Question about 2001 kawasaki VN 800 Vulcan Classic

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Oil and Heat warning lights stay on after engine start

Both lights remain on after normal engine start
Oil OK
Radiator water cold

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Have been fighting this problem for 2 weeks .It happened when the bike feel over to the right in the garage. I called Kawasaki and this is what they said .A lot of V-twins get and air lock in the oil system when tipped over. Slide an oil pan under the bike. Then disable the ignition system. spin open the oil filter and crank the engine over until good flow is acheived and slowly spin oil filter shut and oil pressure should come up and all the lights go out. I hope this helps.

Posted on Jul 13, 2009

  • Ken Eakins II
    Ken Eakins II May 31, 2011

    Thanks for the post. I had seen similar posts on a few other forums so thought it would be worth a try. Wouldn't you know it, I unscrewed the oil filter and nothing came leaking out like I thought it should, I turned over the bike engine a few times and oil started coming after a few rotations. Screwed the oil filter back tight and started it up. No warning lights. One word of advice...don't forget to remove the oil drip pan and wheel chock before moving the bike. I was so eager to get riding again that I overlooked that part. Fortunately there was a very minimal amount of oil in the pan.

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Why would the oil light stay on?


That depends on the type of oil warning light being displayed. There are 2 types of warning lights

1. Low oil pressure light which all cars have
2. low oil level light which some cars have.

Low OIL PRESSURE warning means the oil pressure is below minimum and when this happens there will be insufficient lubrication of many engine parts because sufficient oil cannot get to all parts of the engine it is required to lubricate. Until the cause is identified and rectified the warning light will remain. If you run your engine with low oil pressure you will cause expensive damage to internal engine components.

Low OIL LEVEL warning means the oil in the sump has dropped to a dangerously low level (which may be due to an oil leak or abnormal oil consumption by the engine.) This warning means the oil level needs to be topped up and the warning will stay displayed until you top up the oil. Running the engine with low oil will cause expensive engine damage.
Since it is a 2 minute job, Oil levels should be checked fortnightly as a minimum, together with radiator coolant and power steering fluid levels, if you run the car most days each week as most people do.

It is possible for a warning light to remain displayed when the cause has been dealt with because there is a problem with the sender unit. However it needs to be established with alternative checks that the problem has been fixed before investigating if there is a problem with the warning light itself.

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Check to see if the radiator cooling fan operates when the problem occurs. If the fan doe s not operate, check for a blown fuse in the fan cooling circuit. That the engine does not overheat when idling for long periods seems to indicate the radiator cooling fan operates normally.

If the radiator fan operates normally when the engine is hot, the likely culprit is the engine thermostat, which then should be replaced. Thermostats can fail "closed," their normal position when the engine is cold. When that happens, they will not open to allow adequate coolantr flow as the engine heats up. An idling engine des not require much coolant flow to remain cool as it is not working very hard. When powering the car down the road, excessive heat is trapped in the cooling system and cannot be radiated by the radiator away due to the failed thermostat stuck in its closed position.

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Yes, the temperature gauge should normally stop in the middle, between the cold and hot points on the gauge. When the engine is cold the thermostat will be closed and will keep recirculating the coolant in the engine block until it warms up sufficiently. Then the temperature of the warm coolant will cause the thermostat to open the channel to the radiator to get rid of excess heat, which should stop the coolant from over heating. So the effect of the thermostat keeps the coolant at a fairly stable temperature. When the coolant runs low, it can't transfer enough heat to the radiator and the coolant and engine then over heats. Watch for radiator leaks under your car after you have been driving it. If the coolant goes low again fairly quickly you could have a leak in a hose or the radiator itself.

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1 Answer

2000 grand cherokee laredo 4.0 overheating


I added a comment above for things to check - here is what some of the indications mean. If the engine oil is grey or foamy it indicate you have an engine oil/water mixing problem going on - which could mean a blown head gasket, or a cracked block (I've had both problems before). Another indication is when you start the engine cold with the radiator cap off (and the water / radiator fluid at the proper level) you might see bubbles or foam start to flow / move through the water in the radiator. Air is getting injected into the water jacket (again cracked block and or blown head-gasket can cause this) the cooling system is supposed to be a sealed closed pressurized loop. There shouldn't be any "extra" air in the system. A crack in the block or head-gasket leak will allow air (and/or sometimes engine oil) to be injected into the cooling system. Grey / white foam in the oil is water going the other way, from your cooling system into you oil recirculation system. All bad things, somewhere the integrity of those two systems has been compromised . Did your engine ever overheat? that can warp the head and cause a head-gasket leak/ Did you ever have the engine freeze without proper anti-freeze? That could have cracked the block (or inside the head) and allow the water/oil jackets to mix.
Alternatively It could be you just have too much fluid in your radiator. If you look on the side of the water reservoir it has markings for hot and cold levels of fluid. If you have the water level too high when the engine is cold, then run the engine to it's normal operating temperature, the fluid will expand and the "excess" will drain out of the reservoir.
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