The low engine oil level warning light is usually linked to a floating device inside the engine oil pan. When the oil level gets lower than it should, an electrical switch inside the float will trigger the low oil level indicator. This indicator may be a light on the dashboard or, on some vehicles, a message that appears in the driver information center, usually located in the center area of the instrument panel.
The Bulb Check: Low Oil Level Warning Light
When you start the engine, the low oil level light should come on for 1 to 2 seconds and then go out. If it doesn't go out, the oil level is too low or there is a problem with the oil level sensor system. Vehicles equipped with a messaging system will receive the low oil message only if the oil level is low or if there is a problem with the oil level system.
It is always advisable to check your owner's manual and familiarize yourself with your vehicle's warning lights. Some vehicles use this light and some use the low oil pressure warning light—some even use both!
What to Do: Low Oil Level Warning Light
If the low oil level light comes on, or a low oil level message appears, the engine oil level should be checked immediately. If the oil is lower than the specified range level on the engine oil dipstick, oil should be added (make sure it's the proper amount and type of oil). The vehicle should also be inspected and diagnosed at a qualified repair shop because the low oil level indicator should only come on if the engine is either consuming excessive oil or there is an oil leak.
If the low oil level indicator comes on and the engine oil level is normal, there is a problem with the low oil level warning system. Have the vehicle inspected and diagnosed at a qualified repair shop.