In the dim, distant past, there once was a type of business called a “full-service gas station.” The full-service gas station was simple to locate on many busy corners in the typical town, and it had “attendants” who could pump your gas, wash your windshield, and do other auto-related tasks. Can I look inside the engine for you? was a question that was frequently posed. If you said yes, they would quickly open the hood of your car and check the engine oil, windshield washer fluid, antifreeze/coolant, and any other fluids it needs to work right.
Using a dipstick, which is typically a long metal measuring tool that extends into the crankcase, a sizable oil reservoir below the engine’s cylinders, attendants could check the oil level in a vehicle. The attendant would occasionally notice that the engine oil level was below the required level shown on the dipstick. The attendant would then typically show you the level on the dipstick and inquire, “Should I add a quart?” Drivers who know their stuff responded in the affirmative because a vehicle’s engine needs to have the right amount of oil in it to function properly.
Naturally, the scenario that was just described sounds like it belongs in a bygone era when poodle skirts were fashionable and three networks dominated the television airwaves. service at a gas station? It has the air of an antiquated fairy tale.
However, it is still true that internal combustion engines today require the proper oil level for the same reasons that vehicles in the full-service gas station era did. One could argue that modern engines, which are frequently put under a lot of stress from technology like turbocharging, require an adequate oil level even more than the engines of the “Happy Days” generation did.
Now allow CarMats to put this question to you: When was the last time you removed the hood from your car to check the oil level? Yes, that is what we expected to happen.
What Happens When Your Car Engine Runs Out Of Oil?
Rarely does an engine completely run out of oil. It is rare, but not unheard of, for an engine to lose all of its oil all at once and in a big way. This can happen if the oil is never checked or changed, for example.
For instance, while driving, you might run over something that damages your oil pan and causes the oil to leak from the crankcase. Your oil level could drop to almost zero in a matter of seconds. Another instance is when an unobservant technician performs an oil change and neglects to tighten the oil pan drain plug. Instead of keeping your engine lubricated as you drive, your engine oil may spill out onto the road.
Both of these scenarios would likely necessitate expensive repairs because your engine’s various components would start destroying one another and themselves in the absence of oil. The engine could even “seize,” which would mean that its moving parts would stop moving and rotating.
After that, a new engine will be required or a brand-new automobile.
What Does Oil Do In A Car?
Perhaps you are asking yourself, “Why does an engine need oil?” And why is it crucial to keep the oil at the proper level?
First, it’s important to realize that a new car, truck, or SUV’s high-tech internal combustion engine is made up of hundreds of parts that must work together to provide the necessary power to move the vehicle. There are numerous moving parts, some of which move thousands of times per minute. For instance, the tachometer that displays the crankshaft’s “revolutions per minute” (RPM) gives you a prompt and clear indication that crucial components are repeatedly moving at incredible speed. The parts of an engine that make power, like the pistons, rods, bearings, valves, lifters, and camshafts, need to be oiled all the time to keep them from wearing out too quickly.
Metal-on-metal contact, particularly in the presence of intense heat, will cause an engine seizure and rapid part failure. It’s common to hear that an engine’s oil is its lifeblood, and that analogy is accurate given that, like your body’s blood, an engine cannot function without oil.
Where Is The Oil In A Car?
The crankcase, which can hold several quarts of oil, is a typical engine’s large oil reservoir. Oil is pumped throughout the engine by being drawn from the crankcase oil pan into a tube known as the oil pickup. This lubricates all the rapidly moving metal parts that would otherwise quickly break down. In a sort of endless journey, the lubricating oil circulates through the engine and is cleared of dirt and debris by the oil filter before it starts its circuit again.
When the oil level is kept at the proper level, the oil pickup can continuously draw oil while the engine is running. Low oil pressure and a lack of oil where it is needed for lubrication and cooling may result from the oil pickup not always being immersed in oil when the oil level is low. If the oil level is low, this could happen.
Why Is My Car Leaking Oil?
A low oil level is typically caused by three things: leaks, attrition, and owner neglect.
Older vehicles frequently experience oil leaks. The gaskets, seals, and other connections in an engine that stop oil leaks deteriorate over time. Eventually, they might begin to leak oil, leaving a mess underneath the engine where you usually park the car. If your car leaks oil, you must regularly check the fluid level and maintain it at a full level until the leak is fixed.
While oil leaks lower oil levels, attrition and a vehicle owner’s negligence are the most frequent causes of oil loss. The oil level will drop if you don’t check it frequently and add oil as needed, which will prevent some engine parts from getting the lubrication they require. This causes the engine to wear out faster than it should, which can lead to expensive repairs over time.
An internal combustion engine uses some oil even when it isn’t leaking as part of routine maintenance. This happens when the oil enters the engine’s combustion chambers, where it burns alongside the fuel after passing through the piston rings. A car’s exhaust may be white and smoky and smell like burned oil when oil consumption is excessive because of engine age or internal damage. This is an indication that your car needs major work.
By routinely checking and replacing your engine oil, you can prevent this. The oil degrades and becomes soiled over time. If left unchecked, oil degradation may result in early engine wear. The owner’s manual for your car will tell you how often you should get the oil changed.
Why Is My Oil Light On?
Modern cars will alert the driver when the oil level drops. Usually, when an engine warning light illuminates, the owner of the car should check the oil level.
However, you shouldn’t rely on your car’s oil pressure warning system to let you know when it’s running low on oil. Even if the engine is not completely out of oil when the low oil level warning light comes on, serious damage may have already been done.