Things to Know About a Vehicle with the Oil Warning Light On

Nobody likes feeling under pressure, but if the oil pressure warning light turns on in your car, and you don't know what to do, you'll be feeling the pressure for sure. We're here to help at Nate Wade Subaru! Below, we'll tell you what you should do when the oil pressure light turns on in your dashboard.

In a modern Subaru vehicle, this warning light is a red light in the shape of an oil can, with a drop of oil coming from the spout. Or, to some, it looks more like a genie's lamp. But getting it fixed isn't magic. It just takes a little expert help from the team in our service center.

Not all makes and models have the same warning lights, but here's what this warning light looks like on a modern Subaru 

5. Stop Driving As Soon As It's Safe To Do So

When it comes to engine problems, it's not wise to continue operating the car any longer than absolutely necessary with the oil light on. That's because severe damage can quickly occur! If the engine doesn't have sufficient oil pressure, the moving metal parts inside the engine won't have proper lubrication. This can allow metal-on-metal contact in the engine, which can quickly cause major damage. It can even cause the engine to seize up entirely and just stop running!

It's well worth the hassle to pull over safely and call for a tow to a professional service center like ours at Nate Wade Subaru. It'll be much more affordable to pay for a tow truck and a minor repair to the engine's oil system than pay for an extensive engine repair, engine replacement or whole new car.

A technician wipes down the engine dipstick to get a proper oil level reading 

4. Engine May Be Leaking Oil

One thing that can definitely cause low oil pressure is insufficient oil level in the engine. This can be caused by the engine being improperly filled at your last service, but is more likely caused by the engine either leaking oil out of degraded seals or burning oil due to an internal leak. Most cars make it easy to check the level of oil in the engine using the dipstick. If the oil level reads too low, stop by to have the oil topped off and let our technicians find out why your engine is losing oil.

3. Oil Pump Could Be Bad

If oil levels are sufficient, your vehicle might have a weak oil pump. The pump circulates the oil throughout the engine's various oil galleries, ensuring all the moving parts are properly protected and lubricated. If your engine is making new knocking or tapping noises, that could indicate that moving components aren't getting enough lubrication, such as valvetrain components. It's much easier and less costly to replace a bad oil pump than replace the whole engine!

Shown here is an oil pump and puckup with screen to keep debris out of the pump 

2. The Oil Might Need To Be Changed

Even very old, very dirty engine oil can cause problems such as insufficient oil pressure. Too much dirt and debris in the oil can affect its viscosity and flow. Worse, a build-up of sludge in the engine -- formed by engine oil that separates and congeals over time -- can block the oil pickup, robbing the oil pump of oil and reducing circulation. If it's been too long since your last oil change, the oil pressure warning light could be your last warning before more severe damage sets in!

1. Oil Pressure Sending Unit Might Need To Be Replaced

If you're lucky, this problem can often be caused by a small, inexpensive part going bad: The oil pressure sending unit. It works in tandem with your vehicle's engine computer to regulate the flow and pressure of the engine oil system. This part can eventually begin to leak and get the internal electronics contaminated with engine oil -- causing it to fail. Luckily, it's a relatively easy and affordable repair for our expert technicians.

These are just a few of the most common causes of low oil pressure in your car, so be sure to have a trained technician at the Nate Wade Subaru service center perform a professional diagnosis for the best repair results.

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  1. Nate Wade Subaru

    1207 South Main
    Salt Lake City, UT 84111
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Nate Wade Subaru

1207 South Main St
Directions Salt Lake City, UT 84111

  • Sales: (801) 658-9379
  • Service: (801) 328-1327
  • Parts: (801) 328-0061