What Happens If There Is No Oil in Your Car Engine?

by Don Bowman

There are many moving parts in an engine, all of which are in very close tolerances. These parts move at an incredible speed. The oil pump pushes oil through passages to all the moving parts. Most of the moving parts have a passage dedicated to that particular part. The oil is forced in between these parts to create a film separating the parts from each other.

Lack of oil for even two seconds is destructive to an engine. Without the oil to separate the parts, they begin to touch each other and metal-to-metal contact occurs at high speed. Without oil, an engine can destroy itself in a matter of seconds. When no oil shows on the dipstick but the oil light in the car did not come on, there is probably about at least two quarts left. If the light comes on, it means that the oil pump is not picking any oil up from the pan so there is no oil circulating, and therefore no oil pressure. Shut the key off as fast as possible no matter where you are. The car will not make it to a service station once the oil light comes on.

Within seconds, an engine will seize up. When that happens, the metal is so damaged within the engine that it can not be repaired. A new engine is the only answer. Check your car's oil on a regular basis. Start by checking the oil twice in one week if the car is driven regularly. Do this now and then every 500 miles if the car is not leaking or burning oil. If in either situation, the oil is up to normal and does not need to be filled, let the next check be at the end of the month. The time can be extended if it is determined that the engine is not burning or leaking oil. The idea is to find out how fast the engine is going through oil so that you do not run out. Changing the oil every 3,000 miles not only keeps the oil and the engine clean, but it locates any impending problems or oil leaks before they get out of control. Many manufacturers recommend a longer time between oil changes, and while the oil does not break down, it does get dirty within 3,000 miles on all cars. The most important part of servicing a car is changing the oil to make sure the oil stays clean and does not build up in the drivetrain.

About the Author

Don Bowman has been writing for various websites and several online magazines since 2008. He has owned an auto service facility since 1982 and has over 45 years of technical experience as a master ASE tech. Bowman has a business degree from Pennsylvania State University and was an officer in the U.S. Army (aircraft maintenance officer, pilot, six Air Medal awards, two tours Vietnam).