How to Start a Car After Running Out of Oil in 2023

Running out of oil can be a frustrating and potentially costly experience for any car owner. However, the good news is that with the right knowledge, it’s possible to start your car again after this issue occurs. In this article, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to start a car after running out of oil.

Why Does Running Out of Oil Happen?

Oil is a crucial component of your car’s engine and helps to keep it running smoothly. When you run out of oil, the engine can seize up and stop working entirely. This usually happens when the oil level drops too low, causing the engine parts to come into direct contact with each other. This friction can cause serious damage to the engine and result in costly repairs.

So, what causes a car to run out of oil?

Before we dive into the process of starting a car after running out of oil, it’s essential to understand the causes of running out of oil. There are several reasons why a car may run out of oil, including:

  • Oil leaks: Oil leaks are one of the most common causes of running out of oil. If there’s a leak in the engine’s oil system, it can cause the oil level to drop over time.
  • Neglecting oil changes: If you don’t change your engine oil regularly, it can lead to the oil becoming too old and contaminated, reducing its ability to lubricate the engine.
  • Overheating: Overheating can cause the oil to break down and lose its lubricating properties, leading to engine damage.
  • Burning oil: Burning oil can be a sign of engine problems such as worn piston rings or valve seals, which can cause the oil level to drop.

The Signs of Running Out of Oil

Before your engine seizes up, there are some warning signs that you should be aware of. These include:

  • Engine warning light: If your oil pressure is too low, your engine warning light may come on. This is a sign that you need to add oil to your car as soon as possible.
  • Knocking noise: If you hear a knocking noise coming from your engine, it may indicate that there’s not enough oil in the system. This can cause serious damage if not addressed promptly.
  • Decreased fuel efficiency: When your engine is not getting enough oil, it can struggle to operate efficiently. This can result in decreased fuel efficiency and performance.

How to Add Oil to Your Car

If you suspect that you have run out of oil, the first step is to add more. You will need a few tools and supplies, including:

  • Oil: Make sure to use the recommended type of oil for your car, which is usually specified in your owner’s manual.
  • Funnel: A funnel makes it easier to add oil to your engine without making a mess.
  • Rag or paper towel: This will be useful in case you need to clean up any spills.

To add oil to your car:

  1. Open the hood of your car and locate the oil filler cap.
  2. Use the funnel to pour oil into the engine.
  3. Check the oil level using the dipstick.
  4. Add more oil as needed until the level is back to the recommended level.
  5. Replace the oil filler cap and close the hood.

How to Start a Car After Running Out of Oil

Once you have added oil to your car, you can try starting it again. If the engine has not been damaged, it should start normally. However, if it does not start, there are a few things you can try:

  1. Wait: If the engine is hot from running without oil, it may take some time to cool down. Wait a few minutes before trying to start the car again.
  2. Check the battery: If the battery is dead, you won’t be able to start the car. Make sure the battery is fully charged before attempting to start the engine.
  3. Check the starter: If the starter is not working, you won’t be able to start the car. Have the starter checked and replaced if necessary.

Prevention is Key

The best way to avoid running out of oil is to regularly check the oil level and add more as needed. You should also have your oil changed regularly to ensure that your engine is running smoothly and efficiently. Regular oil changes will also help to extend the life of your engine.

Here are some detailed tips to help you prevent running out of oil:

  • Check your oil level regularly: Check your engine oil level at least once a month using the dipstick. If the level is low, top it up with the recommended oil.
  • Change your oil regularly: Follow the manufacturer’s recommended oil change schedule to ensure your engine oil is fresh and clean.
  • Fix oil leaks promptly: If you notice any oil leaks, have them fixed promptly to prevent the oil level from dropping too low.
  • Watch for warning signs: If you notice any warning signs such as unusual engine noises or smoke, have your car inspected by a professional mechanic.


Knowing how to start a car after running out of oil is an important skill for any driver. With the right method, you can start your car and get back on the road even if you’ve run out of oil. However, it’s crucial to take preventative measures to avoid running out of oil in the first place. 

Regularly checking your oil level, changing your oil according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and fixing any leaks promptly can all help prevent running out of oil and costly engine damage. By following these tips, you can keep your car running smoothly and avoid the stress and expense of running out of oil.


  1. Can I still drive my car if I run out of oil?

No, it is not safe to drive your car if you run out of oil. Running out of oil can cause serious damage to your engine, and driving your car can make the situation even worse. It’s best to have your car towed to a mechanic if you suspect that you have run out of oil.

  1. How long can an engine run without oil?

It depends on various factors, such as the size of the engine, the driving conditions, and the amount of oil that was in the engine. However, it is not recommended to run an engine without oil for even a short period of time, as this can cause serious and costly damage.

  1. What happens if you drive a car with low oil?

Driving a car with low oil can cause the engine to seize up and stop working. This can result in costly repairs, and in some cases, the engine may need to be replaced entirely. It’s important to check your oil level regularly and add more if necessary to avoid this situation.

  1. How often should I check my oil level?

It is recommended to check your oil level at least once a month, or more often if you drive in challenging conditions or your car is older. Checking your oil level is a simple and quick process that can help you avoid running out of oil and keep your engine in good working order.

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