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97 Chevy Cavalier - Oil Pressure Light on at Warm Idle
01-06-2008, 11:20 PM
Post: #1
97 Chevy Cavalier - Oil Pressure Light on at Warm Idle
1997 Chevy Cavalier - automatic - 4 cylinder - 2.2 liter - 150K mi

This is an extremely well maintained car. Even at this age, it has NO sludge in oil and is not using/leaking oil. Some time ago, the oil pressure warning light started coming on at warm idle. I had someone check the pressure. Guy stated it was 7 at idle and 70 at 3K (or 3.5K) rpm's. It wasn't the kind of shop I wanted to actually replace the oil pump so I took it to someone else for that. That mechanic stated that the oil sending unit "looked new" and didn't replace it. I had previously informed him that the sending unit had been replaced at around 100K, so clearly it wasn't new. At any rate, he did replace the oil pump (though he later stated it looked to be in really good condition, too!) At my request, he also changed the screen while he was replacing the oil pump.

Nevertheless, the oil pressure warning light STILL comes on at warm idle. I called the mechanic who replaced the oil pump and asked him did he check the oil pressure manually before I picked it up. He stated he didn't because he doesn't own a manual gauge. (Oddly, over 50% of the shops I've called today also do NOT have manual oil pressure gauges. What is up with THAT??? Oil is the lifeblood of the car - how can you have a shop and NOT have something to check the oil pressure?!?!?) THe oil looks good. No foaming, no odd color, and it appears clean. There is no notable engine noise - I'm not hearing anything from the lifters or rods. No exhaust smoking.

But here's something else of interest that I had previously ignored...the seat belt warning light (which is located directly above the oil press warning light on the instrument panel) also has a tendency to come on/blink when braking and then stopping the car, and goes off shortly after moving/accelerating again. About 80% of the time both lights appear to be coming on in tandem. I previously ignored this, because I was completely traumatized by the thought of low oil pressure anywhere in my engine. I wanted to focus on that and be sure THAT problem got resolved. Of course- it's NOT.

As soon as I can find a local shop that actually HAS a manual check gauge - I'm going to have someone manually check the oil pressure again. The car has a WARM idle speed of 600 to 700 rpm's. (1,000 to 1,100 at cold idle). Since it's winter, I'm not inclined to change the oil to a heavier weight. I don't want to starve my engine on some really cold morning. Any thoughts on what is actually going on here?

Much appreciated, Wendy
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01-07-2008, 12:01 AM
Post: #2
RE: 97 Chevy Cavalier - Oil Pressure Light on at Warm Idle
Might just be a case of high mileage and wear but before condeming things I would take the oil filter off to see if there's a relief valve in the block. If that's not totally seated it could be leaking some of the pressure you are looking for at idle. (checking with a manual gauge too)

I presume you have already had the oil and filter changed using the correct parts, right?

Rupe
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01-07-2008, 01:44 AM
Post: #3
RE: 97 Chevy Cavalier - Oil Pressure Light on at Warm Idle
Rupe Wrote:Might just be a case of high mileage and wear but before condeming things I would take the oil filter off to see if there's a relief valve in the block. If that's not totally seated it could be leaking some of the pressure you are looking for at idle. (checking with a manual gauge too)

I presume you have already had the oil and filter changed using the correct parts, right?

Rupe

Thanks for the reply...

Oil and filter have been changed with the correct parts. The few folks who have looked at the car so far find it hard to believe that it's wear, considering how well maintained the car is. But...I realize anything is possible. I'll look into the relief valve in the block. That's not something I'm familiar with at all. Thanks!!
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01-07-2008, 11:14 AM
Post: #4
RE: 97 Chevy Cavalier - Oil Pressure Light on at Warm Idle
This thought just came to me this morning.

The oil pan has been down for the replacement pump, right? Did anyone think to inspect a bearing for wear or possibly notice anything unusual inside the pan such as a core plug from an oil passage? Those core plugs can be smaller than a pencil eraser but play an important roll.

Rupe
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01-07-2008, 11:45 AM
Post: #5
RE: 97 Chevy Cavalier - Oil Pressure Light on at Warm Idle
Some thoughts from left field . Many times u will get pressure drops from worn cam bearings .Even well maintained ones . The cam is under presssure from the valve train at all times . The cam is also rotating faster than other parts. The resulting wear will cause oil to escape out the cam bearings but because the cam does not have the impact type loads as in piston and connecting rods you dont get noise . You say you dont want to go heavier on the oil ? what are you using now? Unless you are in tundra country an eng with your milage should tolerate 10/40 or even a grade higher.
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08-23-2010, 09:55 PM (This post was last modified: 08-24-2010 08:30 AM by way2old.)
Post: #6
RE: 97 Chevy Cavalier - Oil Pressure Light on at Warm Idle
I think that in this one, you need to check on your cavalier parts, in particular with the Oil Pressure. In this way, you would be able to really get things going without the hassle of getting your car in deep trouble. Also, in the way that you monitor your car, you would be able to really preserve the car, no matter how old it is or how long it is running.
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