My best friend lost the oil cap!

My best friend lost her oil cap for a 95 Toyota Paseo. She thinks she drove it for about a week like that. the engine leeks oil and she puts more oil in it every so often and last week when she put a quart or two in she was realy tired and perhaps didn’t tighten it. she had noticed the hood smoking a little but she thought that it was because she spilt a little on the engine. Her check engine light only came on yesterday. so she opened it up and to her amazement NO CAP!

She asked; how much did that damage her engine and how long do you think the car will last before it quits on her?

That depends on how low the oil was allowed to get. Did the check engine light come on, or did the oil pressure warning light come on? Two very different things.

If it was run several quarts low and started making hammer-knocking sounds, then it’s likely severe internal engine damage has occurred. If it never made knock noises, then it’s possible that no damage has happened and she just needs to be more careful with the replacement cap.

Besides, 13 years old and leaking oil already tells me that it won’t be lasting much longer anyways. If it was run too low on oil, think of it as one step towards a 21st-century car.

I’ve done this before, except I found my oil filler cap in the engine compartment. Tell your friend to look around. If she can’t find the original cap, she can get a replacement cap at an autoparts store.

If the engine compartment isn’t covered in oil, then the oil stayed in the engine, except for the portion of it that leaked out like it normally does.

If the check engine light came on, either she ignored the oil pressure warning light or it’s unrelated. Hopefully she just saw the oil pressure light and the name got lost in translation. That means she ran it with too little oil, but if she added oil immediately, very little damage probably occurred.

Like budd said, if the engine isn’t making new noises, it’s probably not any worse than it already was. And I bet your friend never forgets the cap again!

Your comment that she puts in a “quart or two” is telling. Any replacement oil should be put in at the quart below mark on the dipstick. As an owner you need to figure out whether that means check oil daily, or check oil every two weeks or so. The act of putting in more than one quart at a time means she is consistently running her engine below an acceptable oil level and that in itself, over time, will cause more engine wear. She may have hastened her engine’s demise, (and may be not), so I would buy an oil cap, check the oil level more frequently, and make sure I only need to put in one quart at a time. Drive it until the engine gives out or oil consumption becomes unacceptable.

do use a flashlight and look down around and under stuff on the engine. most times they just fall down and hide.