need an opinion because of an insurance issue.

I hit a bump in my car, about half a mile later it stopped, apparently seized.

Insurance have had it for a long time, and have had two separate experts look at it, but have now claimed it's an attempt at insurance fraud as a result of their findings.

They found the sump plug missing. They claim that there's nothing to show that this was related to the bump. I accept that there's probably not enough damage to conclude that, but here's my question:

How far could it have travelled without the plug? The oil drained into the undertray, and went everywhere, basically. I feel like a car drained like this wouldn't run very far at all.

  • CarWow did a bit of a test on this: youtube.com/watch?v=zyejT4VPzlE So: Surprisingly far, depending on the car. Also, you could have theoretically removed the sump plug halfway through your trip. Was there no "oil level low" or at least "oil pressure low" indicator on?
    – towe
    Nov 6, 2020 at 12:49
  • Heard of a test in a factory where they maxed the rpm and removed the sump plug: about 10 mins before the rods exited the block. So distance would depend on which gear etc
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 6, 2020 at 12:55
  • It travelled around 800m further, but in traffic, so probably somewhere around 5-8 minutes. Nov 10, 2020 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


If the sump plug was simply missing, that is, the oil pan and threads are intact then I find it extraordinarily unlikely that a bump, no matter how severe, would cause it to unscrew.

If, however, the oil pan is damaged, the plug is "ripped out", the threads damaged, with clear indication of impact, then yes, the bump may have caused it.

If it's the former, then perhaps the last time the oil was changed the plug was not properly tightened and the bump caused it to unscrew that last little bit and fall out. If would have happened eventually but the bump just sealed its fate.

As far as how long can the car travel without oil? Generally not far but this really depends on many things.

  • Yeah, until I can get to see it myself, I simply won't know, but the report is that sump plug is missing with no damage, so my working theory is that it was likely loose and then fell out. It moved about 800m after the bump, so it seems likely related - certainly it couldn't really have been long before that it came out I don't think. Won't know properly until I can see what's up with it. Nov 10, 2020 at 17:01

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