No Oil on Dipstick: Possible Causes and What To Do

Seeing no oil on dipstick can be alarming, whether you’re a new car owner or an experienced one. When this happens, it means there’s no oil in the car, which can cause damage to your car’s engine.

No Oil on Dipstick Possible Causes and What To Do

There are several causes of no oil on the dipstick; the most common one being a low oil level. This complete guide discusses possible causes of this problem and how you can easily resolve them.

What Are the Reasons for No Oil on Dipstick?

The reasons for no oil on dipstick include a low oil level, oil leaks, and using the wrong dipstick. A malfunctioning engine that consumes too much oil can also cause this problem, as well as a recent engine oil replacement. There are several other causes of no oil on a dipstick, which we will discuss below.

But first, there are tell-tale signs to look out for when your oil is low. Strange noises like grinding or whining sounds are signs you see when your oil is low. You’ll also notice that your engine overheats more, and there’s a significant decrease in fuel economy.

Another sign is that you’ll spend more money fixing worn engine parts due to excessive wear and tear. A burning fuel smell also fills the car’s cabin whenever you turn on your engine.

– Reduced Oil Level

If your oil level reduces, it can indicate no oil on your dipstick. Engine oil is an essential part of any automobile, and a lack of it can cause severe issues for your vehicle’s performance. It’s easy to forget to top up or replace a car’s oil while busy with daily tasks.

However, driving a car that is low on oil increases the risk of damage to all rotating components. Low oil increases friction in those parts, resulting in excessive wear. Also, a lack of lubrication increases the engine’s temperature, which can cause overheating.

You may also notice that your engine parts corrode faster. Increased fuel economy is another issue that arises from a reduced oil level. Since there’s no lubrication, your engine will work harder to function well, increasing fuel usage. At this point, your check engine warning light will turn on to indicate a problem.

– Oil Leakage

Oil leakage is another common cause of no oil on dipstick. If your car leaks, it can cause a quick depreciation of useful oil, which has devastating effects. There are several reasons for oil spills, and one of the most common is a broken gasket. A gasket distributes oil, coolants, and gasses throughout the engine.

However, the gasket can suffer damage from natural wear or force of impact, causing a leak. Other causes of oil spills include a damaged oil pump, worn seals, or even a crack in your engine. A clogged or damaged filter can also cause oil to leak from your car, but whatever the case, you’ll always have a low oil level because there are several points oil seeps.

Hence, your dipstick will always indicate no oil, even if you just recently filled your engine. How long does it take for a car without oil to show effects? It takes about 30 minutes until an engine starts to suffer without oil.

Since oil is essential to any engine, it will lose proper function without a constant supply. Although some engines may fail before 30 minutes without oil, the average engine can last up to 30 minutes before it finally stops working.

– The Engine May Be Using More Oil Than Usual

No oil on dipstick can also occur if your engine uses more oil than usual. In this case, you must carry out urgent repairs because it indicates serious trouble with your engine. When your engine’s oil consumption increases, it may be a sign that you have damaged piston rings or seals.

Reasons for No Oil on Dipstick

Also, older engines consume more oil than new engines because their performance has deteriorated. A failed head gasket is also a culprit that increases how much oil the car engine consumes. You may also need to pay close attention to your oil type.

Using oils that are not specific to your engine will increase your fuel consumption. It also causes damage to engine parts. You’ll always have a low oil supply if your engine uses more oil than normal.

– Recent Engine Oil Replacement

It might be surprising, but a recent oil change is a cause of no oil showing on your dipstick. If you’re a new car owner and you notice your dipstick indicates no oil soon after an oil change, you don’t need to fret.

You’ll usually need to wait five or 10 minutes after an oil change before you use a dipstick. This period gives the oil time to settle and spread to parts that need it. Hence, using a dipstick immediately after you change your oil will likely result in a no-oil sign.

– Using the Wrong Dipstick

Sometimes, the problem may have nothing to do with insufficient lubrication or leaks and everything to do with the dipstick. Yes, the dipstick can indicate a “no oil” sign, especially if it is the wrong type. There are two cases where a dipstick can be the wrong type.

First, the dipstick may not suit your vehicle. Contrary to what you may think, every engine comes with its dipstick for a reason. Using the wrong type will compromise the result for sure. Also, using a dirty or clogged dipstick can affect its readings, resulting in no oil even when there is enough oil in your engine.

What Are the Best Fixes for No Oil on Dipstick?

The best fixes for no oil on dipstick include topping up your oil and repairing all leaks. You should also service and repair your engine using the right dipstick. Once you can do these solutions, your dipstick should show a positive result.

– Top Up Oil

Perhaps the most efficient fix for no oil showing on your dipstick is to top up the car’s oil. Once you top up the engine oil, your engine works with more smoothness, and your dipstick can make a more accurate reading. You don’t need to wait until your car stops or the dashboard light comes on before you refill your engine with oil.

It would be best if you did this as often as possible. Likewise, you must ensure you are using clean oil for your car. If the oil looks worn or dirty, drain it before topping up the engine. An important thing to note when filling your engine is its capacity.

Different engines have different capacities, and you need to know yours to avoid overfilling. Overfilling can cause an overflow, leading to more spills. Once you can increase the level of your oil, you will find that it resolves the main problem. You also prevent wear and tear, corrosion, engine overheating, and overall damage to your vehicle.

– Fix All Leaks

Since leaks contribute to low oil supply to the engine, you should make sure that you fix all leakage points. Ensure you inspect the entire engine and transmission compartment for any cracks or visible damage. Repair your broken seals, gaskets, and damaged oil pump.

Once you can fix the points where the leak occurs, your oil will last longer. Hence, your dipstick won’t indicate any oil whenever you check, even when you fill your engine often.

Fixing engine leaks can be tedious unless you have technical knowledge. If you don’t, you should reach out to a licensed mechanic for specific diagnoses and repairs. Trying some DIY techniques without proper knowledge can cause further damage to your engine and other parts.

– Check and Repair Engine Issues

If you are dealing with your engine consuming more oil than normal, that’s your cue to check and repair underlying issues. You should fix your worn piston rings or seals if you notice they are causing the problem. Likewise, servicing your old engine may reduce the amount of oil it consumes.

Best Fixes for No Oil on Dipstick


Although replacing an old engine with a new one can be expensive, we recommend this option. Servicing an old engine might seem like it doesn’t cost much. However, this expense builds up because the engine will require constant servicing.

A new engine may cost much in purchase and installation, but you won’t need to spend much on constant servicing. This reduces the rate at which your engine consumes oil and makes your car perform better.

– Ensure You Use the Right Oil

Using the right oil for your engine is an underrated fix. You can always refer to your car owner’s manual or a professional mechanic for the right type of oil for your vehicle. The right oil will work perfectly and reduce the rate at which the engine is consuming oil.

Aside from using the specified engine oil, it would help if you also bought high-quality oils. Although low-quality oils are cheap, they don’t work as well as the former. They tend to dry up faster, and this can cause damage to your engine parts. Using the right type of oil will keep your engine lubricated and prevent wear, rust, or overheating.

– Make Sure Your Oil Is Being Poured Into the Right Place

Another efficient fix is to ensure you’re pouring oil into the right compartment. Although one can consider it a beginner’s mistake, some people may pour oil into their transmission instead of the engine. If this happens, your dipstick will indicate no oil when you place it in the engine.

Hence, you should ensure that you’re pouring the oil into the right spot. How soon after filling the engine does oil appear on the dipstick? It takes five to 10 minutes before the oil starts appearing on the dipstick.

Hence, we advise vehicle owners to wait some minutes after filling the engine before checking with a dipstick for an accurate reading.

– Change or Clean Your Dipstick

Finally, you can fix the problem of no oil showing on the dipstick by changing or cleaning your dipstick. If you’ve misplaced the dipstick that comes with your engine, you can order one from the manufacturer’s website. You can also get it from any reputable auto parts store.

Cleaning Car Dipstick

With the right dipstick, you can get a more precise reading. Likewise, it would help if you cleaned your dipstick every time you use it to check your fluid level.

You don’t have to wait until there’s a grime or dirt buildup before cleaning. Besides, cleaning a dipstick doesn’t require much except a clean paper towel or rag. Hence, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t clean your dipstick right after use.

What happens if you lose your dipstick?

You can replace a lost dipstick by checking the manufacturer’s website or auto dealership shop for a new one. Always have your dipstick in your car, so you can always check your fluid level whenever the need arises.

Frequently Asked Questions

– How Can You Tell From the Dipstick if Engine Oil Is New or Used?

You can tell from the dipstick if engine oil is new or used by how it appears. New oil tends to have a light brown or near amber color.

On the other hand, old oil has a darker color, sometimes bordering between black or deep red.Older oils tend to look dirtier, so you can tell without difficulty.

– What Is the Meaning of the Holes on an Oil Dipstick?

The holes on an oil dipstick mean the engine’s oil levels. The topmost holes represent the add/low mark when your oil is hot. The bottom holes represent the add/low mark when your oil is cold. These lines are also used to determine the oil pressure in your engine.

Conclusion of No Oil on Dipstick


No oil on dipstick results from several factors related to lubrication and the engine itself.

Here’s a summary of the main points we’ve discussed in this article:

  • No oil on dipstick results from reduced oil levels, issues with the engine, using the wrong dipstick, and leaks.
  • You can fix the problem of no oil showing on your dipstick by filling or replacing the oil when needed. You should also repair worn or damaged engine parts, use the right engine-specific oil, and clean/change the dipstick.
  • You can always get a new dipstick from the manufacturer’s website or auto dealerships.

Having no oil showing on your dipstick no longer needs to be alarming. With all that we’ve discussed in this article, you can now identify the causes of this issue and take immediate action.

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