No oil filter - 2008 Toyota Rav 4

Found this thread from 2012, it was very helpful (, just wondering if anyone out there has any additional thoughts as I have encountered the same issue with my 2008 Toyota Rav 4. I drove the vehicle for a little under 3,000 miles before my check engine light came on. Now it is sitting at the dealership waiting on the oil change company’s insurance - a local company. Currently they are telling me that the time between my oil change and the time I took it to Toyota was too long . . . that oil would be leaking and the car wouldn’t be running. However, there is not oil on my driveway, my parking space at work, etc. Is the oil change place not responsible for this issue? Isn’t it their negligence either way if they forgot a filter or didn’t tighten it enough?

I am not in a place to just purchase a new car and I am currently paying for a rental out of pocket.

Thanks for listening.

There is no way that they “forgot” to install an oil filter and you were able to drive almost 3k miles. If an oil filter hadn’t been installed, you probably wouldn’t have been able to drive for more than a mile or two before the engine seized.

As to not tightening the filter properly, that is also a bit questionable.
If the filter hadn’t been properly tightened, you might have been able to drive a bit further than in the above scenario, but it certainly wouldn’t have been very far.

What exactly happened to your car?
From afar, I really don’t know, but I do have a couple of additional questions:

In addition to the Check Engine Light, did the oil warning light also come on?
If so, how far did you drive after the oil warning light started glowing?

During the “almost 3k miles”, how many times did you check the oil dipstick?
How long before the catastrophic failure of the engine was the last time that you had checked the dipstick?

Are you sure that your engine is not burning oil? If you have a 4 cylinder 2az engine there is currently a warranty enhancement for this issue. As was asked above can you provide more info on what happened.

Sorry, but after near 3000 miles this one should be on you as there is no way the engine could have run that long with no oil or oil filter. The car is a 2008 with X miles (?) and likely burning oil.

My assumption, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that in the last 3000 miles you have not bothered to raise the hood and check the engine oil level while assuming that the oil level is a constant from one oil change to the next.
IF this is the case then yes it’s negligence but it’s on your part.

As regards the comment that there’s no oil in your driveway therefore it cannot be leaking, that is a common erroneous assumption. First of all, there are paths for oil to leak that only become active when the engine is running, such as the rubber seals for the ends of the crankshaft. These typically only leak when the shaft inside them is spinning, and the crank seals only when there’s pressure from the crankcase, normal in an operating engine due to normal blowby and expansion of the fluid due to turbulence when operating, both normal conditions. Crankcase pressure is such a normal part of an engine operation that all engines have a Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system to allow the pressure from the crankcase to be relieved in a manner that won’t allow unwanted hydrocarbon vapors to escape into the atmosphere.

The true cause is probably going to end up being too long a time period between checking the oil level combined with some form of slow leakage. Most manufacturers consider a quart of oil usage every 1000 miles to be acceptable even on a new engine, some allow even more. In 3,000 miles that means you could have used 3 quarts of oil, leaving one quart left. When you start the engine, enough of that oil goes up onto the engine to allow the level in the oil pan to drop below the oil pump’s “pickup tube”, which draws the oil from about 1/4" to 3/8" above the pan’s bottom.

The way the system works is that the oil “pan” is just that, a metal pan from which the oil pump draws oil. The pump does so through a “pickup tube”, which is just a metal straw with a larger surface area flat disc with a screen on the end to reduce the chance of getting plugged by gump. The pump then forces the oil through the engine and into the spaces between the wear surfaces. The oil then just drips back into the pan. If the oil drops below the straw, the oil pump draws air and the oil pressure disappears, triggering the warning light.

IMHO, and with no disrespect intended, I think the negligence is 100% yours. You need to learn to regularly check your oil level and keep it above the “FILL” line.

Some will argue that a quart every 1000 miles is excessive, but that’s a totally academic argument that we engage in occasionally about exactly what’s normal. The bottom line here is that you don’t check your oil.

On the “good” side, you took it in immediately when the light illuminated. You may have saved your engine from total destruction. I’d recommend that you have them do a complete oil change (in case there’s a minor leak in the filter gasket or the pan plug), monitor your oil from there, and hope no damage has ensued. If it has, IMHO you’ll just have to assess the value of getting it fixed and, if you do, consider the cost as tuition in the school of proper maintenance.

It is their negligence if they didn’t put an oil filter on. But your car would have quit in 3 miles, not 3000 miles and there would be oil sprayed everywhere.

I’m assuming that the dealer found no oil filter installed on your engine, is that correct? If so, you will never be able to prove that the oil change shop was negligent. In my professional opinion, if the installed a filter but did not properly tighten it, it probably would have come loose way before now. Yeah, it may be their fault but there’s no way to prove it, no one would expect them to be responsible for it, and you’re out of luck.

If the filter and drain plug still are installed on the car, then it’s just simple lack of maintenance.

I agree; an engine without oil will burn out in about 5-10 miles or so. A leaking oil filter will use up all the oil in about 10 miles, and then the engine will self destruct in about 5 miles.

I strongly believe the owner did not check the oil after the oil change; an engine using oil will use up most of its oil in that mileage.

Missing OP. Motor ran low on oil. Filter did not fall off. Maybe filter seal leaked? And ran oil low? Possible.

OP said in the thread title No Oil Filter. As in, there is no oil filter on the engine.

I don’t believe this can/ should be blamed on the OP. How is it possible for an oil filter to fall off unless the guy/gal who installed it didn’t tighten it enough? And that’s the OP’s fault? And even if he’d looked, he would have seen…an oil filter…until the final 30 seconds where it loosened enough to get blown off.

Look at the other example in the link OP posted. Toyota Matrix, ran 4k miles after oil change before folter fell off. Now OP has a similar experience, drives 3k miles before the filter fell off.

To those who say “it can’t happen,” this has probably happened hundreds of times. The filters were tightened just enough to seal properly for 3-4k miles, then vibrated loose. Once the friction of the seal was lost, oil pressure quickly unscrewed the filter the rest of the way and it fell off.

And here’s another post about an oil filter falling off, with at least one other comment saying the same thing happened to him:

And here’s another where the guy drove 3k miles before his filter fell off:

Here’s one where the oil filter fell off after 10,000 km:

Do a Google search on “oil filter fell off” and you’ll find dozens of examples, and many cases in which the car was driven thousands of miles before the filter came off.

I’m surprised at you pros saying it couldn’t happen the way the OP described. Apparently it has happened that way (ie driving thousands of miles before the filter fell off) for many drivers.

Jesmed, the OP implied in the heading that the car had no oil filter, but didn’t actually describe anything at all. He/she was extremely unspecific about what the actual source of the loss of oil pressure was. Confusion about a comment by a mechanic by someone not knowledgeable of cars is very, very common. Since a car could not go more than a few miles at most without a filter, I personally have serious doubts about the description. I’m not willing to make the same assumptions and interpretational stretches that you are.

hmm … well, no expert on the 2008 Corolla, but as far as I know it’s simply not possible to drive a car 3,000 miles with no oil filter on the engine. With no oil filter, there’s no oil to lube the engine starting very shortly after the car is first started as it would all drain out on the ground with the engine running the oil pump. Then the oil light and check engine light would presumably come on and if those lights were ignored and the engine not immediately stopped the engine would overheat and seize.

So since it seems all that didn’t happen, there must have been an oil filter installed 3000 miles ago. So where did the filter go then? It can’t just disappear. I suppose it could fall off maybe. Or break in two and fall away. Or get blown off if the oil pressure got super high for some reason. Seems more likely though that someone, maybe doing a prank, they removed it without your knowledge. Is that a possibility OP? Do you know somebody who’d do something like that?

It is possible for a filter to fall off, and with an estimated 250 million cars on the road I don’t doubt that it’s happened, but in this case the OP’s complete lack of detail makes me think there’s a misstatement in the heading. I wish the OP would return and help clarify what’s actually going on. But often OPs are really seeking moral support, and if they don’t get the answer they want they disappear. That’s okay, it doesn’t make them bad people, but that’s reality.

^ The OP said in the heading “no oil filter,” and then said that he had the “same issue” as the one described in the link he gave, in which the oil filter fell off. So it seemed pretty clear to me that’s what he meant happened to him. But I agree he/she was not crystal clear and there is room for clarification.

And as the links I posted show, it’s not uncommon for oil filters to fall off after thousands of miles.

So It seems entirely reasonable to me that this is the scenario the OP is describing. Obviously he/she could not have driven 3k miles with no filter. So if there is indeed “no filter” now, it must have fallen off must before the engine siezed.

At the very least, it’s incorrect to say (as others did, not you) that such a scenario (filter falls off after thousands of miles) couldn’t happen, because it has to many other drivers.

Anyway, agreed, clarification from OP would help.

If an oil filter falls off – and I concur such a thing could happen – what would that imply? A faulty filter? A faulty installation? Something wrong with the engine?

The reason I ask is b/c I’ve been changing the oil in my vehicles in the driveway for years and in every single case the old filter is quite difficult to remove. I’ve never been able to twist it off just using my hands, I have to resort to an oil filter wrench. So it seems unlikely a properly installed filter would just fall off.

There’s got to be a reasonable limit of responsibility for failures, both for parts and labor.

If I change your oil and 3,000 miles later the oil filter comes off am I responsible?

If I rotate your tires and 3,000 miles later your wheel comes loose am I responsible?

If I tune up your car and 3,000 miles later a spark plus comes loose am I responsible?

How can you prove I was the last one to touch said item over the last 3,000 miles?

How do you know it was an installation error and not a part failure?

Sometimes you can follow all the rules and things still go wrong.

This isn’t rocket science. A sufficiently tightly installed oil filter stays on tight. An insufficiently tightened filter can eventually vibrate loose and fall off.

The only possible reason a filter could fall off in my mind is improper installation. The mechanic didn’t tighten it. I cannot possibly imagine a properly installed oil filter falling off.

It isn’t at all unusual to need a filter wrench to remove a filter. I always have to use a wrench to loosen it. And I only tighten them wrist-tight, albeit with a latex glove on to get some bite. That isn’t the advantage it seems, however, because arthritis in my hands and wrists makes it difficult for me to grip things. I also always oil the filter threads and the rubber gasket with fresh oil.

I have to add that I’ve read that some quickie-lubes use generic Chinese filters, sort of “if it screws on it’s good”. That is a possible factor. But without more detail from the OP, I’m not prepared to make that assumption. The OP closed the post with “thanks for listening”, so I doubt if he/she will return. That’s okay. I don’t mind being a “shoulder” occasionally.

“it’s not uncommon for oil filters to fall off after thousands of miles.”

So how come most of us regulars who turn wrenches for a living don’t seem to agree to that?

I’ll agree that it could and does happen

But I won’t agree that “it’s not uncommon”

Maybe it is if you work with a bunch of hacks, day in and day out

This was not intended as an insult to anybody reading this


The only way I can see the oil filter blowing off is damaged or mis-matched threads. Once the ring seal separates, oil gushes out and pressure is lost. But, there are typically several threads left for the filter to hold onto. Quicky Lube places that use “universal” filters may be to blame. If they pick one with SAE threads for a metric engine, it may seem to grab on and tighten, but be just hanging on by the narrowest of margins. Shake or bump it just right, even 3,000 miles later, and POW, off it flies. And with the filter gone, so who’s to say the wrong filter was used? Think that may be implausible, just remember the training some of those places consider adequate.

The meaning of “not uncommon” is certainly debatable. I’ve never had an oil filter fall off and I don’t know anyone who has. So let’s say it’s “uncommon but not impossible.”

Point is, it’s clearly incorrect to say it can’t happen. Especially if you work with a bunch of hacks. :wink: