[Solved] Oil Light Comes on and Off – Meaning, Causes & Fixes!

Photo by Alex McCarthy on Unsplash

Cargroot is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Is the oil light on your vehicle’s dashboard blinking a lot lately? Are you wondering what makes the light turn on even when you recently filled the oil tank? Well, this could be an indicator for you to get your car checked for any serious problems. 

Nevertheless, if you can’t figure out why the oil light on your vehicle comes on and off, keep reading for all the answers. 

Usually, the oil light comes on and off when the oil pressure in the car is low. Some other factors that trigger the oil light to go on and off include oil leakage, contaminations in the oil, faulty oil pump, damaged oil pressure sensor, low engine oil level in your vehicle, damaged cables of the oil pressure sensor, and clogged oil pump or filter. 

We have compiled a detailed guide for you explaining some of the main reasons for the oil light turning on, along with some fixes you can try to turn this light off on your vehicle. 

What Is the Meaning of the Oil Light? 

Before moving towards the reasons that compel the oil light on your vehicle to turn on, it’s essential first to understand its meaning. The oil light, like other indicator lights on your vehicle, turns on to inform you of any problem with the vehicle. 

In this case, if the engine oil pressure in your vehicle is low, the oil will face difficulty in flowing correctly through the engine. As the engine needs continuous lubrication to run smoothly, this pressure could reduce its functioning and even seize it. 

If this condition goes unnoticed for a long time, the oil light will turn on to warn you of any severe issues with your car’s engine. Sometimes, you even have to replace the engine with a new one. So, you better take this warning seriously. 


Why Does the Oil Light Come On and Off? 

The best way to address any vehicle problem is to trace its root cause. That’s precisely what we are going to do here. We will take you through some of the main reasons for the appearance of an oil light on your vehicle’s dashboard before moving towards the fixes part. 

Reason #1: Low Oil Level 

The first and foremost factor that makes the oil light turn on is your car’s low engine oil level. As mentioned earlier, if the pressure of engine oil is low, the oil light goes on. This pressure, however, is directly related to the engine oil level in your vehicle. If no oil is present in the engine to pressurize, the oil pressure would be negligible. 

So, if you have lately been seeing the oil light going on and off on your vehicle as soon as you turn on the ignition, there might be a low engine oil level in your car that’s causing it. 

Reason #2: Damaged Oil Pump 

The oil pump in your car’s engine is the main component responsible for pressurizing the oil. This, in turn, keeps the engine lubricated and is responsible for your car’s efficient working. 

But if you have not maintained your car correctly, most of its components will wear out over time, and the oil pump is no exception. A damaged oil pump, however, will lead to severe consequences. 

Due to some fault in the oil pump, it won’t be able to pressurize the engine oil, leading to the appearance of the oil light on your car’s dashboard. Failure of the overpressure valve inside the oil pump can also inhibit it from pressurizing the oil. 

Reason #3: Problematic Sensors 

Modern vehicles come with various sensors that monitor various car components and notify the indicators to flash if any problem is in the loop. In the same way, multiple oil pressure sensors inside the engine determine the pressure of oil and ensure to notify the oil light comes on if the pressure is less than the required minimum. 

If any of these sensors get damaged or fail to determine the oil pressure correctly, you might see the oil light turning on the dashboard. So, if you have recently checked the oil pressure inside the engine and found no problem, the sensors could likely be the issue. 

Reason #4: Clogged Oil Tube 

The oil pump gets to the bottom of the oil pan in the engine via a tube called the oil pickup tube. If some dirt or debris gets trapped in this tube, the pump won’t be able to perform its task efficiently. 

This eventually results in low engine oil pressure, consequently causing the oil light o go on. Though the oil pickup tube comes with a net that keeps all the dirt and gunks away from it and prevents it from getting clogged, if you fail to take your car to the service station for a long time, the dirt and other contaminants can manage to clog the tube, resulting in the oil light coming on. 

Reason #5: Damaged Sensor Wires 

As mentioned earlier, the car’s engine has numerous sensors that monitor the oil pressure and notifies the indicator if the pressure is low. 

These sensors, however, require wires and cable connections to work correctly, and if even one of these wires gets damaged, the sensors will fail to perform their job correctly. This way, the indicators might turn on despite adequate oil pressure in the engine. 

Reason #6: Oil Filters 

Like the oil pickup tube we discussed earlier, your engine’s oil filter can also get clogged over time. This oil filter is meant to keep the oil clean, maintaining a steady oil pressure within the engine. 

The clogging of the oil filters can happen due to various factors, including oil sludge, inability to service your car for a long time, etc. Regardless of the reason, if the oil filter fails to keep the oil free of contaminants, this will affect the oil pressure and will eventually cause the oil pressure light on your vehicle’s dashboard to turn on. 

Similarly, if any of the oil passages throughout the vehicle and its engine gets blocked, the oil won’t find a way to lubricate the engine, reducing oil pressure and making the oil light go on. 

Reason #7: Oil Leakage 

Another significant reason the oil light goes on and off is oil leakage inside the engine. To efficiently work your vehicle, you must keep track of the oil inside its engine, its pressure, and its level. However, if the oil starts leaking within the engine due to any internal damage, this could affect the oil pressure. 

Any disturbance in engine oil pressure will eventually make the oil light come on and off on your vehicle’s dashboard, affecting your car’s overall performance. 

Reason #8: Damaged Engine Parts 

The oil inside your car’s engine is actually meant to keep various engine parts, including its cam bearings, crankshaft, and other components, lubricated. Thanks to this, these parts don’t come in contact with each other, preventing the engine from catching fire. 

However, if any of these components get damaged, the oil inside the engine might start leaking, affecting the oil pressure. Due to this, you might see the oil pressure light flashing on your car. 

Fixing the Oil Light Coming On and Off 

If this is your first time experiencing a problem where the oil pressure light keeps flashing on your vehicle’s dashboard, and you don’t know how to fix this light, our simple solutions will help you perform this task without much hassle. 

Method #1: Checking the Engine Oil Level 

As we have discussed before, one of the most significant reasons for the oil light coming on and off in your car is the low engine oil level. But guess what? It’s pretty simple to check the engine oil level in your car. Doing so will not only inform you of the reason behind the oil light coming on, but you can eliminate several other vehicle problems. 

Here are the steps you need to follow to check the engine oil level in your car: 

  1. If you are driving your car when the oil light comes on, pull over and park it on the side of the road. 
  2. Wait for a while till the engine cools down. 
  3. Open the car’s bonnet and find the dipstick. 

Note: If this is your first time trying to locate the dipstick and you don’t know where it is, seek help from your car’s owner’s manual. 

  1. Once you find the dipstick, pull it out and use a cloth to wipe it out. 
  2. You will see two marks or lines on the dipstick. These marks denote the maximum and minimum oil levels. 
  3. Once the stick is clean, put it into the oil tube. Ensure to push it all the way to the bottom. 
  4. Wait for a few minutes before removing the dipstick. 
  5. If the oil level is almost halfway between the minimum and maximum level marks, the engine oil level in your car is perfectly fine. 
  6. However, add more oil if the oil level is less than the minimum oil mark. 
  7. Add the oil and use the dipstick to recheck the level. 
  8. Keep adding the oil until its level becomes halfway on the dipstick between the minimum and maximum level marks. 

Method #2: Fixing/ Replacing the Oil Pump 

Another fix to make the oil pressure light go off is to replace the oil pump. As mentioned above, the oil pump is the main component responsible for pressurizing the engine oil, and any damage in the oil pump can lead to the pressure of engine oil decreasing, thus turning the oil light on. 

Though you can also take your car to a professional mechanic and get the oil pump fixed, this process might need you to remove the engine and install it again, and even then, you can’t be sure that the pump will work fine in the future. 

So, what we recommend you do instead is replace the oil pump with a new one. Check out this YouTube video to learn how the replacement of an oil pump is done, and if you are confident, perform this task on your own. 

Method #3: Checking Engine for Oil Leakage 

Oil leakage inside the car’s engine is another significant cause of the engine light coming on and off. So, to turn off the oil pressure light, in this case, check your car’s engine thoroughly for any signs of leakages. 

Before taking your car to a professional, look at the signs yourself. For instance, if you recently got the engine oil filled and its level is way lower than expected, this could be a solid sign of leakage inside the engine. 

Once you are sure the problem is occurring because of oil leakage, check your engine and repair any damaged components to stop the leakage. 

Method #4: Replacing the Oil Pressure Sensor 

Faulty or damaged oil pressure sensors could also make the oil pressure light come on, which can easily be fixed by replacing the sensors. 

Here are the steps you need to follow for this: 

  1. Stop your car on the side of the road at a safe place. 
  2. Turn off the engine and wait for a few minutes till it cool downs. 
  3. Now you must locate the damaged sensor and take it away from your car using a wrench. 
  4. Ensure not to cut off the threads. 
  5. Use a cloth to wipe off any dirt around the sensor. 
  6. Install a new sensor in place of the older one. 
  7. Tighten it up using a plench. 
  8. Connect all the wires and cables back to the sensor and see if the problem is resolved. 

Note: You might have to replace more than one oil pressure sensor with new ones to eliminate the problem completely. 

Here is a YouTube guide that will help you replace the oil pressure sensors if you have never done this before. 

Conclusion – [Solved] Oil Light Comes on and Off! 

In this guide, we have introduced the oil pressure light for you and looked at some of the main reasons for this light appearing on your car’s dashboard. We have also provided you with some simple solutions you can use to turn off the oil light if it doesn’t go off on its own. 

Hopefully, this guide has answered all the confusion you might have regarding the oil light, and you won’t feel pressurized to see this light flashing on your dashboard again. Thanks for believing us with your problems! 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here