Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Oil light

My oil light went on last week and I’ve been meaning to get it in for an oil change bu then this evening my car cmpletely stalled out. So figuring it was b/c of lack of oil I filled it with oil to get me through till the morning. Now the car will start but the if I shut it off and try again it won’t am I just harming my car more by turning it on an off does the oil just need to work its way through. I’m afraid I will completely kill it.

Um… it might be a little late for the “completely kill it” part. Unfortunately, damage was probably being done the second that the light came on, and it was only getting worse as you drove. I don’t know that I can offer you a lot beyond that you should probably get it to a mechanic for a compression test and a good checkup. :frowning:

Your Car Probably Suffered A “Heart Attack”. You Told It To “Walk It Off”!

That light was for oil pressure, right? This car should have been shut off immediately at the first flicker of the light. It needed an automtive ambulance to bring it oil or needed to be towed to the car emergency room. I think this is addressed in the Owner’s Manual.

Waiting until the oil has a chance to “work its way through” or “soak in” is like waiting for a broken taillight to “heal” itself.

What you probably need is a “Do Over” and return to last week.

The good news? This experience and information will be helpful for your next car. Experience is the best teacher.

By the way, what make, model, and year is this car? How much oil was it consuming prior to this? How much did you have to add in say 1000 or 2000 miles?
How much did it take to fill it back to full with oil after the “big one”?

If the icon you saw lit on the dash was an Aladdin’s lamp, that was the Oil Pressure Warning light. If it wasn’t the Aladdin’s lamp, there is hope.

You may have killed your car. When was the last time YOU checked your oil? Do you know how to check your oil? Did you over fill it after the light came on? Over filling is just as bad as low oil.

I sincerely hope you have not done too much damage or if you have it was a car with little value to start with. Long gone are the days when the local gas station would take care of things like checking oil. Today the owner must take on these chores and failure to do so can be expensive.

As the old song said, “Where do I begin?”.

First, since you have not told us the really vital information such as make, model, model year, odometer mileage, engine type, and the state of maintenance of this vehicle, we all have to engage in considerable guess-work in order to give you an answer.

There are essentially three types of “oil lights” on various cars:

*If your “oil light” is the type on most dashboards, it is a warning that your oil pressure is dangerously low, and in most cases, this does not relate to how much oil is in the crankcase.

*On some cars, there is a light that advises you when it is time to change your oil, but this means that your oil is dirty, not that your oil level is low.

*There are a very small number of car models (Mercedes??) that do have a warning light for low oil level.

Without information regarding exactly what type of car you have, we have no way of knowing which of the above types of “oil light” is the one that you are referring to on this mystery vehicle, but going on the law of averages, I am going to assume that it is the first and most common type–a warning that your oil pressure is dangerously low. If you look in the Owner’s Manual for a vehicle with that type of warning light, it will tell you to shut down the engine as quickly as possible and to NOT start the engine again until it has been examined by a mechanic. Running an engine with low oil pressure for even a couple of minutes can essentially destroy it, as a result of inadequate lubrication.

You tell us that you have been driving it for a week or so with the “oil light” illuminated. If this was the conventional type of “oil light”, then damage was done to the engine right after the light first lit up, and the damage became much more severe every time that you drove the car.

Then, when the engine stopped running, you tell us that you “figured” that this happened because there was not enough oil in the crankcase. If you did not verify the oil level by using the oil dipstick, then this guess-work was not a good idea. Oil should only be added when the level is low–as verified by the dipstick–and to do otherwise results in overfilling the oil, which can itself cause engine damage. However, if engine damage from insufficient oil pressure already took place, then overflling the crankcase with oil is not really an issue, as the damage has already been done and there is not much more that you could do to destroy the engine.

All I can suggest is that you STOP trying to get the engine to start, and that you have the car towed to a mechanic (NOTE: This does not mean a quick lube place!) for an assessment. While the car is being checked by the mechanic, do yourself a HUGE favor and read what the Owner’s Manual has to say about the “oil light”. If it is the type of warning light found on most cars (with the afore-said warning about shutting down the engine immediately), then you should be prepared for a repair bill in the thousands of dollars.

If my suppositions are correct, you could have saved yourself a whole heap of trouble by simply familiarizing yourself with the Owner’s Manual ahead of time and doing exactly what it advised you to do when that warning light first lit up. Many conscientious drivers re-read the manual from time to time, or at least consult the manual whenever a problem–such as a warning light–crops up.

If my suppositions are incorrect, and if the “oil light” is simply a notification that you should have your oil changed, then you may get some good news from the mechanic. However, as I stated earlier, you are courting disaster if you continue to dump oil into an engine without verifying that it is actually low on oil.

Please post back with the make, model, model year, odometer mileage, type of engine, and information about when the oil was last changed. When you do that, we can give you more specific advice, rather than having to make assumptions that may or may not be correct.

And, you should really read the Owner’s Manual from cover to cover, since there is a wealth of information contained in it, and much of that information will help you to keep your car (either this one or its replacement) running safely and economically. Failure to read and follow the advice in a car Owner’s Manual is a VERY expensive policy to follow.

Ford escape, 2005, And I have put 3 bottles of oil in within the past 12 hours.

Is there a visible oil leak?

Was there any oil visible on the dipstick before you added oil?

How did you determine that it needed 3 qts. of oil?

When adding oil, it is best to add it 1/2 qt. at a time, wait a few minutes, and then check the dipstick again before adding any more oil. Did you do that?

There are still more missing details than there should be if we are to provide specific, rather than general, advice.

i work at a fast lube and have been working here for years i have come across this with customers before. it is your oil pressure light for sure, however many cars i have seen came in with oil light on and the car was full of oil. you might have just had a faulty oil sensor as well. because your car died on you and you tried to revive it you made a big rookie mistake and probally caused alot more damage. in the future dont wait till the last minute for an oil change