Engine Blow UP


I bought a 2000 prism less than 2 weeks ago from a used car dealer and the engine was destroyed after no oil was found in the car. The reservoir was bone dry and there was no sign of a leak.

The dealer is replacing the engine under warranty, thank goodness. But we are both puzzled as how this could have happened. I admit I didn’t check the oil after I bought the car, but the car was checked by the dealer and I assumed the oil would definitely be the one thing that was checked. During the time the car was driven there was no sign of an oil leak, the oil light did not turn on and no smoke was coming out of the exhaust. I thought possibly the oil was not replaced after an oil change, but can a car run for over a week without any oil? The mechanics were puzzled but one said possibly the EGR valve was stuck and the engine quickly burned up the oil. Is this possible? Are there any other reasonable explanations?


A car’s engine would last 30 seconds (at most) if running utterly without oil. And there’s really only two ways to lose it; either it’s leaking or it’s being burned. It had to have gone SOMEwhere…no smoke, no puddles, no nothing? The oil just vanished?


Either the oil was leaking, it was burned, or someone forgot to fill it up after an oil change.

There HAD to have been some oil in the engine as there is no way that car would run for more than a few minutes much less a week or so on bone-dry.

I have to think there’s a lot of the story from the dealer/mechanics that is missing; especially considering this EGR business which would have nothing at all to do with it.

If the engine was full of oil when you bought it and it was not leaking then it had to burn it. Any smoke would have been caught by the catalytic converter and this could be a problem later.

If the car is burning that much oil that means whoever owned that car before the dealer did something to it (lack of oil, overheating, etc.), knew it, and unloaded it either on the dealer or at an auction where the dealer may have purchased it.


Almost certain there were no leaks. The service center where the car was towed did not see any leaks. One possibility, my daughter was 300 miles into a trip and it could have possibly started burning oil. I’ll ask her if she noticed any smoke.


I didn’t know the catalytic converter would catch the smoke. I becoming convinced the engine was burning.


Hmm… call me the suspicious type, but I find it a little odd that a used car dealer would replace the engine on a 7-year old Geo without making much of a fuss. My guess would be that it had something to do with something they did to it, like maybe double-gasketing the oil filter, and they didn’t want to fess up to it.

Generally your warantee from a used car dealership ends once you drive off the lot. Sounds like they did you a favor!


I don’t remember how many of these stories iv’e heard
about similiar issues. New,or used you have to take it upon yourself to check the essentials as soon as you take delivery.


Oil drained and not refilled? It happens. We drove a rental car for quite a few miles around LA. The oil light would occasionally come on when braking for a stoplight. Later I got around to checking the oil. Empty! It took whatever the engine capacity (5 quarts?) was to fill it. After that the engine seemed fine and the oil light stayed off. Apparently there was enough residual oil in the engine to keep it lubed.


I agree. Rarely see a warranty with a car that old and with 90K+ miles. It was a 1K mile 30 day deal and I feel very lucky.




Another thought to consider is if they overfilled the oil, where it would be whipped up into a foam. It might have been enough of an oil-foam mix to keep the oil pressure light turned off (4-7psi), but definitely not enough oil pressure to protect the engine at higher RPMs.