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#4489505 - 08/15/17 05:12 PM '02 Mazda Tribute -- Oil light on constantly
92saturnsl2 Offline


Registered: 03/02/04
Posts: 1282
Loc: Flaherty, KY
I have a vehicle which isn't used much (just a spare for the last couple years), an '02 Mazda Tribute LX 4x4, 3.0L Duratec 24V V6 w/ approx 190k miles.

Lately the oil light has come on and won't go off. This didn't happen suddenly, actually it first appeared about a year ago where I'd get intermittent blips from it at idle. I take an oil light pretty seriously, pulled right over, oil level good. It would come on more and more, but it was pretty freakish and random-- on a 100 degree day in traffic with A/C on, no oil light. The next morning it'd be 65F, no A/C and the light would come on at idle. In all instances of this light coming on, the oil level was good and has never been run low. It is a semi-oil burner, it'll take two or three quarts in a 5-6k interval. The pan seeps some, but the oil isn't dripping and leaving large puddles by any means; more than likely it's getting burned in the engine.

The light has me puzzled, as the engine seems normal in every respect. Has decent power and mileage (it's always had [censored] mileage, 19-20mpg, so that's nothing new) for its age, and isn't ticking, knocking or making any funny noises. Pull the oil cap while running, and I'm looking right at a spinning timing chain that is getting a [censored] nice oil shower from under the valve cover, no pressure issues there!

Before I go get a mechanical gauge, are these engines known for low oil pressure as they age and/or faulty pressure senders? The oil light is on for good now, it doesn't go off under any condition, even when started first thing in the morning with fresh oil after a change. If I do get a mechanical gauge, can anyone point me in the direction as to how to hook it up?

This currect OCI I'm using Harvest King (citgo) 5w-30 with a cheap $2.99 Rural King oil filter. This oil light issues (aside from it being on constantly) has arisen through more than one oil change, so I don't it's correlated to a certain oil or filter, but I could be wrong. I don't recall trying anything heavier than 30 weight, this engine has generally gotten top tier (Mobil, Castrol, PP, etc.) 5w-20 synthetic since we purhased it at 160k. Maybe 5w-30 synthetic a time or two. I bought Harvest King 5w-30 conventional this time, as it's cheap and I'm troubleshooting this oil light issue.

Curious to see what you guys think and any input would certainly be appreciated.
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#4489515 - 08/15/17 05:21 PM Re: '02 Mazda Tribute -- Oil light on constantly [Re: 92saturnsl2]
Sayjac Offline


Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 12268
Loc: The Old North State

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#4489542 - 08/15/17 05:53 PM Re: '02 Mazda Tribute -- Oil light on constantly [Re: 92saturnsl2]
Warstud Offline


Registered: 09/02/05
Posts: 5397
Loc: MIchigan
Replace the oil pressure sending unit.

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#4489549 - 08/15/17 05:55 PM Re: '02 Mazda Tribute -- Oil light on constantly [Re: 92saturnsl2]
bdcardinal Offline


Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 10997
Loc: Santa Barbara, CA
There were 2 different oil pressure senders around that time with the difference being the thread diameter where it goes into the block. Even with a VIN the catalog shows both.
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#4489601 - 08/15/17 07:04 PM Re: '02 Mazda Tribute -- Oil light on constantly [Re: 92saturnsl2]
NormanBuntz Offline


Registered: 07/27/13
Posts: 2124
Loc: Outer Banks, NC
If you know what your oil pressure sensor looks like, www.oscaroparts.com has three listed for your truck, ranging from $9 to $14. That's a cheap alternative to try. And I'd ditch the Rural King filter. They're about as cheaply built as they get.
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#4489602 - 08/15/17 07:05 PM Re: '02 Mazda Tribute -- Oil light on constantly [Re: Warstud]
Nick1994 Offline


Registered: 02/19/13
Posts: 10118
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Originally Posted By: Warstud
Replace the oil pressure sending unit.
+1 same thing happened with my mom's Buick. New sender and it's good.
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#4489636 - 08/15/17 07:38 PM Re: '02 Mazda Tribute -- Oil light on constantly [Re: 92saturnsl2]
FermeLaPorte Offline


Registered: 07/25/17
Posts: 472
Loc: Texas (south)
Seems like a good excuse to replace the oil sending unit
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#4489719 - 08/15/17 09:14 PM Re: '02 Mazda Tribute -- Oil light on constantly [Re: NormanBuntz]
92saturnsl2 Offline


Registered: 03/02/04
Posts: 1282
Loc: Flaherty, KY
Originally Posted By: NormanBuntz
And I'd ditch the Rural King filter. They're about as cheaply built as they get.


I've torn apart a lot of oil filters, and the Rural King one certainly isn't cheapest, construction-wise that is. It's a Nippon-Denso clone, and I'll put money on it running circles around a Fram. I've seen these same clones made in Korea, Indonesia, insert east Asian country, but it doesn't matter. They're all built well. Even the auto parts stores are using them as their store-brand now. STP at Autozone? It's one of these.

Does that mean I'll buy them for my vehicles? Not necessarily. I bought this particular one because I was in panic mode- need to try new oil and filter to see if it shuts light off. Not going to buy Fram, or a $7.99 E-core filter with who-knows what brand name on it.

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#4489740 - 08/15/17 09:45 PM Re: '02 Mazda Tribute -- Oil light on constantly [Re: 92saturnsl2]
Number_35 Offline


Registered: 07/07/14
Posts: 818
Loc: Winnipeg MB CA
Ditto on replacing the sending unit first. Bonus - these are often one of the first things to leak, and may be responsible for some of your oil consumption.

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#4489982 - 08/16/17 08:55 AM Re: '02 Mazda Tribute -- Oil light on constantly [Re: Number_35]
Canadastang Offline


Registered: 12/08/15
Posts: 261
Loc: Ontario Canada
It's probably just a bad pressure switch, but with that kind of mileage, I'd grab a mechanical gauge and check the actual oil pressure while you're changing the switch.

I mean, why not, it'll only take like 5 minutes extra for some peace of mind.

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