Low Oil Pressure Light Coming On (4 Common Causes)

If you’ve checked your oil pressure switch or sensor and it appears to be in good condition but your oil pressure light is coming on, then it could be a problem with your engine that needs to be fixed right away.

There are a variety of reasons for why the oil gauge won’t show the correct reading and why the engine oil pressure warning light comes ON or starts to blink. Below are the most common causes.

low oil pressure warning light on

See Also: 16 Kinds of Gauges Found On a Car Dashboard

Common Causes of Why Your Oil Pressure Warning Light is On

#1 – Faulty Oil Pump

symptoms of a bad oil pump

Oil is pressurized in the engine by the oil pump and then this pressure pushes it through the engine. As a result, the oil lubricates the engine’s components so they can move more freely.

If something were to go wrong with the oil pump, then the oil pressure would decrease and it would cause the oil pressure warning light of the vehicle to light up.

And since there’s weak oil pressure, the oil won’t be able to move through the engine and lubricate the components. This will result in more friction between the components, causing higher temperatures inside the engine, and ultimately costly damage.

See Also: DTC P0520, DTC P0521, DTC P0523 (Oil Pressure Sensor Issue)

#2 – Clogged Oil Filter

clogged oil filter

An engine depends on an oil filter to protect it against abrasions and wear. The job of the oil filter is to screen out solid contaminants from getting into the engine.

These contaminants often include shiny metallic particles, carbon, and dirt. If they were to get inside the engine, it would cause damage to the engine’s cylinder walls, journal, and bearing.

So, the more contaminants that get filtered, the healthier your engine will be. However, oil filters tend to get clogged after a while, especially when they are not replaced during an oil change. Once this happens, the oil pressure in your vehicle will decrease and the oil pressure warning light of your engine will activate.

Your car will then start to experience problems as a result of the low oil pressure. This means you must replace your oil filter immediately before the issue gets worse.

#3 – Clogged Oil Passages in the Engine

engine oil sludge

The oil pan or crankcase is what stores the engine oil. The oil capacity for the majority of engines is between four and six quarts. The job of the engine oil pump is to pressurize the oil and then circulate it. Once the oil leaves the pump, it will go straight to the oil filter so that its contaminants can be screened out.

All the clean oil will then pass through the filter and enter a series of passages until it reaches the crankshaft. Because of the passages in the crankshaft, the oil is able to circulate through the bearings surfaces of the engine.

However, if these passages got clogged, oil would not be able to flow through which would result in the oil pressure light coming on in your dashboard. Both low or high oil pressure could be the result. If the issue is not resolved, major damage to your engine can be the result.

#4 – Low Engine Oil

check engine oil

Oil lubricates the engine of the car. After a while, the level of oil may start to decrease because of a small leak. The older the vehicle, the higher chance of an oil leak (or leaks).

Common areas of oil leaks include the valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, rear main seal, or even the drain plug. It may seem obvious, but a missing oil cap due to under-tightening will almost certainly cause oil loss.

Either that, or it may just get burnt away by the engine’s normal operation. Once the oil level goes down enough, you will see that the oil pressure warning light will activate. Check your engine oil level immediately.

Mark Stevens


  1. 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport. Low Oil Pressure light comes on when I come to a stop and turns off when I start to move again – although it does not come on every time – sometimes I’ll go days without it coming on. Took it to a trusted mechanic and he could not find any issue. Told him about the light coming on when I come to a stop so he changed the sensor. The light still comes on. Not sure where to go from here.

    1. Interesting. Perhaps the mechanic could do an oil pressure test when the light comes on. I would be interested to know if oil pressure is momentarily dropping too low on idle.

      Do you experience any shudder or rough idle as you come to a stop?

      1. I haven’t noticed, but I will pay attention for that today when I have to take my dog to Vet. Thanks Sean!

    2. I had the same issue on my 2006 Buick Lacrosse. Changed the oil pump and changed the oil pressure sensor. The low oil pressure only comes on when it reaches normal operating temperature at idle at a stop light

  2. Am a mechanic have change oil pump n oil light is still on…pls what’s they causes..add me on Whatsapp if you r mechanic 2 +2349071327688

  3. Have a 1.6TDI Seat Ibiza. Low oil pressure light comes on after about 15 minutes into any considerable driving. Been happening for 2+ months.

    Oil filter changed. Oil filter switch changed. Oil pump changed. Oil changed. Any thoughts or comments by anyone would be much appreciated. Serious mystery.

    1. Check the factory service manual to see if there are any parts of the oiling system you’ve missed that may send a low oil pressure signal if they malfunction (such as the oil pickup tube). The manual may have other diagnostic information that may assist you in this situation as well.

      Are all replacement parts known to be good? Have you done an external oil pressure test yet? Perhaps the failure is intermittent and only certain circumstances will give you low oil pressure.

    2. Hi Jack
      I have a golf 5 same engine as your seat i guess and facing same issue. Did you find the root cause? Thank you

  4. My 2007 Opel Movano has the oil light and stop light on. I have been to a garage who have changed the oil and filter, checked the oil pressure. They didnt have time to troubleshoot further but suggested the oil pressure sensor was duff. I changed this sensor however the light still is on!
    The van drives fine and the oil level stays consistent. I have measured the oil level sensor and that has continuity across it, which suggests it is working. I’d rather not remove the whole oil pan but Im stuck at what to do next.
    No error codes are coming up either.

    Any ideas?

    1. That was a fair assessment on the shop’s part. Perhaps it’s a wiring or voltage issue that’s triggering the oil light, maybe a bad ground. Might take a technician with a multimeter to find the cause of that one.

      1. I have a 1999 Cadillac Deville. I had the oil changed on Wed and they had me sign a disclaimer saying the oil was low after they changed it. It’s Friday and I had taken my son to school and was about 2 blocks from home when the low oil pressure warning light came on and as I pulled in it said stop engine now. I shut it off and let it cool. It shows full on the dipstick and there is no smell and it is normal. What could this be?

        1. Are you sure the dipstick had enough oil on it? Sounds like you might have a leak somewhere.

          To read oil accurately, try the following: pull the dipstick, wipe off the oil, reinsert the dipstick, then read the oil at its lowest point.

    2. I have a vw caddy maxi 1.9 tdi 2013 same problem. Husband a mechanic of 46 years has changed oil pump sensor, filter, oil pressure switch done, oil just done. The temperature on guage perfect doesn’t move from where it should be. He regularly services it and it was well serviced prior to buying it. We are 2nd owne. Really at a loss to what this can be and whether it is a common fault. The problem is too intermittent to test it. His machine for testing doesnt throw any fault codes. It goes away as quick as it comes and may not happen for weeks. Tonight i parked on a hill and drove up the hill went around a corner came on stopped turned it off turned back on went away nearly got home around another corner came back on and the went off again.

      1. Even intermittent problems can be tested (although it’s much harder to troubleshoot). See if there is a certain driving condition that is more likely to turn that light on.

  5. I have a problem with my HINO JO5C. The oil light keeps on coming on the dash bold. I have recently changed the crank shaft,calm shaft and oil pump but still the light cant go off what could be the problem?

    1. I’m not familiar with that model. Can you perform an oil pressure test to determine if you actually have low oil pressure, or if it’s just a faulty sensor?

  6. I have a 2005 toyota highlander and recently when i was driving home my oil light came on so a stopped by and checked my oil level, it was fine so i went back home after going back home my engine started to rattle as soon as i parked it on my driveway what could be the cost by this? Several days later i change my timing chain if it still had tension on it which it did at this point i think i just have a clogged oil strainer

    1. By the way i did not get any kind of code when i checked my code reader, no check engine it just had the oil light and my timing chain was rattling

    2. Perhaps the oil pump is having issues. Before driving the vehicle any further, I would do an oil pressure test to see if the sensor is bad or if you’re actually having pressure issues as indicated.

  7. I’m driving AUDI A1 2011 1.2 train I change oil pump I also change timing chain tensioner cause my chain was making noise but now chain is no more making noise but is still showing oil pressure is too low

    1. I have VW Sharan 2012. Same problem. Change pressure sensor switch, change oil and filter, change oil pickup pipe (cost nearly £250) still problem not solved. Fed Up.

  8. Kia carens 2009.Oil level is fine. When I open engine cap while engine is running, oil splashes up.
    Could it be a faulty sensor?

    1. Many cars splash oil without the oil cap on. Oil is pumped around the motor while the engine is running – onto the cams, lifters, etc. – and is likely to splash out if the cap isn’t on tight.

  9. My still showing low oil pressure light I just changed oil pump in two days time and cleaned the strainer but I didn’t changed the oil filter what can be a problem? I am driving polo 1.4 BLM engine 2005 model.

    1. I’m not sure. When was the last time the oil and oil filter were changed?

      If there’s excessive sludge buildup in the valvetrain from too long of oil change intervals, the oil may not be able to make it back to the pan in time to be picked up by the oil pump.

    1. It could be an issue with the oil pressure sensor or oil pump. I would get it addressed as soon as possible to make sure your engine stays properly lubricated.

  10. I have a 2004 dodge ram 1500 and every once in awhile my oil pressure bounces sometimes in mornings first start the oil takes a bit to circulate oil then pressure goes normal what could it be

    1. I would test the actual oil pressure and the signal going to the instrument cluster to figure out which is the root cause. If it’s just a noisy signal to the cluster, it would be less of a concern. I would definitely dig further if there is an issue with the oil pump though.

  11. My Toyota crankshaft bearings got damaged we changed the bearings,the oil,the filter and the sensors but the low pressure light is still coming on. What can this be.

    1. How did the crankshaft bearings get damaged? If the low oil pressure light is coming on, it could be an issue with the oil pump that is preventing the pump from maintaining adequate fuel pressure.

      If the engine has a lot of sludge build up, it’s also possible that the oil pump is working fine, but the oil passages are clogged. Clogged oil passages would slow or prevent the oil from getting back down from the top end of the engine to the crankcase. In extreme cases, the oil pump may not have enough oil left in the pan to adequately pump enough oil to the rest of the engine. Since you were far enough into the engine to change the crankshaft bearings, you should know if you have this level of sludge.

  12. Didnt service my kia1.6 for 30000km oil light came on oil fine but had funny noise could i hsve done in the beatings donny

  13. Every time I stop at lights the oil light comes on and gauge go to low for about 1 second. I change the oil sending unit twice in the matter of days and same thing.
    Reading says faulty sending unit but I have 2 put in!!!! Also oil pressure is good iv been told.
    I drive a 2011 ford f150

    1. If you’ve had your oil pressure checked and verified as good, it could be a grounding issue. Check that all ground straps around the engine bay are clean and tightened down. On my car, faulty oil pressure readings typically come from one of three places: a bad oil sending unit, a bad gauge cluster, or a bad ground.

      If everything else in your cluster is working great, I wouldn’t suspect the cluster to be an issue in your case and would start by making sure the grounds are good.

      An intermittent obstruction in the oil filter or oil pickup tube may also throw an oil pressure light. This would be something you’d want to address quickly, but again if you’ve had the oil pressure verified externally I wouldn’t immediately suspect this to be the root cause.

  14. I have a 2006 Audi A4 turbo fl 2.0
    Oil pressure lights comes on and off for a while and I ignored it. Days later oil pressure light comes on and car turns off while driving and won’t turn on again. What can it be ?
    Towed car and notice oil leak under as well

    1. This may have been the result of a bad oil pump or low oil.

      This is not the type of light you want to ignore! If your oil pressure light turns on, you are in danger of destroying the engine due to oil starvation. In the future, it’s best to pull over immediately when this light comes on (assuming it’s safe to do so). Any damage incurred has already been done; it would be best to bring your car to a local mechanic for an evaluation.

  15. A individual I know said my car oil level is low, he claimed this by just checking the dipstick, I turned on the car and find that the oil pressure sign doesn’t show up and I have 50% oil life left. Is this true in some cases?

    1. Oil pressure and “oil life” is not the same as oil level. The oil level measurement on the dipstick is what to go by.

  16. i have a 202 buick century 3.8.first crank oil light stay on.iturn the engine off and recrank it the oil light goes off.i unplug the oil pressure sensor and the level sensor.and yet the low oil light stay on,.it full of oil .i change both sensor and still have this new oil filter.help

  17. I had a signal on my My Peugeot 508 Hybrid that reads “Oil Pressure Fault Stop”. Please what will the likely causes be?

    1. You have low oil pressure. Obviously check the oil level but that’s usually not the problem. First thing I would do is change the oil filter in case of a blockage. Otherwise it could be a bad oil pressure switch or faulty pump.

    2. Please help my toyota etios has been in and out of the workshop for the last three weeks my timing chain is loudy as hell like a tractor my oil level is full my oil pump has been replaced twice brand new one was put in today but still lousy as hell it has a new pump that is working but the light keeps going off and on and then stays on and the timing chain is loudy as hell

  18. My 2011 bmw 318i sport plus red oil pressure light comes on while driving if I turn engine off then straight back on light go’s out

  19. My Toyota corolla keeps showing the check oil sign on the dashboard even though ihave serviced the car

    1. If there is adequate oil in the engine, you may have a faulty sensor or any of the issues above. Use a code reader to see if any error codes come up which would help pinpoint the issue.

      1. Oil pick up is blocked by sludge. Toyota needs to be serviced and valve seals need to be replaced.

      2. My car showing the red sign of oil after driving 35k bt while I check oil it says the oil is fine,I don’t know what is the problem

        1. If you have enough oil, then you have an issue with the oil system. Either the oil pump is going out and is unable to maintain adequate pressure, or the sensor is giving you a bad reading. I would look into this as soon as possible in case you really do have low oil pressure, as this could destroy your engine if not addressed.

    2. Check the oil switch if turns out to be fine then remove oil pan and take out the oil strainer ,it could be clogged

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