We are going to look at low oil pressure in cars, causes and how to correct it. Before we start, let’s briefly look at the work engine oil does in your car engine.
The engine oil in your car ensures that all of the moving parts are lubricated and protected. Pressure builds up inside the engine as the oil flows through the holes. This pressure ensures that the oil reaches all of the engine’s sections and corners. If this does not occur, such as in the event of low oil pressure, metal parts may come into touch with one another, causing friction and degradation.
In the worst-case scenario, your complete engine will fail and will need to be replaced. That is why maintaining the proper oil pressure in your engine is critical. Oil pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and the ideal amount of oil pressure varies based on the car’s brand and model. In general, if the pressure is below 20 PSI or the gauge’s typical range, you should pay attention right away. When your oil pressure light comes on, this is also the case. Failure to diagnose and treat the problem could result in significant damage and substantial repair expenses.
Read also: Symptoms & Causes Of Cracked Engine Block
Causes Of Low Oil Pressure
Blocked oil filter
The oil travels through the oil filter after leaving the oil pump. This filter keeps the engine clean by preventing debris and other impurities from passing through it. The oil flow is naturally slowed by this filter, but it is not disrupted. As the material piles up, the oil flow will become further restricted. This could result in a fully blocked oil filter, preventing any oil from passing through. The pressure relief valve will open to prevent a blockage. When the pressure surpasses a predefined level, this valve opens automatically. The oil will then skip the oil filter, allowing it to continue to flow. The pressure is reduced to that of the bypass valve as a result of this diversion.
Low Oil Level
The oil pump can take air from the sump when the oil level is low. The oil may become aerated and foam as a result of this. Foaming can cause severe oxidation, which lowers the oil’s lubricating capabilities. The oil pump will not be able to generate enough pressure if there is insufficient oil. It’s also possible that the low oil pressure fluctuates during high-speed maneuvers. The oil will travel to the side of the sump, away from the oil pump, during these revolutions.
Dirty Oil Pumps
The oil pump draws oil from the bottom of the oil pan and pumps it under pressure to the engine’s bearings, pistons, and camshaft. A filter will prevent dirt from entering the oil pump if there is any in the pickup. It may be necessary to clean the filter if it is clogged with debris before enough oil can run through it. It’s also possible that the oil pump has excessive clearances. This limits the ability to pump efficiently, lowering the flow and pressure as a result. This is possible because the oil pump is the only component in the engine that is lubricated with unfiltered oil, as the oil filter is located after the oil pump. If the oil pickup filter appears to be in good working order, your oil pump may be damaged.
Oil with a low viscosity flows through the engine more easily than oil with a high viscosity. This is due to the fact that a low viscosity oil produces less resistance, resulting in reduced oil pressure. The viscosity of the oil is affected by temperature. If you’re using a mono-grade oil, it’s critical to select the appropriate grade based on the weather. That implies if you use a high viscosity oil in the summer, you need switch to a lower viscosity oil in the winter to prevent having an oil that is too thick to flow easily.
Similarly, if you use a low viscosity oil in the winter, you should switch to a higher viscosity oil in the summer to provide greater resistance. If you use a multi-grade oil, it will be useful for all seasons and will not need to be changed according to the weather. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when selecting the appropriate grade.
Leaky Oil Pressure Valve
The pressure relief valve aids in oil pressure regulation and protects your engine from damage caused by excessive oil pressure. When the valve surpasses a preset setting, it normally opens automatically. It’s possible that the valve is kept open if debris gets lodged. The oil pressure will be reduced as a result of this.
Worn Out Engine Bearings
Oil pressure is formed by the flow and resistance that the flow causes, not by the oil pump itself. The amount of clearance between the bearings and crankshaft journals, as well as the apertures in the engine through which the oil travels, contribute to this resistance. These bearings will wear down with time, especially in a high-mileage engine, causing the clearance to grow. The flow will rise as a result of the higher clearance, lowering the pressure. An increase in engine noise and pounding will be detected as bearing clearances increase. Reduced oil pressure could also be caused by increasing clearances in other parts of the engine.
Other Causes Of Oil Low Pressure
If the oil level on the dipstick is between “add” and “full,” damaged engine bearings could be the reason of low pressure, especially if the engine has a lot of miles on it. Excessive wear reduces the initial flow restriction, lowering the pressure as a result. The engine will most likely need to be overhauled or replaced if this is the case.
Damages Oil Pressure Gauge
The problem could be a faulty sensing device if the oil pressure warning light has turned on but you have established that the oil level is correct and the engine is operating normally with no odd noises or excessive temperatures.
You might want to check the oil pressure with a gauge. Replace the oil pressure sensor if the pressure is normal. If the warning light or low gauge reading persists after the sensor is replaced, the issue is most likely a malfunctioning oil pump.
Low Oil Pressure Light
The low pressure warning light on your vehicle’s dashboard should not come on regularly. If it occurs, though, you must immediately cease driving. The low pressure indicator indicates that the oil pressure is insufficient or that the oil level is too low. This inhibits the oil from passing through the tiny channels and lubricating the bearings adequately. A lack of lubrication might cause the engine to seize or inflict irreversible harm. Learn what causes the low oil pressure sign to illuminate and how to keep it from doing so in your vehicle.
The oil warning light is illuminated on the dashboard of a car.
Like the rest of your on-board diagnostic system, the low oil pressure indicator on your dashboard is direct communication from your car’s computer about what’s wrong with it. When this light turns on, like a flashing check engine light, you must stop driving, turn off the vehicle, and check the oil level once it has cooled.
How To Fix Low Oil Pressure In Cars
The health of your car is jeopardized by a decline in engine oil pressure. Check and top up your engine oil on a regular basis to avoid costly damages. Look for oil with a viscosity rating that is appropriate for your needs (as recommended by your manufacturer).
Look for outward evidence of oil leaks. External oil leaks are most commonly resolved by replacing hoses and pipes.
Can you drive with low oil pressure?
No. Driving with low oil pressure or little oil in the system might entirely destroy the vehicle’s engine. If the oil light comes on while you’re driving or the car is running, you should pull over to the side of the road and have the problem fixed as soon as possible.
How much does it cost to fix low oil pressure?
The typical cost of replacing an oil pressure sensor is between $121 and $139. Labor costs are estimated to be between $69 and $86 per hour, with parts costing $52. This range excludes taxes and fees, as well as your individual car and geographic region.
Is 40psi Oil good?
The appropriate oil pressure varies based on the make and type of the car, but it is usually between 25 and 65 PSI. A PSI of more than 80 is normally regarded too high to adequately protect the engine from damage.
What sound does a bad oil pump make?
It will be a loud whining or whirring sound if your oil pump starts to create noise. The internal gear system has worn out, causing this. Your oil pump may begin to produce a noise when it begins to fail.
How long can you drive with a bad oil pump?
Is it possible to drive a car with a faulty oil pump? You might not believe that a faulty oil pump is going to be a big deal as long as your automobile has adequate oil in it. But the truth is that if your oil pump isn’t working properly, you won’t be able to drive your automobile.