How to tell if engine is gone or not

My oil pressure had been dropping to 0 for a while. After searching the internet, I replaced the oil sending unit. This seemed to fix the issue for a while - until I was going up some hills, and the engine began revving really high, and the oil pressure once again dropped to 0. I then heard some noise from the engine, so I pulled over and turned it off. I had it towed to a garage, and told the tow driver to NOT start the car, because I thought the oil pump was out, and so no oil was getting to the engine. I then called the garage, and told them it was coming in, and NOT to start it, because the engine was not getting oil, and I thought oil pump might be bad. They called me back an hour later to tell me they had added some oil and started it, and the engine was gone.
First question, is would a good garage have tried starting the car with the information they had? My expectation was that they would have tried to check things out without starting it.
Second, should I try to replace the oil pump and see if the car starts?

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Odometer Mileage
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When your local independent mechanic walks toward you while wiping his hands, looking down and shaking his head in a side to side manner…your engine is gone.

trying to hit 300k in a dodge is a bad plan.

Hmmmm. High RPMs, 0 oil pressure, noise= catastrophic engine failure. This failure happens as soon as there’s noise and quicker than you can blink. I would have probably done the same thing to see if the engine was worth putting a pump in.

Based on what you mentioned, the engine was probably a goner immediately after the “and the oil pressure once again dropped to 0. I then heard some noise from the engine” episode. The mechanic’s actions didn’t hurt anything as the engine was already toast at that point.

The damage has already been done, it’s unlikely replacing the oil pump will fix anything.

There’s nothing to check out without starting the engine. Well, OK, there is, but it involves disassembling the engine.

The only way to check oil pressure and volume is with the engine running. So when presented with your car the procedure would have been to check oil level, add as needed, start the engine and listen for noise. Any decent mechanic can tell the sound of a broken engine within a few seconds. If no unusual noise is heard, then you proceed to testing oil pressure and volume, etc.

Any damage to the engine happened when you were driving and the oil pressure fell to 0. Or the other way around. Perhaps the engine damage caused the oil pressure to fall.

Replacing the oil pump won’t fix any damage to the engine.

As said above, of course they are going to start it. Otherwise without expensive tear down time all they can do is open the hood and say “yep, looks just fine to me”.

The garage has done nothing wrong. Seeing as how everyone else has pretty well covered the bases I will only add this.

During all of this “oil pressure dropping to zero for a while”, replacing the oil sending unit, having it towed, and so on I note there is not one mention of the oil level.
The garage you had it towed to apparently added oil before attempting a start so…

Do you ever check the oil level in that engine which is now likely scrap metal?

If you did.properly maintain the oil level, your engine may have badly worn bearings and couldn’t hold,oil pressure when the engine was under load.

“If you did.properly maintain the oil level, your engine may have badly worn bearings and couldn’t hold,oil pressure when the engine was under load.”

I think that my friend, Triedaq, meant to type “…didn’t properly maintain the oil level…”, and I believe that his theory is the same as mine–namely that the maintenance (or lack of same) that this mystery vehicle has received over its unknown lifetime could well be the cause of the low oil pressure.

Could the OP kindly answer the questions that I posed in the first response to his question?

@VDCdriver‌ --my parents had a,1949 Dodge. My dad meticulously maintaimed the oil level but the oil,pressure gauge would drop to almost zero when pulling a steep hill. We were told that the problem was bad engine bearings.
If we were having this discussion 60 years ago, I would ask the OP if he had switched from non-detergent oil to detergent oil. The oil consumption really increased after my dad’s mechanic thought detergent oil would be good for that Dodge. The other problem back then was using that new fangled 10W-30 oil. Stick with your straight 30’weight non-detergent oil and,your engine will do great if you live in the past.

It’s interesting that many people who see the oil pressure gauge reading 0 automatically assume that it can’t be accurate, and blame the oil pressure sender

Can I assume from your tag, 300Korbustdodge, that the car (truck?) was a dodge approaching 300K?
Just out of curiosity, how close were you?

An oil pump will have no influence on whether or not a car starts. From your description the car was toast when your oil pressure dropped to 0 at high rpms under load and you heard the noise.

They saved you money when they didn’t lift the engine to get the pan off and replace the oil pump before finding out the engine was dead.

I would be a bit surprised if the OP ever comes back but what I found a bit distasteful in the original post is (to me anyway) the inference that the shop is a bad one over a problem that had been going on “for a while” followed by engine noise and a tow.

The shop was presented a vehicle off of the tow truck with a history and apparently little or no oil in it. The other option would have been to remove the engine, tear it down, and then present the appropriate bill for that operation.

When a oil light comes on or the gauge shows zero pressure ( check gauges ) , put the car in neutral and shut the engine down. Pull over ASAP as you will have power brakes for a while and still be able to steer and coast to the side of the road. Running an engine even for a minute or two without oil pressure will destroy it. It saddens me when I read posts that say I continued on then the engine died. I checked my oil and it was full…READ THE OWNERS MANUAL on what the gauges mean.

Well, in fairness OK4450, he DID spend time searching the internet… {:stuck_out_tongue:

We get far too many OPs who expect their cars to be diagnosed and fixed over the world wide web. I guess it’s easier than going to a shop.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always happy to try to help when possible, and we do get to help a lot of people, but the world wide web is not a substitute for a good mechanic. Or for good old fashioned common sense.

If the shop had not added oil and started the engine . . .

If the shop had instead torn down the engine without starting it, and discovered all those wasted journals, bearings, rings, cylinders, etc., and submitted that hefty bill for diagnosis, I suspect OP would have complained about the high price of diagnosis

I am goin to go back I to the original question, " How to tell if engine is gone or not" which actually is a statement not a question. And for this OP here is how.

  1. Open hood
  2. Look in.
  3. Answer this question "Do I see an engine?"
    If the answer is yes, the engine is NOT gone.
    If the answer is no the engine IS gone, and needs to be found.