The oil circuit is one of the least understood systems in the car. There are a number of dashboard warning lights that can pop on at any minute. Everyone knows what the battery light is for, but many of us need to pull out our manuals for other lights displayed on the dashboard.


One light most of us recognize is the old-fashioned oil can. But mere recognition is not enough. The fact states that every time the oil light goes on, it surely is cause of concern for your vehicle.


Do you know what does it mean when the oil light comes on? Do you really understand what it means and what can happen to your vehicle if you ignore it?


Most of us are unaware of the actual meaning and the process necessary to follow when it comes on. Its importance makes it a necessity fro all the car owners to understand all of it. If you want to see you vehicle run smoothly for years, this is one of the parts you cannot afford to ignore.


Whenever the oil light comes on, this is an indication of oil pressure getting low. Low pressure means there either isn’t enough oil in the system or the oil pump isn’t circulating enough oil to keep the critical bearing and friction surfaces lubricated.

oil pressure

Your engine oil performs several duties in your vehicle. The major ones are:


  • Lubrication of the dozens of metallic parts in the engine and reduce friction to ensure a smooth and regular movement.


  • Helping in heat dispersion that the engine generates, preventing the parts from melting or being damaged by the heat.


  • The third job of the oil is to collect dirt and debris and relocate it to the engine oil filter.


Unfortunately, everything wears over time, which increases the tiny gaps between sliding parts. Those alone can cause a slight drop in oil pressure, as can an aging pump.


First thing you need to do is get your vehicle off the road immediately. Most of the experienced drivers who are aware of the usage of oil in the engine block will instinctively realize this. But it is for all of us, in fact for our vehicle that we turn off the engine immediately as we see the oil light on. If you try to ignore it, keep in mind that it may lead to costlier repairs.


Every modern vehicle has a small metal rod called dipstick with which you can physically measure the amount of oil left. If the dipstick comes out to be dry, then there may be low oil problem in you vehicle. If the oil level is low, add oil to the engine to bring the level up to the full mark on the dipstick.


If you feel strongly that the level of oil cannot go low naturally, or you have freshly got the refilling done, then you must check the oil filter for any leakage. If the filter is left loose, then it may result in oil leakage and hurt you vehicle system.


If the outside of the engine is clean and there are no obvious oil leaks, and the oil level is low, the engine is probably burning oil due to worn piston rings, valve guides or valve guide seals. This may be the result of high mileage wear or neglect. Either way, this kind of oil consumption problem is expensive to fix because it may require rebuilding or replacing the engine.


Also keep in mind to check the pan and the bolt or the other gear that have place for draining the oil from the pan under the vehicle.


You can also go for checking any disturbance in the oil pressure regulators. But it is not that much easy until you have a really good hand at you vehicle and you know all its parts quite well.


The oil and filter change is the building block of most scheduled maintenance programs. Since the oil requires replacement more frequently than any other consumable, any scheduled maintenance program or maintenance reminder system should take this into account.


In older vehicles a sticker was put at the wind shield at the most visible place, just to remind you of when your vehicle is due for an oil change. Many newer automobiles have a system to track the oil life and notify the owner when it is time for an oil change. All these change have although made it easier for us to track and assess the condition, but all it still requires is attention.


The low oil pressure warning light alerts the driver when a potentially catastrophic event is taking place. Every engine needs a minimum amount of oil pressure in order to function. An engine has dozens of precision metallic parts, revolving thousands of times per minute. All of these parts need to be constantly bathed in a pressurized shower of oil.


Hence it is not a part which you can ignore comfortably. Regular checking of oil level, its refilling and servicing can reduce the chances of the oil light showing you an emergency alarm.


It is surely not a good sign for your vehicle and you better try to avoid the situation by regular checks and paying attention to you vehicle. It will be better for both, the life of your vehicle as well as your pocket.