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VW beeping

Dearest Cartalk Guys,

I have been listening to your show since I was a ‘wee tike’… As with anyone, I was hoping I never would need your service, yet here I am.

My car is a 98 Jetta VW TDI… with lot’s-o-miles. Since I purchased the car (from my mother, the only other owner), the car often has electronic issues (I feel like I am playing slots at the casino it lights up so much). Recently it came with sounds as well as lights. The car?s oil light came on and started beeping. The light usually goes off when I decelerate and is most commonly seen and when I turn corners. This started happening soon after I had the oil changed. I went back to the person who changed the oil, he checked everything over and even put in a new filter, new oil, and flushed the system with oil. Yet the light show returned. I find when I accelerate it tends to help the beeping go away quicker, yet there is not a constant pattern, and as I am an art teacher I can usually discover pattern. I need to know if this is something I should go get looked at or if this is another one of those electronic issues rearing its ugly head? Please help, click and clack? Your long time fan!

If this is a typical oil light,(oil pressure light) you are not supposed to drive with it on or engine damage can result. The fact that it is beeping is a good indication that this is true. Check your owner manual for that information. Who changed the oil and checked it over later?

You need a mechanic. The light can go on for two broad reasons. First, because there is an electronic problem, a sensor problem or wiring problem. That might be a relatively inexpensive fix because the usual problem is the oil pressure sensor is the most likely problem and easy to replace. It could be more involved.

Second because you have an engine problem. You might need a new engine now, but if you don’t, it is likely that you will if you continue to drive with the light on because you need oil pressure to protect the engine internals,

Yes, this may merely be one of the electronic quirks for which VWs are noted.

Or, it could be a genuine warning of low oil pressure. Since driving a car with low oil pressure results in severe engine damage, I suggest that you have the engine examined by a competent mechanic right away.

And, on the way to the mechanic, PLEASE stop your current way of dealing with the warning light and beep. I am referring to your statement, “I find when I accelerate it tends to help the beeping go away quicker”. When I read that line, it sent a chill up my spine since this is like sending a heart attack patient out to run the Boston Marathon. This type of behavior (which truthfully defies logic, IMHO) is a sure way to send that engine to an early grave.

If you deal promptly with the potential problem indicated by the warning light and beeper, you may be able to rescue the engine. If you continue to drive it as you are currently, you are guaranteeing that the engine is toast.