Oil light comes on at stoplights

We recently had some oil leaks fixed on my wife’s 2002 Dodge Caravan. The oil light comes on whenever she stops at a stoplight. It seems like it comes on when the RPM drops to about 600 or 700 RPM and then goes off when RPM increases. Is this something to worry about? If so what needs to be fixed?

YES, it’s something to worry about.

The oil pressure warning light indicates little or no oil pressure. If this is the case severe engine damage could result. Severe.

If you’re lucky the oil pressure sender is faulty, and replacing it will solve the problem. But you need to have a mechanic measure the ACTUAL oil pressure with a gauge, and you need to have this done ASAP.

The oil pressure warning light is never a good sign. Don’t ignore it. Have it checked, like, yesterday.

If you’re not hearing any unusual noises from the engine when the oil light comes on, it could something as simple as a defective oil pressure sending unit.


Ouch. Yes its something to worry about.

If you’re lucky you just have a bad sending unit. These can leak and give a low pressure reading and they can also be off for other reasons. You need to get a good shop to check your actual oil pressure with a pressure gauge. And then check the sending unit if the actual pressure is ok.

If you are having an oil pressure problem the engine is on its way to serious damage. So I’d do this immediately.

How many miles? Yes it is something to worry about but it might be something to live with based on engine wear probably due to a lack of routine maintenance. The engine appears to need major repair, but it may limp along for many miles with a thicker oil, and electrical tape over the oil light. Be kind, tell us your oil change history.

Get The Oil Pressure Checked ASAP. Some Early 2002 Caravans (Built Prior To 1/2002) With The 3.3L Or 3.8L Engines Have Had Stuck Oil Pressure Relief Valves In The Chain Case Cover.

The result is possibly low or no oil pressure at idle and can result in engine damage due to oil starvation.

Your date of manufacture should be on a sticker on the driver’s door shell or door opening. Which engine do you have ?

Have the pressure tested with an actual gauge screwed into the engine. If not low, I’d replace the sending unit. If low I’d suspect the pressure relief valve and / or resulting severe engine (bearings) damage.


Years ago I had the same problem with a Ford Maverick–the oil pressure light came on at stoplights. We were on a vacation when it began happening. I pulled into a service station and listened to the engine while it idled. The engine wasn’t making any unusual noises. With the engine idling, I took off the oil fill cap that was on top the valve cover. I saw oil spraying through the rocker arms, so I assumed there was pressure. We continued our trip with no problems. When I go home, I had the oil pressure sending switch changed and that took care of the problem.

Since your owner’s manual tells you to stop the engine immediately if this light ever comes on, you should definitely worry about it.

If you have a lot of miles on this engine it is likely that the crank bearing clearances are so worn that the oil pressure drops low enough at idle to trigger the light. If that is the case it isn’t cost effective to fix and you can try a heavier grade of oil. If your wife does a lot of short trip driving you mat have oil diluted with gasoline and water. An oil change may put the light out.

As long as the light goes out as soon as you touch the gas you could go several years with this.