Can I Drive My Car With 0 Oil Life? [Answered]

The oil life indicator is a great reminder to drivers on when they should visit the service station. With fresh oil just added, it reads 100%, and the value drops with increasing mileage. One common question is whether it is possible to drive around with 0 on the oil life. 

Yes, you can drive your car with 0% oil life. The 0% only means that the engine has degraded to a critical level and that service is overdue. The 0% oil life can take you for another 500 miles or so, but it is advisable to visit the nearest service station. Driving around with degraded engine oil is likely to cause irreparable damage to the engine. 

This article explains everything you need to know about the 0% oil life so the next time you see it on your dashboard, you know what to do. 

Can I Drive My Car With 0 Oil Life?

can I drive my car with 0 oil life

The oil life indicator serves to remind the driver when the car is due for an oil change. A vehicle’s engine cannot perform its duties effectively without engine oil. This simply underscores the role of engine oil.

Therefore, the quality of the oil has a direct relation to the proper working of the engine. Generally, it is safe to drive with the 0% oil life, but it should not go on for an extended period of time. 

You can drive for a few more miles even with 0 on the oil life indicator. However, it is not a good idea. So, the next time you see 0 on the oil life and you are short of time, you can still go about your errands.

At the end of the day, ensure that you get the car to a servicing station as soon as you can. Moreover, regular servicing will determine how your vehicle behaves when it hits the 0% mark on the oil life. If you perform it as scheduled, your vehicle will be spared from irreparable damages which would be the case if it was not serviced as regularly. 

What Does Oil Percentage Mean on a Car?

The oil life percentage, usually located on the dashboard may mean differently for different people. so, what is it exactly? 

The oil life percentage is an indicator of the quality of the engine’s oil, contrary to what many may have thought to be the oil levels. With this knowledge, you will be able to take the right action. The percentage number is usually displayed on the dashboard and serves a convenient role in the maintenance minder system of your vehicle. 

When you have added fresh engine oil to your car, the percentage is expected to read 100%. Over time, and with increasing mileage, this value drops, and can potentially drop to 0%. As mentioned earlier, the percentage indicates oil quality and oil levels.

For instance, at 50%, the oil has 50% left of its lifetime to do its job before it needs replacement. The case is the same for 15%– only 15% of its lifetime is remaining. 

Often, at 15%, the yellow wrench icon on the dashboard will illuminate and this should be taken as a reminder that service is due soon. If you continue driving, the percentage will continue to drop. At 0%, your vehicle is overdue for service, and it would be in your best interests to take it to a mechanic at that moment. 

How Many Miles Can I Drive With 0% Oil Life?

Even if the value on the oil life indicator reads 0%, it is possible to cover a significant distance. This distance will depend on your overall car’s condition. If you service your car regularly, you are likely to get more miles. It is possible to safely attain around 500 miles without adverse effects. 

However, it would be best to immediately schedule servicing and an oil change. The warning is designed to inform you that the service of the vehicle is long overdue. Continued use of the vehicle in this state can lead to excessive and, often, irreparable damage. 

Why You Shouldn’t Drive With 0 Oil Life?

Driving with 0% oil life is not recommended. The quality of the oil is usually in critical condition and contains dirt, debris, and other foreign particles that cause wear and tear to the engine. The degraded oil is likely to cause engine failure or other significant damage to your engine. Moreover, the particles are likely to be sucked into the engine, reducing the lubrication capability of the engine. 


The recommended mileage to cover before your next oil change is 3000 to7500 miles. This depends on the oil type and the vehicle type. Therefore, you should first refer to the owners’ manual so you use the right products in the right amount.

Also, using the oil life indicator as a reminder, it would be best to schedule your next oil change as soon as the percentage reaches 5%. This prevents the quality from reaching critical levels. 

The 0 life indicator on the oil life does not mean that you have no oil, but rather that the quality of oil has lost effectiveness and is completely degraded. This should prompt you to visit the nearest service station and have the oil completely replaced. 

The 0 life indicator on the oil life does not mean that you have no oil, but rather that the quality of oil has lost effectiveness and is completely degraded. This should prompt you to visit the nearest service station and have the oil completely replaced. 

Final Thoughts

When your car hits the 0 mark on the oil life, you should consider taking it for service as soon as possible. This will spare your engine irreparable damage and spare you a boatload of money. Therefore, it is good to adhere to the warning light. 

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