Possible engine damage from oil loss

Joined
May 22, 2010
Messages
4
Location
Michigan
So to make a long story short a couple months ago I struck an object in the road with my Golf R which broke the oil pan, spewing my freshly changed oil all over the road. I of course chut the car off as soon as I got stopped by the side of the road. Once off there was still oil draining from the broken pan. I wasn't worried at that point.

However when the tow truck turned up the guy started the engine for a few seconds. And this is what worries me. This was about an hour and a half after the incident so by then anything that was going to drain out had.

The car is FINALLY getting fixed tomorrow though it needs some light body work also before I have it back.

So do I have a valid concern? Do you think the engine may have suffered any internal damage from this? Or the turbo? Thoughts? Thanks for reading :)
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
Messages
18,436
Location
NE,Ohio
why would he start it? I would have told him there is no oil in it.. dont start it...
No one can possibly know if there is damage.
 
Joined
Dec 30, 2006
Messages
28,419
Location
Dallas,Tx USA
I was about to blame the tow truck driver, but unfortunately it was your responsibility to inform him immediately that there was no oil in the car, therefore not to start it. The driver is completely at zero fault here.

But on the bright side, there was someone here years ago that would run his engine for like several minutes with no oil in it (as in after he had drained it all out) to get all of the old oil out while doing an oil change :ROFLMAO:. I don't think he ever destroyed the engine. Anyone here remember that?
 
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
3,262
Location
British Columbia, Canada
My father (born in 1903) taught me to start the car for a few seconds after draining the oil pan. I guess the theory was that the last bit of oil (whatever was in the oil pump) would be drained out. A bit of additional oil did drain out. So when you put oil back in, there was an empty oil pump on the next start.

I don't think that was a very good idea but it didn't seem to have done any harm either. I think you'll be fine.
 
Joined
Jun 5, 2003
Messages
25,177
Location
Apple Valley, California
My father (born in 1903) taught me to start the car for a few seconds after draining the oil pan. I guess the theory was that the last bit of oil (whatever was in the oil pump) would be drained out. A bit of additional oil did drain out. So when you put oil back in, there was an empty oil pump on the next start.

I don't think that was a very good idea but it didn't seem to have done any harm either. I think you'll be fine.
I have heard that too. I'm not worried about a table spoon of oil myself so i never do this.
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2003
Messages
12,601
Location
Jupiter, Florida
If it is truly just a few seconds, then there won't be any problem what so ever. Anything more than about 30 seconds though will start to run the risk of bearing wear, but even that depends on load, RPM and so on. Hard to know from your post. I'd guess the tow truck driver probably saw the oil light remain on and shut the engine off quickly.
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2003
Messages
2,328
Location
Tracy, CA
I went to a local monster truck arena thing in Montana in the mid 1980's. Outside, they had an old Toyota sedan (maybe a Corona?) that they drained the oil out of and were taking bets on how long the engine would last running full throttle.

I didn't stick around for the explosion, but rumor was it lasted more than a few minutes.
 
Joined
Apr 13, 2013
Messages
8,821
Location
FL, USA
I wouldn't be thrilled it it were my car, but if it truly was only for a few seconds than it is unlikely to have caused any significant damage. All the internal engine parts would have still had a film of oil on them, similar to a start up after an oil change. If it ran for any length of time or had any load I'd be concerned.
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2013
Messages
1,144
Location
Kevil,Ky
I have been to VW shows where they would take a worn out motor and drain the oil and take bet on how long it would take to blow. They would set the throttle fully open. I got tired waiting and some never seized.. I went thru this twice recently with my 1990 Ford Ranger 2.9 V6. The oil pressure switch blew out and it pumped out all its oil. I bought a new one and in a couple months it did the same thing. This time I was coming home from my sisters home that is 1.6 miles away. It has had a valve tick ever since and I think I hear a rod knocking. Just hope for the best and pray your oil all didn't leave your bearings.
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2022
Messages
127
Location
Arizona
I don't either. Sometimes you have to second guess what you've been taught.

As noted my father grew up in the early days of motoring and maybe that was a good idea way back then.

Remember not to store car batteries on concrete... One day I looked that up and realized it was an old tip passed down from the era of wooden cased car batteries.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2017
Messages
23,217
Location
...
I worked in a junkyard 45 years ago and we,d drive cars around the lot with no oil for half an hour before they seized so don't worry about a few second startup


Try this with your car right now and report back after fifteen minutes of driving. It should be okay, right?
 
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
1,853
Location
Texas
So both related and unrelated but when the fuel pump control module in my 2021 escalade failed i had to get it towed but the engine had to be started for it to be shifted into neutral since while off it wouldn't shift into neutral like my old 2003 and 2005 can. With those two as long as i have the key in the on position but the engine silent they'd shift to neutral. But modern automatics don't do this. So once the engine barely ran for a split second i had to put it in neutral immediately or it would go into park. When it was in neutral I accidentally closed the door and with the engine off it shifted itself into park and the tow truck driver told me to put it in neutral again. The engine would crank for about 5 seconds before barely turning over and I'd shift it into neutral. This is a stupid feature that new modern automatic cars have that some may not know. I can believe the tow truck driver really needed to turn the engine on for a few seconds but running an engine dry for a some seconds won't hurt. I don't think the tow truck driver is stupid as long as he didn't rev the engine and also did it just long enough to shift it into neutral.
 
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