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Oil Light in Car: What To Do and How To Fix?

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Oil Light in Car: What To Do and How To Fix?

When your car’s oil light comes on, it’s time to panic! It means your engine is about to seize up and die if you don’t do something about it immediately. However, there are a few things you can do to try and fix the problem before it gets expensive.

The oil light may come on due to a broken oil pressure sensor, low oil levels, a faulty oil pump, or bad wiring. Depending on the underlying issue, you can get the oil light to turn off by replacing the pressure sensor, topping up the oil, installing a new oil pump, or fixing faulty wiring.

The rest of this article will help you reset your oil light and advise you on what to do when it comes on. I will also include a few tips on avoiding this problem in the future, so stick around to the end.

What Is the Oil Light?

The oil light is a warning light that comes on when there is a problem with the oil pressure in your engine. It is usually located on the dash, near the speedometer. When the light comes on, it means that your engine is not getting enough oil and will eventually seize up.

Depending on the causes, the oil light can signify a minor problem or a major one. Acting quickly may help you avoid an expensive repair bill. On the other hand, things can head south pretty fast if you ignore this warning.

Before we talk about resetting the oil light, let’s go over some common causes.

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A Broken Oil Pressure Sensor

A broken oil pressure sensor is the most likely cause of the oil light coming on. This is a small sensor that measures the amount of oil pressure in your engine. If it senses that the pressure is too low, it will trigger the oil light.

The good news is that this is an easy and relatively cheap fix. You can buy a new sensor at your local auto parts store and replace it yourself.

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Low Oil Levels

If your engine is low on oil, it will not have enough pressure to keep it running properly. You can determine how much oil is in the car by inspecting the level on the dipstick.

If the oil level is low, you will need to top up. You can buy motor oil at any auto parts store or gas station. Be sure to check your owner’s manual to find the right type of oil for your car. Some cars will also have this info on the oil cap, so keep your eyes peeled.

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Faulty Oil Pump

A faulty oil pump is a worst-case scenario. This pump is responsible for moving oil around the engine, and if it is not working correctly, the motor will make grinding noises and eventually fail.

Replacing an oil pump is expensive because the mechanic will have to take off the entire engine, including the timing setup. But that is only if the engine is still alive and well. Otherwise, you may have to get a new motor.

Faulty Wiring

The wire powering your oil pressure sensor usually passes near the exhaust system. That means it is at risk of heat damage, especially if you forget to zip tie it away from the exhaust.

You might also be looking at a loose connection. This can happen if you accidentally knock the wire loose when working on your car or hit an obstacle hard while driving.

If you think this may be the problem, check the wire for damage or a loose connection. To do this, follow the wire from the oil pressure sensor to find where it goes.

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How To Reset the Oil Light?

Now that we’ve gone over common causes, let’s talk about how to reset the oil light. Depending on the reason, you may be able to do this yourself or have to take your car to a mechanic.

Check the Oil Level

Checking the oil levels is a simple process that you can do yourself. Here is a step by step walk-through:

  1. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag.
  2. Insert the dipstick back into the engine and then pull it out again.
  3. Check the oil level on the dipstick. If it is below the “full” line, you will need to add more oil.
  4. Add oil to the engine until the level is at or above the “full” line.
  5. Start the engine and check the oil light. If it is still on, there may be another problem.

Replace the Oil Pressure Sensor

You want to start by checking the oil pressure sensor because this is the most likely cause of the light coming on. You can buy a new sensor at any auto parts store for around $20.

To replace it, you will need a few tools. I recommend having a ratchet set, sockets, and wrenches on hand. You will also need some wire cutters, pliers, and a new oil pressure sensor.

Once you have all the tools and parts, follow these steps to replace the sensor:

  1. Open the hood and locate the old oil pressure sensor. It will be on or near the engine block.
  2. Use a wrench or socket to loosen the sensor and pull it out.
  3. Compare the new sensor to the old one to make sure they are the same.
  4. Thread the new sensor into place and tighten it down.
  5. Reconnect any wires that you disconnected.
  6. Refill oil.
  7. Start the engine and check the oil light. If it is still on, there may be another problem.

Take Your Car to a Mechanic

If you’ve checked the oil pressure sensor and the oil level and the light is still on, you should take your car to a mechanic. There may be another problem with your engine that needs to be fixed.

A good mechanic will have the diagnostic tools and know-how to figure out what is wrong with your car. They will also be able to fix the problem quickly and get you back on the road.

Keep in mind that there are times when you’ll need a new engine. This usually happens if your oil pump fails and you continue to drive. It’s precisely why I recommend stopping as soon as you notice the oil light and having the car towed to a mechanic. They will be able to diagnose and fix the problem before it gets out of hand.

Read: Car Won’t Start But Lights Still Work – What’s Going On?

How To Prevent the Oil Light From Coming On?

The best way to prevent the oil light is to check your oil level regularly, change it when needed, and stay on top of your filter changes. This might sound basic, but it is the best way to keep your engine healthy.

You should also be careful when working on your car. If you accidentally knock a wire loose, check it and fix it before driving again. Otherwise, the vehicle might start showing errors that you can’t fix yourself.

I also recommend taking your car to a mechanic for regular check-ups. They will be able to catch any problems early and prevent them from getting worse. A professional is also more likely to find a problem that you missed.

Getting quality oil for your car is also important. You want to make sure you are using the right type of oil for your engine. Get this part wrong, and it won’t work as well and could cause problems.

You usually can find this information in your car’s owner’s manual. If you can’t find it there, you can always ask a mechanic. I have also found helpful information on car-specific forums. For example, if you drive a Honda like me, you can find a lot of good info on the Honda-Tech forum.

Final Thoughts

If you take away anything from this article, let it be this:

The oil light in your car is there for a reason. Please don’t ignore it!

Check the oil level and pressure sensor as soon as the light comes on. If this does not fix the problem, take your car to a mechanic. They will be able to diagnose and fix the problem quickly.

Most importantly, don’t forget to regularly check your oil level and change your oil when needed. This is the best way to prevent the oil warning light in the first place.

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