Oil pressure light turns on while driving

I have a 2001 Golf 1.8T and while driving the oil pressure light turns on and the meter goes beyond the midpoint. I brought it in to a shop and they told me I need to change the oil pump and will cost $900. They told me it’s because I don’t frequently change oil and once the new oil is in, it caused the problem and only way to drive the car again is to replace the oil pump. Anyone can help if this is the only way? Or other way to fix this at a lower cost?

Thank you!!

Just a few questions:
Are you saying the oil light came on immediately after an oil change?
What is this “meter” you mentioned?
Did you check the oil level after the oil light came on?
How often do you change the oil and is the level checked between changes?
Is the shop a franchise, a dealer, or a trusted independent mechanic?

Ed B.

Well, how many miles are on the car, and what is your history of oil changing - specify in relation to the owner’s manual maintenance schedule. Was it followed? Was the correct oil always used?

What did the shop do to diagnose the problem? Did they attach an oil pressure gauge and measure the actual pressure? What were the results of the testing?

Assuming that your oil quantity is at the correct level, it could be the oil pump. Do you know if the mechanic checked for actual oil pressure or is he assuming that it’s the pump. Are you getting a buzzer with the low oil pressure light? I believe some of these Volkswagens have a buzzer that would accompany the light. Do you know if the mechanic checked for correct operation of the oil pressure switch? It might just be an indication problem. It might be worth getting a second opinion.

Turbo motor? Oil issues? See the link? Try changing filter and put in proper viscosity oil. If oil pressure rises while hot, u may have restriction in system.

Thanks for the reply. To answer a few questions:

The meter i referred to is the oil temperature i believe, midpoint is normal.

I don’t drive the car very often so I haven’t been changing oil by the maintenance schedule. I’m not sure if the correct oil was always used.

I know the oil pressure light isn’t a good thing so I brought the car to a VW dealership.

So one day the red oil pressure light turned on with the buzzer while driving, but it went away. I went home to check the oil level and it was very low. So the next day I got an oil change. But then after driving away, both the oil pressure and engine lights came on. I brought it to the dealership and they told me I need to change the oil pump.

Any ideas?

The red oil light & buzzer mean the engine has almost no oil pressure at all and engine damage is occurring.
You shouldn’t have driven any further than to safely get off the road.
Then call for a tow or a ride to get oil to put in the car before you move it.
In frequent oil changes are bad, letting the oil level get real low is much worse.
If this engine has damage from oil starvation the oil pump is the tip of the iceberg.

Does your gauge cluster look like the one in the pic (see next post)? At the top center are the two small gauges and the one on the left is actually the coolant temperature. So if your coolant temp gauge is showing overheat issues AND your oil pressure light is turning on, then … well…I wouldn’t start replacing anything until someone checked the compression and he cooling system and such. Your treatment of the car does raise cause for concern about the condition of the engine. But it’s still possible that you just need a new oil pressure sensor. Or it’s also possible that your engine has multiple problems and replacing the oil pump would be a waste. I would find a trustworthy, local, independent shop and ask them to evaluate.

Forgot to attach the pic

to cigroller: yes, the pic is correct and i guess it’s the coolant temperature. And doesn’t a VW dealership trustworthy enough or should I find a second opinion? I would have to tow the car around. Thoughts?

Hmm. Oil was low so I had oil changed next day? I hope u added some on day #1? If I see my oil level is low, I add some. Immediately. I have never heard of a high oil pressure warning light. I agree with others, a oil light is for low oil pressure.

Dealership service departments vary. But in general, their primary orientation is not toward figuring out what is best for you. It is toward selling services, whether that is in your best interest or not. Local independents can obviously behave the same way but are less likely to. They are more attached to the demands of the people in the communities they serve than to the demands of their corporate umbrellas.

If the oil pressure light is not on right now, I would drive it to another shop. If you want to keep it at the dealership, ask them how they checked the oil pressure and deduced a pump problem. Also ask them what else they did to evaluate the condition of the motor. If they haven’t checked compression, for example, ask them if they think it’s a little odd not to do such a thing before recommending a $1000 oil pump replacement. If the oil situation was bad enough to affect the pump, what other problems might there be? I’d want to know.

You still didn’t tell us how often you changed the oil. I suspect you have an engine that’s full of sludge and near death.

For future reference (probably after you replace this engine or this car), you need to change the oil on schedule. You need to check the level frequently and add oil as needed (not driving to get an oil change). You especially need to stop immediately (in a safe place) if the oil pressure light comes on. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but you don’t seem to understand how important oil is to the life of your engine.

“I don’t drive the car very often so I haven’t been changing oil by the maintenance schedule”

Based on what we have been told (with significant gaps in information), it sounds like this engine is probably filled with oil sludge. For the benefit of the OP’s wallet, he/she should read the maintenance schedule for the next car much more carefully, as almost all of the scheduled maintenance has both an odometer mileage factor and an elapsed time factor, with an “either/or” proviso and a “whichever comes first” proviso.

The elapsed time factor is to prevent problems like oil sludge in cars that accumulate miles very slowly. Unfortunately, it seems that many people can’t seem to comprehend those provisos in the maintenance schedule, and premature death of the engine is the frequent result.

So, with the available information, all I can say is that it is very possible that the only short-term solution at this point is to replace the oil pump…even though the engine may have already sustained damage from running with a low oil level, from going too long between oil changes, and (possibly) from using the wrong type of oil.

Replacing the oil pump should make the car drivable, but then the question remains…
How much longer will it be drivable with the original, damaged engine?

I agree with circuitsmith. The light and buzzer operate off separate switches. It is most likely a true low oil pressure condition.

Low oil pressure is the kiss of death for the car. First be sure the light is not triggered falsely from a bad oil pressure switch.

I seriously don’t know how often the oil got changed. Sometimes the car sits in the garage for months before driving it again. It’s at about 55000 miles now. I know now that my oil change was an issue and the oil pressure light is on so I can’t drive the car now. How much does the oil pump replacement with labor cost in average?

I aslo asked the dealership and they told me they don’t have to check the compression. They said the oil pressure is low and can’t be driven, they need to replace the oil pump to find out if there are other problems.

The coolant temperature is a separate issue from this and i wonder what other problems they will find out…

I’m lost at what to ask to do at this point, i can’t afford the nearly $1000 oil pump replacement. Any suggestions?

Checking the compression has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not you can run the car. It’s true that it is generally best checked warm or hot so the engine would need to run for that. But there is no reason that you can’t check the compression on a cold engine. And I don’t want to give you the idea that good results means all is well. There can still be issues. The point at this juncture is not precision - just to find out if there is any obvious problem.

You still haven’t said how they verified the oil pressure problem. The sensors can go bad and give false readings. So oil pressure has to be verified with a known-good external gauge. Every shop has one. If they did verify low pressure with a gauge, then your choices are to scrape up the $$ for the pump or walk. I would also add, however, that it is also possible that the pump itself is ok, but that the pickup screen in the oil pan is gummed up. This is still expensive, but not nearly as expensive. Dealers departments most often don’t spend a lot of time figuring things out or exploring possibilities.

"I’m lost at what to ask to do at this point, i can’t afford the nearly $1000 oil pump replacement. Any suggestions? "

My suggestion is to get a price quote for oil pump replacement from an independent VW specialist. Most areas have at least one indy VW specialist for one very simple reason, namely that VW dealers are consistently listed at the bottom of the rankings of car dealerships, owing to their bad customer relations policies and their high prices.

Translation=You can almost surely have this job done by an indy VW specialist for a lot less money. However, I can’t predict the bottom line price at an indy mechanic’s shop.

If you can’t afford to repair the car, then your only course of action–as I see it–is to park the car and take public transit until you can afford to repair the car. However, I would strongly suggest that you ask family members, relatives, and friends if they can come to your assistance with the repair expenses.

And, after the car is repaired, please try to remember that timely maintenance is invariably cheaper than the repairs that result from lax maintenance. Just because you shot yourself in the foot with this car’s maintenance, that does not mean that you have to continue to shoot yourself in the foot with the cars that you will own in the future.

The oil pressure sensors on these cars have a history of failing . Have an independent shop check the pressure with a real gage .If you have used the correct oil and changed it as required the odds are the sensor is at fault .
That shop could change the sensor and charge you $900 for almost no work .