In some vehicles, you may notice that the engine oil light flickers on/off rather than constantly remaining in the "on" position. A flickering light may indicate many different issues with your engine. For example, you may just be low on oil or you might have oil pressure complications.
Furthermore, the flickering oil light may only occur when the vehicle is stopped or is driving at low speeds. This variation makes it even more complicated for you to identify the exact issue that your vehicle may be facing. Here are some common issues that may be associated with a flickering engine oil light.
Check the bearings
Worn out bearings are a common reason why the engine oil light will flicker on/off. Because of the bearings issue, you may also encounter unusual noises or low-pressure readings on the engine pressure gauge. Furthermore, worn out bearings may cause friction within your engine components, which eventually results in low oil levels.
You can tell if the engine oil light is being caused by worn out bearings if your engine has been experiencing maintenance issues. Coolant leaks, rust, and overheating may accelerate engine oil issues and cause flickering.
You might just need an oil change
In most cases, a simple oil change may be the reason why you have a flickering engine oil light. Chunks of oil tend to accumulate inside the engine after driving, and these chunks could settle on top of your oil pan when the vehicle is off or idling. These chunks cause your vehicle to trigger the oil light. But while driving, especially on the highway, the engine oil swirls rapidly, and thus the chunks get mixed with other oil particles. This causes the light to turn off. An oil change eliminates these chunks and keeps your engine running smoothly.
It could be a low oil pressure
Another common cause of a flickering light is low oil pressure. If the pressure of oil inside the engine is low, your vehicle might interpret this as low oil and thus trigger the sensor. Low oil pressure shouldn't be ignored as it could cause friction inside your engine components.
Furthermore, excessive friction over time could ultimately cause your engine to overheat or knock. This is why you should pay attention to the engine temperature and when your vehicle last had an oil change. Using the wrong type of oil may also cause viscosity issues and low pressure. Make sure you only add the manufacturer recommended oil grade or consult your mechanic on the best type of engine oil to use.
Contact an auto service if you need vehicle repair.