Oil light is winking at me!

I have a 2001 Dodge Intrepid, 94K miles, great shape, never had any problems. Until now. I get regular oil changes. This past summer after a long drive on the highway, I came to a stop and the oil light came on. I had it checked, no problems were found. Ever since, every time I am on the highway or on a long stretch of road, when I slow down or come to a stop, the oil light starts to wink and blink at me. If I put the car in park and then in gear the light stays off. Any help, should I worry about this?

“No problems were found”

Can you tell us what was checked, leading to the conclusion that there were no problems?

Based on your description, I would suspect that your oil pump is weak, and that the engine is not getting sufficient oil pressure when the engine is idling. That inevitably leads to engine damage, and in fact, since it sounds like the problem has been going on for several months, it is likely that the damage has already taken place. Low oil pressure leads to excessive bearing wear, and that in and of itself leads to low oil pressure, thus likely worsening the situation.

It is also possible that your oil pressure sensor is defective, and that is the best case scenario in terms of both cost and an absence of engine damage. I would suggest that you take the car a.s.a.p. to a well-reputed mechanic so that he can measure the pressure being put out by the oil pump. Then, once you have the mechanic’s report, come back to this site for further guidance.

Thanks for you prompt advice, I will take my car in this week to the mechanic

Hopefully its the sensor. If you vehicle has the 2.7L V6 it is a very common problem due to sludging of engine oil due to poor engine design and typically coupled to bad oil change habits(may not be your case).

Andrew raises another good point. Since some of Chrysler’s engines are known to be subject to sludging problems, engine sludge could be the source of the problem. Although the OP states that the car had “regular oil changes”, his/her “regular” oil change schedule could be inadequate, based on driving habits.

OP–Can you tell us whether the car is frequently driven for distances of less than 5 miles, and/or whether it is subject to a lot of stop and go urban driving? Cars with that kind of service will need oil changes every 3 or 4 months, regardless of odometer mileage, and the need for oil changes of that frequency is even more dramatic in an engine that is known for its tendency to form sludge.

I had this problem. Probably oil sender switch.

First, being careful, start engine , remove oil filler cap and with a torch bring engine up to 1500-2000 rpm. You should see oil gushing over the cam. This indicates reasonable oil pressure.

Next replace the sender unit with a genuine MOPAR part. There is a diaphram in the sender unit which fails and oil builds up behind it. IMPORTANT.When replacing DO NOT turn in holding the plastic sender. If you do this can cause internal damage. Instead get a deep sock and twist in holding socket only.

Careful taking out the plastic locking tab.

Best of luck.

Have you had your oil changed after the first time this happened. You could simply have a defective oil filter. It happens sometimes. If you aren’t using 10w30, you should. 5w30 may be too thin for this engine at this age.

I took the car in last week the car shop:
Did a wet oil test, 70 lbs cold, 50 lbs hot, replaced the oil sending unit with light, added 2 quarts. Said this should fix the problem. BUT, this morning. …
drive to work which is only 3-4 miles, 6-7 round trip. I don’t have to travel the highway, use city streets, some stop and go, small town. The car had sat all weekend. When I put the brakes on to pull in the parking space the darn thing winked at me AGAIN! The shop is trustworthy, should I take it back in?? The car never smells like buring oil and no black smoke comes out the exhaust, no leaks on the driveway, where could the oil have gone?

I don’t think the oil is going anywhere. The light is telling you the oil pressure is dropping dangerously low. This can happen with a crankcase full of oil.

Since others have mentioned this engine design is subject to sludging, I’m wondering if it is a clogged oil pick-up tube due to sludge build-up or a sticking regulator piston. Call the mechanic, and let them know it is still happening. Then try to get with them on trying the pressure test again when it is all warmed up and blinking on and off. This may require driving it to put the engine under load with a calibrated gauge plugged in. A clogged pick-up tube will starve the oil pump for oil under higher revs, and lead to oil pressure drops. A sticking regulator piston will prevent the pump from keeping the oil pressure up.

Out of interest are you loosing coolant???

I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of having a short in the wiring somewhere, it is possible that you just have a wire that’s about to break, and it keeps touching something that sets the light off, shorts in wiring can do some quirky stuff, so it wouldn’t hurt to have that checked out just to be safe, fixing a short can be done for the cost of electrical tape at Wal-Mart($1, ka-ching, I know), depending on where it turns out the short is at, from there, all you have to do is splice it back together(electrical tape), and you’re back in business, I would make sure that you don’t have a short first, otherwise you could be throwing your money away on new sensors and stuff that won’t be able to solve the problem; A new oil pump, parts and labor included is NOT cheap, and if it is a short, you just blew away hundreds of dollars on a part that didn’t need to be replaced.

I would get the wiring checked first, then go up to the more expensive stuff if it’s not wiring.

I would suspect that the engine has some wear on it and causes the oil pressure to be low. Bearing wear leads to low oil pressure.