What Happens If You Drink Motor Oil? The Consequences

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it is not uncommon for accidents to occur, leading to unintentional ingestion of non-food substances. Among the various household products that might mistakenly be ingested, motor oil stands out as one that can cause considerable concern. To better understand the implications of such an accident, it’s essential to delve into what motor oil is; what happens if you drink motor oil? And what actions one should take in case of accidental consumption.

drinking motor oil

What is Motor Oil?

Motor oil, predominantly used in vehicles, is a lubricant made from petroleum-based and non-petroleum-synthesized chemicals. Its primary function is reducing friction in automobile engines, preventing wear and tear. The oil also helps in cooling the engine, preventing rust, and keeping the engine clean by removing contaminants. Replace the motor oil at regular interval as recommended. Before changing oil, cool the vehicle for 20 -30 minutes and do the process carefully.

What Chemicals are in Motor Oil?

Motor oil is primarily composed of base oils, which can be mineral-based (derived from crude oil) or synthetic (chemically engineered). This base makes up 70-90% of the oil. The remaining composition is a cocktail of additives designed for specific functions.

The additives are like viscosity modifiers to regulate thickness, detergents to prevent internal engine deposits, dispersants to keep contaminants suspended, anti-wear agents to shield engine parts, friction modifiers to reduce internal friction, antioxidants to deter oil oxidation, corrosion inhibitors to guard against rust, anti-foam agents to prevent foaming, and pour-point depressants to ensure fluidity in cold temperatures. These chemicals enhance engine performance.

Is Motor Oil Poisonous to Humans?

Yes, engine oil is harmful when ingested by humans. It’s composed of petroleum-based compounds and various chemicals and it’s designed for engine lubrication, not consumption. Swallowing engine oil can lead to gastrointestinal irritation, causing nausea and vomiting. A significant risk is aspiration, where oil entering the lungs can result in aspiration pneumonia, a serious condition. The chemical additives can also be toxic, potentially causing dizziness and neurological issues. Immediate medical attention is crucial if ingested.

What Happens if You Drink Motor Oil?

Ingesting lubricant can pose various health risks due to its chemical composition and the potential for aspiration. Some potential health effects include:

Gastrointestinal Distress:

Once ingested, lubricant can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines. Symptoms might include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The oily nature of the substance can lead to a feeling of a coated mouth or throat.

Aspiration Hazard:

One of the gravest risks associated with ingesting the fluid is aspiration, where the oil enters the lungs. This can lead to aspiration pneumonia, a condition where the lungs become inflamed due to inhaling foreign substances. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and fever. This is a serious condition that may require hospitalization.


The chemicals present in engine oil can be toxic when ingested. While the exact health effects depend on the type and quantity of chemicals consumed, one could experience dizziness, headaches, or even more severe neurological symptoms.

Long-Term Effects:

Although there’s limited data on the long-term effects of motor oil ingestion in humans, prolonged exposure to the chemicals in the fluid could have detrimental impacts on one’s health.

What Does Motor Oil Taste Like?

Motor oil is not meant for human consumption, so its taste isn’t commonly described as food or drink. However, individuals who’ve accidentally come into contact with it often describe its taste as having a strong, bitter, and chemically flavor, with an oily consistency that can linger in the mouth. The specific taste can vary based on the type and additives in the oil. However, it’s essential to note that ingesting the liquid can be harmful and is not recommended. But engine oil is not flammable.

What To Do if You Drink Car Oil?

Ingesting motor oil can be hazardous to one’s health. If someone has consumed car oil, they should take the following steps:

Do Not Induce Vomiting:

This might seem counterintuitive, but inducing vomiting could increase the risk of aspiration, which, as mentioned earlier, can lead to more serious complications.

Drink Water:

If the person who has ingested the oil is conscious and able to swallow, give them a glass of water to sip slowly. This might help dilute the substance in the stomach.

Seek Medical Attention:

Getting to an emergency room or contacting a poison control center is crucial. They can offer guidance tailored to the specific situation and ensure that the individual receives the necessary care.

Keep the Motor Oil Container:

Bring the container or label with you when seeking medical attention. This can help medical professionals determine the exact type and brand of oil ingested, which can be useful for treatment.

Preventing Accidental Ingestion of engine oil:

The best way to avoid the hazards of ingesting motor oil is prevention. Here are some steps one can take:

1. Label Storage Containers: Always label containers storing motor oil or other potentially harmful substance.

2. Keep Out of Children’s Reach: Ensure that such materials are stored where children cannot access them.

3. Use with Care: When handling motor oil, avoid leaving containers open and unattended.

4. Dispose of Safely: When disposing of used engine oil, follow local regulations and ensure it’s done in an environmentally safe manner.

Is Engine oil good for wounds?

No, engine oil (or motor oil) is not suitable for wounds. Using engine oil on a wound can introduce contaminants and chemicals that can lead to infection, irritate the wound, and delay healing. Motor oil contains various chemicals and heavy metals meant for engine lubrication and protection, not for biological applications.

If you have a wound:

  1. Clean it: Use water and mild soap to clean the area gently. You can also use saline (saltwater) solution.
  2. Disinfect: To prevent infection, apply an antiseptic solution or ointment, such as hydrogen peroxide or a topical antibiotic.
  3. Protect: Cover the wound with a clean bandage or gauze pad to remove dirt and bacteria.

In case of a severe wound, significant bleeding, or signs of infection (like increased redness, swelling, pus, or if the wound feels warm to the touch), it’s essential to seek medical attention. Remember, always use medically approved products for wound care to avoid complications.


While motor oil plays a vital role in keeping our vehicles running smoothly, it’s a substance that can pose severe health risks if ingested. From gastrointestinal distress to the dangers of aspiration, the potential outcomes underscore the importance of treating lubricant with caution. In accidental ingestion, it’s crucial to act swiftly and seek medical attention. As with many hazards, the best approach is prevention: proper storage and clear labeling can go a long way in avoiding accidental consumption.


Mr. Shafiqule Islam is a graduated Mechanical Engineer and has more than 15 years experience of repairing and maintenance of different brand vehicles like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Mercedes, BMW etc. He is also giving training to Mechanics. He has started writing to share his practical knowledge to Vehicle Owners, Drivers and Mechanics to keep their cars at best fit.

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