Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Oil Light

2000 Mercury Cougar.

After driving for about 5-10min, the oil light will flicker, but ONLY when stopped. When I accelerate, it goes away. It drives fine though.
Today when I stopped at a light, the car began to shake a little…so I put it in park and it stopped. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it though.


It could be a bad oil pressure sensor (sender), but more likely a worn out engine (bearings) with low oil pressure at idle.
The pressure can be measured with a real (mechanical) gauge to tell for sure.

Oil pressure sensors do fail, but you also appear to have a problem with the engine not running properly (low, rough idle in gear).

Is this something that can be checked quickly at a shop?

They put a mechanical oil pressure guage on the engine to measure the actual oil pressure. If the pressure is normal, it would indicate a bad sending unit-pretty easy and cheap. If the pressure is actually low, then you either have a worn engine, clogged up screen in the oil pan where the oil is sucked up, or a worn out oil pump.

Bing! @Bing hit the nail right on the head.

Make mine another vote to check the actual pressure. If it actually is low, I think you need to accept that this 23-24 year old motor is on its last legs. How many miles are on this ol’ workhorse anyway?

If the pressure is low, and it were my car, I’d try a higher base weight oil and just keep driving it. As long as it gets you from point A to point B, it’s serving its purpose.

@mountainbike A 2000 Mercury Cougar should have lots of life in it. It’s only 13 years old. My son drives 15,000 miles per year and would have 195,000 miles on such a car, not excessive.

Of course we have to check the oil pressure to determine the oil pump condition.

OOps! So much for my math skills!

We all agree it needs testing. However oil pumps by their very design and living environment really don’t wear out often, certainly not before the cylinders & bearings. Unfortunately, the only way to check bearings is to pull a cap, but that would be my first guess if the pressure truly is low. But if it were mine, and low pressure were confirmed, I wouldn’t bother. I’d just up the weight and keep driving it.


Okay, so you’re oil level is fine . . .

How often do you get the oil changed?

What kind of driving do you do?

You might have sludge . . .

But the first thing is to hook up that mechanical gauge

Short answer, if you are having issues at low idle it is making things worse, many cars survive under such conditions with the light, but you are starving the engine of oil at this point, and need to fix it or replace it, fix it might be a lucky pcv valve or determine if the engine is sludged, but at this point I would start saving dollars for a new engine or a new car. PS chances are if you let it go too long you may be looking at bigger problems.