2004 Camry oil light flashing

10-12-2004, 10:24 PM
Only 5 months old, 6,000 miles....

A couple weeks after my very first oil change, and my red oil pressure light flashes on when I apply the brakes heavily for a short stop or make a tight turn. It stays on for a second or two, then goes back out.

The manual says it's okay to come on as long as it doesn't stay on for more than a brief period of time, but it never did this before. The dealer says I should bring it in at my earliest convenience, which I'll do, but just wondering if anybody has any ideas what would cause this. Could it be something they did during the oil change?

10-13-2004, 02:11 PM
This is due to low oil level. So I think from some position oil must be dropping. There must be some loose point left while doing the oil change. Take to the delear, he will fix this.

10-14-2004, 05:20 AM
I agree that it is due to low oil level and the dealer wants it back fast to fix their screw up. You're experiencing oil surge which means when the car dives in heavy braking, the oil will surge toward that part of the car. When you make a tight turn, same thing. That's what sets off your warning light. Obviously, the best thing to do is check your oil right away and make sure it's up to the FULL line and then have Toyota check it out for you. Let us know.

Mike Gerber
10-14-2004, 10:45 AM
If you check the oil level and find out it is low, don't drive it. You could be putting many years of wear on the engine by driving it while it is low on oil. Have it towed back to the dealer/independant shop that did the oil change. If it is their error in forgetting to replace the oil or by not adding enough oil, I would insist on a new engine. This is a brand new car. If this is the case, I hope it was a dealer that did the oil change, since you can then call Toyota corporate at 800-331-4331 and get them involved. Dealers will rarely want to rectify their own mistakes since the dollars must come out of their pockets.


10-14-2004, 03:32 PM
Do you really think it could have permanent damage on the engine? The oil light only comes on when braking, it's not on all the time. It started really sporadically, and I ignored it for a week or so because the manual says it is harmless. And I have no choice but to drive the car 30 more miles or so before I can go have it checked.

So I guess my question is this:

If I check the oil and it is low, should I just buy my own and put it in to save the engine, or do I need to bring the car in the way it is to have it fully documented? In other words, if I add my own oil now, do I lose the proof that the dealer was negligent in not filling it up completely, or even at all?

EDIT: I changed my mind. I'm going to take my life into my hands and take Atlanta public transportation to work today and then tomorrow drive the car to the dealer that is only 3 miles away instead of the one 20 miles away, which is the one that did the change. I'll let you know what they day. What concerns me is that I've probably put 500 miles on the car while it's been in this condition. Do you think that might have caused any permanent damage? I just checked the oil, and the dipstick was completely dry, but I didn't even want to risk letting the engine warm up first. There was initially full oil on the stick when I first pulled it out (hopefully indicating that there is at least SOME oil in the car), but when I wiped it off, there was none. Of course, the engine was completely cold. Should there be any oil on the stick when the car is cold? Probably being paranoid, but that last post made me nervous. I'll let you guys know.

Joe W
10-14-2004, 09:38 PM
YES!!There should be oil on the dipstick at all times.You should consider having it towed.Good luck.

Mike Gerber
10-15-2004, 01:27 PM

Why don't you call the dealer that did the oil change and tell them what's been happening with the oil light and what you found when you checked the oil yourself. They may agree to have it towed back to them at their expense.

One other piece of advice. If you have a good digital camera or know someone who does, have them take a picture of the dipstick showing there is no oil on it. Also, take a picture of the odometer showing the mileage when you checked the oil so you can document how many miles it was after the oil change the dealer did. Most digitals can also put a date on these pictures and if so I would advise doing that. Then, if this matter ever comes to litigation, you have some proof.

Remember, if the dealer who did the oil change just shrugs this off as, "I'm sure no damage was done", then call Toyota corporate and get them involved. Little or no oil can ruin an engine just driving it a short while.

Good luck.


10-16-2004, 03:22 AM
Thanks, Mike.

I had actually called the dealer who did the oil change, and they said just to bring the car by whenever it was convenient, not stressing any urgency.

I took it to a nearby dealer today, after calling them and asking them what to do. They said just drive it in, which I did, and they would check it.

Turns out, it was very low on oil. They said it was due to a loose oil plug that caused the oil to leak out. Personally, I question the validity of this, I think the other dealer just forgot to put enough oil in when they did the change, because I park in the same place every day and I've never seen any oil spots under the car.

Anyway, they took out the oil pan and inspected the engine and said that no harm had been done (no metal particles in the oil). I also had them write down the situation and the procedures they performed on the bottom of the receipt, which they did. So I have the recepit stating the engine was inspected and no damage was found and the original receipt from the dealer who did the oil change in the first place, which I think will be sufficient if any litigation is necessary down the road, which I doubt.

I suppose the lesson here is, always check your dipstick after having an oil change. Sad state of affairs, because I always knew this. I'm no car expert, but I do know to examine under the hood after all servicing just to look for anything that is grossly out of place (missing oil cap, etc.) I just took for granted that an actual Toyota dealer wouldn't make such a negligent mistake, but I guess it can happen to anyone.

Thanks all for the advice on this.

Mike Gerber
10-16-2004, 03:32 AM

How low did they say it was? 2 quarts? 3 quarts?

I would still call Toyota corporate in California at 800-331-4331 and speak to customer service and express your concern over this. At least then you will be on record with them too.


10-17-2004, 03:36 AM
Glad to hear everything worked out for you. You're so right about checking under the hood after a service. I did exactly that not too long ago with my other car (not a Toyota) and found a screwdriver in the engine bay. A screwdriver has to be used to remove the engine cover so obviously the mechanic left his there. The service writer was very red-faced when I returned it to him. All of us learn from experiences like this, don't we? :redface:

10-17-2004, 08:00 AM
A good way to check the condition of the internal components of the engine for any adverse wear is to have the oil tested next time it needs to be changed. It's simple, and they can tell you a lot about the condition inside an engine.

I've just started use this company, but they seem to come highly recommended. Go to the site, and click on the link to get a free test kit. Then at the next oil change, (or just before you take it in for one) take some of the oil from your crankcase and send it in. Explain to them why you're testing the oil. The testing itself costs $20.00.


10-17-2004, 01:19 PM
Wow, Don24, that's great!!!! I'm going to do that. I suppose that it's also a good idea just to let Toyota know what has happened.

I'm sorry, Mike, they never told me exactly how low the oil was and I never thought to ask. They just said "very low." I think they like to keep it in generic terms so you don't have anything definite.

They did say that if it were a normal car, since I didn't hear any knocking or anything, they probably would have just put more oil in it and sent me on my way and told me to bring it back if there are any problems. But since it's a brand new car and I was persistent, they checked the engine for me....well, at least gave me lip service on checking it, I'm not sure how much you really know from dropping the oil pan and looking for metal fragments. To me, though, it's not worth losing sleep over as I have 53,000 more miles left on the engine warranty.

Add your comment to this topic!