The oil light may come on for several different reasons, including a low oil level or a faulty sensor. If the oil light illuminates while you’re driving, you should immediately pull over and turn off the vehicle. Your engine may stop and refuse to turn over if you have run out of oil. An accident could occur if the vehicle suddenly stops while you’re driving. It is not safe, and in fact very dangerous, to drive with the oil light on. For a return to safe driving, know why your oil light may be on and what to do when it comes on.
4 Reasons Your Car’s Oil Light is On:
1. Low Oil Pressure. This means the oil pump isn’t circulating enough oil, or the oil level is too low for the system to circulate. Oil keeps the surfaces of the pump and engine lubricated, so if the level and pressure are low, the car needs to be stopped and the engine turned off to await inspection. Driving with low oil can ruin the vehicle’s engine.
2. Old Oil Circuit. Over time, the oil circuit may begin to wear out. Small gaps between moving parts may begin to increase in size, which can cause a slight drop in oil pressure. An aging pump may also cause oil pressure to drop. If the pressure dips enough from these causes, it may turn on the oil light and the circuit would require servicing.
3. Regular Oil Change. Your car’s oil should be replaced at regular intervals according to the vehicle owner’s manual. If you don’t replenish your oil stores by the suggested times, the levels may dip low enough to ignite the oil light.
4. Faulty Oil Sensor. The oil light responds to a sensor that acts as a probe into the oil passage. A foreign particle may get into the probe and cause it to send false messages to the car’s computer. If your oil levels are fine and the light remains on, consider having the part replaced.
4 Steps to Take When the Oil Light Turns On:
1. Pull Off the Road. Should the light come on at speed, pull off to the side of the road in case the car stops unexpectedly from engine failure to avoid any collisions.
2. Turn Off Engine. Shut off the engine to prevent engine damage.
3. Check Oil Levels. Check oil level with the dipstick in the oil well — accessible under the hood of the car. Remove the dipstick, wipe it clean, then put it back inside. Take it out again to see if it’s dry or does not have very much oil on it. Should this be the case, do not drive any further and call a tow truck to move your car.
4. Contact a Mechanic. Have a mechanic inspect your vehicle to fix any problems with the oil system.
Is it Safe to Drive with the Oil Light On?
No. Driving with low oil pressure or low oil in the system can ruin the vehicle’s engine, completely breaking the motor. If you notice the oil light on while you are driving or while the car is running, you should stop driving and have this problem addressed as soon as possible.