Skip to main content

How to React When the Oil Light Is On

When the oil pressure warning light comes on in your vehicle, you should immediately investigate the cause.


  • Step 1: Stop driving the vehicle Stop driving the vehicle when the oil pressure warning light comes on and pull over to a safe place. Failure to stop can cause serious mechanical damage to your car.
  • Step 2: Check the oil level Check the oil level on the dipstick, making sure the level is in the proper range.
  • Step 3: Add oil Add oil if the indicated level is too low. Make sure the oil conforms to the manufacturer’s recommended viscosity.
  • TIP: If the engine is burning oil, adding oil will only temporarily turn off the oil light.
  • Step 4: Check the oil filter Check the oil filter to see if it is plugged up with gunk. A clogged oil filter can also result in low oil pressure.
  • Step 5: Check for oil leaks Observe whether the engine is leaking oil if the problem has still not been solved. If there is a leak, have an auto mechanic replace any problematic gaskets or oil seals.
  • TIP: Most leaky gaskets and seals can be replaced without major expense.
  • Step 6: Check the warning light Have a mechanic check whether the warning light remains on after it's disconnected from the oil-sending unit. If the light remains on, there is probably a short in the warning light circuit.
  • Step 7: Take your vehicle to a mechanic for additional tests Have the mechanic perform diagnostic tests if the oil light remains on. Other possible reasons include problems with the oil pump, rod and main bearing clearances, camshaft end play, or cam bearings and lifters.
  • FACT: A common oil change error is cross-threading the oil pan drain plug, causing an oil leak.

You Will Need

  • A safe place to stop
  • Oil
  • An oil filter
  • An auto mechanic
  • Diagnostic check

Popular Categories