Home SCIENCE What Happens To An Engine Without Oil?

What Happens To An Engine Without Oil?

In this video we’re going to be discussing what happens when an engine has no oil. As a demonstration, we’ll be viewing an engine with and without oil running. This is the exact same engine on the left and the right, on the left with oil, and on the right without.

image credit: Engineering Explained 

Both engines will start at the exact same time, but the video on the right was filmed 24 hours after the video on the left, allowing for the engine to completely cool. This is a 212 cc air-cooled single-cylinder Harbor Freight engine.

image credit: Engineering Explained 

If you run out of engine oil, your engine will fail. Inside of the engine, there are fast moving parts, with a lot of potential friction. The engine oil is the lubricant that keeps parts sliding against each other smoothly, instead of grinding each other down.


If the engine runs out of oil, it will start to grind, and then seize up, stalling the vehicle. Your engine will be damaged and possibly ruined. Many drivers will not get a warning about the lack of engine oil until it is too late.

Newer vehicles do have more diagnostic tools like an engine oil pressure sensor unit and dashboard tools that may help to identify low oil situations. In older vehicles, drivers often need to manually check the oil themselves, as the “check oil” dash light will not be sufficient to warn them of a low oil situation.