How Long Can an Engine Sit Without Oil? (Explained)

The engine oil proves to be one of the essential things for cars to run. However, you may also wonder if it’s of the same importance when the engine isn’t doing any work. Thus, you may ask:

How long can an engine sit without oil? In general, the oil will only be essential if the engine runs. Thus, you can let your car sit without oil for as long as you want. However, make sure that you put oil back before firing it up. Otherwise, you would end up with tons of engine problems and issues.

When engines run, they need constant lubrication from oil. Such a component is crucial to avoid damage, overheating, and tons of other issues. Also, it’s the key to having a smooth run. However, any engine can live without oil as long as it’s not running.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this matter. This way, you can keep your car’s engine in its best status and avoid issues from happening.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

How Long Can an Engine Sit Without Oil

How Long Can You Let the Engine Sit Without Oil?

You can let the engine sit without oil for as long as you want, and it wouldn’t cause any issue at all.

As much as the engine oil is crucial when your car runs, it’s not so important when the engine sits idly, not moving at all.

The engine oil works by lubricating every part that moves. As a result, it provides smooth performance, prevents overheating, and keeps the parts from grinding each other.

If the engine sits idly, doing no movement at all will be a different case.

Since the car isn’t moving, the parts wouldn’t need constant lubrication. Moreover, doing no movements means it won’t heat up as well.

Thus, if you remove the oil filter and drain the engine oil, the car can sit without having any issues for a day, for a week, and for as long as you have it sit.

While it’s true that engine oil is crucial to every engine, it’s not the same when it’s not running.

Thus, you don’t have to worry about your engine having no oil as long as it sits. However, make sure to put back the oil before you fire it up. If you fail to do so, you may end up damaging the engine.

Is It Bad to Let an Engine Sit Without Oil?

As I said, it’s not wrong to let an engine sit without oil. If you have drained your engine oil for some repairs and you can’t put it back for a day or a week, there’s no need to worry.

Having your engine sit without oil for as long as necessary won’t do any damage.

The only way it’s going to get damaged is when someone fires the engine up, and there’s no oil.

Since such an incident can happen, it would be best to do some preventive measures.

For instance, if you will drain the oil out of your engine, you may also want to disable it so it won’t start.

This way, you can prevent anyone or even yourself from damaging your engine due to negligence.

As always, remember that it’s crucial to fill the engine with oil before you fire it up again. This way, you will avoid damaging your engine parts.

engine without oil

Is It Ok to Leave Your Car Without Oil in It Overnight?

The short answer is yes. It is OK to leave your car without oil in it and let it sit overnight.

The engine oil is one of the most important things you need to run an engine. However, you can do fine without it if you will only have the engine sit overnight.

If you need to do some repairs and take the oil out, you can do it overnight or even for a week, and it won’t cause any problem.

Such problems will only happen if you forgot to fill it back and you fire your engine up.

This kind of incident can happen, so it’s best to save your car from such damage by disabling the engine to start until you fill the oil back.

What Can You Do When You Have to Let a Car Sit Without Oil?

In general, you don’t have to do anything if you will let your car sit without oil. As long as the engine isn’t running, there’s nothing for you to worry about the matter.

Still, as a precaution, you may want to do the following:

Secure your car so it won’t move.

As long as your car isn’t moving, then the parts won’t move as well. Thus, you can have it sit for as long as you want without needing the engine oil.

By securing your car from moving, you prevent the engine parts from grinding each other.

Disable the engine so it won’t start.

It’s important not to fire your engine up if you have no oil in it. Thus, to avoid unwanted incidents from happening, kindly disable the engine so it won’t start.


While oil is crucial for every engine while running, it’s not the same if the engine only sits idly. The engine oil helps the car run smoothly while preventing problems. Thus, as long as the car doesn’t move, it can sit for as long as needed without oil.

Still, take it as a rule of thumb to be careful in such situations. For instance, if you start the engine without oil, it can damage the engine’s parts. For this reason, you may want to do some preventive measures to avoid such instances from happening.



Image credits – Canva

Share on:

My name is Hank, and I've been in the automotive industry for 27 years. I've been working in my own auto repair shop for the last 13 years, and now I want to help you here, on my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. Read more