How to Start a Car After Running Out of Oil? (Step-by-Step)

The engine oil is one of the essential components of every vehicle. Without it, any vehicle would stop moving and will break down if anyone would push it. Now, if your car runs out of oil, always remember that it’s not as simple as refilling it and starting it up again. So, one of the questions you may ask is:

How to start a car after running out of oil? A car that ran out of oil becomes prone to many issues, especially in the engine. Thus, if your car just ran out of oil and you want to start it, you can do the ten-step process we included below. This way, you can ensure that your car would be in good condition and avoid specific engine issues.

All drivers should know how big of a problem it is for their car to run out of oil. Thus, if your car ran out of oil, be sure you do the following steps before firing up your engine.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

How to Start a Car After Running Out of Oil

How to Start a Car With No Oil?

Here are the steps you have to do if you want to start your car after running out of oil.

Stop the engine.

Before the engine seizes to work, you should see some signs before it happens. Such signs would likely be the engine oil warning sign and some clunking sounds beneath the hood.

Such signs should be a warning for you not to push your engine to start up. If you continue forcing it, you may end up overheating your car, melting some of the engine parts, and leading to more issues.

In short, your best bet is to discontinue forcing the engine to run.

See if you did run out of oil.

The next thing to do is to confirm if you genuinely ran out of oil. Once you do, you have to remember that it’s even more prone to issues, especially in the engine.

You then have to refill it with car oil and check if it begins turning. Afterward, let it work its way and shut it off, letting it cool down.

These steps will likely be all that’s necessary, and you can then get your car on its path.

Still, nothing would be more reassuring than having your car checked by a mechanic. This way, you can also know if your car has leakage and if the oil quality is alright.

Empty the oil channel.

Another step to do is to empty the oil channel. Afterward, you must search for metal dusts and pieces as part of the damage check.

Now, if you see no particles, you can refill it. Also, try to find out why it runs low, and if you see some holes, have it fixed right away.

This step is a bit complex, and you may have the help of a car service professional.

Remove the spark plugs and integrate them with the pump.

If you hand your car over to a mechanic, he will likely remove the circular spark plugs. The next thing to do is top up each cylinder with engine oil and have it stood by for several days.

As soon as it’s done, you can try to fire up the engine using a breaker bar.

Some of the results of this step will help you know whether your engine needs revamping or replacing.

Rotate the crankshaft.

Turn the crank around with a 1/2-inch drive breaker rod and a right nut on the harmonic balancing shaft.

On the breaker rod, you may need a cheater tube for this step. It will give you more power to get the stuck engine out.

Turn the engine over.

For around ten seconds, crank the engine. This should be done whilst sparkly plugs are still in position and the gasoline pump is not turned on.

You’ll have the oil circling through the motor this way, and the components will be carrying the least amount of weight feasible.

Return the fuse together with the spark plugs.

After you’ve successfully cranked the engine, you can securely replace the spark plugs and fuel tank and proceed to the next step.

Insert your key to circulate the fuel.

Place your ignition key for only several moments but do not turn it on yet. To ensure the proper gasoline flow, repeat this method 3-5 times. Then, with the key in off position, turn it off.

Start your engine and listen.

Start your car but don’t turn it on. Allow the engine to work its way and check for any rod-knocking or clattering noises.

Listen to sounds more and test further.

To make sure it has no problem, leave the engine running for around 10-20 seconds. If there’s no noise, leave it longer for as long as 20 minutes.

Now, if 20 minutes have passed and you still hear no noise, try it out for a drive and see if it runs alright.

starting car with no oil

Is It a Good Idea to Start a Car After Running Out of Oil?

It is not a good idea to start a car after running out of oil. The reason is that the low oil levels may have left the engine parts with no lubrication.

Thus, if you force it to start, the parts may overheat and cause damage to each other.

If you continue forcing it, you may end up with a severely damaged engine. Worse, your car’s engine may break down.

For this reason, it would be best to have your car checked by a service professional. As long as you do the steps above with the help of an automobile expert, you can be confident that your engine is alright, and you can run it afterward.

Will Adding Oil Make the Car Start?

If your car runs out of oil, it won’t be as simple as topping it up and firing the engine up like it didn’t have any problems.

If your car runs out of oil, it may already happen that the engine parts were running with less to no lubrication at all. Thus, even if you fill it up, it doesn’t guarantee that it will function like before.

For this reason, you need an expert’s help to check the condition of the engine.

If you simply add oil and try to start it, the engine parts may not get lubricated enough to function correctly.

In short, instead of avoiding issues in the engine, you may end up having more.

As long as you followed the steps above and checked them by a mechanic, you won’t likely have such problems.

Can Low Oil Cause the Car To Not Start?

While it’s not always the issue, the engine’s low oil levels can cause a car not to start.

Of course, a car wouldn’t need oil to start up. However, as the engine starts to fire up, its parts will also start running even though the car won’t move.

Such a performance already needs lubricants, and that’s where the engine oil starts to play its role.

If your engine is low on oil, it fails to lubricate the engine components. You can tell such issues are happening to your engine when you hear some loud clunking, grinding, and feel extreme heat.

As a result, you may be able to start your engine once. However, if the engine died down, you won’t likely be able to start it again.

What Happens If Your Car Runs Out of Oil While Driving?

It’s unlikely that your car will lose its oil entirely while you’re driving. However, if it does happen, you have to set it on the side of the road.

The first thing to do is to turn your hazard lights on, shift to neutral, and drive the car on the side.

If you continue to operate the vehicle with a lack of oil, it will increase the engine’s chances of more damage.

If your engine is low on oil, it fails to lubricate the engine components. When such parts don’t receive the necessary amount of oil, they can cause problems. Among these are loud clunking, knocking, and grinding.

For this reason, it’s a bad idea to start your car on low oil. In general, it can cause your rods to break. It can also give off the knocking sound underneath your vehicle’s hood.

As always, put your oil levels on your list of things to check before starting your engine.

This way, you can avoid any issues you can experience from running an engine with low oil.

Once you are on the side of the road, immediately shut the engine off. Afterward, call for assistance such as emergency towing services.


The engine oil is one of the essential components of every vehicle. Thus, it can be quite a drag if your engine suddenly runs out of such.

The best way to avoid such situations is to always check your oil before driving. This way, you can avoid such incidents from happening. Another thing you can do is to have extra oil in your car in case the oil runs low.

Now, if your car runs out of oil, your best bet is to ask for assistance. This way, you can avoid harming your engine more.



Image credits – Canva

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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