No oil showing on dipstick

I have been taking my 2005 Ford F-150 8cylinder gasoline engine to the same shop for over a year for oil changes and other repairs. A few weeks ago I noticed a noise from under the hood like the engine was knocking so I took it to the same shop. They said the timing chain was knocking and there was no oil on the dipstick. I had been 5,536 miles since they had last changed the oil. I told them I was surprised that there was no oil and they said in the central Florida heat the oil will evaporate. Well I find that explanation bizarre! I think possibly they did not put back the proper amount of oil when they changed it last. Now I have engine knocking noise and the shop won’t do anything about it. Can anyone offer another explanation why the oil would disappear?

The oil evaporation thing is bogus.

The issue, however, is that you simply cannot go 5K miles or more without checking your oil. No matter what comes out of this, I’m sorry to say that it is on you. You might put it on the shop if you drove it in to them every 500 miles or so the check the oil. Oil leaks, oil burns. The need to add between changes is very normal. Start checking your oil at least every 500 miles.

I have no idea why the shop fed you garbage about oil evaporating unless it was a non-mechanic front counter person who does not know any better.

If you’re using extended oil change intervals such as 4 or 5k miles it could be that the oil wiper rings on the pistons are coked up. This would be your fault for not changing the oil more often.

If you are not raising the hood every few weeks to check the engine oil level and simply relying on the oil level remaining constant between changes this would also be your fault.

Running the engine out of or very low on oil is your fault and your fault alone. Do not point the finger at the shop for the evaporation theory (as misguided as it may be) because that theory came after the fact.

The oil evaporated?? Wow…that is hilarious! I doubt this is their fault. You have driven the truck over 5k miles. If you haven’t checked the oil in that time this is your problem completely. You may have a leak, a new leak, which in the course of 5536 miles, caused your oil to become low and now you have engine damage. If you don’t have a leak, the engine could be burning a small amount of oil and over time it got low. Your truck has a dipstick for a reason.

Did you check the oil level any time during the 5,536 miles. Most manufacturers consider 1 qt/1000 miles within normal usage and state the oil level should be checked at every fill-up. Even if the garage was negligent, after this much mileage I don’t think there’s any way to prove it.

Everything else being normal, a sticking PCV valve can increase oil usage. This happened recently with my 93 Caprice. It was only down 1/2 qt. but it was the first time there was oil consumption between oil changes.

Ed B.

So their position is that the Florida heat is worse than the heat generated by an engine? And these are the same geniuses who changed your oil the last time?

If you don’t have any obvious leaks (and they would have to be obvious to lose that much oil in just over 5000 miles) then I think you can safely conclude that they failed to put enough oil in your engine at the last oil change. Good luck proving it.

Safely conclude they failed to put enough oil in it? Please.
So it took 5,536 miles for this oversight to pop up?

And the shop changed the LAST YEAR! What you can safely conclude is that this engine is sludged up, burning oil, and blown up because of the oil change habits and not raising the damned hood often enough.

I can believe the oil evaporating explanation from the mechanic.

We all know that Florida is constantly over 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which is roughly the temperature that oil turns into vapor.

You can’t really blame the shop for putting in too little oil if you don’t check it after they do an oil change, now can you?

Its not their problem, only yours.


After I have my car serviced and the oil changed I check the oil level myself. Doing so eliminates any question as to whether the oil was or wasn’t in the truck after the last oil change. Then I check my oil at least monthly and top off if needed.

After pulling my horse trailer my SUV needs a bit of oil. If your truck got 2 quarts low on oil say at about 3K miles after the oil change the remaining 3 quarts of oil works much harder and burns off faster. The next 1K miles could eaaily burn off another quart. Now you are down to 2 quarts of oil. That means very little resting and cooling in the oil pan as virtually all the oil is circulating in the motor all the time. That last bit of oil will burn off very fast, then you are down to zip and you hear noises and likely something in the motor is damaged.

Running the truck 5K miles without checking the oil level is very risky. Maybe you didn’t realize the risk, but now you know.

The car engine is a LOT hotter then temps Florida has seen in probably over 50 million years… There is no way it evaporated.

However you should always check the oil ever 1k miles or so. I check mine once a week. Never had a problem, but it’s still a good thing to do.

The shop shouldn’t do anything about it. You have absolutely no proof that it was low after their work. This is the risk you take when you ignore your owner’s manual.

Oil evaporation. That sounds like a quick oil change place. If it was not before, I’ll bet it will be now.

II agree with the others in that oil evaporation theory is completely asinine. But you’re the one at fault for failing to check the oil level, and then driving the truck to the shop despite the audible knocking. Unfortunately this one is on the OP.

Generally speaking oil usage of 1 quart per 1000 miles is considered “within spec” for the industry. If your truck’s oil pan holds 5 or 6 quarts of oil and drove your truck for 5.5k miles without checking the oil level, it’s possible that your truck could’ve just burned through 5 or 6 quarts of oil when left to its own devices. It’s also entirely possible that you have a small oil leak or a combination of the two.

Oh, I think you can safely conclude that too. I was just trying to be nice. And yes, if they filled it a quart low, for example, it could be the sort of thing a person wouldn’t notice right away, especially if they’re the type not to pay attention to their car (trust me, I’m married to one of them). Did you think I was saying that they didn’t put ANY oil in it?

Am I misreading this? 1 quart per 1000 miles? You’re saying my engine could be bone dry in 5000 miles? I’m never driving again.

FoDaddy is right…but IMHO…if ANY new vehicle is using even 1 quart every 3k miles…somethings wrong…But the auto industry is claiming the 1quart every 1k miles to cover their but. I’ve had vehicles go well past 250k miles and they never used one drop of oil between my 5k mile oil changes…But you should still check the oil every 1k miles or so…

I’m in the same boat as you, Mike. I’ve owned lots of cars from lots of different manufacturers, I tend to keep them for at least 200,000 miles, and I’ve never owned a single one that burned any discernible amount of oil in 5000 miles.

Regardless of what the shop said, if you’ve driven your 5 year old truck for 5,536 miles without ever checking the oil, than YOU are responsible for the oil having run out and for the resulting knocking. Read your owners’ manual. That defines your responsibilities as the vehicle owner. Routinely checking the oil level is one of them.

By the way, I’d have been more inclined to suspect the knocking was a “bearing knock”, which occurs from starving the main and rod bearings of the oil that they need to survive. You’re very lucky that the engine didn’t seize completely. Repairing the damage will be expensive.

Bottom line: you have been grossly neglegent in maintaining your vehicle. You are responsible for the resulting damage.

Sorry, but that’s the truth.

I couldn’t have said it better than mountainbike did.

Even if the OP has never previously had a vehicle that burned oil, she apparently has one now.
Oil consumption can increase as an engine wears, so after 5 years, it is entirely conceivable that the engine burned through 5 qts of oil in 5k miles.

This is a very hard way for the OP to learn a lesson in car care, but the fact remains that a vehicle owner should do an under-hood check at least every few weeks in order to ensure that all fluids are at the correct level. What happened to her truck is the result of not doing this normal bit of due diligence.

Whether I change the oil myself or have someone do it, I check the oil level afterward. You can always have a bad filter or plug that leaks. Also leaks can develop and can drain an engine pretty quickly which is the reason for checking oil each time you get gas.