Cavalier won't turn over

Hi, everyone

Last night the oil can light came on. The manual said it was the oil pressure gauge. I added 4 quarts of oil, but the car wouldn’t start.

When I turned the key in the ignition, it made the noise like it wanted to start, but it wouldn’t turn over. Several good samaritans came over to take a look and thought it might be the fuel pump.

When the tow truck came, the driver also said it could be the fuel pump, but when I told him about the oil can light coming on, he said that maybe the car “seized”.

He wasn’t sure, though, because he said the engine was making all the noises of trying to start, and a car whose motor went because of a lack of oil wouldn’t make any noise.

I just had an oil change 3-4 weeks ago.

Any ideas? Thanks!


If the oil light came on, then you probably lost oil pressure. This can be the result of a massive oil leak, or a lost drain plug causing the pump to run dry, or it could be a failed oil pump. What were you doing when the light came on, and how quickly did you get it shut off?

In general, any RED dash light (except the seat belt warning light) means turn the engine off NOW and get off the roadway. Do not continue to drive the car. If you did lose oil pressure and you did continue to drive the car, you have probably caused major engine damage. On the other hand, if the engine cranks (turns over with the starter), there may be hope that the problem is elsewhere. On some cars, if there is no oil pressure, the computer will shut down the fuel system.

Thanks for all the info. We were idling just to take turns running inside a store to use the bathroom. I was gone about 5 minutes and saw the light when I got back, so I shut if off.


I added 4 quarts of oil

Why 4 quarts? Did it take 4 quarts to bring it up to the full mark on the dip stick?

You description of what happened when you tried to start it was a little confusing. Turning over means the engine is moving either under it’s own power or being moved (cranked) by the starter. Am I right to guess that it sounded normal except it did not start and run with out the starter?

Well I don’t know about your tow truck driver, but I am sure that if I understood your explication of what happened when you saw the light (engine was running and you turned it off) and that when you tried to restart it, you heard the engine being turned over by the starter then I am sure it did not seize.

I am really concerned about this oil change 3-4 weeks ago and now being 4 quarts low on oil.

I want to know more about this oil and did you check the oil since the oil change. Was that oil change done at a quick oil change place?

Yes, we kept adding oil because the dip stick was low.

Yes, the car sounded normal except it did not start and run with out the started.

My regular mechanic retired so I tried a new one by my house. They changed the oil on Sept 24 and I never bothered to check the level on my own since then. I will from now on. The mechanic asked if I went over bumps, but in NY we drive over bumps every time we drive the car. But no bumps especially bad.


When the engine oil, and filter, is changed, the oil drain plug, and the oil filter, can leak if something goes wrong. The drain plug may need a new seal. Sometimes, the old seal stays on where the oil filter mounts. The mechanic should check both for leaking. If you shut the engine off quickly when the oil light came on, the engine may not have been damaged.

Is 5 minutes fast? That’s 5 minutes of idling, not driving.

Btw, thanks for all this help!


Five minutes of any running without oil is usually a disaster.

Well, that’s bad news. I might see tomorrow. The tow truck driver said the garage will be open during morning hours on Columbus Day.


Well, they said it was just the fuel pump. I’m relieved (even though the repair will cost me $870.00). I’m not sure why the oil lamp light came on.