the car. After the engine has run for several kilometers, the car reaches 5% oil life. So, what happens to the oil when your oil life is at 5%?

Well, this remaining oil life percentage means only 5% of the useful oil life is still left. In other words, 19 parts of useful life among 20 parts have been used by the car. Thus this life of car oil will end very soon

Now you must be wondering how much is 5% oil life. Scroll down to the next section to get the answer!


5% oil life indicates the time left in the oil life. It means 95% useful life of the oil is already used, and only 5% is remaining. The oil loses all of its functionalities when it gets to 0%. This message is important for changing the car oil.

How Long Can You Drive on 5% Oil Life?

Frankly speaking, there is no exact answer to this question. When the oil reaches 5% life, it means the oil has become extremely dirty. It is so dirty that only 5% of its useful life is left. At this time, the car oil should be changed immediately. 

If not changed this percentage will keep going down till its 0%. 0% oil life means the service is past due.Now using this oil will not be any help for the car. Rather it will do more harm to the car instead of any good.

So it is not wise to drive a car with a 5% oil life. The driver should change the oil immediately once it reaches 5% life. The car will still go on if the oil is not changed at that time. But the dirty oil will severely damage the engine’s health.

5% Oil Life for Different Car Brands/Models

Typically cars can be driven about 500 miles with 5% oil. Then the oil life will come down to 0% life. But this is not fixed for all models of cars. Because the lifespan of motor oil is hugely dependent on the age of the car. 

The oil lasts for a long period in a new vehicle compared to an old model. Because the engine of the new vehicle has a high tolerance. So the oil doesn’t get dirty too soon.

The engine parts began to deteriorate with time. As a result, the tolerance of the engine decreases, and the oil gets dirty more quickly. And thus more frequent oil change is necessary for the car.

What Are The Risks of Driving with 5% Oil Life? 

It is possible to drive your car with a 5% oil life. But is 5 oil life bad?

Well, there are certain risks to doing so. You must have an idea about these risks before driving the car. I am going to present these risks here for your convenience. [1]

Damaged Internal Components

This is the main problem you might face while driving your car with a low oil life. I’ve discussed earlier that 5% oil life means the oil doesn’t have much useful life in it. So there is the possibility that the oil life will get down to 0% while you are on road.

You will face severe difficulties in such a situation. Driving a car with such low life will damage the engine. So you will need to change the oil as soon as possible. The engine life will decrease significantly because of it.

And changing the oil during a trip can be troublesome. For this reason, you should not drive your car with a 5% oil life. You will stay on the safe side by doing that.

Heating Issue 

One of the main functions of car oil is to keep the engine cool. Less oil life means the oil is so dirty and thick that it does not cool the car properly. This type of oil is not ideal for cooling the engine. As a result, the engine will get hot pretty quickly. This is very negative for the overall health of the car.

Excess Sound 

The car’s movement relies on several individual parts’ actions. The vehicle moves forward through the synchronized motion of these parts. As these moving parts are made of metal, the sound is a sure thing. 

Car oil decreases this sound. But less useful oil life will fail to decrease the sound. Then the car will move forward with disturbing noises and clicking sounds of metal.

Engine Has to Work More

Now, I will show the long-term effect of driving a car with low oil life. The engine’s motion becomes more smooth with the help of the car oil but this process will get hampered due to inadequate oil life.

The dirty oil with 5% or less life will not help the engine in its motion. Then the work of the engine will get severe. It will use more force for the car’s movement. The lifespan of the engine will decrease because of this.

Now you know what happens if your oil life is at 5%. There are certain risks of driving your car with 5% oil. Avoiding this type of situation by changing the oil in time is better.


There are several risks of driving a car with a 5% oil life. The car engine can get damaged by doing this. Also, the efficiency of the engine drops due to low oil lice. So the oil should be changed in time to avoid car malfunctions.

Why Is Oil Change Necessary in Cars?

You might feel lazy in changing the car oil in due time. But once you know about the necessity of oil changing, you will surely do it on time. Scroll down to know the various benefits of oil changing in cars. [2]

Enhanced Mileage 

The mileage of the car shows the distance covered by the car using a gallon of fuel. This is a very significant factor for car users. And this factor has a strong relationship with car oil. An adequate amount of high-quality oil increases car mileage. 

Whereas, less amount of oil results in low mileage of the car. One must change the car oil in time to ensure an adequate amount. So by changing the car oil you will get a higher mileage from your car.

Proper Lubrication 

The importance of lubrication in running the engine efficiently is enormous. The efficiency decreases by folds if enough lubrication is not provided. As a result, the overall performance of the car will fall. Changing the car oil ensures the presence of enough lubrication. 

Keeps The Engine Clean

Different kinds of dirt form during the action of the engine. This dirt is harmful and hampers the engine’s function. Usually, the dirt gets mixed with the car oil. So by changing the oil, the dirt is also removed. Thus the engine performs better.

Prolonged Engine Life 

The engine’s lifespan will be extended by the consistent change of car oil. All the above-mentioned factors play significant roles in the engine’s life. By improving these factors, engine longevity also increases. 

You can see that the necessity of oil changes in cars is immense. So don’t forget to be consistent in this work. I will show the methods of changing the car oil in the next section.


Changing the car oil in time has many positive aspects. The car owner gets benefits in many ways by regularly changing the oil. A clean engine, proper lubrication, and extended engine life are some benefits. 

How to Change Oil in Cars?

Changing the oil in the car is not so hard if you know the appropriate procedures. You will need some tools for this task. Keep reading to know the entire process. [3]

Required Apparatus

The instruments needed for this task are given below.

  • New oil
  • Funnel
  • Jack Stand 
  • Filter
  • Oil filter
  • Oil drain pan
  • Wrench
  • Hand gloves
  • Mask
  • Dipstick 

Make sure that you gather all these instruments before starting your work.


Before getting involved in the main process, you must take some precautions. Wear a mask and gloves for your safety. Also, keep the car turned off for about half an hour before changing the oil. Once the car engine is cool, follow the following steps. 

  1. First use the jack stand to lift the car. Make sure that the car is stable in a high position. You can also use ramps or hoists for this work.
  2. Open the oil drain plug carefully. Drain the container so that no residue of the previous oil remains there. It is not wise to mix the new and old oil. Use the oil drain pan to capture the old oil.
  3. Now you have to get rid of the old oil filter. It is screwed into the car engine. The size of the filter is similar to a softball. Unscrew it using a wrench. Don’t forget to remove the O-shaped rubber ring behind the filter. The ring should come out automatically with the filter. If not, use a finger to pull it.
  4. It is time to replace the drain plug. Do not apply much force while replacing it. 
  5. Once the drain plug is replaced, install the new oil filter. Give a thin coating of oil on the filter before installing it.
  6. Lower the car down after you are done installing the oil filter and drain plug. Now we will insert new oil.
  7. Open the hood of the car. You will find an oil cap. Open it and pour the new oil. Use the funnel to avoid spilling. 
  8. Check the oil level using the dipstick. Also, wait to see if any leakage is present or not.
  9. Start your car and warm it. Then check for leakages again. If there is not any leakage, the task is completed!

Follow these steps correctly to avoid any malfunction during the oil-changing process. If you face any trouble, take help from a professional. 

How to Extend Car Oil Life? 

A very common question related to car oil is what oil life percentage should oil be changed. Well, the best time to change the oil is when it has a life between 15% to 40%. So you should not wait for 5 or 7% oil life remaining.

But changing the oil frequently can be an irritating task. But don’t you worry! I am here to save you. Though the oil life will surely end at some point, you can extend it. Here are some tips for extending the oil life. [4]

Follow The Car Manual 

The best way to extend the oil life is by following the car manual. You will get the required guidelines about the necessary oil type there. Other methods of using the oil efficiently are also present in the manual. So read the manual carefully.

Using Bypass Filter 

The car consists of oil filters for cleaning the oil. They work pretty well in keeping the oil clean. However, you can enhance the oil-cleaning process by using a bypass filter. The oil flows at a very slow rate through the filter. So more contaminations are cleaned here. Thus the oil life gets extended. 

Using Oil Additive 

Different oil additives are available in the market. They can increase the car oil life if used in appropriate amounts. The oil additive increases oxidation stability, shear stability, and wear reduction. These are available for both petrol and diesel engines. 

Adding TBN Booster 

TBN in car oils stands for Total Base Number. TBN shows the number of active additives left in the car oil. When this number gets lowered, the car oil life falls. The oil becomes completely useless when the TBN gets below 5. 

Adding a TBN booster to the oil can solve this problem. But what is a TBN booster? It is an additive used to enhance the total base number in oil. The oil change intervals will increase when the oil has a high base number. 

The booster neutralizes the corrosive acids in the oil by improving the reserve alkalinity. This will increase the oil life too.

Topnotch Maintenance 

The lifespan of the car oil also depends on the car’s maintenance. The oil mainly wears due to the heat of the engine. If the car cooling system works fine, the oil will wear less. And the cooling of the car depends on its maintenance. Thus by maintaining the car properly you can increase the oil life too.

Follow these tips to increase the lifespan of your car oil. Then you will have to face less hassle in changing the oil frequently. 


It is possible to extend the car oil life. But you have to follow the appropriate tips and rules for doing so. Proper maintenance of the car keeps the oil useful for a long time. Some additives and boosters can do this task too.
Risks of Driving with 5% Oil Life Infographic


Can I drive my car with 0 oil life? 

Yes, you can drive your car with 0 oil life. But driving the car in that condition is not recommended at all. 0% oil life means the oil has no usability left in it. It will not help in the movement of the car. As a result, the car engine can get damaged and other problems might appear. 

How long can you go without oil service? 

You can go without oil service for 500 to 7000 miles. However, this distance is not constant. The oil life varies with the models and brands of the cars. Moreover, the runtime of synthetic and conventional oil is also different. So it is quite difficult to find out the exact answer to this question. 

What happens when your oil life runs out?

The car won’t function properly when your oil life runs out. There will be a lack of lubrication in such conditions. The heat produced by the engine will increase at a high rate. The car will produce more sound while moving. The car’s performance will drop severely if the oil life runs out.


This is all on today’s topic: what Is 5% oil Life and how long can you drive? I think that now you have understood this matter properly. 

It is better to change the car oil every six months. The car engine gets the best support from the oil in this way.

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William Baldwin

This Is William Baldwin, The Founder & Managing Editor of this website. Me and my team share automotive tips, tricks, and news

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Talha Atta

Talha Atta, a Mechanical Engineer and experienced technical content writer and editor at Autoglobes.com with a passion for the automotive industry.