Oil is a fundamental necessity for keeping an internal combustion engine running. Not only does it lubricate all of the moving surfaces but also helps a little with heat dispersion. On water-cooled engines, which are ubiquitous for modern automobiles, coolant is similarly important.
So, how long can a car run with neither of these vital fluids? Carwow finds out by draining a Ford Focus, Honda Civic, and Peugeot 206 – all of which are destined for the scrapyard already – and running them at redline until the engine can't take any more abuse.
The Focus is the first to die. The engine lasts about 14 seconds before it begins to make sputtering sounds. By the 20-second mark, the powerplant is finished.
As the Focus passes away to the automotive afterlife, the Peugeot starts smoking. The French model lasts a total of 47 seconds, which is over twice as long as the Ford.
Meanwhile, the Honda's engine is still banging off the rev limiter with a rock on its accelerator pedal. After around two minutes of this, the engine sputters and then rhythmically starts revving at around 4,000 rpm. The mill refuses to die, though.
Gallery: Cars running without oil and coolant
The host decides to try to speed things along and gets behind the wheel. The engine's revs actually return to the redline, and the car gets going. The timer Finally stops at 6 minutes and 22 seconds. This means that the Honda's powerplant lasts roughly 19 times longer than the Ford in this test.
Then, things get silly. Just to see what happens, Carwow fills the Civic's oil and coolant reservoirs with Coca-Cola and Mentos. The engine actually restarts, and the car drives, although not very far.