When the check oil light turns on, your heart will usually skip a beat. And it should! The check oil light is one of the absolute last lights that you want to see appear on your car’s dashboard. It often means that your car is on the verge of running out of oil at any given moment.
Before you start to panic, though, you should know that the check oil light isn’t a death sentence for your car. As long as you take the right steps after seeing the check oil light come on, you should be able to remedy the situation and get things under control.
Trying to figure out what to do after seeing your car’s check oil light come on? Learn more about what can cause it to light up and see how you can get it to turn back off below!
What Does the Check Oil Light Look Like?
If you’re here to read about what causes a check oil light to come on and how you can make it disappear, there’s a pretty good chance that you know what it looks like. But just in case, we’re going to kick things off by discussing what the check oil light in your car looks like.
Generally speaking, the check oil light in your car will usually look like a can of oil with a drop of oil coming out of it. It’s often read when it lights up, and in some instances, it might also have the words “Low Oil Pressure” or “Low Oil Levels” underneath it. It’s pretty much impossible to miss.
There are some people who make the mistake of thinking that the check oil light means that they simply need an oil change. But more often than not, this is not the case! Continue reading to see what really causes a car’s check oil light to come on.
What Causes the Check Oil Light to Come On?
It’s not always easy to figure out exactly why the check oil light in a car has come on while you’re out on the road. That’s because it can light up for a variety of different reasons. In some situations, the check oil light coming on in your car won’t be a huge cause for concern, but it’s usually better to be safe than sorry when it comes to this light. Here are 4 of the main causes behind a check oil light.
1. Your Oil Pressure Is Low
If you’re driving around with a lack of oil in your car, it’s going to make it difficult for your oil pump to circulate oil throughout your system. This is inevitably going to lead to your check oil light coming on because your oil pressure will be low without an adequate amount of oil.
This is pretty much a worst-case scenario for those with their check oil lights on. If your check oil light comes on due to low oil pressure, you’re going to want to get it off the road as soon as possible since you could eventually end up doing some serious damage to your engine if you don’t. Your engine won’t get the oil that it needs if there isn’t enough oil to go around.
We want to point out that this light isn’t always an indication that you’re low on oil. But as we alluded to a few moments ago, “better safe than sorry!” is something that should swirl around in your head when you see the check oil light come on. You should almost assume that the check oil light is telling you that you’re low on oil, just in case!
2. Your Oil Circuit Is Old
There are a bunch of parts contained within your car’s oil circuit that keep oil flowing through it. Over time, it’s not uncommon for the various aspects of your oil circuit to get old and stop doing their jobs. You might find that:
- Tiny gaps will begin to form in between the moving parts in your oil circuit
- Your oil pump will begin to break down on you due to old age
And when these kinds of things happen, it can eventually cause your oil pressure to dip dramatically. That could result in your check oil light turning on and staying on until you service your oil circuit.
If your old oil circuit is to blame for your check oil light coming on, you’re still going to have plenty of oil in your system. This might lead you to believe that you don’t have anything to worry about. But you’ll want to have your car looked at sooner rather than later to make sure that your lack of oil pressure doesn’t lead to engine damage down the line.
3. Your Oil Pressure Sensor Is Bad
Your car’s check oil light is connected to an oil pressure sensor that keeps a close eye on the oil in your car. Every so often, foreign particles might be able to work their way into the sensor’s path and cause problems. It could lead to your check oil light turning on.
Mechanics might not always think to check your oil pressure sensor at first. They might be convinced that it’s your oil, your oil circuit, or something else causing your check oil light to turn on. So if you find that your light stays on even after changing your oil and replacing parts in your system, you should request that they inspect your oil pressure sensor. It could solve your problem in a hurry!
4. Your Oil Needs to Be Changed
Earlier, we touched on how the check oil light is usually not going to come on simply because you need an oil change. But guess what? There are some times when that will be exactly what’s wrong with your car!
If your check oil light comes on at a time when you know that you need an oil change, changing your car’s oil might be all that you need to do to shut it off. Otherwise, your car’s oil levels might dip down below the acceptable mark and cause your car to run without enough oil in it.
Keep these things in mind when changing the oil in your car:
- Take your car to a mechanic that you trust to change the oil in your car
- Use the right oil for your specific car (check your owner’s manual to see what your auto manufacturer would suggest!)
- Write down when you have your oil changed so that you know when you’ll need to change it again
Changing the oil in your car on a regular basis is the least you can do to maintain it. It’s also a surefire way to stop your check oil light from turning on unnecessarily and sending you into a tizzy!
What Should You Do If Your Check Oil Light Turns On?
OK, so you know what causes the check oil light in your car to turn on at this point. That should help you in the event that you ever see it appear on your dashboard. But what should you do if you see it light up?!
There are actually 4 simple steps that you should take should your check oil light ever rear its ugly head. It’s important for you to follow each of them to a T to prevent further problems with your car. Here’s how to react to your check oil light turning on.
Step 1: Take Your Car Off the Road Right Away
If you turn your car on and see the check oil light appear right away, go ahead and turn it right back off. There is no sense in even trying to drive it in that condition. Turning your car off right away is the simple solution.
But if you’re driving down the road and you see the check oil light come on, that’ll be a different story. You might wonder if you can keep on driving your car for the time being. The easy answer is…NO!
You shouldn’t ever continue to drive a car when its check oil light is on. You should instead pull your car off to the side of the road right away. You could put both yourself and your car into a tough spot if you keep on driving it, so you should get it off the road ASAP when you see your check oil light come on.
Step 2: Shut Off Your Car’s Engine
Once you pull your car off to the side of the road after seeing the check oil light come on, you should immediately turn it off. You shouldn’t let it idle for a few minutes to see what happens. You should put it into park and turn your key to power it down as quickly as you possibly can.
While this isn’t always the case, your car’s check oil light could be telling you that your car is out of oil. And if it is, every second that you keep running your car will be another second that your car’s engine isn’t getting the oil that it needs.
Within just a few seconds, your car’s engine could start to overheat, and it could eventually seize up on you if you’re not careful. And if and when that happens, you could be looking at buying a brand-new car for yourself since your current one could be in need of extensive engine repairs or even engine replacement.
Step 3: See How Much Oil Is in Your Car
After you’ve taken your car off the road and shut it down, you should give it a few minutes to cool off. Then, you should pop the hood on your car and prepare to check your oil to see if a lack of oil is causing your check oil light to turn on.
If you’ve never checked the oil in your car before, it’s really easy to do it. Just follow these steps to find out if your car has enough oil in it:
- Locate the dipstick for your car’s oil well
- Pull the dipstick out of the well and wipe it clean
- Stick the dipstick back into the well and pull it out again
- See if the dipstick has any oil on it and note how high up on the dipstick the oil comes
Your dipstick is going to be able to tell you whether or not you have enough oil in your car. You should see oil rise up to an acceptable level on the dipstick if you have enough of it.
If your dipstick indicates that you have oil in your car, then you likely either need to do an oil change or make a minor repair to your oil circuit to shut your check oil light off. But if your dipstick indicates that you don’t have any oil in your car, you could have a more serious problem on your hands.
Step 4: Bring Your Car to a Mechanic
Regardless of whether you have enough oil in your car or not, the final step that you’ll want to take when this light is on is taking your car to a mechanic. You can drive your car to a mechanic if you know you have oil in your car. But otherwise, you should have your car towed to them to avoid driving around with no oil in your car.
How Much Will It Cost to Shut Your Check Oil Light Off?
When your car gets to your mechanic, they’ll be able to figure out exactly what has caused this light to come on. They’ll also be able to provide you with a quote for how much it’s going to cost to shut your check oil light.
Here are some of the average price tags attached to the most common repairs that need to be done to a car with its check oil light on:
- Oil change: Between $35 and $75
- Oil pump replacement: Between $1,090 and $1,280
- Oil pressure sensor replacement: Between $120 and $150
As you can see, you could be looking at paying anywhere from under $50 to well over $1,000 to shut off your check oil light. But that’s nothing compared to the cost of repairing or replacing an engine due to a lack of oil in your car.
Is It Possible to Sell a Car With the Check Oil Light Turned On?
Has this light kept coming on in your car even though you’ve tried to get it to turn off on numerous occasions? It might mean that you have a serious oil leak or that you have a bunch of different issues within your oil circuit. Regardless, you might be done with your car and just want to sell it.
Cash Cars Buyer is here to help make that possible! We’ll buy your car from you, even if the check oil light is on in it. All you have to do is:
- Send us some information about your car (make and model, year, mileage, location, etc.)
- Give us time to prepare a formal offer for your car
- Decided whether you want to accept our offer
That’s it! We’ll then send someone out to your home or business to retrieve your car from you if you decide to sell it to us and leave you with cash in exchange for it. It couldn’t be any simpler. Contact us today to try and sell your car to us.