PLEASE HELP! was low on oil, but no oil pressure light went on. car died on freeway. - Toyota RAV4 Forums
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#1 (permalink) Old 01-21-2010, 11:51 PM
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PLEASE HELP! was low on oil, but no oil pressure light went on. car died on freeway.

i noticed my 97 rav4 smelled like burning oil (only slightly) yesterday. today i filled up the gas tank and checked the oil. it was not registering on the dipstick but the oil light was not on (i see the oil light does light up when the engine is off -when all the icons are lit up so i know it at least has a bulb in it).

So, i added a quart of oil and drove onto the freeway. i noticed a little more oil smoke (not a bunch) coming out of the hood -- i think it is because of the oil hitting a hot part of the engine and making it thus smoke.

also the my temperature gauge was normal, and again the oil pressure light never went on.

Before my Rav4 died on the freeway, the engine did not sound weird, no pings, no grinding. it sounded totally like it always does. but then it suddenly started loosing power, and wouldn't respond normally when in 3rd gear (it'a a manual). i tried to down shift to 2nd, but it was not responding. it's like the car didn't even have a key in it. The lights still go on. a small clicking sound like the starter still works. but i am worried the engine is seized up.


do you think i still could have blown my engine? or could it be the timing belt...?

i immedialtly pulled over on the freeway, had the car towed home. Checked the dipstick again, and now again the oil does not register on the stick. i fear that the engine is seized due to my negiect even though the car did not overheat nor the engine light come on....

argggg. Thank you in advance for any advice.
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#2 (permalink) Old 01-22-2010, 02:04 AM
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Ouch this sounds pretty serious.

Although I am not sure what issues you are dealing with now I can relate what happened to my 97Rav last year.
Mine does use oil so I have to keep close eye on the oil levels. One day I checked the oil and it was just barely registering on the dip stick and the oil light never came on. Odd because it had never dropped like that so quickly.
Turns out it was leaking pretty badly from the oil pressure sending unit but only when the engine was running. So it was a double -whammy in that the unit that should have alerted the low oil pressure was itself bad. I caught the problem, probably in the nick of time.

I hope your rav will be ok.
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#3 (permalink) Old 01-22-2010, 02:27 AM
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If the engine died like you said while driving and it didn't start again, then it's the timing belt. But you have to check why your oil isn't registering in the dipstick. It's the only way you can check if you have sufficient engine oil without having to go through the trouble of taking out the oil pan everytime you need to check.

A blown or damaged but not a totalled engine will still start but will have loss of power.

Stop whining and crying like a baby! Life sucks deal with it!
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#4 (permalink) Old 01-22-2010, 02:44 AM
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Pull the plugs and put it in 3rd gear and try to push it a little to see if motor will move, thats where I would start.
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#5 (permalink) Old 01-22-2010, 08:57 AM
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Since I've been here the 3SFE engine has always burn oil. Forget about the light. It comes on when it's too late. My engine has only 84K miles on it. But they are very hard miles. Add to that an all year round temperature of about 80 degrees.

I did two things. A little over done, but it worked for me. I added an engine oil cooler along with a transaxle oil cooler. I also added a quart of Lucas stabilizer oil. End of problem. I've NEVER added oil between oil changes.

dbelisle , I'm sorry to say, I think you will need another engine.
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#6 (permalink) Old 01-22-2010, 11:47 AM
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I don't think it's a catastrophic failure - not oil related, although if it wasn't registering on the dipstick you're not being a good owner!
If you ran out of oil, she'd seize and likely not turn over again.

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#7 (permalink) Old 01-22-2010, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cb1000rider
I don't think it's a catastrophic failure - not oil related, although if it wasn't registering on the dipstick you're not being a good owner!
If you ran out of oil, she'd seize and likely not turn over again.
i know, i feel like an idiot for not being on top of checking the oil. i did drive a bunch yesterday and only added 1 quart. it's a mistake i'll never make again.

i called my friend who is a ups mechanic and he's coming over to try and turn the engine with a wrench. he told me actually that since it didnt grind or make horrible noises before it died, or poof-out white smoke, that he thinks it is the timing belt and not a blown engine. my 97 rav is at 90k, and i don't think it has ever been replaced before. god i hope that's all it is.

when timing belts go, is there a bunch of oil loss? i've never had an oil leak in my rav, and never had had to top off the oil. i get the oil changed regularly too..

thanks everyone for your words.
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#8 (permalink) Old 01-22-2010, 12:55 PM
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Er, given that we are not driving cars with the inner quietness of a Rolls Royce, I think you'd know if the engine had run out of oil and seized.

The noise well before that had happened would have alerted you to the fact that there was a problem. It would have been TAP TAP TAP TAP like crazy. And deafening.

In my younger years I drove many a car with an oil leak. Back then we knew from the sound of the engine when it was time to add another bottle.

So I doubt this is an oil-related seizure.

Proud owner of a 1999 4.1 and a 2011 V6 with 3rd row!
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#9 (permalink) Old 01-22-2010, 01:16 PM
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You can try to turn the motor over yourself.. Use the starter.
It's a non-interference motor - so it won't hurt anything if you break the timing belt.
If something internal went, you were probably turning good RPMs anyway and the damage is done.
Try to start it, see if it turns over... If it does, you didn't seize it.

Your 97 has a distributor (I think) - if it's cam driven, pop the cover, see if the rotor turns when the motor is cranking.. If it doesn't, you've popped the timing belt.

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#10 (permalink) Old 01-22-2010, 02:22 PM
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When my belt broke about 2years ago, had to replace all the valves and seals, and had it serviced at a machine shop for clearance. Is it also cheaper in your area to have a top overhaul than buying a new engine?

Stop whining and crying like a baby! Life sucks deal with it!
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