I have a 97 Cherokee. It was stolen for a few weeks, then I got it back and left it idle for another two weeks. I knew it had an oil leak, but I didn't realize the extent of the leak until my car failed to start this morning (it cranks, sometimes whimpers and dies). I checked my oil and it was very low, just at the tip of the dipstick. For some reason, I had no indication of this from my warning lights.

I had driven the previous day and noticed some performance problems upon acceleration. I actually sniffed around the hood after parking but didn't smell any burning or anything.

My question is, is my car not starting because of the low oil pressure, or because I have done irrevocable damage to the engine by driving on low oil? Or in other words, if I replaced the oil, should my car work again?

  • Do you hear the engine cranking when you turn the key? Is it just not starting, or is it, turn the key and "nothing"? What symptoms are being exhibited exactly? Dec 1, 2016 at 17:54
  • Engine cranking. Tried a couple of times and got a whimper once.
    – Eric S.
    Dec 1, 2016 at 17:55
  • So it freely turns over when you turn the key, but only "a whimper", meaning it isn't firing and you just barely got any running life out of it? You're not really giving us much to go on here. We'll need more information about what you've tried (besides turning the key) to get it started. Dec 1, 2016 at 17:57
  • Yes, I think that's right. Idk the technical term, but when I say whimper I mean it sounds like it almost starts, but then dies. It's not like I turn the key and I hear nothing.
    – Eric S.
    Dec 1, 2016 at 17:59
  • Actually I could be wrong.It sounds like this youtu.be/AfkRIjr0gdI?t=7s Sorry to be so untechnical
    – Eric S.
    Dec 1, 2016 at 18:05

1 Answer 1


tip of the dipstick

That's really not so bad. You would never want to drive it that way intentionally, but the sump certainly isn't sucking air at that level.

For some reason, I had no indication of this from my warning lights

Like I said above, you're not sucking air which is why you didn't get a low oil pressure light.... so you don't have a low oil pressure problem. You almost certainly have not damaged your engine.

if I replaced the oil, should my car work again?

No because you have a problem unrelated to your oil.

Technically, that answers your question, but doesn't get your car started. That aside:

  • Do you hear your fuel pump prime when you turn the key?
  • Have you checked your battery voltage? Cranking doesn't mean a good battery.
  • Ill check my battery
    – Eric S.
    Dec 1, 2016 at 22:34
  • Yeah I hear the fuel pump
    – Eric S.
    Dec 2, 2016 at 0:21
  • You were right, it seems like problem is unrelated, and I am debugging it now.
    – Eric S.
    Dec 2, 2016 at 21:45

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