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Old 08-25-2007, 03:52 PM   #1
miss_smase
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Dizzy Oil light flashing...

We have a 1998 SL1 that has been acting up for the past few months, but I can't seem to figure out this latest issue. I would love for some advice or guidance...

While driving, after the engine warms up, the oil light will flash on and off. I just had the oil changed, thinking that would solve the problem, but it has continued. Could this be an oil pump or something more serious?

Thanks so much!

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Old 08-25-2007, 05:08 PM   #2
Sky King
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

The oil pressure warning light is one that needs to be taken seriously. Untill you determine the cause for the light, you should presume it is telling you your oil pressure is low.

Does it blink on and off with a regular patern like a turn signal or is it erratic?

Causes range from an actual loss of oil pressure which could be a failing oil pump, failed or failing oil pressure regulator or just a worn out engine to an indication problem such as a faulty oil pressure sending unit, (sensor).

But you really need to find out the cause of this light comming on. Engines don't run long without oil.

In case you don't know, (if you do, please bear with me). The low oil pressure light is NOT a warning of no oil necessarily. No oil will result in no oil pressure but you can be full of oil and still have no pressure for the reasons I stated above. So this light should not be construed as being an oil quantity indicator.

If you have access to and know how to use it, by connecting a direct reading or "live" gauge to the port where the oil pressure sending unit connects, you can get a real time, live reading of what your oil pressure really is. If the live gauge confirms what the light is telling you, you need to investigate the cause for the failing pressure before it destroys your engine. If the live gauge says the pressure is good, then you will want to find out why the light is comming on eroniously.

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Old 08-25-2007, 06:23 PM   #3
oseberg
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

If your oil light is flashing sometimes rather than staying on solid it means that your oil pressure is marginal.

When you changed your oil did you also change your oil filter? (Your oil filter could be clogged)

The first thing you should do is replace your oil pressure sensor just to be sure it's reading correctly.

I'm not sure if you could have a completely clogged oil filter and the bypass would cause you to not notice anything (including the light not flashing). If that's the case, then the problem couldn't be the oil filter.

You should definitely check your oil filter. I believe it's fairly easy to check through the access pannel behind the right front tire. It's over by the water pump. I'm not sure what you have to remove in order to check it.

Right now the only problem is your oil pressure, but if you continue to drive this vehicle as it is, you might end up needing a new engine or a rebuild.

You might want to try some sort of engine flush product. Preferably a really runny solvent based one in a metal can. (One that's in a metal can because it would disolve any plastic container they could try to use)

If you're running the engine and the oil light turns on solid, stop the engine immediatly before any dammage occurs. The dammage won't be instant because it will be due to overheated bearings, and that takes a bit of time to occur, but the dammage will be permanent and severe, so don't take any chances.

How many miles are on this engine?

Does it burn oil?

Does it run good?

Does it make any strange noises?

Last edited by oseberg; 08-25-2007 at 06:30 PM..

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Old 08-25-2007, 07:05 PM   #4
sl_don
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by oseberg View Post
You might want to try some sort of engine flush product. Preferably a really runny solvent based one in a metal can. (One that's in a metal can because it would disolve any plastic container they could try to use)
do not flush the oil system unless you have a way of re lubricating all of the bearings before running the engine. if you do not re lubricate the bearings they will run dry until oil pressure is achieved subsequently doing more damage than in 200 000 miles of driving.

when building an engine you use assembly lube so that there is some lubrication in the engine on the initial start up.

check the oil pressure sensor first if it is functioning correctly then check the wiring, if that is good you need to replace the oil pump or strip the engine and rebuild it because there is a restriction in the oil passages and the damage is done. rebuilding before catastrophic failure means only bearings gaskets, rings and a light honing to deglaze the cylinders for the new rings.

after catastrophic failure means machining the block and crank new rods and pistons to possibly a new engine.

i would suggest not driving until you know you have good oil pressure.

...
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Old 08-25-2007, 07:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

It could also be that the moron at the Quicky-Lube damaged the oil pressure sending unit or its wire / connector when he/she replaced the oil filter as it is in close proximity to the filter.

First things first....

IS it FULL of oil?
IS it LEAKING oil (especially around the filter)?

If both of those check out, the SENDING UNIT is the next simple check / fix.

...
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Old 08-25-2007, 07:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sl_don View Post
rebuilding before catastrophic failure means only bearings gaskets, rings and a light honing to deglaze the cylinders for the new rings.
I'm not quite sure how replacing the bearings is supposed to remove the clog (if there is one) somewhere in the engine block. Somehow one needs to get that clog out of there.

Where exactly is the oil pressure gauge relative to the oil filter and pump on these engines?

If it's pump->filter->gauge->ductwork->bearings, then a clog in the ductwork it would increase the pressure at the gauge which wouldn't activate the light. So if there's a clog, it would have to be before the pump, between the pump and filter, in the filter, or between the filter and gauge.

If the bearings are causing the problem due to excessive flow, then they are worn already and engine flush isn't going to make this any worse.

If using engine flush at this point is dangerous, then after replacing or checking the gauge and wiring and finding the light still flashing, remove the oil filter and shove a thin rubber hose through any holes you see and see if maybe you can unclog anything.

I'm betting it's just the oil pressure gauge or the wires that lead to it.

If it's not the pressure gauge or wires, then the fact that it's blinking means that there is some flow. A good solvent based engine flush will flow through there and hopefully remove the partial clog.

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Old 08-25-2007, 08:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

It could be the pressure relief valve. It's located in the front cover (as is the oil pump). Does raising the rpms turn the light off? Is the light on only at idle? If so I would suspect the relief valve.

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Old 08-26-2007, 03:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by oseberg View Post
I'm not quite sure how replacing the bearings is supposed to remove the clog (if there is one) somewhere in the engine block. Somehow one needs to get that clog out of there.
once the engine has been disassembled the block is thoroughly cleaned priror to cylinder honing.

oil pressure has 2 limits the computer looks to see if it is high enough for proper opperation but it also looks to see if it is to high. if your oil pressure is too high that suggests a blockage and part of the motor is not being lubricated.

An oil system flush with solvent is never safe even if the engine is worn.

the major bearings (crank,rod, and cam) are made from copper that is coted in Babit a soft alloy that absorbs oil. if the babit is worn away the only thing keeping the engine working is the oil. if the bare copper is allowed to run on the crank or cam it will heat up very quickly and begin to melt. At this point it gose downhill fast. once the copper begins to melt it leaves deposits (usually at the seams of the bearing shells or at the oil holes. once that has happend either the oil is cut off or the bearing welds itself to the crank and that pretty much ruins the block.

The only safe way to do a solvent based oil system flush is if you can run the oil pump without running the engine. this primes th oil system ensures there is oil in all of the bearings and seals and is a good way to get the solvent out.

but since our engines don't have a mechanical distributor or balance shaft there is no way externally drive the oil pump. As such a solvent based oil system flush is a bad idea on our engines regardless of how worn.

...
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Old 08-26-2007, 03:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sl_don View Post
once the engine has been disassembled the block is thoroughly cleaned priror to cylinder honing.
So I guess you mean remove the entire block and send it in to a shop to be completely rebuilt because something somewhere is clogged. How much is this going to cost?

How about picking up a used engine from somewhere instead? It'll be way cheaper and the same amount of work to remove the engine and put it back in.

If you're saying that they need a new engine, then what's wrong with trying something cheap to fix this one first (just in case it works)?

I'm not saying to completely remove all the engine oil and replace it with a solvent. I'm saying to add a solvent based engine flush product to the existing engine oil and running the engine as per the instructions on the can. This is both way cheaper than a rebuilt or a new engine as well as a hell of a lot less work. And regardless of what you say is very unlikely to ruin the engine. If trying to solve this problem ends with a ruined engine, it's because this problem occured in the first place, not because someone tried to flush out the clog.

In any case, take a look at the pressure relief valve as CrewCab suggests.

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Old 08-26-2007, 03:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by oseberg View Post
So I guess you mean remove the entire block and send it in to a shop to be completely rebuilt because something somewhere is clogged. How much is this going to cost?

How about picking up a used engine from somewhere instead? It'll be way cheaper and the same amount of work to remove the engine and put it back in.

If you're saying that they need a new engine, then what's wrong with trying something cheap to fix this one first (just in case it works)?

I'm not saying to completely remove all the engine oil and replace it with a solvent. I'm saying to add a solvent based engine flush product to the existing engine oil and running the engine as per the instructions on the can. This is both way cheaper than a rebuilt or a new engine as well as a hell of a lot less work. And regardless of what you say is very unlikely to ruin the engine. If trying to solve this problem ends with a ruined engine, it's because this problem occured in the first place, not because someone tried to flush out the clog.

In any case, take a look at the pressure relief valve as CrewCab suggests.
i am suggesting that first make sure that the oil system is working. if it is just a sensor all is good

if something is blocked or the oil pump is bad a simple rebuild of rings bearings gaskets and cylinder hone is a lot cheaper than if the engine seizes.

if you seize the motor especially with aluminum blocks you can permanently damage the block forcing replacement and costly machine work on the crank shaft but more likely a complete rotating assembly.

as far as i am concerned nothing but oil belongs in a crankcase. i have seen to many spun bearings seized wrist pins and scraped cams after oil system flushes or solvent additives in the oil to even have the remotest faith in them.

yes if the engine is shot you can get a used motor or a rebuilt motor (with exchange) but if there is going to be a core value in your motor it cant be seized.

but a simple bad oil pump compounded with an oil system flush can result in a $2500 installed crate engine. or an unknown condition salvage motor $400 to $1000 (not installed low price means no warranty but longest warranty is probably only 90 days).

if the sensor checks out good and the oil pump is bad a light rebuild will probably cost about $800 to 1200 depending on with or without installation and usually comes with at least a years warranty.

If you are capable and willing a simple honeing is about 100 bucks and basic rebuild kit is like 250 then all you need is patience, any specialty tools can be rented and torque specs are readily available on the web.

a flush can make a serious problem worse and more expensive to fix. So yes even if the damage is done you can make things worse

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Old 08-26-2007, 05:27 PM   #11
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

You could just put a manual gauge on it and confirm pressure and if it is low you have a few cheap options short of a rebuild. First one is loose the 5w30 period!!! Use at least 10w30 from now on and maybe even 15w40 in summer as both will boost pressure. (10w30 will give you about 5 psi more at a idle and 15w40 about 10 PSI more). Do not drive car with low oil pressure otherwise as it is slow death. If you can get 10 to 15 PSI hot idle and 30 to 35 or more at speed hot it will live for a while with thicker oil. DO NOT TRY TO FLUSH IT!!!

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Old 08-26-2007, 05:48 PM   #12
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 97coupe View Post
You could just put a manual gauge on it and confirm pressure and if it is low you have a few cheap options short of a rebuild.
According to sl_don the sensor light will come on if the oil pressure is too hight. What do you suggest be done in that case?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sl_don View Post
oil pressure has 2 limits the computer looks to see if it is high enough for proper opperation but it also looks to see if it is to high. if your oil pressure is too high that suggests a blockage and part of the motor is not being lubricated.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sl_don View Post
i am suggesting that first make sure that the oil system is working. if it is just a sensor all is good
I definatly agree. First check the sensor and make sure it's functioning properly before doing anything else.

Last edited by oseberg; 08-26-2007 at 05:53 PM..

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Old 08-27-2007, 05:12 AM   #13
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Default Re: Oil light flashing...

I agree with 97coupe. Assuming the oil isn't actually low, which considering the fact that we haven't heard from miss_smase again, is a possibility, you need to find out exactly what's going on. That means an actual pressure gauge.

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