Low oil warning light: Do you know how critical it is?

There are a number of dashboard warning lights that can pop on at any minute. Everyone knows what the battery light is for, but a lot of other lights require pulling out the owner’s manual. In the coming months, we are going to take a look at different lights and what they stand for to help make it a little clearer.

oillightOne light most of us recognize is the old-fashioned oil can. But do you really understand what it means and what can happen to your vehicle if you ignore it?

Let’s start with the basics: Your engine oil performs several duties. The first is to lubricate the dozens of metallic parts in the engine and reduce friction so that they move smoothly. The second is to help disperse heat that the engine generates, preventing the parts from melting or being damaged by the heat. A third job of the oil is to collect dirt and debris and relocate it to the engine oil filter.

When you first turn your engine on, the low oil pressure warning light automatically lights up but then should go off within a couple of seconds. If it stays lit or comes on while driving, get to a safe place and turn the engine off immediately. This light means you are either losing or burning oil, which is a major problem, or that the oil pressure unit that sends the alert has failed, which is a relatively minor problem. But you probably won’t know which problem it is unless you get it checked out.

If your oil pressure light comes on, it’s best to have your vehicle towed and let us figure out what is wrong before any damage is done. If there is an oil leak, you might need gaskets and seals replaced, or perhaps the oil filter simply wasn’t installed properly during your last oil change. If the engine is burning oil, you could need any number of internal engine parts replaced, including valve guides or piston rings.

The problem also might be a worn or broken oil pump, a plugged oil pickup screen in the engine’s crankcase, possibly a plugged oil filter or excessive bearing wear. And if you’re lucky, it might just be a failed oil pressure sending unit.

If that light flashes on, don’t delay. Pull over and contact us at Auto Lab so we can evaluate your vehicle and get you back on the road before any serious damage is done.

This entry was posted in Auto Repair, Check Engine & Dashboard Warning Lights and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.