Loss of oil, dead engine, but how?

I’ve read all the no oil, dead engine posts. Thank you for your contributions. I’m still puzzled by my situation. Any help is appreciated.

2008 Honda Odyssey, 64000mi. Last oil change Jan 2015, 59000mi. Has been running fine since, no dash lights illuminated. Suddenly stopped in the middle of traffic, following a short rattle sound and many dash warning lights.

Long story short ended up at the dealer with a diagnosis of a seized cam shaft due to no oil. None came out when they opened the drain. No evidence of a leak. There has been no evidence of a slow leak either, such as a spot where I park my car every day or any evidence at any time of oil outside the engine.

Did the oil change chain possibly only give me 1-2 quarts? Can this be documented?

Is there any chance something else has gone wrong? I saw a post about oil control rings?
Perhaps unimportant, but the mechanic mentioned, if I understand correctly, that a valve has fallen into the drip pan, implying that it was the result of the chain of events following one of the cam shafts seizing (which makes sense in an interference engine??)

I don’t trust these guys so I’m suspicious. Do I pay to have them take the engine apart to see if there is any explanation for the loss of oil or seize?

And why no dash light warning of no oil??

Thank you for any advice!

An oil pressure lamp (the red one) may not illuminate as long as there is enough oil to pretty much keep the oil screen covered. Air can also be inhaled along with oil through the screen. Oil lights usually turn off at very low pressures such as 3-5 PSI but pressures that low are not enough to prevent engine damage.

If there are no leaks then it has to be burning it and it’s certainly possible for the oil level to drop to critical levels in 5k miles. Lowered oil levels lead to oil overheating which leads to oil coking which leads to clogged oil galleys which leads to…
It’s a vicious cycle.

It sounds like a camshaft suffered oil starvation and seized in the journals. If a valve ended up in the oil pan then I’d say the engine is scrap metal if I’ve interpreted that comment correctly.

One thing that should always be done even with a new car or very low miles car it to get in the habit of checking the oil level regularly and never assume it will be a constant.

As to oil control rings (wiper rings is another name) those can stick due to extended oil change intervals, overheating, etc, etc. and there really is no test for checking them; unfortunately.
With the engine disassembled a problem in that areas will be noticeable.
Hope some of that helps and condolences I suppose. :frowning:

If the engine is out of oil and the camshaft has seized the engine is done for. I would recommend replacement with a used engine. If there are no signs of leakage then the engine has been burning oil. Your engine holds 4.5 quarts of oil. If it has been using oil at the rate of one quart every 1,000 miles then it would take about this long to run it out of oil. It’s as simple as that.

When was the last time the oil was checked? How often is it checked? How much oil did the engine use previously? How often is oil needed?

The dash warning light is an indicator of lack of oil pressure. The time from the light coming on to engine damage is measured in seconds. The camshafts are at the very top of the engine, the first things to suffer from lack of oil when there is not enough in the bottom pan to pump through the engine.

For the future . . .

Check the oil every weekend, when you’re taking care of the household chores

In fact, add it to your checklist of things to do

Every weekend, I have a checklist. I’m old school and write it down on a piece of paper. Every time I do some thing, buy something, etc., I check it off. I don’t throw that piece of paper away until everything is checked off

Makes me want to check my oil right now… at midnight… you have my sympathy.

I just remembered that I had a state-mandated emissions test done during the interval between the oil change and failure. If I was burning oil at the rate of 1 qt per thousand miles, any idea whether that would have registered?

Many car makers consider burning a quart per 1000 miles as being “normal” even on near brand new cars but I don’t subscribe to that policy myself.

It’s also quite possible that a quart per 1000 would not have shown up during testing. A lot of burned oil ends up on the substrate inside of the catalytic converters where it cakes up and is gradually discharged as soot.

Tearing the old engine apart will do nothing but empty your wallet of and extra $2000 to pull the engine and strip it down. Then it really is not going to tell you that someone else is responsible for the damage.

Sorry, but the fault lies on your shoulders for not checking your oil now and then between oil changes. You took a risk that the engine’s warning lights would save your butt. Now you are paying for taking that gamble.

This engine may have been burning oil for years and you never knew it.
At every oil change that you had in the last year, your engine may have only had 2 quarts left and you got the oil changed just in time before running out. This time you may have waited a little longer and no oil was left.

Even if the engine was not burning that much oil and the oil change place did only put in 2 quarts…had you checked it within a few weeks you would have found this out before damage was done, and have a chance to correct this. But there still would be no way of proving that they only put 2 quarts in.

Because it’s not that old of a car, I would consider finding a shop that will replace the engine with a used salvage engine with hopefully low miles.


“Did the oil change chain possibly only give me 1-2 quarts?”

That immediately gave me the shivers. You will never know how many quarts you actually got if you didn’t check the oil. In addition…you will probably never know the quality or weight of the oil you received during the oil change. Your poor engine never had a chance. Take this as a lesson learned: Never use a chain oil change place…not even for stopping in and asking for directions. Most, if not all, of the regulars here will say pretty much the same thing.

Yosemite summed up the situation very well. Whether you replace the engine or the whole car at this point, you’ll want to start checking your oil regularly to avoid throwing away money again in the future.

Here is another +1 for Yosemite’s post.

Tearing down the engine in order to try to try to determine the exact cause of its catastrophic failure will be essentially a waste of money. If somebody is dead as a result of multiple stab wounds, does it really make sense to do an autopsy in order to determine exactly which one of the wounds caused his death?

That fictional person is dead, and no matter which stab wound led to his demise, he is still dead.
Similarly, the OP’s engine is dead, and all that he can do is to try to prevent this type of situation from recurring in the future by doing the following:

Don’t use quicky oil change places.
Always check the dipstick immediately after an oil change.
Check the dipstick at least once a week if the engine has a history of oil consumption, or every 2-3 weeks if it doesn’t have a history of oil consumption.
Keep an eagle eye on the dashboard warning lights. If the oil pressure warning light starts to glow, immediately pull to the shoulder, shut down the engine, and don’t restart it until the source of the problem has been identified.

@missileman my company used a jiffylibe type place for all our oil changes. I cut that off real quick after the first time I stopped in and realized that they were using “one size fits all” oil filters. I cant say they did it all the time, or that they are 100% in the wrong, but my argument was that Ford specified a certain size oil filter for a reason. who the heck are these punks to say no just to cut cost.
We also realized that they were charging us for 7 quarts of oil, no matter how many we were requiring.

Plus, more than likely they were using “White Box” filters from China.
With those crappy filters, nobody knows who actually manufactures them and whether or not (probably not) they actually comply with the car mfr’s specs.

Your engine seized because you tried to go 5,000 miles without checking your oil. Failure to monitor the oil level is possibly the single biggest cause of total engine destruction. Consider this an expensive learning experience.

No, a state emissions test won’t have anything to do with picking an oil consumption problem.

08 van w/80k miles was worth $10k easy. A new motor will cost $7k? Are u trading it in?

Check Engine Oil On All Vehicles At Least Once A Week (Unless Not Driven During That Week). Check More Frequently If An Entire Tank Of Fuel Is Consumed During That Week.
At the same time, also visually check coolant level and brake fluid in the reservoirs and refill windshield washers if needed.

Transmission fluid level and p/s fluid level can be checked a little less frequently than other fluids, but get in the habit of checking for any fluid drips under the car when it’s parked on dry pavement.

This could seem like a lot of work, but takes me literally seconds. Of course, this isn’t necessary if you don’t mind an occasional surprise, say a breakdown, being stranded, damaged engine…

This is what I do and I maintain several cars in the family fleet.

Following this procedure, I once caught a water pump leak before it caused any of the above inconveniences, just by visual reservoir inspection.

When I purchase a new or used car, it has to pass my “ease of checking fluids test” and “ease of changing oil & filter test” or I don’t buy it. Some cars make this easy and some don’t.

DangerousDIY those quickie oil change places are never 100% in the wrong. That would imply that they are perfect. Since I know that’s not the truth…they must foul up every once in a while and get things right.

Once a week is overkill unless you know your engine is burning oil. My owners manual (2012 Camry) says once a month and that seems about right for me unless you do a lot of driving.

Never leave the parking lot of where you have your oil changed without checking your oil and looking under your car.

You have my sympathy, my daughter lost the engine in her 2006 Rav4 two years ago, at 70000 miles, and her oil light never came on. Hers didn’t suffer a catastrophic failure, it just started making noise but the damage was done. So many Rav4s had experienced sudden rapid oil burning there were no used engines within 500 miles.

My admonitions to her about checking her oil had fallen on deaf ears, she didn’t think it was something someone who bought a car new and had regular,timely oil changes should have to do.

“Once a week is overkill unless you know your engine is burning oil.” “My owners manual (2012 Camry) says once a month…”

Toyota actually states that? Yikes! Why would a car manufacturer spec once/month? Some people drive several thousand miles per month. I was on that circuit a while ago and so was my wife. Most car manufacturers consider up to 1,000 miles/quartt within specs. All my cars spec checking every fuel fill-up and that makes much more sense.

It’s no trouble to check the way I do every week. I check with cars cold, sitting on flat ground. Oil dipstick doesn’t even come all the way out, just enough to read and back in, no wiping, no mess.

Once per month wouldn’t have cut it in discovering a leaking water pump as I referenced above.
To each his own, I guess. That’s how I roll.