Engine seized up after oil change 4 days prior

I own a 99 gmc sonoma. I changed my oil with Castrol 10W-40. Then four days later I’m stopped at a traffic light and to my surprise I have to kick myself down a hill. No oil is in my vehicle at all. No sign of leaks. My mechanic can’t even pinpoint how the oil escaped. I’m thinking maybe I received a bad batch of oil (which is highly unlikely.) I guess I would like to hear anyone’s opinion on this as I am completely clueless.

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You never put it in…trust me.

Edit: Check the level in your transmission.


Whether you have the 2.2 or the 3.4 engine you have hydraulic lifters which would have started clattering if you had no oil. Also, did the oil light come on? If so, how far did you drive it with the oil light on? Are you sure you have no oil or is it just not reaching the dipstick? I’d bet my life you didn’t have “bad oil”. I’ve never heard of that.

Is the filter still in place? If so, check to see if has a double gasket or no gasket at all.

Not sure what you mean by that, but if the engine seized up b/c the the oil level was low, well, if it was filled ok at the oil change, the oil had to go somewhere. If you drove the vehicle normally every day for 4 days before the engine seized, one theory, the oil level was slowly going down for some reason over that period. It could leak out to the ground while driving and you not notice it perhaps. If there was no oil in it at all after the oil change, it would have failed sooner. Another theory, this is the one I like, after the oil change there was still some oil in it, just not nearly enough. That would be consistent w/your symptoms, the engine seizing 4 days later, but no sign of leaks.

Engine seized no check oil light came on. No oil in driveway. I changed my oil myself I know what I’m doing. 5qaurts went in no leeks in my parking spot. Either way I’m screwed.

Why is it that in every case of a failed engine due to no oil the oil light always seems to malfunction at the same time???


The check engine light usually is for emissions problems, not low oil. There’s a separate low oil or low oil pressure dash warning light, right? that’s what would usually light up if the oil was low. Is that warning light working? It should turn on w/the key in “on” but the engine not started. Then turn off once the engine starts. I realize you can’t check if it turns off now, but you should be able to check if it turns on ok.

If the oil didn’t leak out onto the ground, either while driving or parked, it must have gone into the cooling system or got burned in the cylinders and out the exhaust as smoke. There’s not any other route out of the engine, at least that I can think of. Since you didn’t report any smoke out the exhaust, the cylinder theory seems unlikely. Check to see if there’s signs of oil in the cooling system I guess. The oil will float on top of the coolant, so it’s vusually easy enough to spot it in the radiator or on the underside of the radiator cap. Drawing off a coolant sample from the radiator into a test tube and seeing if it settles out as two separate layers, oil above the coolant, another idea.

And I expect you already know that the oil change might be a coincidence, this would have happened even if there was no recent oil change.

What do you hear if you try to start it? Does the starter sound normal or do you just hear a clunk? Also, did you hear unusual clattering or ticking just before it quit?

Unlikely, more like impossible.


I had an oil filter that blew a small hole in itself less than 5 miles after I changed oil. It blew out a small corner of one of the crimps you would fit a cap wrench on. Fortunately I saw the oil light come on so I shut it down and no damage occurred. No oil trail back in my driveway.

This exact thing happened to my late father in law with a Buick. The engine failed after 7 miles or so and no oil was in the crankcase. The department store chain made good and admitted that the kid changed the filter, but did not put in any oil.

With certain Subarus with identical oil and transmission plugs, the transmission often gets drained and the engine overfilled, causing both of them to fail.

I tell Subaru owners to use the dealer or a reliable independent shop for this service.

The idea that a crankcase leaked completely dry is ludicrous nor that it makes sense that the oil pump can suck the crankcase dry completely.

yeah, and I know that a perfectly good 7.3L International Engine will go approximately 3/4ths of a mile with no oil in it. and no further. I know what I’m doing too, but mistakes still happen…

If you added it, then it went somewhere.
I have seen rocks kick holes in filters before, and depending on your vehicle’s set up, I have seen low riders scrape holes in filters too.


Is that your only evidence of “no leaks”? Has the bottom of the vehicle been closely examined?

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Anybody else ever done this? Pour 5 perfectly good quarts of oil into the engine, only to discover it’s now puddling beneath the car b/c you didn’t install the drain plug? … :wink:


Never did it myself, had it start to cascade onto me while I was underneath because my buddy didn’t wait until I gave him the all clear :mask:. So glad we bought 5 1 quart containers instead of the jumbo 5 quart container!


I remember well my dad did that in 1958. It went on the gravel driveway. So from that one, I’ve learned and have never done it myself. Still I always make sure I have a spare filter and extra oil on hand just in case something goes wrong.

they forget to put oil in it
or the auto oil pump used to fill it was on the blink
ergo you had NO OIL for FOUR days

The OP states that he changed the oil himself, so if he had empty oil containers after the oil change, I think it is obvious that oil WAS put into the engine.

In any event…do you really believe that an engine with no oil can run for four days?
Four minutes?..maybe.
Four hours?..no!
Four days?..impossible!

Clearly, there was a leak.

VDCdriver: not reading any solutions, guesses, nothing from your end … just sniping others that are offering creative thoughts to the stew pot in order to stir up better ideas. Your comments are tossing water on that fire.
Further defense of this opinon comes from the fact that it not not implied, certainly not known he changed oil self until much later in tis conversation. To reply to the original question in this case seems likely this event happened to the respondant once upon a time, thus offered it up.

Further your blind comment from afar conflicts with an eyes-on investigation from a mechanic who finds NO leaks, which would in court be evidence and your testimony tossed out.