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VW Golf engine light issue

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Jul 11, 2012, 2:03 PM

Post #1 of 4 (4496 views)
VW Golf engine light issue Sign In

Car: VW Golf Mk 4 2002 1.6 petrol

I was sitting stationary in traffic today when suddenly my car spluttered and the yellow "epc" and yellow "engine" lights came on. I couldn't get out so turned the engine off and on and the epc went out but engine light stayed on.

Carried on driving and 5 mins later epc came back on and had a slight loss of power. Again after turning off, epc went off and despite the engine light staying on car appeared to drive ok for the remaining couple of miles home.

When I got home I lifted the bonnet and noticed the oil cap was off and sitting at the bottom of the engine. Checked oil which was pretty damn low (could also smell where the oil had burnt).

However I topped up my oil about 4 weeks ok, if I hadn't replaced the cap properly would it have taken that long to come off and blow the oil out?

I generally know nothing about cars and have no idea if there is any damage. I have topped up oil to a normal level, but upon starting lights still come on. I'm too scared to drive it now and not too sure what to do.

Any advice on what I should do and what kind of damage may have occurred?

Other strange thing is the low oil light never came on, it should work as it came on a month ago which caused me to top up.

Thanks for the help

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jul 11, 2012, 2:22 PM

Post #2 of 4 (4471 views)
Re: VW Golf engine light issue Sign In

This is hard to say how much if any mechanical engine damage happened or oil got all over something that could trigger a light - here we would call that an MIL (Malfunction Indicator Lamp) or CEL for (Check Engine Light) which is watching many things.

If this also will warn you of low oil pressure and that works - just key to run position and not started it should light AND if that didn't come on while this happened you have a fair chance of not needing a whole engine now.

If it's quiet running and was when this happened that's better news too.

If truly lost oil pressure, noise and loss of power was friction the engine took a nasty hit.

What is the capacity of oil and how much did you add to make it full?


New User

Jul 11, 2012, 2:49 PM

Post #3 of 4 (4437 views)
Re: VW Golf engine light issue Sign In

Thanks for the reply. The loss of power only seemed to be a few seconds after which the car seemed to drive on for the 2/3 miles home.

When I checked the oil it seemed extremely low, which worried me, but then only needed about two thirds of a litre to top it up.

If I turn to ignition engine light and epc light come on. It then starts fine, and sounds like its ticking over ok, epc light goes out but engine light remains on.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jul 11, 2012, 11:23 PM

Post #4 of 4 (4405 views)
Re: VW Golf engine light issue Sign In

This exact car is probably not sold here so any specs could be off available to me. Generally a 4 cylinder engine would hold about 3-4.?? something liters or so such that if only low by less than a liter the engine itself is probably OK.

If, If, If, -- the engine put some oil around the area some may have been able to foul up the air filter or who knows but you smelled it probably burning off hot exhaust parts. The engine is also supposed to maintain a slight vacuum which is violated when the oil fill cap is off and that could be triggering your light.

Have to speak in total generalities but amber/yellow warnings are generally not instant impending trouble but a warning anyway. RED warnings mean yesterday was too late!

How far can an engine go if it encountered no oil pressure? 50 feet is too much or even just running it at all. That is the most fatal problem an engine can have short of a rocket propelled grenade.

Now the question is what to do. Truth is, I need to suggest you get the oil pressure checked at the engine not some gauge on your dash or light. Get help or a tow as needed as this is crucial.

If good to go for now for even a short run get code(s) read by a tech and let him/her decide by the situation if it should just be reset, things cleaned up or if something got messed up with oil all over it. Oil by itself doesn't usually do much more than make a mess, burn off making odor and if spilled as in when adding can require immediate cleaning up

In short I think you will be OK with this and now is the time to pay serious attention to save the thing. A little money now to be sure about driving it more is money well spent vs chancing a catastrophic problem.

Change oil and filter again right away when declared OK to go even though it was done recently. Forget relying on any lights to tell you oil level and check it manually and frequently as needed noting how much and how often it may require topping off. Carry some with you.

Good luck and I think you'll be fine,


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