Why is my oil light coming on?

May 5th, 2017

Why is my oil light coming on?”

This is something that we are seeing more and more from our clients coming in. Why is that? Well, these are my thoughts on the subject.

Some of you are probably old enough to remember the Full Service Gas Stations. You would pull to the pump and someone (pump jockey) would come out and ask you how much gas you wanted. Then they would clean your windshield and check your air pressure and fluids. Wasn’t that cool?

Then came the Self-Service station which was cheaper because you had to do it yourself. With this change, people were still “trained” to check their engine oil.

Over the years, cars became more reliable and we saw oil consumption concerns drop tremendously. It was not uncommon for a car not to use any oil between oil changes. This starts to lead us down the path to laziness. Our schedules have become so busy with getting to work, getting the kids to ball practice or dance, get home and rinse, lather and repeat, that we have all gotten into the habit of not checking our oil (me included).

Then comes the next event; extended life oil changes. We are now set up! We’re not checking our oil, the oil life interval is now 5k or more miles and yes, it is normal for a car to use some oil. In fact, the vehicle manufactures will tell you that it is normal for a car to use a quart of oil per 1000 miles of driving.

So now, a car that has 5 quarts of oil, using a quart in 1000 miles and at 5000 miles, the car is out of oil! Most cars are not using oil to that level, but we are seeing more and more cars coming in with low oil. This causes internal wear and other concerns, which can cost a lot of money to repair. Most cars come with some sort of “Variable Valve Timing” which is controlled by oil. If the oil is the wrong viscosity, the level is low, or is dirty and it will not allow the system to work properly. This can sometimes cause the Check Engine Light to come on.

So what I am suggesting that you do is to make sure that you’re checking your oil regularly. Teach your family how to do it properly. And if you don’t know how or would like us to clarify any questions, give any of our staff a call at 919-934-6133

  Tags: Oil change
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101