Engine oil is necessary for the optimum lubrication of engine components. If the oil level is low, metal-on-metal contact in the engine will cause friction. As a result, the Engine will make a knocking sound due to friction when you drive.

Knocking noise is typically caused by a lack of lubrication in the crankshaft bearings, piston wrist pins, and rod bearings. Learn more about how a lack of engine oil causes a knocking sound.

Why is the engine producing knocking sounds?

The main cause of engine banging is a lack of engine oil. This can result in the following problems with engine components: 

  1. Overheating because heat is not transported to the coolant.
  2. Spaces between the piston and the cylinders.
  3. Internal rusting and corrosion.
  4. Debris and blockage in engine moving parts.

Following Engine parts can make a knocking sound owing to a lack of engine oil:

1. Friction in camshaft

Camshafts in the valve train allow air and fuel mixtures to enter the combustion chamber. A light tapping or knocking sound may be created due to internal friction in the valve train or camshaft.

The contact between the camshaft and the tappets begins to wear down due to a lack of lubrication. As a result, the engine makes a loud banging sound when the camshaft spins and the lobes lift.

2. Worn-out rod bearings

The crankshaft transfers linear motion to rotational motion. Rod bearings are in charge of the smooth movement crankshaft and piston. The piston wrist pin or rod bearing will wear out over time due to a deficiency of engine oil. 

This will cause the piston to rattle against the crankshaft, resulting in a loud knocking sound. Pressure on the bearings increases as you speed, resulting in a louder knocking sound.

How long does it take to damage an engine without oil?

When the engine knocks, the car can travel for a few miles. However, engine parts will wear and tear owing to a lack of lubrication. As a result, after 30 minutes of driving without engine oil, the car would stop automatically due to safety concerns. There’s very less chance the car will start without oil.

Driving without engine oil might result in permanent engine damage. As a result, driving a car without engine oil is not advised.

If you don’t replace your oil often, it can get your oil dirty more quickly than usual. Even if you drain and change it.

How do you know if your engine is damaged without oil?

Many signs indicate that the engine is damaged due to a lack of oil. Some of them are: 

  1. The engine may produce smoke due to inadequate lubrication and overheating.
  2. Engine parts being damaged due to a lack of oil cause the engine to stall more.
  3. You hear metal grinding noises. Worn-out engine parts can cause this sound.

indications of engine oil deficiency

  1. Smell of burning oil
  2. Oil light turning on
  3. Engine overheating problems
  4. Inadequate fuel economy
  5. Noises from the engine

Will adding oil stop engine knocking?

Whether or not adding engine oil will stop the knocking depends on how long you have been driving with low engine oil. If the engine parts have already been damaged owing to a lack of lubrication, adding engine oil will not prevent the engine from knocking. 

In that scenario, the sole solution is to replace the worn-out parts. So, to avoid low oil levels, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Old engine oil becomes clogged and causes improper engine lubrication. As a result, changing the engine oil every 7,500 to 10,000 miles is recommended. 
  2. You must be aware of the engine oil level. You should┬ácheck the oil level by reading the dipstick once in a while. Put in a quart if the oil level on the dipstick is below the “FILL” or “ADD” mark.
  3. Higher viscosity or better quality engine oil can also aid in properly lubricating engine parts and preventing engine knocking.
  4. Check that the oil filter is in good working order. This ensures that the oil is clean and properly lubricates the engine components. There are a few bad oil filter symptoms you should always be aware of.
  5. Check for any engine oil leaks. Oil seeping from the engine will result in higher oil consumption and shortage.

FAQ on Engine Knocking Without Oil

The extent of the damage determines the cost of engine knocking damage. Repairing worn-out engine parts might cost between $2,000 and $3,000, including labor. If the knocking sound is caused only by metal part friction, it can be fixed by replacing oil for as little as $20 to $60.


To summarize, engine knocking oil should be addressed. Engine knocking can occur due to a lack of lubrication in the bearings and camshaft. Running a car for a few miles without proper lubrication can cause permanent damage to engine parts. In that case, only a mechanic can repair it. It is, therefore, advisable to avoid engine knocking by maintaining the engine oil.

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