Sunday, November 3, 2019

Dummy Lights

  As a driver there are a few things you should know about your vehicles engine, and dummy lights on the dash can warn you of problems. If your temperature light comes on then you know the engine is overheating and you should take measures to cool it down or stop entirely. But which do you do? Maybe you don't need to stop and all thats needed is to select another gear or adjust the position of your snowplow or quit drafting the rig in front of you. Warning lights aren't always gonna come on when things are convenient and sometimes you need to decide if you can make it a few miles to a safe place to pull over. What if your oil pressure light comes on? With an idiot light all you can do is assume the worst and stop the engine to investigate. I prefer gauges and the ability to make a reasonable decision based on real numbers. This was the scene yesterday on the way to work:

 Visibility was crap. It felt like one of those scenes where the starship goes into warp drive and everything flies past you. A few minutes after I took this pic the oil pressure warning light and buzzer where screaming at me. A quick look at the pressure gauge showed between 5 and 10 pounds of oil pressure. If I didn't have a gauge I would have had to pull over and shut off the engine immediately. This would have made for a bad situation with the limited visibility. I pushed on the accelerator a bit and noticed the gauge go up slightly. I then downshifted one gear to raise the rpm and see what happened. Sure enough the pressure went up enough to shut off the light and buzzer. Now I'm driving with one eye on the road and the other on the pressure gauge. I turned the radio down to see if I could hear any engine noise and everything sounded good so back on with the tunes. Hey, gotta have my jams.
 A few miles up the road was a gas station that I pulled into for some investigation. The dipstick showed oil almost to the full line. This is what I would have expected to see without this low pressure incident because I had just added some oil the other day. So now what? The best place for me to proceed investigation is eight miles down the road at work so off I went. The pressure seemed better after the restart but slowly fell to about twenty pounds. The gauge fluctuated with the accelerator and I made it to the shop without issue.
 Sending unit? Plugged oil filter? Bad oil pump?
 The big ass station wagon has a drinking problem that costs me a quart every 500-750 miles. I figured I was adding so much oil that it was kinda like a perpetual oil change and actually the color of the oil wasn't bad. Its not like I went beyond a reasonable mileage between changes because the suggested oil life as shown in the below picture was at 4%.

The problem could be with the filter so I decided just to do a regular oil change and see what happened.

 The above pic is the result after the oil change while rolling down the hiway.

 This is what I have idling in drive with hot oil. I meant to cut the filter open and see what there was to see but totally forgot. Maybe next week if its still in the drain pan.
 So for me having gauges is a no brainer. I know its not needed for everyone because a large portion of the driving population is only guessing at what the numbers on gauges mean. If the light comes on you either stop and call AAA or you drive it till it dies and call a tow truck.
 How about the odometer reading two pics up. What are the odds of something weird like that coming up? Are they 1 in 171717 or just 50/50 meaning maybe something odd will show up or maybe not? Now what are the odds that the engine is also turning 1700 rpm?
 While you're pondering that let me give a special shout out to Brooke and Mike for hosting their annual Halloween costume party. As usual the chili dump was delicious and a good time was had by all!


1 comment:

  1. Problems (and associated decisions) are rarely binary. Give me an analog guage over an on-off light any day. However I think we are in a minority here - they call them idiot lights for a reason.