Can Low Oil Cause Vibration? Causes and Remedies

If your car is vibrating, it could be due to many reasons. So, if you’re asking, can low oil cause vibration? You probably know your engine oil is low and wondering if it’s the cause. Typically, engine oil helps lubricate the engine to ensure friction is reduced amongst its parts, allowing the engine to work optimally. So, what’s the correlation between low engine oil and vehicle vibration?

Low engine oil can indeed be a culprit behind car vibrations. This is because the engine oil is a lubricant, ensuring all moving parts work seamlessly. When the oil level is low, it can’t perform this function effectively, leading to increased friction or force between components, which may manifest as vibration. Hoses and other parts may also be affected if oil levels are not maintained.

Regular service is crucial to check the engine oil level and preserve fuel efficiency. Ignoring these signs can result in significant engine damage. Thus, it is a good idea to keep the engine oil at the proper level as a basis for vehicle care.

can low engine oil cause vibration

Can Low Engine Oil Cause Vibration?

One of the functions of engine oil is to ensure moving engine parts are properly lubricated. Hence, reducing friction amongst engine parts and allowing them to move quickly.

However, when the engine oil is low, an insufficient amount of engine oil is sent into the engine’s top. Because the engine top does not get enough oil, friction is increased among engine parts. Hence, causing engine vibration. So, can low oil cause car to shake? Yes, it can.

Another way to confirm vibration stems from low oil is if the vibration is accompanied by the illumination of the check oil light. However, the oil light on your dashboard could also mean the oil is dirty or you’re experiencing an oil leak or engine knock. Additionally, when oil is low, car shaking is usually very obvious when the vehicle is idle.

Other Causes of Car to Shake

While a low engine oil could result in engine vibration, there are other reasons you could be experiencing it. So, what causes engine vibration aside from low engine oil?

1. Bad or dirty spark plugs

Worn-out spark plugs often cause the engine to misfire or don’t allow the engine cylinder to fire accurately. This action causes the engine vibration and can be corrected by installing new spark plugs or fixing any spark-related issues.

2. Loose or disconnected hoses

Hoses help to transport elements like coolant, air-fuel mixture, air, etc. So, if they are loose or separated, they won’t be able to feed the engine with what it requires, resulting in vibrations, especially when idling or at high speeds. To fix this, try reconnecting loose hoses and changing worn hoses, if any.

3. Damaged motor mounts

Engine mounts support the engine to ensure it stays in its place and help absorb shocks and engine vibration. When these mounts get damaged, they fail to hold the engine in place, causing engine parts to lose their stronghold.

Because these parts have lost their stronghold, they start vibrating. An excellent way to confirm the motor mount is the issue is if the vibration subsides when the car is neutral. Replacing faulty engine mounts should fix this.

4. Low tire pressure

Tires need to maintain certain pressure to keep you going smoothly. If, however, your tire pressure becomes too low, your engine may start vibrating as you drive.

5. Poor engine oil quality

Poor engine oil could be the engine oil has a mixture of another liquid, or the oil is low in viscosity. Whatever it is, a low engine oil quality will lose its lubricating properties and, therefore, won’t be able to lubricate the engine properly.

If parts like the piston don’t get lubricated properly, the engine will struggle to move, leading to jerks and sudden engine vibration. Low oil quality could also cause car shaking after oil change.

6. Poor quality fuel

Poor quality fuel is one with a low level of octane. A fuel with low octane will cause more load for the engine. And because the engine carries more load than needed, it will start vibrating. Aside from vibration, low-quality fuel also results in more fuel consumption and quick engine breakdown. To solve this, try getting good quality fuel.

7. Clogged air filters

Air filters clean your engine by trapping dirt that can harm the engine. However, the air filter becomes clogged over time. A clogged air filter will not supply enough air needed by the engine for combustion with fuel. As such, your engine will start running rich, that is, too much fuel. This causes the engine to vibrate at idle and even leads to higher fuel consumption.

Signs You Need Oil Change

If you’re experiencing the following, chances are your car needs oil.

1. Unusual engine noise

Engine oil keeps the engine lubricated and running efficiently. If the engine starts producing strange noises, it could be the parts are rubbing against each other because they lack lubricant. Your engine part will not get lubricated if your engine oil is low or dirty. So you may need to top or change the oil.

2. Burning smell inside the cabin

Aside from lubricating, motor oil also helps keep the engine cool. If, however, the oil gets too dirty or old, it won’t be able to do its job efficiently. Old oil will produce a burning smell that you will start perceiving in the cabin. So, you may need to go for an oil change immediately. Please note that the burning smell could also be due to oil leaks.

3. Change in oil color and texture

With your car cool, pull out the oil dipstick, clean it with a clean cloth, then reinsert the dipstick. Engine oil comes in translucent yellow but gets dark as it runs, so it’s still okay. If the oil has become too gritty, you may need new oil.

4. Low oil level

Pull out your dipstick, wipe clean with a clean cloth and reinsert. If the oil level is low, it is time to top it.

5. Your oil light is showing on your dashboard

The illumination of your oil light indicates that your oil is dirty or the oil pressure is low due to low oil in car. Check your oil; if It’s low, try topping it and changing it if it’s dirty.

6. Too much exhaust gases

If your car emits more exhaust and smoke than usual, your oil might be too old or dirty and needs a new one. While others faults could cause excess exhaust gases, you could check your oil.

7. Your car shakes

If your vehicle shakes, especially at idle, your oil level is low and needs more oil. Car engine vibrating could be due to other reasons, but try checking your oil level.

What Happens if Oil is Too Low?

If your engine oil is too low, your engine will not get enough oil to lubricate its components. Hence, it results in metal-to-metal contact, which can cause engine noise and vibration. If you refuse to act, you may end up damaging the engine totally and causing other car damage.

Is it Bad to Drive with Low Oil?

Driving with low oil is bad. Generally, your car will still run with very little oil. But the oil will dry out eventually, with your engine performing less. Moving parts lacking lubrication will also rub against each other and get damaged, ultimately damaging your engine.

How to Reduce Engine Vibration?

To reduce engine vibration, fix whatever is causing the vibration. But to know the problem, you need to carry out a diagnosis. Once you’re sure, the following may help.

oil change
  • Start with the oil level. If it’s low, top it.
  • Reconnect loosened hose and replace if damaged.
  • Use high-quality fuel.
  • Change dirty or faulty spark plugs.
  • Change clogged air filters.
  • Ensure you don’t have an oil mixture and use oil with the proper viscosity.
  • Change damaged motor mounts.
  • Drive with the manufacturer-recommended tire pressure.


If you’ve wondered, can low oil cause vibration? This article has answered it. A recap! Low oil can cause vibration. This happens because engine parts don’t get enough oil to keep them lubricated, so they rub on each other, causing the vibration. However, low engine oil is not the only reason your car vibrates.

It could be due to bad spark plugs, low-quality oil and fuel, damaged mounts, etc. So, if your car vibrates, perform a test to ascertain the cause and fix whatever is causing it. Failure to fix faulty components will usually lead to engine and general car damage.

Solomon Osuagwu

Osuagwu Solomon is a vetted auto mechanic with over ten years of experience in the garage and five years of experience as a service writer. He prides himself in writing accurate information on professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, buyer’s guides, comparisons, and car reviews. If he’s not in his repair garage, he’s writing automotive blogs to help car owners and fellow mechanics to troubleshoot and proffer solutions to several car problems.

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