Why Is My Oil Light On Car Dashboard?

When you notice a little oil light on the car dashboard, it usually means one thing — something isn’t right! And when these lights are rarely on, it’s scary.

Has your car run out of oil, or is there any leak? How long is the light on? How urgent is it? Before you become frustrated, learn what your car’s oil light means and how you can fix this problem. Let’s dig deep to know all of this in one article…

Why Is My Oil Light On Car Dashboard

What Does the Oil Light Mean?

The oil light will come on if your system has an oil pressure problem. When oil pressure is too low, it can’t flow properly through the engine.

Your car’s engine requires constant lubrication to run. Low oil pressure can seriously damage the engine even causing it to seize up completely.

However, it’s a warning light, and you must take it seriously. If you ignore it, your engine may need expensive repairs, or, in the worst-case scenario. Also, you may have to buy a whole new machine if it runs without enough oil for an extended period.

Causes Of Oil Light On Car Dashboard:

An oil light on your car dashboard indicates a problem with your oil. If you want your car to perform well, you must understand why this oil light is on. And also you need to take some necessary steps to prevent further problems. Here are some reasons for the oil light on the car dashboard.

Low Oil Level

The first and foremost reason for the oil light to come on is your vehicle’s low engine oil level. The oil light comes on when the engine oil pressure is low. This pressure is directly related to your vehicle’s engine oil level. Typically, the pressure will be negligible if no oil is in the engine to pressurize.

So, if you notice the low oil level light on your car flashing on and off, you turn on the ignition immediately. And your car may have a low engine oil level that is causing it.

Damaged Oil Pump

Your car’s engine oil pump is the main element responsible for oil pressure. It turns and keeps the engine lubricated and is accountable for the efficient operation of your vehicle.

But if you maintain your car correctly, its components will stay intact over time. And oil pumps also will wear out. A damaged oil pump can have serious consequences.

Because of some malfunction in the oil pump, it will not be able to pressurize the engine oil. It results in the oil pressure warning light appearing on your car’s dashboard. Failure of the overpressure valve can prevent it from pressurizing the oil.

Problematic Sensor

Modern cars have various sensors to monitor multiple components of the vehicle. That’s why they notify the indicators to flash if there is a problem in the loop. Similarly, multiple oil pressure sensors inside the engine determine the oil pressure. Moreover, it ensures the oil light comes on when it falls below the required minimum pressure.

If one of these sensors fails to determine oil pressure accurately, you may see the oil light on the dashboard flickering. Likewise, if you have checked the oil pressure and found no problems, the sensors are probably the problem.

Clogged Oil Tube

The oil pump goes to the bottom of the engine’s oil pan through an oil pickup tube. Additionally, if some dirt or debris gets stuck in this tube, the pump cannot perform its job efficiently.

Generally, it results in low engine oil pressure, causing the oil light to come on. The oil pickup tube prevents all the dirt. Plug the tube, causing the oil light to come on.

Oil Leakage

Another notable cause of the oil light on and off is an oil leak inside the engine. You must monitor the oil pressure and level to keep your car running efficiently.

Nevertheless, if any internal damage causes oil to leak into the engine, it can affect the oil pressure. Any oil pressure disturbance can’t cause the light on your car’s dashboard to flash on and off. As a result, it will affect your car’s performance.

Red Oil Light on the car?

First, don’t panic. If you’re driving a new car, it may have two dashboard oil lights. One is the orange “reminder” light indicating it’s time to change your oil.

If that’s on, no problem; know your oil needs to be changed soon. But if the “real” red oil light is on, a situation probably needs to be fixed more critically.

What does your red oil light mean?

A red dashboard oil light means many things, such as:

  • The oil pressure is low
  • The oil level is low
  • The oil pressure sending unit (sensor) is faulty
  • The oil pump needs to be replaced.

Any of these are challenging and dangerous at worst. Pay attention to your car’s red light.

Low Oil Pressure Light But Oil Is Full:

The low oil pressure light is on, but the oil is complete is a problem with the oil pressure sensor. This sensor sends a signal to the light, telling it to come on when the oil pressure is too low. A Faulty sensor can’t send the correct signal, causing the light to come on despite the engine having plenty of oil.

Another reason can be the problem with the oil pump. Actually, this pump can circulate the oil throughout your engine. Finally, the oil lights come on, but the oil is complete because of an engine leak. Oil will leak from seals, gaskets, or the oil pan. If there is a leak, it will lower the oil level, which can activate the light.

If you don’t catch why the oil light is coming on, it’s best to take it to the mechanic and diagnose the problem. They can tell you precisely what’s happening and recommend the best solution.

Why Is My Oil Light On Car Dashboard

How to Fix Oil Light On Car Dashboard?

It is safe to do so and pull over to the curb or shoulder as soon as you stop. Turn off the engine. Please avoid driving with the oil light on because it’s dangerous. If this happens, your motor may stop suddenly when you are going and cause an accident.

It would help if you opened your hood to check the oil level. If there is low oil, add some oil. The oil level shows your vehicle’s oil amount. And your oil pressure is how well the oil pump is circulating oil through the engine. When the oil pressure lows, it can’t leak enough oil.

Circulating enough pressurized oil through your engine is essential to lubricate its parts. With it, your motor may be protected. After checking your oil level, if it’s good, start your engine and see if the oil light is still red. If not, you’re good to go unless the machine makes noise. If this is the case, or if the oil light is still red, do not drive.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

Q. What does the yellow oil light mean?

When the yellow oil warning light comes on, it is a sign. It indicates your engine oil pressure has dropped to a low level, which is risky. Mainly, if your engine is running at low oil pressure, it can quickly kill your engine.

Q. Is it too late when the oil light comes on?

If your oil light is on, immediately take your car to a professional mechanic. Remember, though, that a little more driving won’t destroy anything. Generally, you need about 500 miles of driving before an oil light comes on and becomes a severe problem.

Q. What to do when the oil light comes on?

When your vehicle warns of an oil problem, your dashboard looks like an old-fashioned oil pan. If the oil light comes on while driving, immediately pull to a safe place and turn off the engine. Just stop driving your car because you have low oil.

Next, check the oil level and look for any signs of oil leakage. You should visit your nearest car repair shop for a diagnosis if everything is normal.

Final Word:

In short, the oil light on a car dashboard shouldn’t be taken lightly. Low oil levels and low oil pressure cause significant damage to your engine. If you notice low oil lights, pull over immediately.

Before checking the oil level, sit on your vehicle for 10 minutes. Furthermore, if the oil level is low, add some oil. After adding some oil, start your car. But if it doesn’t work, take your vehicle to a mechanic to determine the primary cause.

On the other hand, if the oil level isn’t low when you check, it’s time to call a tow truck. A tow truck is also required if the dipstick is out of oil. When in doubt, take your car to a shop rather than risk significant and costly damage.

Now Read: Why Is My BMW Oil Light On And Off?


I am Engr. Z Eusuf Lubricant Specialist, Mechanical Engineer & has been working with engine lubricants for a long time and knows what makes them work best. I can help you find the right oil for your needs, and I have tips on how to keep your engine running at its best.