Close this search box.

Winter Sale

Priority Tire is having a winter sale for their tires! Prepare for winter before it is too late.

Click the banner below!

Winter Tire Sale @PriorityTire | $15 OFF orders of $150+, $20 off on winter tires (Code: WNTR23)

How To Tell If The Engine Is Damaged From No Oil

Table of Contents

In this post, we help you understand how to tell if the engine is damaged from no oil.

If you are reading this you likely a little worried that your engine.

Engine oil performs many critical functions by lubricating the parts and reduces damaging friction.

One of the worst and most expensive things you can do is ignore or not notice an inevitable problem with your engine.

Having no oil is damaging to an engine.

When there is no oil between the parts, they will begin to come in contact with each other at high speed and inevitably lead to an expensive disaster.

When spotted early, issues and diagnostics are often quick and cheap; but when it’s too late, it really hurts the wallet.

It will take no time to destroy the engine. Within a matter of seconds, the engine will stop working and can get damaged. And then, the only solution is a new engine. So, it is crucial to check the oil regularly.

Your engine needs oil to operate, without it, your engine will get damaged, and it can only take seconds to destroy it.

It amazes us how overlooked checking engine oil is.

If you are reading this, you are likely worried your engine is damaged for not using oil.

Below we look at some key signs to look out for to see if your engine is damaged or not.

How To Tell If Engine Is Damaged From No Oil

How To Tell If The Engine Is Damaged From No Oil

Ok, first of all, let’s not panic, it might be perfectly fine and you are just paranoid; but let’s find out.

Here’s what we need to ask ourselves first:

  • Did your oil pressure light come on?
  • When and how did we realize we had no oil?
  • Did your engine make some unusual noises last time you drove it (knocking)

If the oil light has been on for a while, do not drive or start the car.

Did you only just notice you had no oil or did you realize a few days ago?

If the car has been packed we might be ok, but if you’ve been driving with the oil pressure light on we might be in trouble.

An engine knocking noise and blue exhaust smoke are key indicators your engine is damaged, and this is likely to do with a lack of engine oil.

Luckily, we have a cheap and practical way of checking if your engine has suffered any major damage.

This is the best way to tell if the engine is damaged from no oil.

  1. Order an inexpensive magnetic oil plug. These look the same as a regular oil plug but with a strong magnet in its center. You can pick one up on Amazon or any major automotive retailer
  2. Get some engine oil and fill it up.
  3. Drive around for 100 miles or so.
  4. Drain the oil and look at the magnetic oil plug.
  5. What we are looking for is metal shavings caught on the magnetic oil plug.
  6. If your engine is damaged, you will have accumulated lots of metal shavings.

If you have to find the magnetic plug has accumulated some shavings, this is bad, very bad.

Generally, the more metal shavings you have, the more damage has been done to the engine.

The only way to know the extent of the damage is by taking the engine apart, and unless you are experienced or a mechanic; you should bring this to a professional.

Ideally, you should get the car checked before driving it again.

If it’s damaged, the more you drive it to more likely you are to cause more damage and expense to you.

How Long Can An Engine Run Without Oil Before Damage?

Your engine can run without oil for around 30 minutes before it causes extensive engine damage.

The amount of potential wear and tear an engine can suffer without oil in an extremely short space of time cannot be overstated.

Engine oil performs the critical function of lubricating the metal parts to avoid them rubbing together and causing friction.

Without oil, your engine will not last long and will come to a terrible end.

Your engine may run for longer without oil; but the more you drive without oil, the more damage you are likely to cause.

If you are low on oil, turn off the engine and do not drive it until you get some oil ASAP

What Happens To An Engine Without Oil?

How Long Can An Engine Run Without Oil Before Damage?

An engine without oil will not last very long.

An engine is made up of many metal moving parts that move close together at high speed.

Oil is the lubricator that keeps them running smoothly, sliding against one another rather than grinding.

This leads to overheating, your engine seizing, and becoming damaged.

If your engine becomes badly damaged, oftentimes the diagnosis is a new one.

Running an engine without oil can ruin your car without you even noticing it.

However, newer vehicles have improved technology and diagnostics that should warn you ON your dash right away before it becomes a real problem.

Many older vehicles will not get the warning in time to save the engine from failing.

So if you drive an older vehicle, make sure you check your oil regularly.

Engine Ran Without Oil Now Knocking

If your engine develops a knocking noise while driving, usually it’s quickly followed by a red or amber warning light on the dash notifying the driver there is a problem.

If you see these warnings, shut your engine off and check the oil right away.

If your car is knocking after having low oil, there is normally 3 possible outcomes.

If you are experiencing a light knocking, somewhat like a tapping noise, this could be the camshaft low on lubrication.

Check the oil levels; but if the knocking persists, check your oil filter as it could be clogged.

If you are experiencing a medium intensity knocking, it could be your pistons; you could notice it gets worse (louder) as you accelerate.

If you find the knocking is very loud, often the loudest knocking noises, this is likely caused by failed crankshaft or bearings.

How To Tell If The Engine Is Damaged From No Oil

Engine Ran Without Oil Now Knocking

We have discussed how to tell if the engine is damaged from no oil; what to do and what not to do.

It’s essential that you regularly check your oil levels; for something so small, easy, and free to check, it can save you a lot of money in the long wrong.

If you notice your oil light come on, hear knocking, smell burning oil, or your engine is overheating; make sure you turn off your engine and check your oil immediately.

The best way to check if your engine is damaged without going to a mechanic is to drain the oil and check if the magnetic oil cap has collected metal shavings.

The more metal shavings you find accumulated in the magnetic cap, the more damage that’s likely been done to the engine.


Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase we will earn a commission.

Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases.

The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

Our Best Deal Yet

Our favorite tire site is having a massive clearance sale.

If you’re looking for tires, here’s your best chance to snag a deal.