Hey, Why Is My Car's Oil Pressure Warning Light On?

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Four common causes for an “oil pressure” warning light on the vehicle and their related parts.
Are you having trouble with an oil pressure warning light on your car's dashboard? This warning light indicates issues like faulty oil pressure sensors, broken instrument clusters, damaged oil pumps, etc. Typically, the symptoms it involves are blackish oil, engine noises, low oil levels, power loss, and much more. In extreme cases, not fixing this can result in a catastrophically damaged engine.

Is Your Car's Oil Pressure Warning Light On?

The oil pressure light indicates your car’s oil isn’t flowing properly. This can happen because of a faulty oil pump, electrical component, or an oil leak. Alternatively, the car’s oil might be fine, but damaged sensors send the wrong information.

Stay alert if your car's dashboard begins to pop the "oil pressure" warning light. Your vehicle might be under progressive damage and might require hefty repairs in the future; it'll also feature considerable safety risks. So please, keep track of your car's odd behaviors and browse through our articles to find out the information you'll need to share with your go-to auto shop.

Let's Get To The Bottom Of It!

  • Q: Do you hear odd sounds accompanying this issue?

    If so, it's better to stop driving. It depends on the damage's extension. For instance, if the issue is indeed a lack of oil, running the car in this state compromises the entire system; oil act as a lubricant in the vehicle's internal moving parts, and the lack of it results in progressive damages. In extreme cases, a mechanic must tear down the car's engine to fully estimate how much this issue impacted it.

    Failing pumps results in low oil pressure and engine protection. The typical symptoms that follow this issue are engine noises when the vehicle is running, blackish oil, burning oil smells, slow engine cranks, and rattling.

  • Q: Do you feel like this is an electrical issue?

    Sometimes, the issue can be electrical without actually involving oil pressure problems. So, an electrical malfunction can falsely trigger the oil pressure warning.

    In this case, electrical issues don't cause abnormal sounds nor affect the oil level. Shutting the car off and restarting it might clear the light for a while. Even tapping on the dash can make the warning go out. Sometimes, a "check engine" light can pop up too.

  • Q: Are your oil pressure light and check engine light both on ?

    This can relate to a faulty oil pressure switch. An oil pressure switch failure can happen because of electrical issues; these types of problems do not show any aggressive symptoms, and the car's behavior shouldn't change drastically. The oil level might be full and clean, with no odd symptoms or noises coming from the car. Still, the "check engine" light might appear on the dash next to the red oil pressure warning.

  • Q: Is your oil filter very old?

    A clogged oil filter can trigger the "oil warning" light on the dash since the filter is vital in maintaining oil quality and pressure. In this case, the oil probably gets a dark-colored appearance and might be at a low level; stop the car and check this with an oil dipstick. Additionally, if your vehicle is underperforming, ask for a tow ride.

    Some oil filters have a bypass valve in the filter, and some manufacturers have a pressure relief valve in the oiling system. If the filter clogs up, the oil bypasses it, contaminating itself and damaging internal engine components. In this same scenario, some oil filters can come apart and lodge filter particles through the car's oilways.

    If sludge and filter particles obstruct the car's oil passages, you might notice poor performance; the engine sputters when accelerating, odd noises coming from underhood, a burnt oil smell, and the yellow "check engine" light popping on the dash.

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Vehicle Health Inspection Proof

Explore the following typical inspection results that show a potential cause for the symptom and select the one you believe is similar to your vehicle's issue.

Low engine oil

The car was running on low oil. The oil dipstick test indicates a low oil level and a blackish fluid color in the case image.

A customer came into the shop complaining about a red oil light on the car's dashboard. In addition, they noticed louder vehicle noises and a yellow "check engine" light on the dashboard.

First, the mechanic did a test drive and confirmed the client's concerns; the car was noisy, and warning lights were popping on the dash. Then, the mechanic began inspecting and noticed the car's oil change interval was overdue.

During the vehicle health inspection, the mechanic used an oil dipstick in the engine, which came out dry; there was no oil. In this case, they'll need to add oil and perform additional tests to clarify if there are no further issues by pulling codes from the engine module.

After adding oil, the mechanic needs to inspect it from the engine for metal particles. Then, they'll verify if the warning lights on the dash disappear and if the noises halt. If the dash warning lights persist, they'll need to do additional tests.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Faulty oil pressure sensor

This case image shows the part of an oil pressure sensor. The red arrow points to a crack, which allows oil leaks. Consequently, the leak causes the sensor to fail.

The customer pointed out that the oil pressure caution light was popping on their vehicle's dash. Additionally, they didn't notice any other severe symptoms since the car sounded normal and the oil level was complete.

The mechanic did a test drive and noticed the "oil pressure" and "check engine" warning on the dash. Plus, they confirmed that the car was behaving normally.

While performing a vehicle health inspection, the mechanic found that the car's oil was in good level and color. Then, they used a computer device to pull codes from the car's engine data, discovering an "oil pressure too low" warning.

The mechanic did additional tests with the customer's consent and found that, although the motor oil level was following specifications, the oil pressure sensor's seal was faulty. As a result, oil was getting into the electrical connection, corrupting the data to the engine control module.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Faulty oil pump

The case image shows an engine part belonging to the oil pump system. The red arrows point to cylinder heads, showing their oil-related issues.

A client came into the shop complaining about their car's dashboard popping the oil pressure caution light. They also noticed engine noises getting louder the longer they drove the car; the vehicle was also cranking to start and taking longer to operate.

The mechanic did a test drive and confirmed the car's slow start and engine rattling. The sound resembled metallic pieces rubbing against each other.

During a vehicle health inspection, the service advisor found the vehicle's battery was healthy. Plus, when inspecting the oil, they found it to have a metallic color.

When an oil pump fails, it results in low pressure in the oil system. Also, depending on the damage, it can send metallic particles into the oil reservoir, contaminating the fluid.

The mechanic did an additional teardown with the customer's consent and found considerable wear on the overhead camshaft. Also, there were plenty of metal particles in the oil, indicating massive internal components damage. So, unfortunately, the car needs a new engine.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Faulty instrument cluster

The case image shows a vehicle dashboard displaying the "oil pressure" warning light. This warning is popping up because of an instrument cluster failure.

A customer dropped this vehicle off at the shop because it flashed the oil pressure caution light on the dash inconsistently. In addition, the car was behaving normally, with no other symptoms.

During the test drive, the mechanic confirmed the oil pressure caution light on the dash; they also noticed the car's typical performance and lack of other symptoms.

While doing a vehicle health inspection, the technician didn't find anything wrong with the car's oil; there were no leads to an oil issue apart from the dash's warning.

The client asked for additional tests, which the technician performed, and didn't find any issues with the pressure sensor, wiring harness, and oil pressure.

Then, with a bidirectional scanner, the technician found that the dashboard warning lights were performing erratically; they sent false information because of a failing instrument cluster.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Oil pressure electrical issues

This case image shows an oil pressure sensor. You can see that the sensor's connector is somewhat uncapped and damaged; it needs replacement.

The customer came into the shop complaining about their car's pressure oil warning light on the dash, even though they've recently changed the oil. Additionally, they checked the oil with a dipstick and found it at safe levels, and their vehicle wasn't showing any other odd symptoms.

While doing a test drive, the mechanic confirmed that the oil pressure alarm light was popping on the dash; they also didn't notice any other odd symptoms on the car.

During a vehicle health inspection, the technician found that the car's oil was clean and at proper levels. In addition, they pulled codes from the engine's computer, finding a p0524 (oil pressure too low) and p0521 (oil pressure sensor/switch performance problem).

The service required additional testing, which the client consented to. Then, the mechanic performed an ohm test on the pressure sensor and diagnosed it as out of range; the sensor had an internal failure.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it
Clogged oil system

The oil filter in this case image is in a critical state of dirtiness. The high volume of oil sludges in it impacts the car's whole oil system's performance.

A customer brought this vehicle into the shop complaining about its "check engine" and "oil pressure" warning lights on the dash. In addition, they've complained about the car's underperformance and blackish oil.

After a test drive, the technician noticed the warning lights on the dash and a rattling sound coming from the car's engine. Then, during the vehicle health inspection, the mechanic used an oil dipstick, discovering very thick oil on the car's system, which also emitted a burnt oil odor.

The technician performed additional tests with the customer's consent. Using a mechanical gauge, the mechanic found that the oil pressure was below the manufacturer's specifications of a hot or cold engine. Furthermore, there were no issues with the oil filter.

After investigating the oil filter, they found that oil sludges were clogging it. Dirty oil was bypassing the filter, contaminating other components, and causing oil pressure problems.

Oil-related issues require investigations to determine if the failure was due to poor maintenance or low-quality oil before deciding on a correction plan.

Does the issue look like this? if not accessible your shop will document it

Typical Makes

That need Oil Pressure Light significantly more often than average vehicle makes

  • Make:


  • Model:

    Accord, CR-V, Odyssey, Pilot

  • Oil Pressure Sensor, Oil Pump

Is this the make you are driving?
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Typical Fixes to Address the Cause(s)

The following chapters bases themselves on experiences from our auto repair shop; we'll describe related problems' causes and fixes.

"Oil flush and replenishment" fixes "Low engine oil"

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Hey, Why Is My Car's Oil Pressure Warning Light On?
Sometimes a problem is more challenging to describe than it initially looked like. If you are not sure your problem is described by this article, please find below similar vehicle symptoms, which might describe better the issue you are experiencing.