What Does Oil Pressure Engine Off on VW Mean

Oil Pressure Engine Off on a VW: Meaning, Causes & Fixes!

VW has solidified itself as the “people’s car” both in name and in status, but just about any folk that owns one can still be put into disbelief when an “oil pressure engine off” warning lights up in front of them.

Unless you own a decades-old classic bug that hides all of its oil-related issues in the guise of having no fancy screen displays, receiving such a warning message could spell bad news for you.

Thankfully, we’ve dealt with all sorts of Volkswagen issues before, and we’ll do it again via this guide that can, hopefully, give you a “W”(Win) for your VW!

Why does my VW say “oil pressure engine off”?

Why does my VW say “oil pressure engine off”

Your engine’s oil is a very crucial part of its ability to keep chugging along smoothly, though we sometimes only realize this when a warning light or message suddenly appears on the dash.

In the case of a Volkswagen or “VW”, the most common warning that has anything to do with oil is none other than the “Oil Pressure Engine Off!” message.

While the way it’s worded out does seem a bit vague, the warning is actually not that hard to decode.

Simply put, it means that “something’s not right with your oil pressure, therefore you should shut off your engine immediately (no questions asked)” if there was enough space on the gauge to fit that whole sentence, to begin with.

Since we know that oil circulates around and lubricates several moving parts in an engine, the “oil pressure engine off” message serves to protect us from possible engine damage due to an abnormal oil pressure reading.

Your VW’s computer may have detected that you have low oil pressure, which can trigger the “oil pressure engine off” warning to appear.

But the question is, what exactly happens when you have low oil pressure on your VW? Read on!

What does it mean if your VW has low oil pressure?

Getting low oil pressure on your VW means that your oil pump is not creating enough pressure to keep the normal flow of oil throughout the engine.

Once there is not enough oil pressure generated, various engine components can be starved of lubrication, which can cause more friction and wear.

What does it mean if your VW has low oil pressure

Having low oil pressure on a VW or any other car make and model is never a good sign. You risk damaging your engine components the longer it remains unresolved.

When a VW vehicle detects a low oil pressure condition in the engine, it can trigger the oil light to illuminate as well as the infamous “Oil Pressure Engine Off!” warning notification to come along with it.

As for what exactly happens when you have low oil pressure, your oil pump is unable to maintain the pressure needed for the oil to flow and reach components in need of lubricating.

As you can imagine, if the oil fails to lubricate such components, you’ll have a lot more friction and metal-to-metal contact within the system, resulting in increased wear and even permanent damage.

There can be several different causes of low oil pressure, which is why you should pull over, shut off the engine, and contact your trusted mechanic as soon as you start experiencing its associated symptoms.

Causes of Low Oil Pressure

Some common causes of low oil pressure can include a lack of oil or low oil levels within the system, a blocked or clogged sump screen, and increased clearance in the bearings due to them going bad.

Lack of Oil (Low Oil Levels)

Lack of Oil (Low Oil Levels)

If you ever get a low oil pressure warning on your vehicle, then one of the most likely culprits is simply low oil levels or the lack of oil in your reservoir.

If your oil levels dip below the minimum shown on your oil dipstick, then your engine is running low on oil and you run the risk of starving your engine components of the lubrication that they need to function optimally.

The obvious thing to do in this situation is to check for any oil leaks underneath your car and even within the engine bay, as they can easily cause your oil level and oil pressure to drop if left unchecked.

But aside from that, you should also check the oil pump itself since it can also become faulty and leak oil, especially if its gasket has already worn out.

In some cases, the oil leak can even originate from a worn-out piston ring. But whatever the source may be, it’s important to replace any leaking components before topping off with the correct grade of oil for your car.

Blocked/Clogged Sump Screen

Blocked/Clogged Sump Screen

Another potential cause of low oil pressure is that the oil sump screen got clogged or blocked by the buildup of debris over time.

The mesh screen of the oil sump prevents any foreign materials from entering and circulating within the engine where they can potentially damage its internal parts.

The problem arises when the screen is obstructed, as it also hinders the normal flow of oil. As a result, the oil pickup tube will not be able to siphon enough oil and maintain enough pressure within the system.

In order to check if there is anything that is clogging your sump screen or mesh screen, you need to take the oil pan off and physically examine it. 

Before you put the pan back on, it’s recommended to replace its bolts with new ones in the correct size, and then apply the right sealant to the bolts as well.

Increase in Bearing Clearance (Bad Bearings)

Increase in Bearing Clearance (Bad Bearings)

As oil pressure on your vehicle plummets to dangerously low levels, it’s also worth checking your engine bearings to see if there has been an increase in clearance.

While certain engine applications can benefit from higher (looser) bearing clearances due to reduced friction, too much clearance between the bearings makes it more likely for more oil to leak out from the sides.

The oil spilling out of the bearings causes the oil pressure to drop and creates windage that robs power from the engine. Hence, having just the right amount of bearing clearance is key to preventing that.

A common reason why there is an increase in bearing clearance in the first place is due to the bearings being worn out themselves.

Since not all engines are created equally, some bearings may be easily accessible and replaced by yourself, whereas others require doing more complicated procedures just to reach them.

But in either case, it’s still more recommended to ask for help from a trusted mechanic. Not only will they be able to access the bearings properly, but they can also set the correct amount of bearing clearance for your particular engine.

What should you do when your VW gives an “oil pressure engine off” warning?

Turn Off Engine

Turn Off Engine

The moment that you notice the “Oil Pressure Engine Off!” warning message come up on your VW’s dashboard, you should waste no time in pulling over and turning off your engine right away.

Even in the absence of other symptoms, you shouldn’t risk ignoring a warning like that, as there can be many different reasons for it that can cause severe damage to your engine components.

It’s also important to mention that you should avoid turning the engine back on again unless you’re already at the mechanic or checking oil pressure levels.

Check Oil Pressure Level

Check Oil Pressure Level

One of the only exceptions for you to turn on an engine again that has given you an “oil pressure engine off” warning is when you’re checking its oil pressure level.

Checking the level of your oil pressure will give you a sign if the oil is actually circulating the engine properly. A low oil pressure level indicates that the engine may not be receiving enough oil to lubricate its parts.

Doing an oil pressure check requires a pressure gauge tool to measure the pressure after starting the engine. Below is the step-by-step process on how to do this:

Depending on your specific VW/Volkswagen model, you may also be able to inspect the oil filter, oil pressure sensor, oil pump, and other related components for any faults yourself before taking it to the repair shop.

Otherwise, if you’re not experienced in opening up and diagnosing a VW engine, then we highly recommend seeking a professional mechanic to help you locate any faulty component that may be likely triggering the warning notification.

Can low oil pressure cause the engine to lock up/seize?

Continuously letting your engine run on low oil pressure can potentially cause it to lock up due to various parts not receiving enough lubrication.

If the oil pressure drops to a low level, the oil will not be able to circulate in the system, which can cause the engine to overheat and even seize.

How does the engine oil light work?

The engine oil light operates according to an oil pressure sensor, which continuously reads the oil pressure levels and the oil’s condition in the engine.

If the sensor detects that the oil pressure is low or the oil is dirty, it will send a signal to the ECU and trigger the oil light to come on.

Why does the engine oil light turn off after 5 seconds?

The engine oil light usually turns off after just a few seconds if the underlying problem has already been dealt with.

For instance, if you have low oil levels that cause the oil light to turn on, simply topping up with the right oil can turn off the light in seconds.