If the light is red when it comes on you need to pull in and turn off the engine immediately! Of course, if it’s not safe to pull in get to a safe place as soon as possible. Driving your car without oil will cause major damage and probably result in needing a replacement engine!
So what can cause the oil warning light to come on?
Once you’ve pulled in at a safe place turn off the engine and give it a few minutes to cool down.
The first thing you’ll need to do is dip the engine for oil –
- Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean
- Dip it in again and note the oil level when it comes back out – it should be between the marks on the dipstick.
If your oil level is ok it’s more than likely a pump or pressure issue that will need to be fixed before you can drive again.
If your oil level is low have a look around the engine bay to see where it’s coming from (generally with a slow leak you’ll get an orange “low level” warning before the red light comes on).
Have a look around the oil filter. Make sure the area is clean and there are no signs of a leak.
Next take a look underneath the car – are there any signs of a leak or oil dripping. You may have caught your sump on something and cracked it.
If there are no signs of a leak and if the oil level is just a bit on the low side it’s probably safe to top it up and continue on your journey as long as the warning light stays off. If not you’ll need to get it towed to somewhere rather than driving off – remember, a new pump/sump/filter/seal will be much cheaper than a new engine!!
22nd September, 2014