engine oil low add oil message

Engine Oil Low Add Oil [Meaning, Fix & Reset]

One of the most common alerts on Chevy vehicles is the dreaded “Engine oil low add oil.”

In this article, I am going to explain what this means, the leading causes, and how to fix and reset the message from your dashboard.

Let’s get into it.

The Importance of Engine Oil 

Engine oil is a vital fluid used in vehicles with internal combustion engines like those found in Chevrolet cars and trucks.

Its primary functions are to:

  • Lubricate the engine’s moving parts
  • Clean the engine by flushing out debris,
  • Cool critical engine components, 
  • Prevent rust and corrosion, 
  • Reduce friction and wear on surfaces within the engine.

The oil circulates throughout the engine, coating parts like pistons, piston rings, crankshaft, valves, and timing chains.

This oil helps prevent metal-to-metal contact between components that move at high speeds during engine operation.

Without proper lubrication from engine oil, an engine would quickly overheat and seize up due to the extreme friction.

In addition to base oils, engine oil contains additives that give it properties like detergency, anti-wear features, corrosion protection, and viscosity index improvers.

Using high-quality engine oils that meet manufacturer specifications is critical for protecting Chevrolet engines and achieving long service life.

What Does “Engine Oil Low Add Oil” Mean?

The “Engine Oil Low Add Oil” message is an alert from your Chevy’s oil monitoring system indicating that the oil level has dropped below the recommended operating level.

Newer Chevrolet vehicles have oil life monitoring systems that continually check the oil level and condition. An oil level sensor mounted in the oil pan feeds readings to the powertrain control module (PCM).

When the PCM detects the oil level has fallen below a preset threshold, it will illuminate an “Oil Level Low” warning light on the dashboard.

This is accompanied by a message stating “Engine Oil Low  Add Oil” on the driver information center.

This serves as an early notification to the driver that the engine oil level is running low. Driving with oil at or below the minimum mark can greatly increase wear and the risk of engine damage.

What Causes the “Engine Oil Low Add Oil” Alert on a Chevy?

There are two main causes for the low engine oil warning on Chevrolet vehicles:

1. Low Oil Level

The most common reason for the “Engine Oil Low Add Oil” message is simply a low level of oil in the oil sump.

Oil is gradually consumed during normal engine operation and over time will fall lower on the dipstick.

Loss of oil can be accelerated by leaks from worn seals, gaskets, or loose components. Oil leaks in the valve covers, oil pan, rear main seal or front crankshaft seal are common on higher mileage engines.

Damaged oil cooler lines, a cracked oil filter housing or a loose drain plug can also cause oil loss.

Significant oil consumption can occur if the piston rings become worn and allow oil to be burned in the combustion chambers. Improper oil change intervals and use of the wrong viscosity oil can increase consumption.

2. Faulty Oil Level Sensor

The other potential cause for the warning light is a problem with the oil level sensor itself. The sensor arm/float may become coated with sludge over time and provide inaccurate readings.

The sensor or it’s electrical connection could also suffer from damage or normal wear.

In some cases, a failed sensor may get stuck and continuously give low oil level readings even when the actual level is full. If the engine oil level is verified as full, a faulty oil level sensor should be suspected.

How to Fix and Reset the Engine Oil Low Add Oil Warning

When the low engine oil warning appears, the following steps should be taken:

Check the Oil Level

The first step is to verify the actual engine oil level using the engine oil dipstick.

Locate the dipstick, typically near the front of the engine bay, remove it and wipe clean with a rag. Then reinsert fully and remove again to check the oil level.

The level should be within the safe operating range between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick. If the oil is low, add the recommended type and viscosity of oil up to the “Full” mark.

Reset the Oil Life Monitoring System

After topping off the oil to the proper level, the oil life monitoring system will need to be reset.

This can be accomplished using the buttons on the instrument cluster or via the settings menu on the infotainment screen. Refer to the owner’s manual for the specific reset procedure.

Check for Leaks

With oil at the correct level, inspect under and around the engine for any leaks.

Oil leaks will present as wet, shiny spots or droplets around gaskets, seals and drain plugs. Use a flashlight to check the back of the engine where leaks can accumulate over time.

Repair Leaks and Determine Oil Loss Cause

Any identified leaks should be repaired by a certified mechanic as soon as possible. Recheck fluid levels often until leaks are fixed.

Determine if excessive oil consumption is occurring and address as needed, this may require engine repair.

Replace Faulty Oil Level Sensor if Warning Returns

If the warning returns even with the correct oil level, the most likely culprit is the oil level sensor. Have the sensor inspected or replaced by a professional technician.

Reset the system again after the sensor is changed before resuming normal operation.

Following these steps when the low oil warning appears can prevent serious engine damage.

Identifying the root cause, whether low oil or a faulty sensor, will ensure the alert system can work effectively to maintain engine protection.

With the right oil level, reset system, and operating engine, the  engine oil low message can be eliminated for a long time.

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