As technology advances, vehicles are getting better at letting their owner know exactly what is going on. At auto shops, diagnostic tests have improved so it’s easier than ever to diagnose engine issues. However, your oil light technology hasn’t changed very much, because your oil is performing much the same task it was when cars were first invented. Your oil light tells you that your oil is bad, whether it’s low pressure, dirty oil or leaking. Any of those reasons require immediate attention from a factory-trained technician.
Oil Pressure: Your oil’s main function in the engine is to circulate and keep the moving, mechanical parts cool so they do not break. If your oil pressure decreases, that means it doesn’t have much force to pump through your engine and effectively keep the engine cool. Your vehicle will be more likely to overheat and leave you stranded.
Dirty Oil: Over time, your oil picks up impurities. Bits of your engine parts will break off or debris from the road will get into the engine and find its way into the oil. As it ages, your oil will become thicker and less runny. The thicker the oil, the more oil pressure it will take to move it around the engine. If the oil gets too dirty and thick, your oil light will come on to alert you to the problem. You can also check for yourself using the dipstick under the hood. New, effective oil is the color and runniness of honey. Older oil will be darker and look more like molasses.
Oil Leak: Any number of reasons could cause an oil leak. It could be an after-effect of a minor collision. It could develop slowly over time as your engine ages. It could be that one of the fluid line connections was knocked loose on a particularly bad pothole. Either way, not your vehicle is leaking oil. Not only is this an issue for your vehicle, it’s an issue for the environment as well. Fixing a leak as soon as you are aware of it will prevent further damage to your vehicle if it were to overheat.
Any preventative maintenance plan for your vehicle will include regular oil and fluid checks and that includes a visual check of the fluid lines themselves. Performing regular maintenance gives you the opportunity to see any issues before they become large repairs!