Engine oil won't drian

The oil is warm, car is level, plug out, loosened filler cap, engine oil still won’t drain? Anyone know why?

How long has it been since the oil was changed? Is it possible that it has formed a gel that is resistant to flowing?

Sludge build-up plugging the drain? Try putting a screwdriver into the hole to unblock. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t hit anything critical. Just don’t hammer it in.

What kind of car (year, make, and model)? Is the drain plug on the bottom of the pan or on the side near the bottom? What does the oil look like on the dip stick? Does it look relatively clean or like sludge?

You could try removing the oil filter if you haven’t already. That will create another path for air to come in. If the drain hole is on the back side of the pan, you could also try jacking up the front end.

Did you have oil in the engine to begin with?And,yes, check the filter for a feel of the amount and condition of your oil.

  1. There is no oil in the engine…
  2. You removed something other than the drain plug…
  3. The oil has been in so long it has congealed into sludge…

Solutions: Check your dipstick. Is there any oil on it? If so, see reason #2

There is at least one model of luxury car well known for needing computer directions to let oil drain. PLEASE do the obvious thing and let us know the make and model.

You said you LOOSENED the oil filler cap. Try REMOVING it.

Don’t you love it when someone asks a vague question like this and then never responds?

It’s a 2003 VW Jetta TDI (diesel.) It has been about 7,000 miles since last change.
The plug I pulled is in the front of the car, towards the driver’s side. If it wasn’t the oil drain, what did I drain? Less than a quart came out. It’s not red. It is oil. It is not as black as the oil on the dipstick.

Yes, the dipstick reads full.
I stuck a stiff wire up the plug, and nothing I can see is blocking flow.

I removed the filter also.
The oil is not sludge.

My best guess since I can’t see the car from here is that you may have removed the differential drain plug. If that is the case DO NOT drive the car until you can verify exactly what the situation is.

But, since “less than a qt.” sounds like a very small amount for a differential, this issue needs to be checked into thoroughly. Whatever you did drain, it is apparently not the motor oil if the dipstick is reading “full”.

That being said, you are not doing your car any favors if you go 7k between oil changes. I would suggest that, in the future, you have a professional change your oil every…5k at most.

(Note: “Professional” does NOT include Jiffy Lube or any of its clones.)

So the drain plug is out and a quart came out and the dip stick still shows oil in the car? Wow.

By the way, usually the oil looks cleaner on the dip stick than when it is drained. The fact that yours appears in the opposite fashion has me concerned.

If this car has a manual transmission, I am pretty sure you drained the transmission oil.

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It probably sounds strange, but, when I was younger, and knew that I didn’t know what I needed to know, and had no one to ask, I got me a repair manual. The mother of necessity is definitely a prodder of the intellect. In other words, if’n you don’t know, sometimes, you has to pay for it.

In the original post, Prindle tells us NOTHING came out of his oil pan. Then he tells he drained a gearbox by mistake, he is not sure which one, but he is poking around in the gearbox with a coat hanger hoping to accomplish something…


It might be time to bail out. If you drained something but can’t identify it, call the tow truck to haul your car to the nearest good mechanic. At $70 towing costs less than a $2000 transmission replacement.


Check all the other fluid levels and you may have an idea what you drained. I’m guessing the steering rack has been drained or the power steering reservoir. You can’t check the rack if you don’t have power steering. If power steering, I would still have questions unless the reservoir is dry. Then you can refill it. If not, it needs a tow job to the shop.

If it was not so cold out, I might take the belly pan off my car and figure out what you might have drained. I have a 2002 NB TDI and I suspect they are much the same. I, like the others, suspect you drained something other than the engine oil.

If you want to continue DIY I would suggest first getting some sort of manual. You also might want to stop by Freds at www.tdiclub.com That is the center for all the action on TDIs. Someone is sure to have a photo to post for you so you can tell exactly what you did and what you need to do to correct it. They likely even have a member or two close to you who would be willing to stop by and give you a hand. If you are in Central Ohio, I am willing to stop by.

Just my two cents . . . but let’s see if it’s engine oil that you drained out. Put the oil filter back on . . . leave the drain plug out . . . pour a fresh quart of engine oil into the crankcase . . . watch to see if it is coming out. Even a little bit more coming out of whatever drain plug you removed . . . say half a quart . . . would confirm that you’ve removed the engine oil plug and you have a blockage. But my guess is that you’ll see nothing coming out . . . and that you drained something else . . . transmission maybe. Since we can’t see it from here . . . that’s my best guess. Rocketman

We are having the same problem right now.