Knowing when and how to change the oil in your car is part of basic vehicle maintenance. It is also important to keep enough oil in your car to help preserve the engine that makes it run. If your car recently ran out of oil, then there are a few steps you need to take. In the event, you find yourself wondering, here is how to start a car after running out of oil.

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Step-by-Step Guide on How to Start a Car After Running Out of Engine Oil

First thing first, if your engine runs out of oil, it could seize. There are several signs to look out for, including the check engine oil light. A thumping sound may also start coming from the engine. Keep in mind that running your car when the oil is low could result in extensive damage to the engine and other critical components, so you are going to want to stop driving as soon as possible.

After that, follow these steps:

Confirm Your Car is Out of Oil

Let your car engine cool before checking the oil level. Once you have your car somewhere safe, open the engine and find the oil reservoir. Remove the dipstick to see the oil level. Once you have confirmed that your vehicle is out of oil, it is time to begin rooting for damage.

You may also find that something was wrong with your car to make it run out of oil unexpectedly.

Does Adding Oil Help a Car Start?

The answer to this question depends on a couple of factors. Firstly, if the engine has been damaged by a lack of oil, you may find that adding oil after your car breaks down will not do much good.

If at any point you have trouble getting your vehicle to start, it is best to consult with a professional. They will have ways to diagnose and solve the issue. Sometimes adding oil is all your car needs, but there are definitely some circumstances where additional steps need to be taken.

Drain and Clean The Oil Channel

Now it is time to drain the remaining oil. Get underneath your car. Locate the drain plug. Have a container ready to catch any oil that pours out. Once the oil is completely drained, look to see if there are any metal particles. Check for any metal dust in the drain channel and remove any metal you see. If nothing metallic comes out, you are safe to put in more engine oil.

Are there holes in the oil channel? Those will need to be repaired before you can refill the oil.

Remove Spark Plugs and Fuse for the Oil Pump

The next step is to remove the cylinder spark plugs. Put a little bit of oil inside each cylinder and let it sit for a couple of days. After that, try turning the engine with a breaker bar—a long non-ratcheting tool that uses socket-wrench-type sockets.

If everything is done correctly, you should be able to see and feel the engine rotate. Any problems that are detected can be diagnosed and repaired from there.

If you are still unsure about the condition of the engine, continue on!

Rotating The Crankshaft

Using the same breaker bar from the previous step, rotate the crankshaft. Optionally, you can use a 1/2-inch drive breaker rod. Mount the breaker bar onto the crankshaft balancer bolt then turn it clockwise. If the rotation does not go too far, you will need to apply more pressure to get it moving.

Keep rotating until the crankshaft starts to move. Watch the cylinders and the oil inside to see what happens.

Having freed the crankshaft, turn the engine over a few times by hand. This works to get the oil throughout the engine. Reinsert the spark plugs.

Circulate the Fuel

Get into the driver’s seat of your vehicle. Insert the key into the ignition but do not turn it fully into the starting position. Do this 3-5 times for fuel circulation. Turn the key back to the off position.

Start the Engine and Lend an Ear

Start the engine. Take a moment to let it sit idle while you listen to the engine. If you hear any engine knocking or clanking, it is a sign that something is still amiss and has to be repaired. Switch the engine off straight away if you hear something amiss.

Let the engine idle for 10-20 minutes. If no sounds develop during this period, you are free to take it for a test drive.

Test Drive The Vehicle

Now that you have learned how to start a car after running out of oil, you are ready to complete the final step. Once you have waited for enough time, take your car for a spin. Keep listening as you go down the road. Knocking or clanking may develop over time. If your test drive concludes without an issue, you are good to go. However, it is always a good idea to take the vehicle to a mechanic for a checkup—just in case.

Preventative Maintenance

One of the things about keeping a vehicle in good condition is the necessity of preventative maintenance. The recommended mileage range for oil changes is between 3,000 and 5,000 for conventional oil or synthetic blends and 5,000-7,500 for synthetic oil. Depending on how often and how hard you drive your vehicle, those numbers may be more or less.

Simply keeping up with oil and oil filter changes can lengthen the life of your car.

Getting Your Car Back on the Road

If you find that your engine oil is running low, top it off as soon as possible. Letting your car run out of oil is potentially damaging and will require expensive repairs to correct. In the event that your car breaks down because there is no motor oil left, you need to know how to start a car after running out of oil. The simple steps listed in this article will get your car operational, but it is up to you to continue with maintenance and ensure this does not happen a second time.


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