General Question

jm5225's avatar

When I make sharp turns my oil light pops on, what could this mean?

Asked by jm5225 (253points) September 10th, 2010

My change oil light has been on for about 2 weeks, I plan to get my oil changed very soon but when I make sharp turns or turns that I have to turn the wheel all the way an additional oil light comes on that looks like an oil can with a drip. What would be causing this. It only happens when I turn the wheel all the way. Is this a bad thing? I have an oldmobile alero…just looking for your thoughts. About 2 months ago it looks like I was low on oil so I added more to it..maybe to much?

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22 Answers

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Sounds like you have a slow leak in a gasket somewhere and your oil is escaping, or your oil filter is dirty and not picking up from the pump insode the pan.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Have you checked your oil level recently, like since the light started coming on?

This happened one time in my last car, the oil light came on when I made sharp turns. As it ends up, I was very low on oil (and due for an oil change, like you). You might want to take a look.

Brian1946's avatar

What MissAnthrope said.

Also, if you haven’t checked the oil level: remove the dipstick and wipe all of the oil off of it.
Then reinsert the ds all the way into its slot, remove it, and then check the level.

Sometimes oil can flow up a dipstick during sharp turns or when a vehicle is going downhill, and that can give a falsely high indication.

This in turn begs something that you might have already deduced, and that is to make sure the vehicle is on level ground when you check the oil level.

Scooby's avatar

yep! sounds like you are low on oil, get it topped up to the limit, other than that you may have a faulty oil pump,,,, :-/

Ben_Dover's avatar

It could also be a faulty oil sending switch. these used to be fairly easy to replace.

BarnacleBill's avatar

When was your last oil change? What’s recommended for your make and model?

One of the surest ways to minimize car repairs is to stay on top of all the liquid things in the car – oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid.

john65pennington's avatar

Surely, this is a joke question.

You are about to ruin your cars engine. do not drive it until you add motor oil.

robmandu's avatar

Same thing happened to my mom’s car when I was driving it. Upon seeing the oil warning light flicker on when turning, I immediately went to the very nearest oil change shop.

They reported that the car’s oil filter was completely solid and the engine had less than 1½ quarts of oil in it… it’s supposed to run with over 4 quarts normally.

You are doing really bad things to the engine right now. I recommend that you get someone to bring you a couple of quarts of oil so that you can get them in the engine asap. Then drive to the oil change shop.

I know money might be tight right now, but believe me, you don’t want to find out what it costs to fix a seized up engine… or buy a whole new car.

If your engine does have an oil leak and you cannot afford to fix it right now, then you really need to buy several quarts of oil and keep them handy. Check the oil level with the dip stick every day (or at least once a week) after the car has been sitting overnight. If the indicated level is below the normal range, add half a quart of oil, wait, and check the level again.

You don’t want to add too much oil either… that’s almost just as bad as too little.

thekoukoureport's avatar

by the way. put a quart of oil in your car. Maybe two.

jerv's avatar

As the owner of many older cars, I habitually check my oil. At least once a week. My current car has been as much as two quarts low (in a 3.7qt system!) without the light coming on. While an old 4A-LC can handle that abuse, most engines will die quickly from such treatment. (I have since found that it loses about a quart every 500 miles and keep it topped up accordingly.)

You are low on oil but not low enough for the light to be on all the time. Those sensors are often mounted off-center and at certain levels they only trip when cornering and/or when the vehicle is tilted, like on hills. My car “loses” or “gains” 1/8 of a tank of gas when I turn hard or hit a steep hill.

It sounds like you aren’t so low that you actually damaged anything yet, but you’re close to that point.

jm5225's avatar

Thanks for all the tips, I am going to try and get an oil change first thing tomorrow morning and have the mechanic take a look at it.I can’t afford a new car right now or any major repairs so i’d much rather spend the $40 to have the oil changed or whatever needs to be done then buy a new engine or a new car even.

MeinTeil's avatar

Your oil level is low.

Turns in most cars send the oil supply the direction opposite the turn. If the oil is at
the proper level this usually doesnt cause a problem in ordinary driving.

You said you were turning the wheel all the way. That can be done safely at parking lot speeds. If the light is coming on at such speeds the level is very low.

You need to change or refill immediately.

Your engine is experiencing what’s known as oil starvation. You might notice that when you turn hard on a curved on ramp that the motor loses power due to a momentary lack of lubrication.

This condition is severely harmful to your engine.

I noticed that some suggested ’‘just put a quart or two in”. You need to insure that the oil level is whithin the recommended range. Overfilling causes higher than spec oil pressure. This can cause oil foaming and the oil will lose it’s lubricating properties. It can also cause cavitation (bubbles in the cooling jacket oil pump and lines).

You didn’t give details as to the age and mileage of your car.This would help with theories as to the cause of the oil loss.

Check your oil level with every other fill up.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Everyone is telling you, without knowing, that your oil level is low.

@jm5225 Did you ever actually look at that dipstick?

jm5225's avatar

The car has 108,000 miles and its 11 years old….I just had an oil change today and they put high mileage oil or something in it…this solved the problem…I did check the oil myself before taking it in and it did seem to be kinda low…

jerv's avatar

@jm5225 I would get in the habit of checking it regularly. My car is 25 years old and has 215K miles, so mine requires a bit more TLC than your car, but even the newest car I’ve owned (12 years, 98K miles) needed to be topped up once a month.

The only people that can even contemplate getting away with never checking the oil themselves are those with cars less than 5 years old, <50K miles, and changed religiously every 3 months/3000 miles and even then, it’s rather foolish to be that lazy. The rest of us need to get used to popping the hood and grabbing a paper towel.

Ben_Dover's avatar

My 89 Nissan has over 200,000 miles on it. I change the oil every 5,000 miles. I almost never check the oil level. when I do it is always fine.

jerv's avatar

@Ben_Dover It makes a difference if you are the one who put most of those miles on there. My stepfather’s ‘95 Celica (that he bought new) was in near-showroom condition after >325K miles when he retired it. The oil was right where he left it, and still honey-brown.

However, every car I’ve had has been abused before I got it, often with at least one college kid on it’s list of previous owners, so I’ve never been that lucky. I’ve had a couple that could go 3000 miles without having to add a quart, but that has been the exception rather than the rule. And generally, my oil has been blacker than the tires as soon as it goes in the engine block; even checking the level minutes after an oil change reminds me how neglected my cars were before I got them.

jm5225's avatar

I should check the oil when the car is cold right?

Ben_Dover's avatar

@jm5225 Not necessarily. Just be sure to shut the engine off and give it a few minutes for the oil to settle into the pan. Also be sure you are on a level surface. You can check the oil level of a hot engine.

jerv's avatar

Correct. If you check it right after shutting the engine off, it will read erroneously low. And if the car isn’t level then there is no way to get an accurate reading.

CarQuestions's avatar

There may be a regulator sensor that needs replaced.

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