March 23

The Oil Lamp

Car Maintenance


The Oil Lamp or Oil warning indicator

Over the years I have spoken to many car owners who are confused about the purpose of the oil lamp on their dash. You know the one that I mean, it usually appears as a red lamp in the shape of an oil can and illuminates briefly while starting the engine.

Oil Warning Light

To set the record straight, the only purpose of this light is to warn you of oil pressure loss. Should the light come on while driving, it is critical that you switch off your engine immediately and have the cause of the problem diagnosed. Failure to do so may result in expensive engine damage.

So now that we’ve defined what it does, let’s look at a common misconception about the oil light, which is that it indicates your engine is low on oil.

This light does not do this!

You must continue to check the level from time to time. If the light comes on due to low oil level it may be too late and you may have already damaged your engine. Some cars are equipped with a “low oil level” warning lamp. This lamp clearly says “low oil level” when it comes on. Should it switch on, checking your oil level would be the first thing to do.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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