I bought a new Volvo GLT and really love it...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I bought a new Volvo 850 GLT and really love it. At just over 1,500 miles, the oil level warning light came on. I checked the oil level, and it wasn't down to the "add" mark. I called the dealer, and he said I should keep my eye on the oil level, because perhaps the "light module" was faulty. The next day, I added half a quart of oil, and the light has been off ever since. What's going on here?

TOM: I think you were down half a quart of oil, Chris.

RAY: There are two kinds of oil warning lights. There's the classic "OIL" light; like every car has. That one comes on when the oil PRESSURE is dangerously low. And when it comes on, you should turn off the engine immediately or you may--as we say in the business--"croak it."

TOM: In addition, some cars have an oil LEVEL light, which is supposed to come on when the oil LEVEL is low. That's also a situation you need to address, but you can safely drive home or to a gas station before taking care of it.

RAY: The oil level warning switch works by reading the average oil level in the oil pan, and when the level is lower than it's supposed to be, the light on the dashboard comes on.

TOM: Adding half a quart probably restored the oil to its proper level. And it's not unusual for an engine to burn a little bit of oil while it's breaking in.

RAY: So at this point, your dealer's advice is correct. Keep your eye on the oil level. The switch MAY be faulty, and if it is, you'd want to get it fixed so you can rely on it. But I wouldn't be surprised if everything's working exactly as it should be.

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