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Old 01-21-2010, 08:38 PM   #1
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attn mechanics: help w wife's car

i need some help. my wife has a 02 xterra. a couple weeks ago, the oil light started flickering on occasion. i replaced the sensor, still happened. it wasnt regular, just a flicker, barely enough to notice, that happened an average of 2 times on a 50 mile round trip. then i removed a oil port/plug thing right beneath the sensor. it had a little bit of sludge/goop on it, i cleaned it off. the light didnt come on again for several days. today, she calls: the light stayed on for ~a minute and when she parked it, it was "making weird sounds". like a knock? "yeah, sorta". after i got done cussing and razing hell, i went to pick her up. i fired it up, no knock, engine sounds fine. all the same, i leave it there, drive all the way to the house, get the gooseneck, and go back. drove it on and off the trailer, no knock, no light. i hooked up a mechanical oil pressure gauge. on startup, 25 psi for approximately 3 seconds, then jumped up to 45. increases with rpm, but stays at 45. im thinking oil pump bypass....anyone's thoughts?

cliff notes: oil light flickered on and off for a week or so. replaced sensor, no luck. checked pressure with gauge, had 25 psi for 3 seconds then spiked to 45 psi and stayed there. oil pressure bypass?

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Old 01-21-2010, 08:55 PM   #2
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The readings you got with the mechanical gauge seem to be in the normal range,Carefully inspect the wiring to the oil pressure sending unit if it has a bare spot & touches ground it will make the light come on you may have to have someone watch the light as you wiggle the wiring to the sending unit

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Old 01-21-2010, 10:19 PM   #3
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When you find the fix.........SELL IT!!! I put $4000.00 into my wife's 2000 Xterra the last two years. Cats are $1500 each and the distributor was $750. The thing is still a "gutless" wonder but she likes it.
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:23 PM   #4
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When was the last time you had the oil changed and what oil are you using in it? Might not be the same issue but you're currently bringing up a bad memory I had about a year ago... I'm formerly a Porsche technician by trade (left to go back to body work) and had a customer come in screaming about the oil light coming on and off and making an annoying beep every time it came on though the vehicle ran fine except for it was a little noisy. My younger tech got it and ran some tests and diagnosed a failing oil pump. He was not qualified to remove the motor so I get stuck with the lovely joy. I didnt really trust his skills so I went and ran my own tests. I started leaning towards the pump as well when I noticed and oil change sticker on the windshield from a mom and pop service station expiring some 40,000 miles ago. I had checked the level before but never analyzed the condition of the oil. I quickly swapped it and found a crushed oil filter blocking the flow (Cayenne's have paper cartridge filters). Took her out for a test drive and the light was less frequent. I came back and changed the oil again to really flush it the old crap out. refilled swapped the filter again and took it out again... This was about a year ago and last I heard the woman has still looked for me to give me yet another giant hug for saving her several thousand dollars... I'd suggest checking the oil and taking your gauge with you for a test drive trying to recreate the symptoms of when the light comes on to see if there is a dip in the pressure. Could be a pump failing or something as simple as an oil change.
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Old 01-22-2010, 12:34 AM   #5
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I know its fine for a tired engine to have the oil light on at idle as long as it goes off when you hit the gas. Still this is something I've seen on much older vehicles. My 73 VW was doing this so I changed from 10w30 to 10w40 and that fixed it.
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:31 AM   #6
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its running factory recommended 5w30 oil and is changed regularly. i was concerned it could be a failed filter also (evn though it was a fresh wix filter) so i changed it again just to be safe. no change. oil stays clean too, so i dont suspect build up.
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Old 01-22-2010, 05:20 PM   #7
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lot of good ideas already said, i've also run into some bulletins on oil sender connectors. common in dodge 2.7 motor, they sell a pig tail for it. oil gets in the connector and causes similar concerns, cleaning and using dielectric grease doesn't help in these cars. just another thought to look into.
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Old 01-25-2010, 09:00 AM   #8
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i ended up dropping the pan and checking it out. the oil pressure bypass had a little build up on it, but otherwise looked fine. motor was pretty clean overall. put it back together and still runs 45 psi (checking with a mechanical gauge). i guess thats ok for idle on a cold motor. i dont know if maybe some debris got lose, the light malfunctioned, or wtf. the weird part is the wife heard some noise when she shut it down.....so i dunno wtf to think.

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