5 Symptoms of Low Engine Oil Level

There is an old saying that oil is the blood of any vehicle. In a way, this is true because the engine of the vehicle depends on oil to lubricate its components and keep them running smoothly.

Since the engine is the heart of the vehicle, this heart needs to be constantly pumping “blood” to stay strong and healthy.

If the engine were to ever get low on oil, it would not be good for the health of the engine or the car itself. In fact, it could end up permanently damaging the engine if the oil levels are not raised quickly.

To fix this problem, all you would need to do is add oil to your engine or go to your local quick lube shop or repair shop and have them perform an oil change. It is very inexpensive and only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. So, there is really no reason for anyone not to get it done.

Of course, if there is some underlying issue that is causing oil to leak, then you will have to pay to repair or replace the components which are causing the leak. Otherwise, adding oil is very cheap.

Top 5 Low Oil Symptoms in Your Car

Below are the top 5 symptoms that you can expect to experience when there is a low level of oil in your engine.

1) Oil Warning Light

oil pressure check engine light

The first symptom that you may notice is a warning light on your dashboard turning on. This indicates that you have low oil pressure because there is not enough oil in your engine.

Inside of your vehicle, there is a sensor which has the ability to detect how much oil pressure you have. Low levels of oil in the engine will cause the sensor to detect low oil pressure. As a result, the oil pressure warning light will illuminate on the dashboard.

You should take this warning seriously and add more oil to your vehicle before the symptoms get any worse than this. If there is adequate oil in the engine, a bad oil pressure switch may be the problem.

2) Knocking Noises

noise while driving

You will only notice this symptom if you have had a low amount of oil in your engine for a while now. When your engine’s components and parts have an increase in friction and a lack of lubrication, it is going to loosen the engine rods considerably.

As you may know, the rods are what keeps the pistons tightly secured. So, when the rods become loose, they will get thrown around inside of the engine and cause knocking sounds to form. In cases where you have enough engine oil, a good oil additive may be a simple remedy.

3) Burning Smell

Your engine has a lot of moving components inside of them. Many of these components are metal and they make regular contact with other metal components. All this metal contacting other metal will create a lot of heat in the engine.

Oil is the lubricant which normally keeps this heat to a minimum by cooling off the components. Therefore, if there is a low level of oil in the engine, then these components won’t get cooled off.

The result will be a burning smell which will make its way into the cabin.

4) Dipstick Test

excessive oil consumption

If you want to know for sure if you have a low oil level, use the oil dipstick to check your oil level. Make sure that your engine has been turned off and your car is parked on level ground to get an accurate reading.

If the dipstick shows that you have less oil than the minimum mark, then it means you need to add more oil. The opposite of having too much oil in your engine can also cause issues and doing a dipstick check will also show that.

Be aware that many newer cars such as Audis no longer have a dipstick under the hood. Instead, sensors are used to check the amount and condition of your motor oil. When there is a problem, you’ll be notified with a message in your instrument cluster.

While this is handy, a problem with a faulty sensor can occur which prevents you from knowing of a low oil condition.

See Also: Why Is There Dirty Oil On the Dipstick?

5) Engine Failure

old dirty car engine

This will be the worst-case scenario of having low engine oil. However, most people should be able to avoid this symptom because you would have likely experienced the previous four symptoms by this point.

But, if you have continued to ignore these warning signs, then you can expect your engine to ultimately fail in the end. Then you are looking at having to purchase a whole new engine for your vehicle, which can be in the thousands of dollars.


3 thoughts on “5 Symptoms of Low Engine Oil Level”

  1. Recently I happened to overhear a lady being told that her vehicle which was her son’s car had absolutely NOOOOO oil in the engine. She was also told there were several other issues that needed to be addressed so the car would pass inspection that day but unbelievably she had the Tech put a rejection sticker on the vehicle!!! It was all I could do to just sit there, listen and not engage the woman to warn her of what could happen if she kept driving it that way but I just acted like I was fully engaged in what I was doing.


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