How far can the FZJ80 go without oil?

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Dec 21, 2021
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Semmes, AL
I've always been curious about this. I figure you cruiser heads will have the answers. The details are as follows:
-I purchased the 1997 LC in 2002. In 2015 daughter #3 was using it as a daily driver. We live in Mobile, AL and she was attending college in Tallahassee FL which is about 240 miles away.
-Cruiser was taken in for oil change at (Mobile, AL) business on 8/11/2015 with 186,168 mileage.
-In April of 2016 (Tallahassee) with 192,104 mileage, the truck started knocking badly and stalled. #3 managed to re-start after a few minutes and drove about 5 miles to her apartment and parked it. (I know- 1000 miles past due on the oil change)!
-I had the truck towed to a local Tallahassee repair shop and the mechanic said there was no oil in the engine. He pulled the oil pan and said it was bone dry and that he'd never seen an oil pan completely dry. He said there were no signs of an oil leak on the engine nor could I find any signs of a major oil spill in her parking lot.
-I would estimate #3 made at least 4 round trips between home and college with the rest of mileage being local.
- So... is it possible that at the 186,168 mile oil change, they didn't refill the oil and the cruiser traveled 6k miles without oil? OR, did the engine consume 7-8 quarts of oil?
FWIW-I started to junk it but decided to let the repair shop install a reman engine. It's no longer a daily driver but I still have it and after about 30k on the reman it still runs great.
 
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Not that long.
 
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If the oil pan was completely empty the engine would have seized in dozens of miles, not after 6000. More likely the engine was burning oil and eventually burned most of the oil up until it got to the point that no oil was circulating, then it started to seize. Doubt the pan was completely dry.

Did the shop tear down the original motor to look at the bearings, crank, camshafts, etc?
 
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First task before handing over a vehicle to one of your kids is to teach them how to check the levels of engine oil, transmission oil, coolant, brake fluid and tyre pressure. Something that should be done every couple of weeks (or more often if driven a lot). Teach them the sound of squeal tabs on the brake pads - not to be ignored :)

A lot of 80's happily consume a quart per 1000 miles (or more). So, doesn't take too long to end up with an empty sump...

Unless the sensor or bulb is blown, there's a low oil warning lamp on the dash that kicks on when the oil gets a bit below minimum on the dip stick... Should light up as self test when key is first turned to 'on'.

cheers,
george.
 

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No oil or other fluid in the oil pan, I would say 10 miles before knocking gets bad and 15-20 for something real bad to happen. If there's something in the pan the oil pump can pump like coolant or fuel even, you can go a lot further.

Thousands of miles not possible.

An engine that burns oil with the best of them doesn't burn all of it. The engine tends to burn less oil the lower the oil level is. Even engines that are real rough shape with a hole in the block or piston or broken rings won't lose all the oil. They tend to hang onto a 1/2 qt or more no matter what.
 
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= 5,936 miles. WhadIwin?
 
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George_tlc said: First task before handing over a vehicle to one of your kids is to teach them how to check the levels of engine oil, transmission oil, coolant, brake fluid and tyre pressure.

This is so important. I suspect many of us, at least those over 40, grew up working on our own bicycles, go-karts, motorcycles, then our first car (old Chevy in my case). We did this because either we were curious and/or our families didn't have the money to throw things away, the only way to get things done was to fix it yourself.

The current generation knows how to install apps on their $1000 phones but many don't have a clue how to work on vehicle, not even the basics of checking fluids, tire pressure, etc,etc.

Example: I recall visiting a relative some years ago, her son came home and figured I'd check a few things on his beater car with him. Damn, the engine bay was a disaster area, the brake fluid reservoir cap was off, fluid exposed to the air, low on engine oil, etc,etc. I fixed what I could and showed him how to check a few things but I got the impression at the time that to him it was like looking at a Space Shuttle engine.

Some months later he seized up the engine due to oil starvation. The low oil level idiot light had came on, and stayed on, but he never bothered to actually check the oil level.

So it would be interesting, as mentioned above, if the low oil level
light had come on (OP's daughters vehicle) weeks/months before the engine ran out of oil??
 
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No oil or other fluid in the oil pan, I would say 10 miles before knocking gets bad and 15-20 for something real bad to happen. If there's something in the pan the oil pump can pump like coolant or fuel even, you can go a lot further.

Thousands of miles not possible.

An engine that burns oil with the best of them doesn't burn all of it. The engine tends to burn less oil the lower the oil level is. Even engines that are real rough shape with a hole in the block or piston or broken rings won't lose all the oil. They tend to hang onto a 1/2 qt or more no matter what.
First task before handing over a vehicle to one of your kids is to teach them how to check the levels of engine oil, transmission oil, coolant, brake fluid and tyre pressure. Something that should be done every couple of weeks (or more often if driven a lot). Teach them the sound of squeal tabs on the brake pads - not to be ignored :)

A lot of 80's happily consume a quart per 1000 miles (or more). So, doesn't take too long to end up with an empty sump...

Unless the sensor or bulb is blown, there's a low oil warning lamp on the dash that kicks on when the oil gets a bit below minimum on the dip stick... Should light up as self test when key is first turned to 'on'.

cheers,
george.
Great advice George! I did show them how to change a tire and about brake tab squeal but absolutely failed on teaching the "check the fluid course".
 
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George_tlc said: First task before handing over a vehicle to one of your kids is to teach them how to check the levels of engine oil, transmission oil, coolant, brake fluid and tyre pressure.

This is so important. I suspect many of us, at least those over 40++, grew up working on our own bicycles, go-karts, motorcycles, then our first car (old Chevy in my case). We did this because either we were curious and/or our families didn't have the money to throw things away, the only way to get things done was to fix it yourself.

The current generation knows how to install apps on their $1000 phones but many don't have a clue how to work on vehicle, not even the basics of checking fluids, tire pressure, etc,etc.

Example: I recall visiting a relative some years ago, her son came home and figured I'd check a few things on his beater car with him. Damn, the engine bay was a disaster area, the brake fluid reservoir cap was off, fluid exposed to the air, low on engine oil, etc,etc. I fixed what I could and showed him how to check a few things but I got the impression at the time that to him it was like looking at a Space Shuttle engine.

Some months later he seized up the engine due to oil starvation. The low oil level idiot light had came on, and stayed on, but he never bothered to actually check the oil level.

So it would be interesting, as mentioned above, if the low oil level
light had come on (OP's daughters vehicle) weeks/months before the engine ran out of oil??
#3 is pretty sharp. No idiot light ever illuminated as I know of. The invoice on the engine swap included an oil level sensor but don't know if that was due to the lack of oil.
 
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If the oil pan was completely empty… I suspect an eco warrior/someone your daughter has pissed off drained the sump the night before it failed.
I think we can rule out the eco warrior. Not many of those in central FL. But the PO'd someone is an interesting angle. 🤔
 
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Something fishy about the story. No way it was "bone dry" without someone draining it.

I was a mechanic for over 20 years. Last 15 of them at a Caterpillar dealership. I've seen freshly installed engines mistakenly started without oil damage the crank and bearings almost immediately. I've seen low oil eventually cause a rod knock with failure close behind.

There would have been bad noises before it stalled (seized). She was lucky (or maybe not) that it started after it cooled off. I'm surprised she made it that far.

I'm wondering if it was just very low from lack of checking it, which could cause it to seize. And if the mechanic exaggerated on the lack of oil.

I'm glad she wasn't stranded or in a crash because of this. Expensive fix but, things could have been worse. #3 is unharmed.
 
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"So I guess that means bullet proof is not the same as oil less proof."

Land Cruisers have a reputation for "going a million miles" but often that's from people who don't actually own one and heard it from someone or read it somewhere. Those of us who've owned them for 20+ years know the million mile thing is an exaggeration. They can go a million miles, but not without a lot of preventive maintenance, repairs, engine/head rebuilds, etc, etc. along the way.
 
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Something fishy about the story. No way it was "bone dry" without someone draining it.

I was a mechanic for over 20 years. Last 15 of them at a Caterpillar dealership. I've seen freshly installed engines mistakenly started without oil damage the crank and bearings almost immediately. I've seen low oil eventually cause a rod knock with failure close behind.

There would have been bad noises before it stalled (seized). She was lucky (or maybe not) that it started after it cooled off. I'm surprised she made it that far.

I'm wondering if it was just very low from lack of checking it, which could cause it to seize. And if the mechanic exaggerated on the lack of oil.

I'm glad she wasn't stranded or in a crash because of this. Expensive fix but, things could have been worse. #3 is unharmed.
Your right about the fishy part. I've been scratching my head about that ever since. Lack of oil could have been exaggerated. (Mechanic listed as 7 qts low). Daughter said it ran great until it seized and started up again about 15 mins later. I have no idea how far she'd traveled after she left her last stop .
 

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So I guess that means bullet proof is not the same as oil less proof. :(

Something fishy about the story. No way it was "bone dry" without someone draining it.

I was a mechanic for over 20 years. Last 15 of them at a Caterpillar dealership. I've seen freshly installed engines mistakenly started without oil damage the crank and bearings almost immediately. I've seen low oil eventually cause a rod knock with failure close behind.

There would have been bad noises before it stalled (seized). She was lucky (or maybe not) that it started after it cooled off. I'm surprised she made it that far.

I'm wondering if it was just very low from lack of checking it, which could cause it to seize. And if the mechanic exaggerated on the lack of oil.

I'm glad she wasn't stranded or in a crash because of this. Expensive fix but, things could have been worse. #3 is unharmed.

I've seen several large diesels started without oil in them. Detroit 149 series and 855/ N14 Cummins. Probably 10-15 minutes run time and there wasn't ever any damage to the crank or bearings. There was assembly lube in the engines, but that's it.

In my teens and early 20's I was into things that went fast. I bought a sh!tbox 70 Ranchero that had a 460 partially swapped in. It was a cobbled mess, but I bought the car for what the tires were worth so I finished it, welded the rear diff and had some fun with it. On it's 4th or 5th outing I was about 20 miles from home at a friend's shop where I laid a hundred feet or so of dark rubber patches upon leaving. At some point during that 3rd gear valve float burnout the oil pressure sender in the top rear of the block fell out. I guess it wasn't tight? Who knows. About 16 miles into the drive home at 45-60 MPH I went over a small bridge with concrete sides and heard the engine clatter bouncing off the pavement for the first time. My windows were even down so I was surprised I hadn't heard it before the bridge. The car's dash gauges didn't work. I had a spare early high compression 460 so I wasn't worried about that engine in the least. I decided to see how far it would go. About 3 more miles after that bridge it started knocking real bad and losing power so I very carefully pulled the shifter into 1st and pushed the pedal to the floor. About 3/4 mile later the front two rods cut through the skirt of the block and took the camshaft out. I, and the 3 friends crammed in the bench seat with me, were all thoroughly impressed. That 460 put up a good fight.

After a short walk to my house to get my truck and trailer and retrieving the Ranchito I re-vissited the scene of the big burnout and followed the trail of oil on the road for a 1/2 mile until it stopped. I was surprised I didn't smell the oil at all. Not sure that would have stopped me anyway. I was already determined to scatter that engine.

So in my experience, a 10:1 compression 460 will make it almost 20 miles without oil with "spirited" driving practices.

I bet a 1ZF would go further. It has lower compression, more crank bearings and a chunked rod cannot take out a camshaft.
 
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"So I guess that means bullet proof is not the same as oil less proof."

Land Cruisers have a reputation for "going a million miles" but often that's from people who don't actually own one and heard it from someone or read it somewhere. Those of us who've owned them for 20+ years know the million mile thing is an exaggeration. They can go a million miles, but not without a lot of preventive maintenance, repairs, engine/head rebuilds, etc, etc. along the way.
Well said. No matter what, it's always about the maintenance. (And a good mechanic)!
 
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I've seen several large diesels started without oil in them. Detroit 149 series and 855/ N14 Cummins. Probably 10-15 minutes run time and there wasn't ever any damage to the crank or bearings. There was assembly lube in the engines, but that's it.

In my teens and early 20's I was into things that went fast. I bought a sh!tbox 70 Ranchero that had a 460 partially swapped in. It was a cobbled mess, but I bought the car for what the tires were worth so I finished it, welded the rear diff and had some fun with it. On it's 4th or 5th outing I was about 20 miles from home at a friend's shop where I laid a hundred feet or so of dark rubber patches upon leaving. At some point during that 3rd gear valve float burnout the oil pressure sender in the top rear of the block fell out. I guess it wasn't tight? Who knows. About 16 miles into the drive home at 45-60 MPH I went over a small bridge with concrete sides and heard the engine clatter bouncing off the pavement for the first time. My windows were even down so I was surprised I hadn't heard it before the bridge. The car's dash gauges didn't work. I had a spare early high compression 460 so I wasn't worried about that engine in the least. I decided to see how far it would go. About 3 more miles after that bridge it started knocking real bad and losing power so I very carefully pulled the shifter into 1st and pushed the pedal to the floor. About 3/4 mile later the front two rods cut through the skirt of the block and took the camshaft out. I, and the 3 friends crammed in the bench seat with me, were all thoroughly impressed. That 460 put up a good fight.

After a short walk to my house to get my truck and trailer and retrieving the Ranchito I re-vissited the scene of the big burnout and followed the trail of oil on the road for a 1/2 mile until it stopped. I was surprised I didn't smell the oil at all. Not sure that would have stopped me anyway. I was already determined to scatter that engine.

So in my experience, a 10:1 compression 460 will make it almost 20 miles without oil with "spirited" driving practices.

I bet a 1ZF would go further. It has lower compression, more crank bearings and a chunked rod cannot take out a camshaft.
I'm not a techno guy and you lost me at the "460 partially swapped in" but I'm guessing my cruiser engine wouldn't go 6k miles without oil.
 

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