Car was driven with no oil... what damage is done?

Messages
313
Location
Jefferson, Wisconsin
Okay so my father changed the oil in my moms 2001 Grand Prix GT (3.8L v6) to Mobil 1 10w30 and an AC Delco UPF52 filter. He drove it and everything was fine. The next day, my mom comes home from the store and says her engine is making a lot of noise, her low oil light is on, and it smells like something is burning. This cant be good. My mom knows nothing about cars (she doesnt know how to fill the car up with gas... my dad and I always go with her and fill it up when it needs it) so the car could be pouring smoke and she would still keep driving... so dont ask why she didnt pull over when she smelled burning, heard noise, and saw the low oil light. I got outside only to see the side of the car completely covered in oil and smell nothing but oil. I opened the hood, looked at the filter, only to see it was quite aways from being correctly seated. I checked the oil level, nothing showed up on the dipstick... crap Either my father didnt tighten the filter properly (though he says he did) or something happened to the filter. Whatever happened, the threads on the filter are shot. They are pretty much non existant. We retraced my moms path home and at a location about 10 minutes from our home there is a very large oil stain on the pavement where the filter blew itself down and oil started pouring out. I ran to Wal-Mart and grabbed a 5 quart jug of 10w30 M1 (for $18... glad its on sale [Smile] ) and a supertech filter. Put the filter on, put the oil in and started it hoping for the best. Well, the motor sounds like it did when it was new and runs smooth. Everything appears to be normal, but what internal damage could be done? Is there any additive that I should try? Or just keep running Mobil 1? Either way... I have a feeling if Mobil 1 was not in that car and the usual Valvoline 10w30 dino was in there, the motor would not be running as nice as it is now. Thanks!
 

CJH

Messages
489
Location
Pennsylvania
Some GM cars have a "low oil" light as well as the traditional oil light that signals the car should not be driven. If indeed it was the "low oil" light that came on, you are fine, even though the level was low and off the stick. You still are above the critical level but just low on oil. If it was the traditional oil light that means the engine is at the critical danger level, you still may be ok, but there is the POTENTIAL for damage to have been done. Since everything seems ok, I would just drive it and monitor it very carefully for consumption, noises and leaks.
 

Al

Messages
19,162
Location
Elizabethtown, Pa
quote:
Originally posted by CJH: Some GM cars have a "low oil" light as well as the traditional oil light that signals the car should not be driven. If indeed it was the "low oil" light that came on, you are fine, even though the level was low and off the stick. You still are above the critical level but just low on oil. If it was the traditional oil light that means the engine is at the critical danger level, you still may be ok, but there is the POTENTIAL for damage to have been done. Since everything seems ok, I would just drive it and monitor it very carefully for consumption, noises and leaks.
I believe I would treat it with AutoRX immediately. Then follow the above advice. Hope for the best-prepare for the worst. Keep dad away from tools-keep mom out of the car. Just kidding [Wink]
 

Al

Messages
19,162
Location
Elizabethtown, Pa
The other thing is: What happened to the threads on the filter [freaknout] [Eek!] [Confused] Hate to say it but dad probably crossed threaded it and the threads were laying in the bottom of the filter until the oil pushed them through the system. [Frown] I would trade this car in immediately [crushedcar] Let us know how it all turns out. It sounds really bad though. Sorry.
 
Messages
47,642
Location
Duvall WA - Pacific NW USA
Well - I'm sure some damage was done - how much and how it will effect the car's life I just can't say. I would do a relatively short interval (I also would have done a 200-500 mile run with dino to flush) and get the oil analyzed and then repeat the analysis 3 times to see how it trends. Not sure what an AutoRx treatment would do. Maybe Al can expand on his suggestion? Clean the journals, etc? Ah, the hazards of buying used.....
 
Messages
3,683
Location
Chattanooga, TN
In reality there is not much you can do. If it continues to run fine for 1000 miles I would not worry about it. Engiens can run on no oil if not placed under huge stress acceleration as proven by the snake oil tests you see on TV. Most engines can idle a long long time with no oil before seizing up. If it sounds fine it probably is.
 
Messages
917
Location
Singapore
quote:
Originally posted by Intelman34: Either my father didnt tighten the filter properly (though he says he did) or something happened to the filter. Whatever happened, the threads on the filter are shot. They are pretty much non existant
Did you save the filter? Take some photos of the it and post them here. Im sure you'd get good opinions on why the filter failed.
 
Messages
8,937
Location
SC
You said you added fresh Mobil 1. Did you drain ANY old oil out first? If so, how much? That will tell you how much the engine was running on at the end. If you were able to add 5 quarts without having drained any, then the engine was truly out of oil. Also, did you check the old filter to see if it was the correct one? It is possible to put on the wrong thread size and have it seem to fit properly, only to have the oil pressure blow the filter off later. This is probably a case where Mobil 1 did save the engine. The moly and boron worked their magic. I'd run this batch of oil for a few hundred miles and then change it. Get a UOA to see what the wear metals look like. Run the next batch your normal interval and get a UOA. If the engine is not making any noises now and wear metals look okay by then, I'd say you're out of the woods.
 
Messages
741
Location
Chicago
I had a similar secenario a few years ago with a Mitsubishi powered Dodge mini-van.It kept poping out the "cam plugs".The second time was when the woman came home x-mas eve cold as **** out.It sounds funny and oil is leaking.Well after putting in 4 qts Mobil 1.I moved into the garage and got a new plug later.It ran fine until a few years later it would sound like a Diesel on cold starts.It made a fine trade on our next new m-van. I saw it a few months later in a service bay at the dealer.I didn't dare ask what it was in for. RichR
 
Messages
389
Location
Stallings, NC
How much oil did you have to add? I assume it holds 4.5 quarts with a new filter... If you added all of that then that would be bad... The dipstick only shows around 1-2 quarts, so if none showed up on the dipstick, there is a possibility you still had 1-2 quarts still in there, and that should have been fine. The low oil light will come on even if there is still some oil in it... so hopefully the motor is fine.
 
Messages
8,711
Location
Nothern USA
My wife did much the same with my truck in 1977. The EMPI filter did not have a groove to retain the gasket, and it popped out. Since the oil light didn't go off after driving it a while, she finally stopped and called me. I still have the same wife and truck, and am still running Pennzoil dino. I have been much more careful about filters since then, although I foolishly used orange for a while.
 
Messages
418
Location
OR
Mobil 1 might have saved this engine's life. High flash point and a nice healthy dose of Moly. PF47 is the correct filter for this engine. Why'd he use the PF52. I know some people think the larger filter is better but it's a tight fit and maybe the suspension interfered with it and tore it loose going over bumps. Either that or he crossthreaded it while insatlling it since it's a tight fit. Good luck!! [ July 01, 2003, 10:14 AM: Message edited by: davefr ]
 
Messages
767
Location
Houston, TX
I don't know if it was a case of Mobil One 'saving' this engine. As stated previously, engines can run without oil for short periods of time. The PF-52 fits on the car without any issues. Unless you are pulling a Bo Duke and jumping over the river, you shouldn't run into clearance issues with that filter. If there was no oil left, then there was obviously damage done. I would change the oil and filter after a few hundred miles to get rid of any possible metal paricle. I don't know what Auto-RX would do other than maybe clean up some heat-related deposits caused by the lack of oil.
 
Messages
350
Location
austin, texas
since you might have metal shavings in your oil, why leave them in any longer than you have? I would change the oil and filter right now. From here on out, use only the highest quality oil you can get. You might even consider getting a magnetic drain plug.
 

Intelman34

Thread starter
Messages
313
Location
Jefferson, Wisconsin
The (U)PF-52 fits on these cars and is recommended by quite a few people/websites so that is why it was used. When I drained the remaining oil, a 3/4 of quart AT THE MOST came out. VERY little was left. I know for a fact my mom does not drive hard. Never over the speed limit and she takes a long time to get up to the speed limit. I have the filter and will cut it open. Unfortunately, I do not have a digital camera. Lets just hope for the best... [Freak]
 
Messages
8,711
Location
Nothern USA
Reading some of the other posts and thinking about this some more. I wouldn't worry about the metal shavings. They would be on the outside of the return nipple and if any oil was still going back into the engine, it would be passing through the inside of the nipple. Likely any shavings went on the road with the oil. Having an engine survive about the same thing on dino, I am not convinced on the M 1. The 3/4 quart of oil left was likely what was below the oil pick up. You might look at the clearance. Unless you see a problem, may as well continue with the PF 52. Otherwise the PF 47. I haven't checked the most expensive filters, but everything else I have has less filter area than AC. I would check your oil pressure. If say it is 30 - 40 or maybe only 20 psi at idle with a warm engine, it should be OK. Also listen for knocks.
 
Messages
9,448
Location
USA
I have an insane no oil story too. THe engine probably would have lasted for 150,000-200,000. After my drive home with no oil and no oil warning light I ended up only getting 50,000 total miles before the engine had to be rebuilt. With out oil the bearings, rings,lifters and cam really take a beating!! When I finaly rebuilt my engine the bearings wear blue and worn done to the backing plate. The lifter bores had to be honed to clean them up.........Tradeing it is not a bad idea but if they choose to keep it they should at least start saveing for a rebuild now!
 
Messages
21,887
Location
Apple Valley, California
When an engine runs w/o oil it really tears up the main/rod and cam bearings. The rods usually last the longest and my guess is because the centrifical force from the spinning crank throws what oil is in the crank to the rod bearings. The cam bearings die first then the mains. It may last a while but 10 minutes is a long time w/o proper lubrication and the engine is on borrowed time. If it was my car I would pull the pan and inspect the main/rod bearings and prolly replace them.
 

Al

Messages
19,162
Location
Elizabethtown, Pa
quote:
Originally posted by labman: Reading some of the other posts and thinking about this some more. I wouldn't worry about the metal shavings. They would be on the outside of the return nipple and if any oil was still going back into the engine, it would be passing through the inside of the nipple. Likely any shavings went on the road with the oil.
I disagree here- the threads that were ripped were internal ones (from the filter) on the outsideof the nipple. As nipple entered the filter-the shavings would be at the leading edge of the nipple. Hope I'm wrong though. [Frown] I dont really have a solution if the chips enter the engine except a teardown. That's probably not an economic decision.
 
Top