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Oil light and related problems

I drive a 96 Jetta, 4 cylinder, 5 speed.

While driving today my oil light started blinking.

I pulled over, check the oil level. Dipstick is bone dry. I look all over for leaking oil. find none.

Add 4 quarts oil, assuming/hoping I just needed to add oil, knowing it’s in need of an oil change I’m hoping for the beat here.

Let the engine idle for a minuet at the most sense now it’s still making a knocking noise like it did when the oil light first came on.

Check the dipstick again and now it says there is to much oil in the engine.

A second look for leaking oil turns up no results. I take a look at my coolant reservoir and no sign of oil in the coolant.

At this point I am hoping the problem is the oil pump. What do you all think?

Note: Too much oil is just as bad as too little. I would appear you had low oil and that triggered the light. Then you overfilled the oil assuming the dry dipstick indicated no oil.

The dipstick only measures a small range. The oil light may have started flashing when it was one quart low then you added too much which can cause the oil to get whipped up like whipped cream an again you get low oil pressure.

I suggest you start by draining the oil and putting in the correct amount, as determined by it showing up between the marks on the dipstick. Let’s hope you did not do too much damage and that light will go away. Don’t drive the car if that light is on or it sounds strange.

The next stop is to have it towed to your mechanic.

Good Luck

No one can diagnose a problem based on the information you’ve given. We have no idea if you were one quart low or three quarts low at the start and we have no idea how many miles it took to get that way. It could easily just be normal usage.

Get the oil to the correct level before you drive another foot, start checking your oil weekly, and hope for the best.

I agree with what Mr. Meehan and lion9car stated, but I don’t think that they went quite far enough with the information that they provided.

If the engine began making “knocking” noises when the oil pressure light first lit up, and if it is still making those noises, that is–unfortunately–an ominous sign.

You should not start the engine or attempt to drive the car as it is currently.
Have the car towed to a competent and reputable mechanic (that means NOT taking it to Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, Pep Boys, AAMCO or any other chain operation) for an assessment. The mechanic should take off the oil pan and remove a main bearing cap or two in order to determine if there is bearing damage. Just be prepared for some bad/expensive news, and if he gives you good news then you can be pleasantly surprised.

And, whether you continue to drive this car or whether you replace this car, please remember that you need to check your oil MUCH more often than you have apparently been doing. Until you have a very accurate idea of a car’s rate of oil consumption, the dipstick should be checked every week. Once you have an idea of what that engine’s “normal” rate of oil consumption is, then you can probably check the oil every 3-4 weeks. However, the object of this exercise is to never allow the oil in the crankcase to fall more than 1 qt below the full mark on the dipstick.

My advice is actually to replenish the oil (slowly…gently…a little bit at a time) once the level is 1/2 qt below the full mark. That way, your oil level should always be near normal and should not be overfilled.

If I know what more information you need, I will do my best to provide it. I only took ownership of the car about a week ago so I may not be able to answer all your questions.

I know to much oil is just as bad as to little oil. Which is why I didn’t try driving it.

Once I get it towed home, I turned to engine on for less then a minuet to see if anything had changed. The knocking sound was pretty much gone.

This morning I checked under the car and did not see any signs of oil leaking.

I’m not sure what else to tell you at the moment. I will attempt to drain some oil out either this evening or tomorrow.

One place oil can go and hide is under the valve cover. If sludge or debris has restricted the drain back holes in the head, oil can get sequestered up above the sump allowing the pump to go draw air and go dry. When you let the engine set for a while the sequestered oil can find its way back. If the problem gets bad enough, oil will be sucked out by the PCV valve into the intake manifold or pushed into the vent tube ahead of the throttle body both causing oil burning but no signs of dripping.

Hope this helps.