When your Oil Pressure Light comes on, you can bet that there is a reason. It could be something as simple as being low on oil, or it could be an indication of serious engine problems. The trouble is, you don’t know whether the problem is serious or no big deal, so your best course of action is to pull over immediately and turn off your engine. This is because if your oil pressure goes down to nothing, you could damage your engine to the point where you will need significant repairs, and may even need to replace the engine.
So, what causes your Oil Pressure Light to come on? It could be a number of things:
Low oil level could be the cause. This is the simplest to correct – just top off your oil, see if the light goes out, and if it does, you can get back on the road.
A faulty oil pump could also be the culprit. If the level on the dipstick is showing between “add” and “full,” and then engine was running noisily, you need to stop driving until the issue can be corrected. You could have a bad oil pump.
On the other hand, if the level is between “add” and “full,” and then engine was running quietly, you could have a bad oil pressure sending unit, light switch, or oil pressure gauge. You can safely drive home and have this fixed, but if the engine starts to sound noisy, stop immediately and call for a tow truck.
You could also have leaking gaskets or seals. You will need to top up your oil, and again, you can safely drive home. Make sure to get the oil seals or gaskets replaced, though, because if they give out all at once you could end up with a seized motor and very expensive repairs.
Another possible cause could be worn engine bearings. If this is the case, you will probably need to have your engine rebuilt or replaced.
So, is it safe to drive with the Oil Pressure Light on? Depending on the cause, you can probably drive safely for long enough to have the problem diagnosed and corrected by a qualified mechanic. At YourMechanic, we can diagnose why your Oil Pressure Light has come on and recommend a solution.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Is It Safe to Drive With the Oil Pressure Light On? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.