I should preface this by saying that I'm a relatively brand new driver, and I know next to nothing about cars.

I've got a 2005 Chrysler Sebring, and I've noticed just today that when I put the ignition into whatever mode it is that lets me control the power windows and listen to the radio without actually turning on the motor (I turn the key slightly forward -- I'm assuming this is not the accessory mode as when I turn the key backward, the radio comes on but the power windows do not...) the check engine and oil pressure lights come on and stay on. However, when I turn the engine on, the lights go off. All other diagnostic lights are off before turning on the engine. It is only these two that stay on until I turn on the engine.

I checked the oil level just to see if it may be off, and I can't be 100% sure of the actual oil level due to my driveway being not being properly level... but it looked to be just slightly down.

Is this expected to happen given that the engine is off? Do the diagnostics only work when the engine is running?

3 Answers 3


This is normal behavior - When the engine is not running, there is no oil pressure, so when the ignition is turned on, that light will be on. As Larry says, this functions as a bulb test so that you know that it is working. When you start the engine, the oil is pumped round, the pressure goes up and the light goes out.


Basically this is a bulb test. The CEL and Oil pressure light stay on until the engine is cranked. Air bag lights, ABS lights as well as others flash a certain number of times or stay on for a few seconds then turn off. This is normal operation for those lights.


I cannot think of any car that does not illuminate the engine/oil symbols when the key is in the ON position with the engine off. It is perfectly normal.

  • The other lights come on but go off again. These two stay on, however.
    – Mirrana
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 19:29

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