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Slow start = Engine damage?

My car is increasingly starting slower and slower. It has been getting progressively worse since about 1 week.

On top of this, a few weeks ago the oil filter had fallen off and the car was driven maybe a mile without oil. I got the oil and filter replaced and have since driven it 800 miles. It seems to drive well.

I took it to a gas-station garage and started it for the mechanic there. He told me he thought there was something going on “inside the engine.” (I had not told him about my earlier problems) He told me he could hear it as the car idled (I couldn’t tell).

Question: Is it likely the slow starting is caused by the no-oil engine damage?

I tested the battery and cables (without cranking) and they are getting a “good” reading. Headlights and other electrical systems seem to be at full power.


Someone is going to need to see it hands on to tell. It is possible that there is a connection, or maybe your battery or charging system is going bad.

I tested the battery and cables (without cranking)

How do you test a battery without cranking using the tools usually available to a car owner?

The oil filter fell off? How does an oil filter fall off?
It doesn’t matter, the engine clearly didn’t die (as it should have) during the mile on the way to wherever the oil and filter were replaced. If there are no banging noises coming out of your engine, or rapid clicking noises, I guess you dodged a bullet on the driving without any oil front.
I think you have a failing starter. Make sure the positive connection to the starter and battery is tight and clean, and make sure the negative connections are tight. If everything is tight and clean, you should remove and test the starter.

A mile without oil is enough to do significant damage to an engine. I know because I did it.

I suggest you get another opinion about the engine. It’s possible you need a new battery or something, but running the engine with no oil did not do it any good.

I used a cheap Radio Shack battery tester, set it on 15v and it indicated “good”.

Do those kind of testers measure car batteries correctly?

On a related note, the alternator seems to be putting out around 14v based on the built-in voltimeter in the car.

A mile without oil is very likely to do damage. Who put the oil filter on and when? Have you pursued this with them?

Your battery test isn’t valid. Go to a garage or auto-parts chain and have a load test done. That shouldn’t be expensive.

Is it that the starter is turning the engine over very slowly, or that the starter is turning the engine at normal speed, but it takes a lot of cranking for the engine to start?

The first place to completely lose oil is the top of the engine.

My guess is the cams got overheated, something warped, and now it’s binding.