Toyota Rav 4 Ran Without little or no oil for 1 mile @ 40 mph

Took car in for service at dealer. Dealer failed to insure oil filter o ring sealed. Drove toward home about 16 miles. Can started to run rough (like dieseling) and idle unstable. Idle smoothed out. Drove another mile. Oil pressure light started blinking, then remained steady. Check Engine light on. Had to drive anothher mile to park in safe place. Parked pool of oil on ground. No oil on dipstick. Towed to dealer. Dealer admitted their fault. I requested new engine. They said, they changed oil, it started right up with no noise. Had them pull valve cover and inspected cam journals, still shiny and smooth. No debris in pan. They say it is fine and will extend the warranty on interal lubricated parts to 100k. I already had extended warranty, so they are giving me much. I am being taken advanage of, should I push for new motor, or are they doing what they are required to do?

They Screwed Up, But To Be Sure How Much, Look In Your Owner’s Manual About What To Do If The “Oil Pressure” Light Illuminates Steadily.

Tell us what it says and we’ll help.


it says “Immediatley stop the vehicle in a safe place and contact your Toyota Dealer.” The road she was on had no shoulder or side roads to park. She turned into a parking lot of the nearest shoppng center she encountered.

The damage to the rings won’t show up for awhile, probably not for 100k miles or so, but the fault is now mostly yours, you chose to drive the car for a mile after the oil light came on.

What would you have done if you had to go two miles to find a “safe place to park” and the engine froze up a mile before you got there. You wouldn’t have had a choice would you? When the oil light comes on, you have to stop the engine ASAP. A few seconds of oil light won’t do significant damage, but a minute is about when the real damage starts.

I think the dealers warrantee is a fair settlement in your case. While you certainly did some damage to your engine, I doubt that you will ever notice it. But it probably won’t make it to the 300k mark that Toyotas are known for, probably only 180 to 200k.

Keep an eye on oil consumption. If you did more damage than I suspect, you will see the engine consuming oil very soon. Check your oil level every time you fill up the gas tank for at least through the next oil change and if it starts to consume a quart of oil in less that 1000 miles, then press the dealer for a rebuild or new engine, but good luck with that. This is really a critical time for your engine. If it doesn’t consume any oil between now and the next oil change, you (and the dealer) got lucky.

You’re not going to get a new motor and unless you can PROVE damage you won’t get any more than you have already.

While many folks think they can own a car without ever looking under the hood or doing any other checks I like to give a quick look over when anyone, including myself, does any work on my car, for ‘quality assurance’.

In this case a quick look under the car for drips while it was idling in the dealership parking lot.

Drive on. Some excess wear possibly that is all.

it says ‘Immediatley stop the vehicle in a safe place and contact your Toyota Dealer.’

That’s what she did. She did what the manual said to do.

What is the model-year of the Rav-4 ?
How many miles on it ?
What was the In-Service date (month/year) ?
Is it out of original factory warranty (time/miles) ?
What is the duration of the “Extended Warranty” (time/miles) ?
Is the “Extended Warranty” an actual Toyota issued extension of the original warranty or from an aftermarket vendor ?

You state, " I requested new engine.", but you don’t say that they exactly told you “No”. Is that what they told you or did they not give a clear answer ?


I watched the oil change technician at the Rambler dealer where I traded do his job. After he drained the oil and changed the filter, he would lower the car and add the oil. He would then start the engine, raise the lift, and then with his work light, check for leaks around the oil filter and drain plug before lowering the car. I did the same thing when I changed the oil myself. It takes an extra couple of minutes, but can prevent the problem that happened to the OP.

For Years And Years Most Of My Oil Filter Boxes Included Instructions That Admonished Starting The Engine And Checking For Leaks After Installation. I don’t Think It’s On My Boxes Any More, Don’t Know Why. I Always Check This Way.


That’s what she did. She did what the manual said to do.

The breakdown lane is probably considered a safe place for the purposes of the manual - - and for the purposes of the breakdown lane for that matter. That’s why it’s there. Driving on to the next exit or parking lot is unnecessary.

The road she was on had no shoulder or side roads to park.

I took that to mean that there was no breakdown lane, no lane of any kind other than for flowing traffic. Otherwise, I’d agree. I guess that needs to be verified.


Engine oil these days has excellent residual properties and the fact that there was still some in there to leak out AFTER you stopped is a testement that there was enough oil circulating to provide sufficient lubrication.

I’ll vote for zero problems heretofore.

There is no “apparent” damage, so there is nothing to repair. The dealer is offering to guarantee that any failure in the future will be repaired and that sounds fair. But it is not acceptable to me for a mechanic to not inspect his work. After an oil change the engine should be started, the gauge/indicator observed, a close look at the filter and drain plug for leaks with the engine running and then shut off the engine and double check the dip stick. Who was it that said “If you can’t do it right don’t do it.”

There is some concern for the dealerships authority to extend the warranty. If that dealer closes, who will be responsible? Can a dealer obligate Toyota of America?

You’ve neglected to tell us the age and mileage of the vehicle. That would help.

Offhand, it sounds to me like you got a fair settlement from a dealer who accepetd responsibility for their error. I don’t think you’re being taken advantage of. I think an error happened and they gave you a fair deal in compensation.

I also belive that while some of the engine’s life may have been compromised, it’s impossible for snyone to suggest how much or speculate on whether the engine will outlive the car. Replacement with a “new” engine would, I believe, be inappropriate in this case.

2009 with 40,000 miles on car, freeway miles. Oil changes all done at dealership. We are sending in oil to be analyized to look for particulates. The mechanic said that he had confidence in it, but they did not inspect lower rod bearing as I had hoped they would.

I know for damn sure that I will check for leaks now before I leave any shop. I did this for a living a long while back and I always visually inspected the oil filter area after filling and starting the vehicle.

Yes there was no shoulder, the road drops off into drainage ditches on both sides. She pulled off and soon as she could.

It is just good common sense to get away from traffic and into a “safe” place to stop. The vast majority of drivers have no idea what the consequences of driving with no oil pressure would be and when they purchase new vehicles and pay the dealer for service they really shouldn’t need to. And, in this particular situation, if the owner had continued toward home instead of taking the first hospitable exit to stop there would be no discussion here. The dealer would be replacing the engine. But as it stands, the dealer is making a fair offer it would seem. If it were left for me to negotiate I might demand that the dealership give a $3,000 premium on a trade in.

Solingjoe, Sorry About Your Car Problem, But Congratulations.
I believe that you’ve come up with the best solutions to your own question.

Sending in oil for analysis should either 1 - obligate the dealer (They could claim that it was prior damage, but hey, look what they did. Besides, they maintain your vehicle !) or 2 - put your mind at ease.

Also, although people shoudn’t have to check up on a professional, your plan to double check their work is a good one.

How long til you get test results ?
Will you please let us know the outcome ?

Thanks, CSA

Part one

Couple of things here. The oil analysis may not be very conclusive. You should also have a mechanical oil pressure gauge hooked up and check the oil pressure hot at idle. If there is significant wear on the bearings, it will likely show up as low oil pressure under these conditions.

Ring wear will show up as oil consumption so you do need to check that oil level frequently until you establish that the engine is or is not consuming oil, and at what rate if it is. You should know within a couple of weeks if it is significant.

Checking for leaks is no guarantee that this won’t happen again. While the dealer didn’t say this, what usually happens in this case is that when the old filter was removed, its gasket stuck to the engine. When the new filter was installed, it now had two stacked gaskets. These tend to hold oil pressure for anywhere from a couple of minutes to a half an hour, then they let go and dump all the oil at a pretty quick rate.

Part two

Since there was a pool of oil under the car when she parked it, there is the possibility that the oil pump was still getting some oil to the engine, just not enough pressure to turn off the oil light.

I still think that she should have immediately pulled over as far as she could, turn on the hazard flashers and called for help, but I got on my sister in law a little while ago for about the same thing, only she less of an excuse. As she got home, the oil light came on, so she turned around and drove about three miles back to the shop. The car she has has 160k miles on it and it didn’t hurt the engine. Still no oil consumption and good oil pressure.