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Oil Light On: What It Means & What You Should Do

Oil Light On: What It Means & What You Should Do

Seeing any light illuminating on your vehicle's dashboard usually means trouble. So what does it mean when you’re seeing the oil light on? This dashboard warning light resembles a lamp with a leaking drop of oil. This warning light illuminates for these reasons: you have low oil may be due to an oil leak, your oil pump or sensor needs to be changed or your oil is dirty and you need an oil change.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Is there a leak or have you run out of oil? What is the length of time the light has been turned on? How serious is this situation? Before you panic, find out what your car's oil light means, what the problem might be, and how to remedy it.

Oil Light On: Oil is Low


One of the reasons for oil light on is that oil is low. Engine oil isn't designed to last indefinitely. Even if you don't burn it as quickly as gasoline, it will ultimately run out after enough driving. Although almost all vehicles have an oil pressure monitoring system, not all vehicles have oil pressure gauges on the dashboard. That's why you should always check your oil level at the pump.


Fortunately, checking your oil level is easy! Consult your owner's handbook to get started. It will walk you through the next steps and tell you where to look for different sections and parts. Remove the hood and look for your vehicle's oil dipstick, which is normally yellow or reddish in color. Remove the dipstick and clean it with a clean towel. 


If it's low, you'll have to replenish it with new oil. Crank the engine after adding oil to see if the light goes off. Have your oil changed immediately, and to check for the root cause of the low oil have the mechanic check for any leaks.


To get a new oil reading, re-insert the dipstick and remove it. If your oil light illuminates when braking, it could indicate that your oil level is low. After all, oil is a liquid. Oil has room to spill away from the oil pressure sensor if your tank isn't quite full, especially when you stop. 


There is greater friction when there isn't enough oil under your hood. As a result, your engine becomes overheated, and it may even catch fire. If your engine overheats unexpectedly, pull over immediately and seek assistance from a qualified mechanic.


When oil light comes on but oil is full?

Oil Light On: Oil Is Dirty


Oil light on doesn’t only mean you’re low in oil but it also means your engine's oil has become too unclean. Your motor oil can pick up dirt, dust, and tiny particles as it travels through the engine, causing muck to build up and that blockage can trigger your oil light on.


Examine the oil on the dipstick to check for filthy oil the same way you check your oil level. Clean oil should be clear, amber-colored, and slightly runny. If your oil is extremely dark, smells strange, or feels thick and sludgy to the touch, it's definitely old and needs to be replaced.


Earlier, an oil change was required every 3,000 miles. Engine technology, on the other hand, has vastly increased over time. Cars can typically run 5,000 to 7,500 miles before having an oil change as a result of this. Additionally, if you use synthetic oil in your vehicle, you can go 10,000 or even 15,000 miles between oil changes.


However, keep in mind that these figures are only suggestions. The actual oil change interval varies by make and model, so consult your owner's manual for the most up-to-date information. And your car may need more frequent oil change if you are constantly driving in severe driving conditions, like you are always stuck in a traffic jam, driving on sandy, dusty and gravelly roads, and hauling or towing heavy equipment, and the like.


Oil Light On: Oil Leak


You may have a leak if your oil light is on but you recently had your oil changed. Leave your car parked on a level surface for a few hours and look for puddles beneath it to check for oil leaks. If there are no puddles but you still suspect a leak, top off your oil to the full mark on your dipstick. (For your individual make and model, consult your owner's handbook for instructions.)


Oil leaks could also cause burnt smell or engine smoke. However, these symptoms might not always show up. Make sure the oil light is already off when you turn on the car. Drive and check if the oil light comes on again and if it does, check your oil levels. If they're low, it's time to schedule an appointment for oil leak repairs. Bringing your vehicle in for a comprehensive vehicle inspection is usually the best approach to rule out any engine oil issues.


Your vehicle's engine will start to have a lot of troubles if the oil isn't replaced. The most typical problem is that your engine's parts become too hot. This can make the engine run less effectively, and it can also cause the engine components to distort and wear out over time.


Oil Light On: Oil Pressure Sensor or Oil Pump is Bad


Your dashboard's oil light on doesn't always indicate that your oil is low, leaking, or unclean. It's possible that your oil pressure sensor or oil pump has to be changed instead. Your oil pressure sensor is a little plug-like sensor that monitors the oil pressure in your vehicle and alerts you if it falls below a specific level. But when it wears out, it could just as easily send faulty signals that trigger your oil light.


The oil pressure sensor must be removed using an oil pressure sensor socket to determine if it is worn out. Have a skilled technician troubleshoot your oil pressure sensor unless you have the tools and expertise to do it yourself.


A faulty oil pump, on the other hand, will inefficiently circulate oil to your engine's moving parts, causing engine sounds and overheating, which can quickly escalate into more serious problems. If you suspect your oil pump is malfunctioning, you should immediately stop driving.


Oil lowers friction between moving parts in your car, which helps to keep temperatures in check when driving. When engine oil flow is restricted, the parts are not adequately lubricated and consequently heat up. Increased friction leads to higher temperatures and, potentially, greater issues in the future. Here are the signs to look out for when it comes to a bad oil pump:


Oil Pressure is Low – A faulty oil pump will stop adequately pumping oil through your system. Low oil pressure will result, potentially causing further vehicle damage.


Increased operating temperature of the engine – Oil lowers friction between moving parts in your car, which helps to keep temperatures in check when driving. When engine oil flow is restricted, the parts are not adequately lubricated and consequently heat up. Increased friction leads to higher temperatures and, potentially, greater issues in the future.


Noise Heard – Hydraulic lifters in your vehicle are a crucial element of how your engine works, so make sure they're well oiled. When your engine is running smoothly, these lifters are extremely silent; nevertheless, when the oil flow to the lifters is interrupted, they begin to generate noise and wear unevenly. It is quite costly to replace lifters, therefore it is critical that they are properly lubricated.


If your oil pump fails, your valve train may start to generate noise in addition to the hydraulic lifters. This contains the valve guides, seals, and pushrods. All of these components must also be adequately greased. Your valve train system can make a lot more noise if your oil pump fails.


Although most drivers are unlikely to have an oil pump failure, if you notice any of these signs, you should have your car evaluated. It is always advisable to fix parts as soon as you notice a problem, as excessive wear will shorten the life of your engine.


Can you still drive with oil light on?


If your oil Light illuminates while you're traveling, immediately pull over to the side of the road and turn off the vehicle. If you run out of oil, your engine may shut down while you continue to drive and may cause an accident. 


The first thing you should do if you see an oil warning light on your dashboard is check the dipstick to determine how much oil is in the reservoir. Check the oil level in the system once the car has been parked. 


The dipstick can be used for this. Remove the dipstick, clean it with a cloth, then reinstall it in the vehicle. If the dipstick is dry or only has a small amount of oil on it then you have a low oil problem. Do not continue to drive. If the oil level appears to be low, top it up with some more.


Is the light gone when you restart your vehicle? If you answered yes, you've solved the problem! If the light is still on, you may be dealing with a more serious problem that has to be treated as quickly as possible. If the light remains on, you should not drive your vehicle.


Your Oil Light may also illuminate if your oil pressure is low. Again, low oil pressure indicates that the pump is not circulating enough oil or that there is insufficient oil in the system for the pump to circulate. Because oil is necessary to keep the surfaces lubricated, pull over and turn off the engine if the Oil Light comes on and the pressure is low.


Contact a mechanic once you've shut off the vehicle to have your oil pressure checked and any problems fixed. Driving with low oil pressure or little oil in the system might entirely destroy the vehicle's engine. If the Oil Light suddenly comes while the car is running, you should pull over. Have the problem fixed as soon as possible. Driving with oil light on might do serious damage to your vehicle's engine.


Why is my oil light going on and off?


While driving, you may notice that the low oil pressure warning light flashes on and off. This is because, depending on the automobile, the light will turn on when the oil pressure dips below 5 – 10 PSI at idling. You might hear a knocking sound unless the pressure reduces immediately. The reason for the light turning on or off might also be determined by whether your car is moving or idling.


If the oil light flashes on and off when the car is stopped at idling, the oil sensor may be malfunctioning or the oil pressure is too low. When the engine is not moving, it should have at least 5 PSI. If the PSI is less than 5, the oil light will be triggered and will flash on and off. The oil levels may be too low if the light flickers while the vehicle is moving.


Inspect the oil level and, if necessary, add motor oil to the car, while keeping an eye on the light. The light should turn off if the oil level is indeed low. It's possible that the engine bearings are worn if this isn't the case. This is a bad scenario since it could allow the engine oil to leak from where it was previously confined. It will require prompt inspection and repair by an expert.


The easiest approach to keep your oil light from turning on is to make sure your car gets basic maintenance, which includes oil changes on a regular basis. Engine knocking, a low oil pressure indicator at idle, and a decrease of engine performance are all signs that your engine is having trouble distributing oil.


Ignoring oil issues might lead to major engine block problems. If you wait too long to have your engine inspected, you may end up with a blown engine. To keep your engine operating smoothly, contact a skilled specialist straight away.