Low Oil Pressure warning (STOP) ono 2002 1.8L Passat

This warning light completely freaked me out! The message window says low oil pressure in engine STOP ENGINE.
Good God ! OK, this is what happened. ANY feedback would be
appreciated !
The light came on when I left work for home. It came on a few minutes after driving down the street. I pulled over to the next side street and checked the oil. It was very low. Thank God for the warning I thought.
I went to the corner Ralph's Market and bought a couple quarts of oil. They didn't have the 5W30 that was in my manual so I got the 1-W30. I'm in southern California so I figured it would be ok ~ IS IT? ~
I topped off the oil and went on my way. A few miles and again the scary message comes on. The car sounds fine (no knocking) and power (although I didn't push it) seems just fine.
I took it to my local shop and he said he wants to replace the oil pump, oil pressure switch (What is that for? Is it the sensor?), oil pan gasket and change the oil.
That was a bit much. He changed the oil and replaced the oil pressure switch. No change.
He says, the manual says the oil pressure should be 29. My car starts at 30 then slowly goes down to 25. The message comes on.
he said I should take it to the dealer.
So, what am I looking at? What could be the cause? what could be the cost?
I'll pick the car up from the shop in two days and deliver it to the dealer.
ANY INSIGHT?
Thanks, Rich
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"It was very low"... that's your responsibility for checking it.
As for low oil pressure, it has low oil pressure and maybe covered by VW warranty if you have a history of performing required maintenance services. Otherwise you will have to pay for the repairs! Usually what happens is the owner doesn't change his/her oil every 5000miles and the oil breaks down thus producing a hard ash like product which plugs up the oil pump. When this happens oil pressure is reduced and the warning light comes on. The best suggestion I have is tow you Passat to the dealer and have them check it out. Take all your service oil change records with you and see what happens. If you got to pay figure in the range of $1000-$1500 for a clean out and a lot more if engine needs to be replaced.
STOP ENGINE, yes do that and tow the car!

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Woodchuck is right, this particular VW engine is prone to sludging and oil-starvation related failure if oil and filter change intervals are not followed. VW publicly recognized this last year (do a Google search) and issued a bulletin specifying certain synthetic oils and a larger oil filter, and warranteeing the engine to 80K on this issue. Take it to a VW dealer for inspection and an estimate, and then talk to VWOA customer service if the dealer says it is not covered.
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Hi CS (and thanks woodchuck). It is true, I should not have let the oil level get low. Perhaps that cause this slug to make it's way to the pump.
I'm going to take it to the dealer on Friday (vacation day for me). I'll see what they say.
What is VWOA? Sorry, it's early and I've only had one cup of coffee. : )
Hey, thanks guys for the info. I'm prepared for a stiff bill but it would be nice to get it covered.
One last question, The oil pressure starts at 30 and goes to about 25. The repair tech said this is when the warning comes on. At this level is it safe to drive it to the dealer (about 10 miles away). The warning is not on constantly. It comes and goes.
Thanks again. Rich
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From memory it's about 40psi min.

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In rec.autos.makers.vw.watercooled, Rich wrote:

VW of America.
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Volkswagen of America. You'll find their customer service number in your Owner's Manual. The dealer should diagnose, then contact VWOA for you. If VWOA refuses the repair, your dealer should give you a case number that you can refer to when you call VWOA.
VWOA agreed to fully cover a heater core replacement on my 10-year-old 95 Passat GLX last year, when it failed at 100K miles. I was pleasantly surprised.
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Volkswagen of America. You'll find their customer service number in your Owner's Manual. The dealer should diagnose, then contact VWOA for you. If VWOA refuses the repair, your dealer should give you a case number that you can refer to when you call VWOA.
VWOA agreed to fully cover a heater core replacement on my 10-year-old 95 Passat GLX last year, when it failed at 100K miles. I was pleasantly surprised.
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