How to Tell if Engine Is Damaged From No Oil?

As the driver of a car, it’s vital to know how to tell if the engine is damaged from no oil. Some reasons for your car’s engine damage are low engine oil and not using engine oil that’s compatible with your car engine.

The engine oil is what shields the engine from damage when in use. The liquid lubricates the engine’s inner workings, thus preventing friction.

This is why keeping an eye on the amount of engine oil left is such a pivotal aspect for any driver. Whenever you suspect leakage, don’t hesitate to visit a mechanic’s shop.

If you start the car when there isn’t enough oil, the engine’s components will start to dent each other. Next, your car engine will exhibit various signals indicating damage.

The most common signs include grinding sound, burning oil smell, smoking hood, engine stalling, and an overheated engine. In this article, we’ll explore how to tell if engine is damaged from no oil.

Burnt Oil Smell

Some of the reasons for the burnt oil smell are an oil leak and a low oil level. This means the engine oil is leaking. In turn, the heated-up parts will start producing a noxious odor. In such instances, immediately pull over and turn off the car’s engine. Do this as soon as you notice the noxious odor.

burnt oil smell

Then, wait for a couple of minutes before measuring the oil levels. Stopping the engine immediately and letting the oil cool down before checking oil levels allows the oil to settle.

Use a dipstick to check if your engine has enough oil. If you witness low oil levels, don’t attempt to resume driving. Additionally, by not driving your car when it’s at a low oil level, you’re saving it from further engine damage.

Grinding Sound

You’ll hear grinding noise when you keep your car’s engine running without oil. These grinding sounds are coming from the moving engine parts.  Engine oil lubricates these elements, and its absence leads to car engine damage.

Grinding Sound

In other words, the lack of lubrication creates friction between the engine’s parts.  So, next time you hear this loud clunking knocking grinding noise, you should properly lubricate engine parts with enough oil.

Overheating Engine

Extreme friction can produce overheating within the vehicle’s engine. Also, you’ll probably catch sight of smoke coming out of the hood of your car when this happens.

Overheating Engine

In addition to knocking sounds, there’ll be a temperature increase in your car’s engine, prompting it to overheat. A simple oil change can help you cool the hot engine parts.

However, in various cases, you might have to tow your car to a trusted auto repair shop.  To avoid further damage to the metal parts,  immediately stop your car whenever there’s a smoking hood and knocking sound.

You May Also Know: Reasons for car overheating

Oil Pressure Warning Light

On your vehicle’s dashboard, you’ll probably find a warning light that signals low oil lubrication levels. However, some models feature an oil pressure icon only. Regardless, it’s best to turn off the engine immediately when the light pops up. Stopping the car will help you prevent possible irreversible damage.

Oil Pressure Warning Light

These indicators connect to a sensor that detects the amount of oil in your engine. As a result, they will turn on in case of low oil pressure.

Therefore, ensure that you keep a good oil change routine maintenance to avoid low oil pressure.

Weak Performance

Low oil levels negatively affect your car’s performance. An engine without oil will struggle to operate, while its temperature will dangerously climb.

Most importantly, your car will break down within a few minutes if the engine runs without oil. So, you must do timely check-ups and ensure there is no risk of the oil pressure warning light coming into focus.

Can A Lack of Oil Damage the Engine?

There are several aspects that should alert you whenever there’s no oil left in the engine. For example, the engine is damaged from no oil when you:

  • Smell burning oil.
  • Hear strange engine noise.
  • See smoke coming out of the hood of your car hood.
  • See the light that tells you your engine’s almost running without oil.
  • Notice your engine runs poorly.

Consequently, you should turn off the engine and only start your car when you’ve lubricated the engine components with new oil.

What’s the Cause of Low Engine Oil?

Oil Pump Failure

The oil pump produces enough pressure to ensure that oil moves through the engine components as required. It carries the engine oil all the way from the pan to the top of the cylinder, including the engine block.

All vehicles have an oil pump that pumps and put pressure on engine oil. Since the pump is responsible for the flow of oil, a malfunctioning oil pump can critically harm your car engine.

Oil That’s Incompatible With Your Car’s Engine

It’s essential that you buy oil that’s best suited for your specific engine. Nonetheless, the oil deteriorates as time goes on. As a result, the outdated liquid will not be efficient and will lead to increased friction.

Therefore,  you should change it once it becomes black. Also, always keep good track of the engine oil levels.

Damaged Oil Filter

The filter’s responsible for cleaning the oil by extracting metal particles and dust. Unfortunately, the filter is not a perfect design as it gets blocked by debris over time. The filled-up filter can no longer stop particles from sliding back into the engine.

Can an Engine Run Without Oil?

An engine with no oil will run for a few minutes before it stalls and ultimately stop.  Your engine produces heat, and its moving components create friction when working.

In addition to unusual noises, it liquefies your engine’s cast iron and aluminum. Consequently, keeping your engine well-lubricated protects it against extreme heat.

Furthermore, the valve train together with camshafts causes unusual noise when on low oil levels. These components are the first of a few to alert you when your engine needs lubrication. As a result, it’s best to keep a spare bottle of oil engine for when you start hearing tapping sounds.

Can I Fix an Engine Damaged Because of Not Enough Oil?

Unfortunately, your chances of reviving a seized engine are slim. In general, they depend on how long you’ve left your car engine on without lubrication.

In any case, you’ll have to visit an auto repair shop to summarize the state of the engine. Most likely, you’ll have to replace the parts beyond saving.


This process is much easier with small engines. Dismantle the cylinder head and crankshaft. Next, inspect the tube for any defects. Then, unfasten the cap and search for the source if you haven’t found the fault yet.

Detach the faulty cylinder’s cap and spin the crankshaft. The piston could be the reason behind your engine seize, so try knocking it out. At the same time, observe whether the bottom of the cylinder might damage the crankshaft. So, examine if the disk can slide to the bottom without scraping along.

Finally, inspect the damage. At any point, don’t hesitate to ask a professional for guidance.

Wrapping Up

Taking care of your car’s engine means proper maintenance of the level of engine oil. Hence, don’t leave your vehicle on low oil levels, and don’t go for long drives whenever you see the warning light turn on.