What Does Low Oil Pressure Warning Light Mean?

When the low oil pressure warning light starts flashing on the dashboard of a car, it means something is wrong with the car. Read on, to know what low oil pressure means.
WheelZine Staff
Buy any machine, and you need to buy lubricating oil to smooth the working of its moving parts. Your automobile is not an exception to this rule. The propulsion force in a car, to move it along the road is generated by its engine, which employs a number of well synchronized parts located within it. Engine oil, also called motor oil, is one of the most essential thing for the health of the beast that lies under the hood of your car.
What Does Low Oil Pressure Mean?
Fuel pump, which functions as the heart of the automobile, maintains the flow of oil to the engine block. The oil pressure in the system is created by the resistance offered by the action of the input valves in the engine block, through which the oil enters the engine. Proper amount of oil is necessary to lubricate all the moving parts within the engine. In the absence of lubrication, these metal parts grate on each other, generate tremendous amount of heat, and get damaged. Low oil may ultimately cause seizing of your car's engine, thereby needing costly car repairs to restore its functionality. The warning light turns on to warn the driver of exactly this impending car problem.
There are number of reasons behind the flashing warning light, ranging from a clogged oil filter to the change of temperature. Following is a brief list of relevant causes, which you may like to go through.
Temperature: There are so many brands of engine oil in the market, advertised for their performance characteristics. Motor oil viscosity is an attribute which comes into play when the temperature drops down in the cold season, or while driving high in the mountains. When the temperature drops below the tolerance level of the oil, it starts to gel; its flow becomes restricted; hence the oil pressure decreases in the system. At such a time, it becomes difficult even to start your vehicle. The solution is to drain the existing engine oil and replace it with a less viscous one, before it is too late. On the other hand, when the temperature rises above the tolerance level of the oil, it expands and becomes a cause of low pressure at idle. In such a situation, using a more viscous engine oil than your existing brand should be considered.
Clearance: All the moving parts in a machine must work together without grinding too much on the other parts. For this reason, they are separated by a very minute space which is referred to as clearance. This clearance, which can be as small as 0.001 inch, goes on increasing as these parts get worn out, and oil starts leaking, causing the pressure to drop below normal. If you think, low oil pressure is an issue that affects only used vehicles, you need to know that improper or loose assembly in a brand new car may also develop this problem and trigger the warning light.
Oil Pump: Malfunction of the oil pump, may it be due to clogging or any other thing, affecting the flow or the amount of oil that is being delivered to the engine can cause lowered pressure. Excessive or less than normal clearance between the parts, within the fuel pump, can also affect the effectiveness of the fuel pump.
Other than the causes mentioned above, cracks, leakages, clogging in the transmission lines, oil galleys, leaking galley plugs, and debris in the engine oil can contribute to a drop in the oil pressure in the system. So, whenever the light comes on while driving, it means that you should stop your car as soon as possible, to contain the damage and get the problem investigated by an expert mechanic.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and not intended to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.