It’s normal if your dashboard oil light is flickering when you know you don’t have much fuel. But sometimes, the oil light goes on even when the tank is full. And this is a clear indication that something is wrong! On such occasions, you might want to know why oil light coming on, but oil is full? How to fix?
Well, there’s not only one but several reasons why the light comes on. Most of the time, it happens due to low oil pressure. Damaged oil pumps, contaminated oil, faulty pressure sensor, and oil leakage are some other reasons why the light starts flickering.
Luckily, most of these problems can be solved without the help of a professional mechanic. To assist you in this journey, we will tell you why the oil light flickers and how to solve this issue. Let’s dive right in.
Is It Important to Fix the Oil Light Coming on Issue?
Yes, in most cases, you must pay attention to this issue and fix it right away. Of course, you can drive even when your oil pressure is low, but it can be quite risky. Continuous lubrication is essential for your car engine to function properly.
If the engine pressure drops, the engine will not be lubricated adequately, and it’ll seize, causing an abrupt halt. This might lead to serious accidents on the road. Even if the engine isn’t seized, a lack of lubrication will damage the internal parts of your engine, and it’ll cost you a fortune to fix it.
So, if the oil light flickers, park your car in a safe place, and use a dipstick to check the level of oil. Also, look for signs of oil leaks. If everything seems to be okay, the problem can be in your oil pump, pressure sensor, or the engine itself.
Why Is the Oil Light Coming on Even When Oil Tank Is Full?
As we have mentioned before, the reasons for this are many. Below we have rounded up some of the key reasons why the oil light flashes even when the tank is full. Let’s take a look –
1. Low Oil Pressure
Oil pressure isn’t supposed to go low if your oil tank is full. Then why does the oil light flash while driving? The reason can be a leak. If there’s a leak somewhere in your car, the oil level will decrease. This happens mostly in older vehicles.
The oil pan gasket, valve cover gasket, rear main seal, and drain plug are the most susceptible areas to leaks. To check whether there’s any leak, park your car in a place for a few hours and look for oil puddles underneath the car.
If there’s any leak, you might notice a burnt smell while you’re inside the car. Smoke coming out from the car engine is another sign of oil leakage.
2. Contaminated Oil
A flashing oil light doesn’t always indicate low oil pressure. Sometimes it means the oil you’re using has been contaminated. When the oil flows through the engine, it picks up dust, debris, and dirt, preventing the motor oil from running freely. And this blockage will trigger the oil light.
Checking for dirty oil is an easy process. Use a dipstick and examine the color of the oil. If the oil is transparent and has an amber-like color, it’s clean.
Contaminated oil will be super dark, sludgy, and thick with a foul smell. In that case, you need to change it as soon as possible.
3. Clogged Oil Filter
Oil filters keep solid contaminants from getting inside the engine and protect it from wear and abrasion. Dirt, carbon, and shiny metallic parts are some such contaminants that otherwise damage the cylinder walls, bearing, and journal.
So, when the oil filters are clogged, it causes several problems in the engine that eventually leads to low oil pressure. And this will activate the oil light. Changing the oil filters regularly is necessary to avoid such problems.
4. Faulty Oil Pump
The oil pump is directly related to the oil pressure of your engine. It pressurizes the oil and pushes it through the moving parts of your car engine. This way, the components are lubricated to move freely.
If there’s something wrong with the oil pump, the oil will fail to move through the various engine components. This will result in low oil pressure and trigger the oil light. In some cases, a faulty oil pump causes more friction, creating high temperatures inside the engine.
And it will eventually result in many costly damages. Luckily, oil pump issues are rare. We would recommend replacing the faulty oil pump instead of repairing it as the process of fixing an oil pump is extremely complex.
5. Damaged Pressure Sensor
The oil pressure sensor is basically a tiny plug that monitors the oil pressure of your car and alerts you if the pressure decreases below a certain level. Just like every other part of the car, the sensor might also wear down or get faulty.
A damaged pressure sensor will transmit a false signal causing the oil light to flash inconsistently. To know whether the sensor is damaged or not, you need to use a sensor socket and detach the sensor. If you don’t have any previous experience with changing the sensor, take your vehicle to a professional mechanic.
What’s the Cost of Fixing Oil Light Issues?
As you can guess, the cost will vary depending on the cause of this problem. Replacing your engine oil will solve the problem if the problem is caused by contaminated oil.
The cost of a new pressure sensor is around $48 to $70, and you have to spend $120 to $160 if you hire a mechanic for this job. As for the faulty oil pump, the process is complicated, and you need to take the car to a professional.
Here, the cost will be between $1150 and $1350.
How Do You Fix Oil Light Coming on Issues?
By this time, you already know why your dashboard oil light might come on even when the tank is full. Let’s talk about the solutions now to get rid of this issue.
# Keep Checking the Oil Level
It’s understandable if you can’t keep the tank full all the time. But, never let the oil level go too low if you want to avoid costly repairs later. Regular monitoring of engine oil is necessary in this case.
To check the oil level, simply place your vehicle on a completely flat surface and examine the oil dipstick. Pull out the dipstick, clean it, and reinsert it deep. Take it out once again and check out the oil level.
If the level reads too low, fill the tank with the right kind of motor oil suggested by your car’s manufacturer.
# Use High-Quality Oil
Check out the owner’s manual that comes with your vehicle. It will say which type of oil is the best for your engine. It’s not sensible at all to go for cheap oils just to save some bucks.
This type of oil easily gets dirty and fails to provide sufficient lubrication for your engine parts. So, always fill the oil tank with high-quality engine oil to maintain optimal oil pressure and save repair costs in the future.
# Pressure Sensor Replacement
If the oil pressure sensor is faulty, the oil light will keep sending the wrong signal. You need to replace it to fix the issue, and the process is pretty simple. You can do it yourself if you have some experience in fixing minor problems with your car.
First, you need to locate the sensor. It can be mounted on the cylinder heads or the engine block. Then, unplug the electrical connector. After that, you need to use a ratchet and an appropriate pressure sensor socket so that you can loosen the sensor.
Once loosened, the sensor can be unscrewed by hand. If the sensor is worn out, it’s better to replace it by spending a few bucks.
# Consider Replacing the Oil Pump
If your oil tank is full, the oil and filters are clean, and the pressure sensor isn’t faulty, the problem is in your oil pump. The oil pump is placed inside the oil pan near the bottom of the car engine. Since replacing the oil pump is a difficult task, it’s better to hand it over to a mechanic.
But, how do you know if the oil pump is damaged or not? There are a few signs that indicate a bad oil pump. First of all, you’ll notice a warning light on the dashboard signaling a high engine temperature.
A damaged oil pump fails to pump enough oil for the engine. It causes the metal components to rub together and produce high heat. When the oil pump stops working, the oil level decreases, and various parts of your engine start making noises.
If you hear a whining or whirring sound from the oil pump or valve train, it’s a sign that you need to replace your oil pump.
So, why oil light coming on but oil is full? How to fix? Now you know the answer. Be sure to take the oil light issue seriously and stop driving immediately to perform an inspection.
If you want to avoid such issues, use a quality motor oil and regularly take your car for servicing. And this will keep your car engine running for a long time.
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