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Here’s What Happens When You Run An Engine Without Oil

We all know why your engine needs oil and how important it is to change the oil in your car, but what happens when there’s no oil in it at all? An internal combustion engine will run without oil for a little while, but then it’ll quickly destroy itself, often in spectacular fashion.

That’s the subject of this new video from Engineering Explained, where host Jason Fenske first points a thermal camera at a cheap single-cylinder engine running with oil, then the same engine running without. Without oil, the engine runs for around 15 minutes without bursting into a cloud of smoke, but taking it apart reveals some serious damage.

Lacking proper lubrication, all the metal components in the engine rub against each other, causing an incredible amount of premature wear. If the oil-less engine had run for much longer, it very well could have seized.

So, don’t drain your car of oil just to see what happens. Unless you want to buy a new engine.

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