Engine oil is one of the most important fluids on your VW. It is responsible for cooling, lubricating, and protecting the internal engine parts.
The red oil light flashing is one of the most common warnings on Volkswagen vehicles.
In this article, I am going to explain what this light means, its possible causes, and how to fix it. Let’s get into it!
What Is the Meaning of the Red Oil Light Flashing on your VW?
In simple terms, when the red oil light starts to flash on your instrument cluster, it means your Volkswagen computer has detected an issue with the oil level, oil pressure, or oil temperature.
Since the color is red instead of amber is a sign that this is a serious issue, and it should be addressed as soon as possible.
Below I will share the most common causes from my experience as a mechanic.
What is the Reason Behind the Flashing of the Red Oil Light in VW Vehicles?
Now, lets us look at the most common causes of the flashing red oil light:
1. Low Engine Oil:
The most common reason for the red oil light to appear is low engine oil.
If you have just driven your car and the light has started to flash, it may be because you need a few more liters of oil in your engine.
Since engine oil circulates around the engine over time, it does get consumed by the engine leading to low oil levels.
Other things like leaks can cause the oil levels to drop quickly.
It’s best to check the dipstick under your hood and see if there is enough oil present before taking any further action.
2. Bad Oil Pressure Switch and/or Sensor
Another common cause of the red oil light flashing on your VW is a bad oil pressure switch or sensor.
The oil pressure switch works hand-in-hand with the oil pressure sensor to monitor your engine’s oil pressure.
If the pressure drops below a certain level, it triggers the light to come on.
However, both the oil pressure switch and sensor can malfunction and which leads to a false reading of low oil pressure.
As a result, the red oil light symbol will start to flash.
3. Oil Pan Filled with Oil Sludge:
The third common cause of the red oil light flashing on your Volkswagen is an oil pan filled with sludge.
Sludge is a very common problem for many engines that have been driven for a long period of time.
Over time, the oil sludge and debris build up and begin to clog up certain parts of the engine, including the oil pan.
If the sump gets too clogged with sludge and debris, it will make it difficult for the pump to do its job.
This will cause the oil light to come on your cluster.
4. Bad Oil Pump
The fourth and final leading cause of the red oil light flashing is a ceased oil pump.
Your VW’s oil pump plays a crucial role in circulating engine oil at high pressure to lubricate the bearings, pistons, and camshaft.
This enables higher-capacity fluid bearings and aids in engine cooling.
If the Pump fails, your car will not be able to maintain oil pressure, which will cause the red light to come on.
Other signs of a damaged oil pump include:
- Red Oil Light Flashing or Staying on
- Engine Temp going up
- Low Oil Pressure
- Strange sounds from the sump
How to Fix and Reset the Red Oil Light on a Volkswagen
Now that you know the leading causes of this problem, let’s take a look at how to fix the red oil light.
Check the Oil Level and Top Up If Needed
The first step is to check your engine oil level.
You can do this by either using the dipstick or the digital display on the dashboard (Newer Models).
If the oil is below the minimum mark, then you will need to top up your engine with some more oil.
You can find out how much oil you need by checking the owner’s manual for your specific model of car or slowly gauging with a dipstick.
After adding oil, turn off the vehicle for a few minutes and then start it up again.
The oil light will turn off after a few minutes if the problem was just low oil levels and not actually a faulty sensor.
Replace the Oil Pressure Switch and the Oil Pressure Sensor
If your oil level is fine, then chances are what’s causing the red oil light to flash on your VW is the oil pressure switch or sensor.
I recommend that you replace both of these instead of just one. These are relatively inexpensive and can save you a lot of frustration down the road.
Clean the Oil Sump/Pan
As I mentioned above, sometimes the sump can get clogged with debris and oil sludge,
For this reason, I recommend that you remove the sump and it properly while replacing the sensors.
Get the Oil Pump Replaced
If the three above solutions don’t work, then the problem might be with your oil pump.
To get the Oil pump replaced, I recommend taking your car to the nearest VW mechanic/garage or any Volkswagen dealer if you are still under warranty.