Mysterious loss of oil

I have a 100000 mile Toyota Camry (lightly driven about 3 mile daily commute) for which I had my oile filled about 1000 miles before and suddenly one day I could not start my car. I had it towed and learnt that all the oil had mysterioulsy disappered. There was no sign of leak and also the seal was intact. The mechanic and person who filled did oil change have no been helpful. Is the company who changed the oil to blame?

You did verify that there was indeed oil in it at some point, correct? You didn’t report having any low oil light indicator on at any time between the last service point and the day it would not start.

Now about the no start condition. Are you saying that NOW the engine is damaged? I would find it odd that you could have driven it to the point of out of oil without notice …having it run perfectly good …turn it off …and THEN have it be damaged for lack of oil at the very next start.

However unlikely, something like that would require someone to empty your engine and replace the drain plug as a kind gesture as they stole your oil.

…but as far as unexplained oil loss over a more protracted time base, I’d look to see if the PCV system was functioning properly.

Well, I did not any kind of problems (with oil light or noise or smoke) till all of a sudden the car not starting in the morning. All I know is there was no oil and I was told that the engine IS damaged. ( There has never been any history of protracted oil loss).

I cant imagine someone would steal the oil here.

Can there be any other explanation?
Thanks for your time.

Who (dealer, quick oil change place, mechanic or friend did the last oil change and how long ago (time & miles)? Have you ever checked the oil level yourself? How often has your oil level been checked? Has your car “used” oil between refills?

There Are 3 Possibilities And You Ruled Out Theft, Which Was One Of Them, Though Very Unlikely Unless It Was Sabotage.

Another possibility is that the engine leaked or consumed most of its oil since the “fill”.

The other possibility is that it never was full following the “fill” and was either left nearly empty or very low. If this is the case then the people who were supposed to fill it with oil are responsible. Proving this could be difficult at best if they deny it.

One wouldn’t think it necessary, but the car’s owner / driver should always check the oil level following a fill / change whether they changed it themselves or had somebody else do it. It is also necessary to check for leaks following an oil procedure.


Looking to place blame? Look in the mirror. Checking the oil level is the responsibility of the owner especially after 1000 miles. It seems obvious you haven’t been checking it believing that because the oil light hasn’t come on everything is OK. You’ve been exposed to an expensive lesson.

I have to agree with TwinTurbo.

Checking the oil periodically is very important on any car, but when a car has over 100k miles on the odometer, it is vital because oil consumption can suddenly increase.

Checking the oil after an oil change may seem silly or redundant, but if you follow the posts in this forum, you will see a distressingly high incidence of screw-ups by people who change motor oil–and that includes quicky lube places, dealerships, and the car owners themselves. Thus, if someone just trusts to fate that an oil change was done properly, he/she may wind up with a very expensive surprise within hours, days or weeks of the service.

The car was “lightly driven about 3 mile daily commute”. Actually, that is classified as Severe Service, meaning that the car should be serviced on the basis of elapsed time, rather than on the basis of odometer mileage. If the car was not serviced according to the mfr’s Severe Service schedule, it is very possible that this “lightly driven” car had an extreme amount of engine wear. Extreme engine wear=high oil consumption. However, if the OP was not in the habit of checking his/her dipstick on a frequent basis, it is very possible that he/she was not aware of a high rate of oil consumption.

If this car was driven…let’s say…10 miles per day on average, then it would have taken over 3 months for the car to have traveled 1,000 miles since that oil change. In over 3 months, an engine with a high amount of internal wear and tear could have burned up an incredible amount of oil.

Unfortunately, lack of timely checking of the dipstick will make it impossible for the OP to place blame on the folks who did the oil change. A few things are clear however:

If the oil change people had not put any oil in the crankcase, the engine would have seized within about 3 blocks, rather than seizing 1,000 miles later.

If the oil change people had put an inadequate amount of oil in the crankcase (let’s say 2 qts instead of 5 qts), checking of the dipstick within hours or days of the oil change would have revealed this situation.

If the engine had already developed a high rate of oil consumption, checking the dipstick every week or so would have allowed the OP to add oil before the level of oil in the crankcase became dangerously low.

If someone waits for the “oil light” on the dashboard to inform him/her of the need to add oil, that person is sadly mistaken about the function of that warning light. Reading the relevant section of the Owner’s Manual would have informed that person of what that warning light actually indicates. And, that same manual likely advises that the dipstick should be checked every time that the car is refueled.

Rasdocus–adjust the rear-view mirror and you will be able to see the person who is really to blame for the disaster that took place in your engine.

I’d still find it virtually impossible for the engine to be damaged NOW without a prior symptom of some dysfunction during the last driving event. The thing should have been ticking or rumbling or showing some sign of stress.

How much do you trust the service provider who currently has it? They could just be telling you that it’s toast.

The service provider is a local Toyota Dealer. I think I can trust them. Thanks for your time on commenting on the problem.


No, the company who changed the oil on your car is not to blame.
The fact that you had driven it for 1000 miles after they worked on it, absolves them of any responsability.

For the sake of the integrity of your future cars as well as for the wellbeing of your wallet, it is imperative that you check your engine oil level AT LEAST once every 1000 miles, preferably every 600-700 miles, or every other tankful of gas. It takes less than 30 seconds to do it, but in the long run it has the potential to save a big stack of $100 bills. Furthermore, you do not have to take the word of some strangers off the internet. All you have to do is open your car’s Owner’s Manual and under the section “Periodic Checks/Maintenance Schedule/Engine Oil, etc, etc…” you will find the instructions as follows: “Engine oil level-Check every time you fill the fuel tank”

Can you recall when was the last time someone (you, family member, mechanic, etc, etc…) checked the oil level on this Camry, between oil changes ???

Did the oil level change each time you checked it after the oil change? That’s pretty basic information that you omitted.