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The oil light is not an indication of oil level; rather it is an indication of oil pressure. If the oil pressure is low enough to light the oil light, you should be hearing some rattling in the engine. Otherwise, it is possible that the oil pressure sending unit is defective. You are lucky if that is the case, because some vehicles are wired that if the oil pressure sensor indicates low pressure, the engine will shut down to protect itself. You should have the oil pressure checked with a mechanical gauge ASAP and take whatever corrective measures are necessary.
If there truly was no oil pressure it would make a horrendous rattle sound from not only the rods but especially the hydraulic valve lifters. It sounds like probably the pressure sensor or the wiring, or both are not reading correctly. The older Chevy V8's had the pressure sensor on the side of the block, under the exhaust manifold where it would just cook it and make it leak and not work right. I always kept a direct reading pressure gauge with hose and adapters in my tool box when I felt I couldn't trust the onboard gauge. Many times it proved the gauges and idiot lights wrong.
I had an awful Ford that did that. The fuel gauge stayed up showing the crooks how much diesel was in the tank and the temp and oil gauge stayed on the last reading but returned to zero when the ignition was switched on when cold.
A common problem is the pressure switch that is mounted on the camshaft position sensor on the left side of the engine while standing in front of the vehicle. This is the best thing that could be wrong and is most likely what is wrong. The worst thing is an internal pressure problem.
You need to get a gauge hooked up to see what the actual pressure is. (a garage can do this if you can't get ahold of one.) This will tell you exactly what the oil pump is, or isn't doing. The gauge threads in where the sending unit goes.
When the gauge is at 0, is there any noise from the engine (tick, knock etc?) I would have someone put a mechanical gauge on there and read true pressure.Your driving pressure seems OK but if the low number is "real" something is wrong!
Hi, I had the same problem, same vehicle (same year), same engine. I bought an oil pressure tester at Harbor freight tools for $ 8. I was trying to figure out, if the pressure is really high, or just the sending unit is defective. The tester after connecting it to my engine was reading correct pressure for this vehicle ( between 25-30 PSI when idelling), which showed that the oil pressure sending unit is defective. At Advanced autopart store they want about $ 47 for the sending unit, so I put the defective one back in place (still reading H). I'm planning to replace it after next pay check :o) Good luck. Pavel**