Oil Pressure Warning Light…Normal or not?

I live in Maryland and it gets real cold in winter here. Sometimes when I start my cars engine cold and it’s also below freezing outside, I notice my oil pressure warning light stays on for 2-3 seconds after the engine starts and then turns off. It does not come back on while driving and doesn’t happen starting the engine when it’s already warmed up. I am using the recommended 5w-20 synthetic oil and my oil level is full.

The engine runs completely fine as far as I can tell but I think I’ve just recently started noticing the oil light staying on for slightly longer than usual lately.

It could be that it’s always been doing this and I’ve just started noticing now.

Is this normal or could it be weather related or could it be a bigger issue? Again it only stays on for a couple seconds after startup and then goes away but I don’t know if it’s always done this…

If you’re using the proper viscosity oil for the engine, it’s probably normal.


If there is an anti drain back valve in the oil filter maybe it’s a cheap oil filter and it isn’t doing its job.

1 Like

What is your oil change schedule? How many miles?

I just had a used engine put in with 80,000 miles. Not sure the maintenance history but i saw under the valve covers before it was installed and everything looked relatively clean.

However i don’t know what kind of oil/filter the garage that installed the engine used i was thinking they could have used a cheap filter and/or oil too

Try using a Motorcraft filter. I cured a 3.3 liter Mopar lifter tick at startup by using one after reading a tip on a Chrysler minivan forum.

1 Like

Try using 0-20 oil. It flows better when cold. Same hot viscosity as 5-20.

When you change the oil and put on a new filter it’s normal for the oil pressure warning to stay on for 2 to 4 seconds on the 1st start. That’s why I think the oil is draining out of the filter. You can time how long it takes at the next oil filter change and then compare it to normal starting to find out if that’s what’s going on.

Is it possible to severely damage the engine in those first couple seconds of the startup due to low quality filters or would it be more of a gradual cumulative damage overtime using poor quality oil filters.

I changed the oil and filter today using motorcraft and I saw they had used an ecogard filter and there was a very small leak (a few drops) on the old filter. That would explain it right?

Cumulative damage over time. Did the new filter keep the low oil pressure light off during startup, or is it too soon to tell?

It’s possible the oil pressure switch is getting gummed up and is slow to react.

I did one cold start since changing the oil filter which was done a few minutes after putting it on and refilling the oil.

The light still stayed on for a few seconds and then went out but as thewonderful90s said is it normal for it to do this at the first startup after putting on a new filter?

I was going to let it sit for a few more hours and then try again later tonight and see what happens

I replaced the oil pressure switch about 3 months ago so I doubt it’s that

Yeah, could be normal. Wouldn’t worry there.

“I was going to let it sit for a few more hours and then try again later tonight and see what happens”

Sounds like a good plan.

“I replaced the oil pressure switch about 3 months ago so I doubt it’s that”

Was the issue exactly the same before and after you put the new oil pressure switch in? Switch could be kind of flaky if it’s a cheap aftermarket. If it’s exactly the same with the new switch and the old one, can probably rule out the switch unless there’s some sort of filter screen inline with the switch that’s gummed up or has trash in it.

I suggest having the actual pressure measured with a mechanical gauge (sooner rather than later).


What year is this car? Pushrod v6?