General Question

Nullo's avatar

Anybody know what a capricious oil light means?

Asked by Nullo (21833 points ) February 17th, 2010

Okay, so it’s not really capricious.
The light seems to behave normally until the car is properly warm (halfway between the C and the H on the thermometer). Once warm, the Check Oil light will go on whenever the motor falls below 800–1000 RPMs (like when you’re idling at a light), and turn off again once you cross that same threshold. For a little while, putting the car in neutral or park had the same effect as revving it up to 1000rpms. Sometimes it’ll turn on, then turn off, then turn on, then… you get the idea when idling the engine.
The oil levels are adequate.

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12 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

Adequate or normal? Are you checking the oil when the car is off or when started?

Nullo's avatar

@mrentropy
Normal, when I last checked it (a few months ago – there are a lot of hills in the area, so finding a level spot is not easily done), and I do not believe that it has changed. I keep the engine off when the hood is open.

mrentropy's avatar

Admittedly, I’m no expert. You may want to check the oil level again, though.

hannahsugs's avatar

My boyfriend had a car with similar problems. The oil light came on when the engine was hot, but not when it was cold. This car had been through a VERY long period before it was my boyfriend’s when no one had gotten the oil changed. We got the car checked out extensively, and the result was that the engine was having a hard time maintaining adequate oil pressure. The solution was switching to a heavier grade oil, described by one mechanic as “lawn mower oil”. With the heavier oil in the engine, it had an easier time keeping the oil pressure up, and we didn’t have problems anymore.

I’d say you should definitely get the engine checked out by a good mechanic. A lack of oil pressure is one thing that can turn your engine into a very heavy paperweight. (Someone told me once: “oil is the thing that keeps all the separate parts of your engine separate.”) Since the light coming on and off is sporadic, there may not be a problem, but do you really want to risk it?

njnyjobs's avatar

It sounds like your oil pump pressure relief valve is malfunctioning. An oil pump replacement may be needed to repair the problem.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Are you sure that it’s capricious, and not just light-hearted or immature? It could also be wayward, delinquent or willful.

I get leery of characterizing inanimate objects; just when I think I have them pegged, they change their minds. Uh… wait…

Nullo's avatar

@CyanoticWasp
I did say that it wasn’t really capricious… :\

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Nullo I never said I read all of the words.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Nullo I got that one. Thanks.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Have the oil pressure sensor checked.

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