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Old 03-17-2012, 01:45 PM   #1
NickCPDX
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Just bought used, oil pressure light when idling

I just bought my 2004 330i used, 81k miles, and I've noticed the oil pressure light coming on when idling, engine fully warm, and in drive. (It occasionally is coming on in neutral as well, and once the problem first arises, the oil pressure light sometimes blinks if, say, I'm decelerating down a freeway exit ramp).

It's idling at about 500 rpm… if I put it in neutral, it gives it about another 50-100 RPM and the oil pressure light goes off. I'll be taking it to a shop later next week.

My question is: As long as I keep the oil pressure light off (by keeping it at above 600+ rpm), am I risking any damage to the engine? This is my first BMW and I want to enjoy it now! But, I also don't want to wreck it right off the bat.
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Old 03-17-2012, 01:50 PM   #2
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seems like a sensor problem.
hows your oil level?
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Old 03-17-2012, 01:52 PM   #3
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seems like a sensor problem.
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Old 03-17-2012, 03:29 PM   #4
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Level is fine.
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Old 03-17-2012, 03:43 PM   #5
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bahha,.. jerk

OP: i had a similar prob on mine when i bought it, except i have a manual tm. Light would come on with the initial start and go away after 10 seconds or so. I just replaced it while changing my oil. Its right on the bottom of the oil pan with 3 10mm bolts holding it in, i believe. Light never came back on. Not a big deal at all.
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Old 03-17-2012, 04:29 PM   #6
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How do you know your oil is fine? When was the oil last changed? And are you positive you have the right dipstick?

Is the light yellow or red?

It might just be that you have to add oil. If the light is red, maybe do something else. Trust sensors until you know for certain they're lying. Usually, nothing personal Fanatics, but sensors are right. Yours doesn't sound like a failed oil level sensor (which is not a level sensor, but a temp sensor)...it sounds like you're either low on oil, or have another issue, like leaking vanos oil line or something.

If it's low in the a.m., just add oil.

LL-01 maybe start with just a quarter quart, but do not overfill!

Use only an oil that says, in fine print on the bottle, "BMW LL-01" on the bottle. Cheapest is usually dealer, you know.

If I had your car now, I'd measure the level of oil in the a.m., and if it looked fine, I'd probably still drain the oil, replace filter with Mann, replace crush washer and o-ring...and calibrate your dipstick by draining on level ground, lifting up in all corners to shake out all the oil you can...drain for an hour or so. And then, add exactly the 6.5L your car takes.

Drive, cool down, in the a.m. read your dipstick on level ground. That's 'perfectly' full. Should be at the bottom of the top notch on the dipstick.

That's what I'd do...and I don't take any medication, thank you for asking!

I'd also look for leaks, besides just vanos. You just got the car, right. Honestly, start reading this forum a lot; you'll learn tons, save $$$...and in so doing, also save your car! Seriously, get to studying! You don't have long; there will be stuff for you to do, I can just kind of tell!
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Old 03-17-2012, 04:30 PM   #7
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bahha,.. jerk

OP: i had a similar prob on mine when i bought it, except i have a manual tm. Light would come on with the initial start and go away after 10 seconds or so. I just replaced it while changing my oil. Its right on the bottom of the oil pan with 3 10mm bolts holding it in, i believe. Light never came back on. Not a big deal at all.
no yours orange oil level warning light. his is red oil pressure light. two totally different scenarios.
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Old 03-17-2012, 04:49 PM   #8
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Red oil light could just mean really low or in horrible condition (and probably still low!).

The owner's manual says that you should check the level of oil, if you have a red warning light, and if it's fine, then call bmw...which means it's more than just low oil.

Right now, I think he could just be low, and it's certainly the most likely thing given he just got it, just wrote two posts, etc.

We'll see.
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Old 03-17-2012, 05:08 PM   #9
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Two things.

1. Your car is idling too low if it's at 500 RPM, it should be 650-750 RPM. Lower engine speed means less oil being pumped and less oil pressure. Fix this first, and it may fix your oil pressure issue.
2. Worn engine bearings usually cause consistently low oil pressure. Usually happens from people asking too much of their oil and either running too thin of an oil, for too long of a service interval, in temperatures that are too high, etc... If it's minimal, you'll only see low oil pressure at idle when the oil is hot. If it's bad, you'll see low oil pressure above idle and/or when the oil is cold.
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Old 03-17-2012, 08:48 PM   #10
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no yours orange oil level warning light. his is red oil pressure light. two totally different scenarios.
true, i just barely looked at the pic...
thanks for the correction
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:01 PM   #11
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They might not be different scenarios. The light will go red when the oil is really bad...either condition is horrendous, or it's really low, or both. Yellow oil light only means level, but red can mean level also...as well as more serious issues. You might be right it's more serious and not just an oil level issue...but we don't know that yet.
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:59 PM   #12
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Jesuschrist there are some people around who talk and talk but say nothing.

Yellow is level.

Red is danger.

There is no middle ground on this. If the oil level is so low that the pickup is sucking air, then your engine is already gone.

The best thing is to check the oil pressure with a manual gauge. Hopefully, it will indicate normal pressures and the faulty item is the pressure switch on the back of the filter housing. If the pressures are real - which is distinct possibility if prior owners neglected the engine - then it's time to source a new engine.
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Old 03-17-2012, 10:03 PM   #13
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hey just browsing around on google and i came across this thread with similar issues check out post #26 on down (http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...=296384&page=3)... possibly bad pressure sensor/bad ground/connection/short/etcetera, a leak from the sensor giving false readings (as stated above by dmax), wrong spec on oil (again dmax), and at worst case scenario your oil pump which they are saying is a $2k fix but not as likely. One thing i noticed is that there is a common low idle problem @ 500rpm... seems like the culprit to me, no?

Hope this helps
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Old 03-18-2012, 07:00 AM   #14
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Miles might be right about it being the low idle, though I'd suspect the oil level would still be real low to trigger the red light.

Also, parka, appreciate the attributions above, even if I didn't state some of that before!

But, that reminds me that my mechanic told me that an oil pressure sensor can leak, and oddly, send oil up the wire into where it's plugged into. Oil travels inside the insulation. I, myself, found oil under one of the large connectors in the e-box. Very odd.

I haven't replaced that sensor, though, and haven't had any apparent issues.
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Old 03-18-2012, 11:59 AM   #15
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There would have to be <.5 qt in the entire engine for the oil level to cause a oil pressure light. The pump would literally have to suck air, and the engine would be making some very unholy noises as the oil film that normally protects the bearings would be replaced by foam, and the lifters would clatter loudly as they lost their hydraulic fluid that keeps them pumped up.

In other words, the oil level is not the issue, unless there isn't any.
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Old 03-18-2012, 12:53 PM   #16
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Not arguing with what you say, Antonmn, just saying our Owner's Manual says 'check oil' when you get a red or a yellow light.

The oil level sensor seems like it'd be easy enough to replace and that'd eliminate the sensor 'question' prior to going in to get to the oil pump.

Finally, seems like OP is missing in action. Waiting to hear something from him before contributing any more.
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:51 AM   #17
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Hi, Im reviving this thread because I have a problem with the oil light. When I start the car, everything is normal. Once the engine heats up after about 30 minutes of driving the red oil light stays on during idle. It goes off when I rev to about 800 RPM. The oil pressure sensor on the oil filter housing has been changed with no luck. Car runs fine though. Any suggestions? Thanks!
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:33 AM   #18
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I'd forgotten about this thread - A few follow-ups to my situation:

- First thing I did was take it to a trusted local mechanic, who replaced the pressure sender and the oil. This didn't solve the problem.
- I took it back to the dealer who sold me the car, who replaced gaskets among other work.
- The light does not come on *as frequently* now, and I figured out the trigger: Stop-and-go traffic
- If I'm driving in town and don't hit a lot of red lights, I can go quite a while without triggering the light. If I'm on the freeway, I can drive hundreds of miles without a problem. If I'm stuck in traffic, it takes maybe 5 minutes if the engine is warm before the light starts coming on.
- It's not on steadily, flickering quite a bit, and irregularly, as if the pressure level is just right on the borderline of triggering the sensor.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:39 AM   #19
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Have you tried cleaning the ICV to take care of the idle problem? If it's still idling at 500rpm, that seems too low. My car idles at 600 RPMs once warm. Just an idea.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:48 AM   #20
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Thanks for the reply. By the way, my car is supercharged. I'm not sure though what my last oil was but I'm considering getting something like 10w50 or 10w60. (I live in a hot place). I replaced my ICV already. My idle is rock solid. No oil leaks as well. Is there anything else besides the oil I can change?
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