The question, “Why oil light comes on when braking?” has crossed the minds of many car owners. Low oil pressure, degraded oil, broken oil pressure sensor, and low oil level cause the oil light to flicker when braking.
It is risky to drive with the oil light on. This article explains each possible cause of the warning and teaches you how to fix the problem.
- 1 What Are the Reasons Why the Oil Light Comes on When Braking?
- 2 What To Do When the Oil Light Comes on When Braking?
- 3 Conclusion
- 4 References
What Are the Reasons Why the Oil Light Comes on When Braking?
The reasons why the oil light comes on when braking include low oil pressure, a faulty oil pump, insufficient engine oil, and degraded or contaminated oil. The oil light may also flicker when braking because of a faulty oil pressure sensor, a defective oil injector, and engine leaks.
– Degraded Oil
Car manufacturers and mechanics recommend that you change the oil every 3,000 miles. The heat and pressure after driving for miles degrade the engine oil. Degraded oil lacks the ability to generate enough pressure and lubricate the engine. Hence, the first stop should be at your mechanic’s appointment for an oil change.
If the oil is due for a change, changing the oil should fix the problem. If the oil light comes on when braking after an oil change, you have another defect causing the flickering oil light.
– Insufficient Oil Pressure
Low oil pressure causes the oil light to flash. A low oil level, dirty oil filter, and degraded or thin oil decrease the pressure. Any dirt or debris that clogs the screen on the pick-up tube will also cause the oil pressure to decrease.
The oil light may also appear when you press the brakes because the oil moves to the front part of the pan, causing a temporary low oil level.
– Low Oil Level
The oil pan should supply sufficient oil to keep the engine components lubricated. The oil pressure drops when the oil level is low. The oil pressure sensor will detect the insufficient oil supply and cause the oil pressure light to flicker.
You should check oil level regularly to ensure the oil pan is full, as this could solve the problem. However, if the oil light comes on when braking but oil is full, you need to check other components for defects. Also, if the oil level is not low, yet the oil light comes on when parked, then your car has another issue that needs to be addressed.
– A Broken Oil Pressure Sensor
The oil pressure sensor should be the first component to test after ascertaining that you have enough clean oil in the pan. The sensor detects when the oil pressure is abnormal and signals the instrument panel or combination meter.
The oil warning light could come on and off while driving if the meter or panel finds that the pressure is either lower or more than the acceptable range.
The oil pressure may be low because of insufficient oil circulating in the engine. Low oil level causes the engine to grind and halt because of poor lubrication. In addition, an overflowing oil pan will cause excessive oil pressure. The gasket bursts, leading to oil leaks.
The oil pressure increases or decreases as the RPMs of the vehicle change. The oil pressure will increase when the engine is revived or the car accelerates. Braking lowers the pressure as the RPMs decrease.
A faulty oil pressure sensor does not send the correct information to the control panel. The sensor will interpret the normal drop in oil pressure when braking as an abnormal level. Hence, it will message the combination meter that the pressure has dropped below the acceptable range, triggering the oil light.
– Faulty Oil Pump
The oil pump pushes oil under high pressure to all engine components that require protection and lubrication, including the camshaft, bearings, and pistons. The oil supply cools the engine. The oil pump increases or decreases the oil pressure depending on the ongoing operations.
A bad oil pump decreases the oil pressure, risking the engine’s health and efficiency. The engine temperature will also increase when the oil pump is broken. You will also notice strange noises from the oil pump, hydraulic filter, and valve train.
The faulty motor oil pump keeps the oil light on even after you finish breaking because of the low oil pressure.
– Leak in the Engine
An internal combustion engine (ICE) consists of oil plugs, gaskets, and seals. The components prevent oil leaks. However, high oil pressure, normal wear, and extremely cold weather cause the part to fail, leading to oil leaks.
Constant oil leaks from the engine decrease the oil level and pressure. Consequently, the oil light comes on when braking and turning.
– Defective Fuel Injector
A flooding problem in a carbureted engine may cause the oil light to flash. Excess gasoline injected into the engine ends up in the oil pan, causing the oil to thin and lose its pressure. You can use a dipstick to check if the oil contains gasoline.
A gasoline smell means you have a fuel injector problem to fix immediately before it harms the engine. In addition, contaminated oil does not lubricate the engine components effectively.
– Car Mileage
Old cars develop mechanical issues that trigger the oil light, including low RPMs. The parts wear over time and decrease in performance. The process of pressing the brakes as you release the accelerator in an old automatic car lowers the RPMs. Consequently, the oil pressure decreases temporarily.
The oil light comes on when slowing down or stopping an old car. In case the oil light comes on at idle but goes off when driving, you need to check the tour bearings and oil pressure gauge. The bearings may be worn out, allowing oil to flow through them too fast to maintain enough oil pressure.
What To Do When the Oil Light Comes on When Braking?
When the oil light comes on when braking, you should check the oil pump, oil level, and oil pressure sensor. You should also check for oil leaks. You can replace a faulty oil pressure sensor with the owner’s manual. However, mechanical expertise is necessary to replace a broken oil pump.
– Check the Oil Level
It is advisable to confirm that your vehicle has enough oil before testing other components. Park your car if driving on a flat surface, turn off the engine, and leave it to rest for a few minutes. Open the hood and remove the oil dipstick at the front.
The dipstick in most cars has a yellow ring that you easily see and pull up. Use a clean cloth or some paper towels to wipe the dipstick and check the color of the oil. Non-contaminated oil should be brown, not extremely dark or creamy.
Put the dipstick back into the can and check the oil level. The dipstick has marked areas to show you the minimum and maximum acceptable. If the oil level is within the normal range and clean, continue to the next test.
– Test the Oil Pump Functionality Level
The next test is ensuring that the oil pump is functional and supplying enough oil to the engine components. You need to keep the engine running for this test. Open the hood and run the engine. Listen for any strange noises, such as ticking or grinding.
If the car has normal oil levels, but the engine produces strange noises, the oil pump may be faulty. The oil light coming on is an alert that the oil pump is not pumping enough oil into the engine.
Mechanical expertise is necessary to replace a faulty oil pump. Drive your car or tow it to a mechanic shop immediately if your tests suggest the oil pump is defective. Oil pump repairs and replacement are expensive but necessary for your safety.
– Test and Replace the Defective Oil Pressure Sensor
A computerized check-up is necessary to determine if the oil pressure sensor is faulty. Drive to a car auto parts or mechanic for the check-up, where you can allow the mechanic to replace the sensor if it proves faulty. An oil pressure sensor is cheap. You can buy a new sensor and fix it in the following steps:
- Use your car manual to locate the sensor in the engine block. The sensor may be on the cylinder head, depending on your car model.
- Disconnect the electrical connector. Locate the wire that connects to the female side of the plastic valve. It may take several pulls or a tool to disconnect the wire if it is clogged or corroded.
- Unscrew the old sensor. You may need to apply some lubricant first or use a tool to loosen a tight or rusty sensor before unscrewing it with your hands.
- Compare the diameter and thread pattern of the new sensor to those of the old one. You may encounter a problem mounting the new sensor if the specs do not match. Hence, it is advisable to specify your car model when buying any auto part.
- Apply thread sealant to the new sensor before screwing it into the cylinder head or engine block. The sealant prevents leaks when the sensor contacts pressurized oil. In addition, ensure the new part is tightly screwed.
- Reconnect the electrical connector to the oil pressure sensor and engage the retaining tab. The connecting wire should fit tight.
- Test the new oil pressure sensor. Switch the engine on and allow it to run for a few seconds as you check the oil light and oil pressure gauge. If the oil light goes off and the oil pressure is normal, open the hood to check for any oil leaks.
If you fail to install the new sensor properly, the oil light may stay on after running the engine for some time. In this case, switch off the engine and check if the new part or electrical connector is loose. Test the sensor again.
If the new sensor is properly installed, but the oil light stays on, your car has other issues with the oiling system. It’s advisable to seek professional help at this point instead of attempting further repairs.
– Fix Engine Leaks
Use a clean cardboard piece to test your engine for leaks. Place the cardboard under the front part of the vehicle when parked. Light-colored cardboard is preferable.
A light brown fluid will collect on the cardboard if the engine is leaking. In addition, check the oil level for further clues. A low oil level is often a sign of oil leaks, especially if you always find the engine oil bay empty.
You need a certified mechanic to fix an engine leak and reset the check engine light. However, a refill is necessary before driving your car to the mechanic. Do not exceed the recommended maximum level of the engine oil bay.
It is unsafe to ignore when the oil light comes on when braking. Luckily, you have a guide to diagnose the possible causes and identify the best solutions. Here is what you have learned:
- Low oil level and pressure trigger the oil light when braking.
- Defective parts, such as the oil injector, oil pump, and oil pressure sensor, can cause the problem.
- The oil light problem is common in old cars because of worn-out parts.
- You can replace some faulty parts with the owner’s manual, but professional help is advisable.
A flashing oil light shows that you need to stop at the nearest car shop or mechanic for your safety.
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