Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Safety January 11, 2019

Why Is My Dashboard Oil Light On?

From your speed to check engine lights, your car’s dashboard serves as the visual display for all of your car’s systems. The red oil light on your dashboard indicates that there’s a problem with your engine oil, which is an urgent concern. If you’re driving and a light that looks like an old-fashioned oil can* illuminates, you should stop the car as soon as you have a safe place to pull over. (*Some car dashboards display the word “OIL” instead of this icon.)


dashboard oil light


Why is Oil Pressure Important?

The dashboard oil light comes on when your engine suffers a drop in oil pressure. Without enough oil pressure, the engine can’t lubricate itself. Continuous lubrication is necessary for the engine to run, so if it’s not adequately lubricated it will seize, and it could stop abruptly, which could cause an accident. Even if you manage to avoid a full-on engine seize while this light is on, you’re still inflicting damage on your engine by running it without adequate lubrication. The consequence of ignoring this alert is guaranteed to include significant internal engine repairs.

This is a warning light that you must take seriously. You could end up needing to make costly repairs to your engine, or in the worst case scenario, buy an entirely new engine, if it runs without enough oil for an extended period of time.

What to Do When The Oil Pressure Light Illuminates

If the oil light comes on while you are driving, pull over as soon as it’s safe and turn the engine off. Next, you’ll need to check the oil level using the dipstick. You’ll also want to look for any signs of a leak. If the oil level is low and you don’t see any leaks, your solution might be as simple as adding some additional oil. If the oil level appears to be okay, there might be a problem with the oil pump.

What Actually Triggers the Alert?

There are several possible scenarios when the dashboard oil light illuminates. Here are three common underlying causes behind the alert.

  • If the oil is low, add some engine oil and see if the light goes off. If it does, you’re good to go.
  • If the oil level is okay, but the engine is running noisily, your oil pump could be faulty. Don’t drive until it is fixed.
  • If the oil level is okay and the engine is running smoothly, your oil sensor could be faulty. You can safely drive, but you will want to get the sensor replaced.


A Lubricated Engine is a Healthy Engine

Virginia Tire & Auto’s expert technicians can fix your oil system so that it functions smoothly again. If your vehicle is safe to drive, bring it to one of our 17 convenient locations to get things taken care of. If it is unsafe, call a tow truck to bring it to us, and we will get you back on the road.

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