Is your oil light on? If it is, there’s a problem with your oil circuit. Performing an oil light reset is actually pretty simple. However, it is highly important that you don’t ignore this light because it indicates serious problems with your vehicle.
Here is all you need to know about your car’s oil light. For example, what it is, why it might turn on, and what to do if it does.
- 1 Oil Light: What Is It?
- 2 Why is My Oil Light On?
- 3 Camshaft and Hydraulic Lifters
- 4 What Happens When Your Oil Light Comes On?
- 5 What to Do When the Oil Light is On?
- 6 Is it Safe to Drive When the Oil Light is On?
- 7 How to Do an Oil Light Reset with an OBD2 Scanner?
- 8 Preparation:
- 9 Step by Step Guide:
- 10 FAQs
- 11 Conclusion
Oil Light: What Is It?
The oil light indicates serious problems with your car’s oil circuit. It is a can-shaped light on your dashboard which turns red if there’s an issue. If your engine oil light is glowing red, you need to safely park somewhere and turn off the engine as soon as possible.
Keep in mind, your oil light is different than the ‘reminder’ light on your dashboard. Firstly, that light is to ‘remind’ you when to check your oil, and secondly, that light turns orange, not red. Additionally, the oil light indicates a more pressing issue than the reminder light.
Why is My Oil Light On?
As mentioned, the oil light tells you that there’s a problem with your oil circuit. The oil circuit, a critical part of your car’s engine, isn’t hard to understand. You can think of it as the ‘heart’ of your car. If the oil circuit fails, your engine will stop working.
So what is an oil circuit? Well, to understand the oil circuit, you first need to learn about the six major parts it is made of.
1 Oil-Pressure Sensor
The oil pressure sensor is attached to your oil pressure gauge. Thanks to that, it tells you when your oil pressure is too high or too low.
2 Oil Gallery
You can think of this as the arteries. The oil gallery takes oil where needed via a pressurized passageway.
3 Oil Pump
This is pretty self-explanatory. The oil pump ‘pumps’ oil from the pan and into the oil gallery (which takes it where it needs to go.)
4 Oil Filter
The oil filter keeps your oil clean and free from any dirt it picks up as it is pumped.
5 Crankshaft Bearings
This acts as the ‘spine’ of your engine. Consequently, if something goes wrong with this, your engine will immediately become ‘paralyzed’ and stop.
Camshaft and Hydraulic Lifters
These lifters operate the valves in your engine. As they work at high speed, they need oil to lubricate their movements and work out any friction.
If your oil light is on, there is something faulty in one or more of these systems. Your oil level might be low, or your oil pump might not be working. If your car completely stops, the problem is most likely with the bearings or the lifters.
What Happens When Your Oil Light Comes On?
Of course, the oil light will turn red. In most cases, you may also hear noises coming from the engine though this is not necessary. If your oil light is on, your car may be at risk of serious damage and this damage may lead to expensive repairs and auto checks.
However, taking extra precautions might limit some of these expenses.
What to Do When the Oil Light is On?
When taking such precautions, the very first thing you need to do is find somewhere safe to park your car and turn off your engine. Then you need to check your oil level.
To do this, all you need to do is follow these simple steps:
- Open the hood
- Find the oil dipstick (it will most likely have a yellow handle or the word ‘OIL’ written on it)
- Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean
- Stick it back inside and then take it out again
- See where the oil level is at (according to the line)
If it’s too low, your oil pressure system is faulty.
After you’ve checked your oil level, you can decide what to do. Call for help or determine whether it’s safe to drive (only in situations where you don’t have another option.)
Is it Safe to Drive When the Oil Light is On?
The answer to this is a straightforward no. If your oil light turns on, it might be dangerous, to you as well as others, to continue driving. If you hear noises, it is even more unsafe for you to keep driving.
However, if you find your oil level is just a little below the mark, you can fill the dipstick with oil and be on your way until you can get it checked. Do not drive if the dipstick is completely dry. Find a safe spot to stop the car and call an auto repair shop as soon as you can.
How to Do an Oil Light Reset with an OBD2 Scanner?
After you’ve had your car fixed, you might find that the oil light still turns on and off. This can be annoying especially if you’ve just had your car checked. Instead of taking it back to the mechanic, resetting the oil light is something you can do yourself if you have an OBD2 scanner.
OBD2 scanners connect to your car’s ‘On-Board Diagnostics’ system. Most cars manufactured after 1996 have OBD2 protocols. An OBD2 scanner has to be connected to the OBD port, and it will automatically connect to your car’s in-built computer system.
However, to read the information from the scanner, you need to download an OBD2 app or software beforehand. If you’re using a smartphone, you can find many apps on the Google Play Store or the App Store to help you do this. Moreover, if you’re using a laptop, OBD2 software is available for all Windows, Linux, and Mac users.
Additionally, if the OBD2 scanner requires a WiFi connection, make sure you have one at hand.
Step by Step Guide:
- Locate your car’s OBD2 port (usually found under the steering wheel)
- Plug in your OBD2 scanner
- Connect your scanner to your smartphone/laptop (either through a USB wire, WiFi connection, or Bluetooth depending on the type of scanner you have)
- Write down the trouble codes read by the scanner (make sure to do this in the order they’re given)
- Press the clear button, and your codes will be erased
Once the codes are erased, the light will automatically turn off.
Here are some commonly asked questions and their answers.
1 Oil Light Comes On, but Oil is Full. Why?
If your oil light is coming on even after an oil change, make sure your gauge is accurate. It might be because your oil level is too high. If you’re sure your oil levels are correct, then it might have to do with other parts. Perhaps your oil filter or oil pressure sensors are faulty.
If everything looks okay, then your trouble codes haven’t been erased. Simply follow the above steps to reset your oil light.
2 Why Does My Oil Light Come on When Stopped?
This might be because of a bad pressure sensors unit. We recommend getting your car checked again. However, if this only happens when you hit the brakes, see the next question.
3 Why is My Oil Light on When I Brake?
Again, this could be a problem with the engine’s oil pressure. When you’re accelerating, the oil pressure builds, but when you hit the brakes, the faulty oil pump or oil gallery may decrease it too much.
In sum, if you find your oil light on, you need to take it seriously. The oil circuit is integral to your car’s functioning. It’s not at all difficult to understand nor is an oil light reset difficult to perform. We hope you find our guide helpful.