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Discussion Starter #1
My wife has a 2001 NB 1.8T with 105k on the motor. The head was rebuilt at 62k because the timing belt popped.

We've encountered a rash of issues recently, the most egregious being the flashing, red oil pressure light. Usually what happens is under ANY circumstances (idle, WOT, 2500RPM, turning, packed, going straight, under load, revving) the oil light may flash, twice, MAYBE three times and then go off. On RARE occasions, the flashing light is accompanied with the warning chime as well.

#1. There is NEVER ANY change in noise level from the motor. The valves don't tap too much and certainly don't tap louder when the light is flashing.
#2. There is never any hard sludge in the waste oil.
#3. Apparently sometimes, the coolant temp sensor would turn blue, after reaching normal operating temperature, during regular driving. However, this occurred in conjunction with the heater not blowing hot air AND the average temperature outside being below 10ºF. I replaced the thermostat today... (and the serpentine belt).
#4 The oil LEVEL is NEVER allowed to dip below the marks on the dipstick.

I know there are four basic reasons why this light usually flashes in VWs (esp 1.8Ts).
#1. Clogged pickup tube/generally dirty engine
#2. Faulty Oil Pressure switch/wiring at the switch
#3. Faulty Coolant temp sensor sending erroneous signals to a potentially...
#4. Faulty Gauge Cluster

I know the general rule is if the light comes on, STOP.

but the reality of the situation is my wife is going to wake up at 5:30 tomorrow and drive it 45 miles to work, then another 45 miles home at 18:00. She won't be taking my '84 Jeep with loose steering and she won't be calling out, renting a car, or doing anything other than her "normal routine."

If it's a cluster, fine... a faulty pressure switch, fine... but a clogged oil straw would suck (no pun intended). And it would suck more to lose the car.

Any easy way to tell if it's getting oil? I'm not going to have the car free to tear down until next saturday. :banghead: I don't have my pressure gauges either (stuck in storage with everything else I own (except a small bag of snap-on tools!)).

Thanks guys!

Certified Arcade Tech
416 Posts
In my humble tiny opinion? The only way to tell what the oil pressure truly is? Is to install a physical gauge and see what you have. There's no quick fix. In the past what I've done with our Bronco II? Is to install a 't' fitting and use both the oil pressure sending unit on one half, and a suntune oil pressure gauge on the other half of the 't'.

I'm not sure where the sending unit is on the engine, or if there would be room. Just saying it's the only way I can suggest to see what is going on.


3,690 Posts
I will chime in here as I have FIRST hand experience on the restricted oil pick up problem.

Background, original owner, live and drive in the Washington, DC region. Car was a daily driver.

Car had oil light come on around 70k miles for the first time, parked can and finally pulled oil pan and replace oil pick up and O-ring. Not a really hard job luckily.

So here is what happened on this car.

Oil pressure light and chime would come on usually when starting out from a stop usually in 1st or 2nd gear. Then if you would let the engine idle down the oil pressure light and chime would go back out.

Changing the oil actually made things a bit worse as new oil is not usually as thin, not as fuel diluted and the viscosity additives have no been beaten down.

My theory is the problem was not due to the wrong oil, but oil change intervals that were not early enough for the conditions the car was driven under with an unknown soft thermostat. The thermostats go stupid soft in these engines and the ECU has a WIDE window for engine coolant temperature flagging. My car was running 170F all day long with a soft thermostat without any CEL/Codes/Warning. 35F too cool does not allow the oil to fully warm up and cook out any condensation. In the situaiton where the thermostat is soft and you live/drive in an area where the temps are below 60F for about 1/3 of the year, the oil would need to be changed about every 1000-1500 miles under these conditions.

So it sounds like your problem may be something different??

But the only 100% way to confirm is to remove the oil pan and inspect or replace the oil pickup.

If it was my car, knowing how easy the pan is to pull, I would just plan on replacing the oil pick up and O-ring. About $45 in parts including the Permatex Ultra Black for the oil pan to block seal. With the exception of the 4 rear bolts that are near the flywheel and very hard to actually see and not as hard to remove as long as you have a 1/4" drive 10mm socket and a long 1/4" drive wobble extension and you DO NOT DROP the bolts into the bell housing, this is only about 2-3 times longer and harder than changing the oil.

In the short term pour a can of SeaFoam or STP Multipurpose Engine Treatment in the crankcase for 1000-1500 miles. I did this in my engine, kind of by accident (Long Story) however, no negative side effects from the SeaFoam. Actually found that the engine oil stayed WAY cleaner between changes and I not use it regularly about 250 miles before each oil change. This may buy some time and help to clean things up in case they are carboned/sludged up.

The oil pickups get restricted with a sandy carbon material, less of a sludge as you would think. Again, this is a side effect of the engine running too cool and the engine oil being quickly contaminated with water vapor and condensation and not getting warm enough to cook all the crap out of the crankcase.

I would probably replace the coolant sensor just because at this point. They are cheap and easy to replace and the green top sensors are much better than the original but they still can have issues. The Blue temp light should go out at about 137F, so I would be very surprise if the engine temp was dropping below 137F after being the Blue light goes off.

See picture of my oil pick up. You can see how small the pickup is and how it does no take much to restrict it.


205 Posts
Like everyone else said BUT mine was a broken windage tray. It was floating around in the pan and would block the pick-up tube..

Pull the pan. If a plastic insert falls out, there you go. Replace the pick-up tube while there. There is no pan gasket. Very easy to do on your own. Windage tray is around $36.

I had the same issues, from going from a stop to about 20 MPH or 3000 rpms.
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