How to Start a Car After Running Out of Oil

How to Start a Car after Running out of Oil?

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If you’re an experienced driver, then I assume you’re well aware of how important engine oil means to your car. Automobile experts refer to it as the blood that keeps the engine going. Unlike blood in a human body, motor oil has many functions such as lubricating movable engine parts and cooling the engine system. Due to this reason, any absence of oil in your car system can cause serious consequences that can make you ask yourself how to start a car after running out of oil.

You see, your car’s engine consists of many moving parts that glide against each other when driving. If this gliding is not controlled, extreme friction can occur, which can cause a rapid rise in temperature inside the engine system. As a result, this can cause the engine to seize, and in severe cases, it can cause premature wear to the engine.

So, in this guide, we’re going to discuss a well-detailed step-by-step procedure on how to start your car after running out of oil.


What Happens When You’re Out of Motor Oil?


Now, when it comes to the proposition of running out of oil, so many questions come to your mind. One of them is what happens when you unexpectedly run out of oil when driving. Although it’s an unfortunate thing, the best thing about most modern engines is that they don’t entirely run out of oil. However, there are times when a catastrophic loss of engine oil can occur.

For instance, you might run over an object, which accidentally punctures your oil pan or an inattentive mechanic might accidentally fail to tighten the drain plug after repair or an oil change. Both of these situations can cause oil to drain from your engine to the pavement causing serious damage.

Now, when a car is completely out of oil, the engine is most likely to seize up. You see, the engine comprises of many moving parts that include pistons, rods, camshafts, lifters, bearings, and valves. When the engine is running, all these parts rotate and glide against each other. So, to avoid premature wear caused by metal on metal contact, constant lubrication is needed, which is only provided by motor oil.

Otherwise, if lubrication is not maintained regularly, the engine is likely to knock or seize, which mostly happens after approximately 15 minutes. During this time, the engine bursts into smoke, indicating complete failure. To tell whether an engine has seized, you’re likely to hear rapid knocking and grinding sounds that will be followed by an alarming silence.


What Should You Do if You’re Out of Oil?


Before we get to our main topic, we’d like to explain just a little about what you should do in case you run out of oil while driving. In case this is what you’re going through, here are a few steps you can follow.

  • Step One:

The first thing you should do is to turn the hazards on and shift the gear to Neutral. From there, drift the car to the side of the road to avoid interfering with other motorists. Remember, the more you step on the accelerator, the more you overwork your engine, which can lead to severe damage.

  • Step Two:

Once you drift your vehicle beside the side, the next step is to set security triangles on the road at a distance of 50 meters from your vehicle. From there, call a professional mechanic to inspect your vehicle.

In most cases, calling your insurance company is the best bet as they’ll send professionals who will tow your vehicle to a trusted lube shop for further inspection.

  • Step Three:

While waiting for a mechanic to sort you out, you can try searching for any possible leakage beneath your car. At least this way, you can alert your mechanic about what you’ve noticed before they can start diagnosing your car.


How Do You Start a Car With No Oil?


  • Step One: Check the Engine Light

Before your car runs low on motor oil, the first thing you need to do is to check the engine light to verify it’s off. In case the light is on, then it simply means that the level of motor oil in your car is running dangerously low. The best thing with modern vehicles is that most have an interface display that notifies you when the oil level is desperately low.

  • Step Two: Turn Off the Engine

Even before you turn off the engine, there are several signs you’re likely to see that confirm your engine is out of motor oil and is struggling. One of them is the engine light on your dash while the second is thumbing and clunking sound coming from the car’s hood.

If this is what you’re experiencing, then it’s wise that you turn off the engine immediately by drifting your car beside the road as fast as you can. As always, make sure that you turn the hazards on to notify other motorists that you have an emergency.

Remember, failure to turn off the engine will lead to overheating. As a result, crucial plastic parts can end up melting in the process leading to severe damage to your engine.

  • Step Three: Confirm You’re Out of Oil

So, with the car resting safely beside the road, the next step is to confirm that you’re indeed out of motor oil. To do this, you can either check the oil level light on the dash or you can check the oil level manually. For manual oil checkup, open the car’s hood and pick the dipstick. Wipe it clean using a towel and insert it inside the oil tube.

In case the oil streak is between the minimum and maximum mark, then it means the level of oil in your engine is sufficient. If the oil mark is way below the minimum mark, then it means you’re running low on motor oil.

Now, in case the oil is within the recommended level and you’re still hearing some alarming sounds, then it means there’s a serious issue within the engine that needs immediate inspection.

  • Step Four: Try to Drain the Oil Channel

With the help of a professional mechanic, drain all the oil from the engine to inspect it further. Here, you’ll be checking for any signs of metal particles inside the oil. If there are no metal particles, check for any leakage underneath the oil pan. This step is very crucial because there are times when the oil pan might be punctured when driving on uneven terrains.

  • Step Five: Remove the Spark Plugs and the Fuse

In this step, your mechanic will take out the spark plugs and the fuse that’s integrated with the oil pump. Next, your mechanic will fill each cylinder with motor oil and leave it for several days. Next, he/she will fire up the engine using a breaker bar to test the engine to see whether it should be repaired or replaced.

  • Step Six: Rotate the Crankshaft and Crank the Engine

Using a ½ inch drive breaker rod and a right nut, turn the crankshaft clockwise and make several rotations. In this step, you may need a cheater pipe to have an easier time breaking down the seized engine.

Using a wrench, crank the engine for a few seconds while the spark plugs and the gasoline pump are still in position. This crucial step will get the motor oil to circulate through the various parts of the engine.

  • Step Seven: Reinstall the Fuse and the Spark Plugs

Now that you’ve successfully cranked the engine, the next step is to reinstall the fuel fuse and the spark plugs. When you’re done, insert the ignition key and wait for a few seconds. Repeat this step a few times and don’t turn on the car. This step is crucial as it allows for efficient fuel circulation throughout the engine.

  • Step Eight: Turn the Engine On and Listen

Once the fuel has circulated, start the engine and leave it idle. While the engine idles, try to detect any abnormal sounds such as rod-knocking or clanking noises. Make sure that you listen for around 10 to 20 seconds. In case you don’t hear anything, test drive your car on a safe road to ensure the engine doesn’t have any problem.




Owning a car comes with immense obligations. One of them is continuously inspecting the oil level to ensure it’s within the recommended level. In most cases, the recommended mileage for changing the oil is anywhere from 3,000-5,000 miles. However, there are situations that might call for immediate action such as oil leakage.

If you’re driving a modern car, the oil sensor will notify you when the oil level is dangerously low via an engine light on the dash. If you’re driving an old car, then you can check the oil level manually by using a dipstick.

So, in this guide, we’ve discussed how to start a car after running out of oil. As you can see, we’ve discussed a well-detailed step-by-step procedure that will assist you throughout the entire process. As always, remember that keeping engine oil at the recommended level is important as it broadens the life of your engine.

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