No oil = not good

My 97 Jetta’s oil light came on yesterday. I was close to the place i normally get my oil changed, so I pulled in. There was a leak, which they were able to fix, but my car had absolutely no oil in it. The engine was starting to have a ping to it as I pulled into the place, but after oil was re-introduced, the ping went away and i think it sounds normal now. It never over-heated, but i have no idea how long I drove on it without oil.

Should i expect my engine to crap out on me the next time i’m on the highway, or might i be a very lucky man?

I think you are a very lucky man. Advise, the next time the oil light comes on, kill the engine immediately.

If the pinging when away, chances are critical damage was not done. The oil pressure is back up to a good working pressure if the pinging went away. This is a good sign. You could have an oil pressure check done to give a good indication of the condition of the bearings. But, this being a 10-year old car, I’d continue to drive until more problems crop up. If there was damage, you’ll hear the pinging come back, and maybe start seeing smoke from the tail pipe. If you start to hear a sound that is more like a hammer tapping the side of the engine block, instead of a tiny ping, then the engine is about to throw a rod. Shut it down and have it towed to a shop.

Anybody. Everybody. When the engine oil pressure warning light comes on, as quickly as you safely can, pull to the side of the road and turn the engine OFF. And call a mechanic or tow truck. To do otherwise can cost you $3,000 to $5,000+ to repair an engine run without adequate oil, or oil pressure.

I agree, and if I could have figured out what the alarm was, I would have. It was barely flashing at first, only making a small beep every couple of blocks. Once it started blaring i knew i was in trouble. 2 miles later i was where i needed to be.

It is a 10 year old car, but only 85k on it, so I’m hoping all of your positive thinking will keep things under the hood all good for another 25k or so.

I honestly expected the car to get hot before it ran out of oil, but I may be completely wrong on that one.

Very good advice!! A few years ago my wife had the oil light come on and immediately stopped the car, called the AAA and had the car towed to the nearest shop. It turned ou the crankcase was full, but the light had shortcircuited. Better a false alarm than a real one ignored!

You are wrong. You’d most likely score up the cylinder walls, and maybe even throw a rod before the car overheated. If the cooling system is in good shape, there is a lot of bad damage that can happen before the coolant boils over.

I emphasize: that 2 additional miles you drove after you “knew you were in trouble” was not as quickly as you safely could stop". Actually, where you “needed to be” was safely on the side of the road, with the engine OFF, awaiting that tow truck. A lot of engine damage can happen in as little as 100 yards (meters)!

Later, you can see the tears of the people who “pushed on, just a little bit further”!

Your engine is damaged goods since more than likely some damage was occurring before the oil light came on due to the oil level being extremely low. The reason for this is that most oil pressure sending units are designed to turn the light off at a very low pressure; sometimes as low as 5 PSI. Five PSI may kill the light but it’s not enough pressure to prevent damage.
Overheating is not a symptom you should be looking for in regards to low oil level.

You should consider dumping the car, get into the market for another engine, or not stray too far from home until the bitter end.

I would continue to drive the car and keep your fingers crossed. If it drives normally and doesn’t use more oil than before you may have dodged a bullet.