Can Low Oil Cause Reduced Engine Power

Oil is important for the proper functioning of a car, it is needed for lubricating the various components of an engine, without it the car is as good as dead.

The right amount of oil is required in the oil pan in order to build the right oil pressure hence, the need to always top up and change the oil regularly. Therefore, can low oil cause reduced engine power?

Since low engine oil pressure can cause damage to different parts of the engine, therefore, low oil can cause reduced engine power. However, if a car is having low oil, it is very easy to detect.

What Does Low Oil in a Car Mean?

Low oil in a car simply means the oil in the engine is no longer sufficient for lubrication. For an engine to function properly there is a required amount of oil that should be present, if for some reason the oil gets low it is advisable to stop the car as failure to do this may cause lots of damage.

Most parts of an engine need to be lubricated continuously in order to function optimally, the major source of lubrication for these parts is the oil.

A shortage of oil will prevent oil from going through the necessary channels in the engine to provide sufficient lubrication, this will in turn cause them to seize or stop working.

Some of the problems low oil can cause in a car are reduced fuel economy and partial or complete damage to the engine.

The problems caused by low oil can be prevented if only one will take note of the signs that show a change of oil is in order. Some of these signs are;

  • Engine noise
  • Smelling oil inside the car
  • Exhaust smoke
  • Checking the oil mileage sticker
  • The oil check light on the dashboard etc.

Taking immediate action when some of these signs show up will save you a lot of stress and money.

Can Low Oil Cause Reduced Engine Power?

Low oil can cause reduced engine power however, often times a reduced engine performance may be attributed to problems with some other engine components but a low oil.

Low oil is not a common cause of reduced engine power but the possibility is there. In some instances where an engine has low oil, the oil pressure will also be reduced, reduced oil pressure will lead to a lack of acceleration and hesitation.

The oil level will determine whether it will reduce the engine’s performance and to what extent. Oil level varies even when it is considered low and it also has varying effects on an engine.

What Happens When Low Oil Causes Engine Power Reduction?

It has been established that low oil is not a common cause of engine power reduction but the possibility is there. If an engine’s power reduces as a result of low oil, what will happen?

  • Reduced Fuel Efficiency: One of the many things that will happen with reduced engine power is reduced fuel efficiency. The amount of fuel that will usually cover certain miles will no longer be enough to cover it. It will be more like the engine is drinking the fuel without much result, spending more on fuel than usual.
  • Engine Stalling: When major engine parts are not well lubricated, they will not work like they used to which will result in stalling. Even if you are able to start the car, it may suddenly stop working or cease operation leaving you to wonder why.

What to Do When Low Oil Causes Engine Power Reduction?

Over time, one may experience engine power reduction due to low oil. Knowing what to do at times like that may not be easy for some people while for others it is a walk in the park. Here are a few things that can be done when it happens.

1. Stop the Car

If you realize your engine is running on low oil while driving, the first thing to do before seeking help should be to stop the car.

Driving with low or no oil cannot have a good end, it will only cause partial or permanent damage to the engine, damage that can result in replacing the whole engine.

2. Check the Oil Level

There are instances where the oil is completely drained out and other times it is just low. Checking the oil level will help you know the required amount needed for refilling.

3. Clean Out the Oil Pan

Since you are checking the oil level with the hope to refill, it is a good opportunity for you to clean out the oil pan.

The oil pan or sump is used for storing oil in the engine and is usually located underneath the engine. By cleaning the oil pan, you are removing dirt that may have settled below the pan.

4. Change and Top-up Oil

If you are going through the process of cleaning the oil pan then you will have to completely change the oil, but for someone without the intent of cleaning the oil pan, a top-up will be done. Although it is much better to change the oil rather than just topping up.

Can Too Much Oil Reduce Engine Power?

The right amount of oil is needed in the oil pan for an engine to be well lubricated and function well, but there are times when too much oil is poured inside the oil pan. Is it Ok to have too much oil or can too much oil reduce engine power?

Yes, too much oil can reduce engine power. The pressure on the crankshaft increases when there is too much lubricant (oil), this results in oil getting inside the crankshaft and exhaust pipe from where it gets into the combustion chamber and down to the suction hose where it blocks it thereby leading to the engine overload. Engine overload means the engine performance will be reduced.


Once you realize that your car is having low or no oil, it is advisable not to drive around with it, in fact, the car may not start or stall afterward. Driving around with it will only damage all or some parts of the engine.

As a preventive measure to all the problems that may arise with low oil, you should ensure a regular change of oil or a top-up. Changing the oil too many times is better than not changing or topping up for the longest time.