I had and oil change, but they forgot to top off the oil for 2000 miles

Hello all! This is my first post and I had to ask someone who may have experience about my car. It had 120,000 miles on it when I got an oil change at a local quick lube joint. I did notice the guy helping on my cr looked incredibly hung over. However, on a couple of occasions I noticed my oil light come on very briefly. At around 2000 miles in it did it once more so I decided to check the oil. There was no sign of it on the oil stick so I put a quart I had lying around in and remeasured. Still no oil. Mind you I park in garages and no oil stains occurred, and the car never burned oil. I went back to the lube joint, for the last time, and had it topped off, and they put several quarts of oil in. I really do not think they put any oil in the car after the last oil change. Is this possible for a car to do this without any damage? I know there is some oil left in the car when you remove the oil and filter, but enough to allow the car to run? One more point. I always use a silicone oil in the car.

I forgot to mention that it is a 2007 Toyota Camry.

you added 1 qt and they added 2 qts so you burned 3qts in 2000 miles
your car holds 4.5 qts. are you saying they only added 1.5 qts when they changed the oil?

Thank you for your advice, but that really didn’t answer my question. I worked at dealerships for years, so I’m not that uninformed. I drove the car for 2000 miles. What is 3 more miles going to change. Also I just put a whole quart of oil in, so I figured I probably doubled the amount of oil that was already in the car.

At that many miles, any engine can start burning oil.

You don’t see the oil burning because the catalytic converter hides the oil burning.

You should always carry a couple of quarts of oil in the trunk when an engine gets this many miles on it. Because you never know when you’ll need to add some.

Get in the habit of checking the oil level on a regular basis. Because this is your responsibility. Not the oil change place.

Was there any engine damage?

You’ll find out!


There was no damage as far as I can tell. It runs pretty good actually. That’s why I’m asking if anyone has experienced this before.

Do you see any soot at the end of the tailpipe? Sometimes engines burn oil internally due to stucked piston rings like my beater 99 Corolla.Actually, the oil burning issue started around 90 k miles and got worst until I replaced the piston rings.

The engine would have seized within ten miles without oil.

Toyota has extended the warranty on the four cylinder engines (2AZ) to 10 years/150,000 mile to correct oil consumption problems, probably too late for your vehicle as the date of first use was likely more than ten years ago.

Keep an eye on the oil level and add as needed.

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@Mark_Dorn You should always check the oil after an oil change and you should check it at least once a week no matter what vehicle it is.

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At a 120k miles an engine can be expected to use some motor oil. It can burn oil without showing any smoke because the catalytic converter is catching it.

If you went 2000 miles without checking it then this is on you. Even more so since you apparently did not check the oil level after noticing the oil light flashed on.

You state that you worked for car dealerships for years. I hope it wasn’t in the service department. I realize you may not like my comments but I’m just calling it like it is.


If you have the 2AZ-FE 4 cylinder engine . . . which most Camry owners have, by the way . . . that engine has had some mechanical issues which lead to SEVERE engine oil consumption

It’s entirely possible the mechanic did everything correctly, and you have the aforementioned mechanical issues

And by the way, the mechanical issues are bottom end. Piston rings, specifically. Technically, if you have the problem, you’re supposed to replace the block, pistons and rings. But I don’t really see that happening. So I advise you to check the oil level weekly, top off as needed. If you do this, your engine will live a long and happy life. If not . . .

I am afraid that you are uninformed. Someone at that dealership should have mentioned that going 2000 miles and not checking oil is just asking for trouble.

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How about if they drained the oil and not changed the oil filter? Would it survive then?

I’m trying to figure out what happened here. I appreciate the advice and all, but something wasn’t right here, and I am simply trying to figure it out. It really is a mystery to me.

I’m of the opinion the mechanic DID refill your oil, and your engine is using a lot of oil

The oil filter holds very little oil, not enough for the engine to survive 2000 miles on that alone, not in my opinion

I’ve seen guys drain the oil and start the engine, after forgetting to add new oil. It was very quickly evident there was a problem

You wouldn’t have made it 2000 miles

There is no mystery . . . your engine’s consuming oil, and you’re going to have to adjust, accordingly


Gotta agree. 2000 miles with no oil and your engine would be toast. With a max of 1/2 quart in the filter, I would doubt there would be more than a pint left in the pan. So the obvious answer is you are burning oil. So somewhere between 1 and 2000 miles, you went through 3 quarts of oil. Damage sure, but maybe no more than it already had. Checking your oil now will determine how much it is burning.


Thank you all. I appreciate your time and help.

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your engine will easily make it to 200K and beyond, if you maintain the engine oil level

Maybe yes, maybe no.
It is apparent that the OP has abused his/her engine as a result a Laissez-Faire approach to car ownership and maintenance. I sincerely wish the OP all the best regarding his/her vehicle, but by not checking the oil level for… an extended period of time… the prospects for his/her engine are… not good…

well, if OP from this point on checks the oil weekly and tops off as needed, I believe the engine could live a long and happy life

But if he sticks to his old ways . . . :frowning_face:

The engine will still get a full supply of oil as long as the oil pickup point is below the crankcase oil level. That’s usually 1-3 quarts below full, depends on the engine design. If the low oil pressure light didn’t come on, the pickup point must have been below oil level in the crankcase. It’s sort of like drinking a coca cola with a straw. As long as the straw is below the level of the coca cola, you’ll get a good swig.

The low oil condition could have still caused some damage though, as the remaining oil, being lower in volume, gets contaminated faster, and it keeps getting quickly pumped back into the engine without having time to cool off a little in the crankcase. Cross your fingers, you may be ok. If not, you’ll soon find out.

Suggest going forward

  • If the oil warning light on the dash ever comes on with the engine running, even briefly, that needs immediate attention. At the very minimum pull over, stop the engine, and check the oil level on the dipstick. Top off as necessary if the oil is still on the dipstick. If no oil at all, don’t restart the engine until the oil is topped off.

  • Don’t leave the lube place until you check the dipstick yourself. Then check it again the next morning. It should be right at the full mark. If you don’t know how to check the dipstick, as the guy at the lube place to show you.

  • See if you can in the habit of checking the dipstick once a week or at least a couple times a month between oil changes, when you are buying gasoline for example.