What does low oil pressure mean for your vehicle and your safety on the road? If you notice a drop in oil pressure, there could be any number of reasons. Some issues are as simple as a loose oil filter, or leaks, while others require more intensive repair.
Low oil pressure doesn’t just mean that your engine will soon stop running; there could be serious problems with your engine and other vehicle components, like the power steering pump, transmission, and even the alternator.
A low oil pressure warning light on your dashboard can come on at any time, whether you’re driving under normal conditions or taking part in a high-speed race, so it’s important to know what causes it to appear and how to take care of it.
An engine requires at least 5 PSI of oil pressure at normal operating temperatures to run. Anything less, your car will begin malfunctioning, if not completely shutting down.
Before you start panicking, a low oil pressure light may not be as serious as it appears. If you stop your vehicle right away when an oil-pressure light comes on, there’s a good chance nothing is wrong with your engine.
It’s just telling you that you need more oil or your car is using too much of it. You should first check your oil level and ensure it’s topped off; if it isn’t, add some and then drive for about 10 minutes. If the light doesn’t come back on, chances are everything is fine.
However, if it does come back on after adding more oil, here are some things to look out for-
1. Your Oil Level Is Low, Or Your Car Is Using Too Much Oil
If you’re low on oil, check your dipstick and add more if necessary. If the engine uses too much oil, it could be a sign of a serious problem, most likely a worn piston ring. So bring your car in for service as soon as possible.
2. The Oil Pressure Sending Unit Isn’t Working Properly
The oil pressure sending unit is part of an engine system that measures how much pressure there is in your engine’s crankshaft. If there isn’t enough pressure, it triggers an alert so you can stop driving immediately and get your vehicle checked out by a mechanic. In this case, you need to change or repair the unit.
3. There’s Something Wrong With Your Engine
When there’s something wrong with your engine, it may fail to use oil efficiently and may even burn some of it off completely. This might cause a drop in oil pressure, triggering an alert when things are really bad.
4. Temperature Gauge Isn’t Working Properly
Low coolant levels can trigger a warning light that tells you to pull over immediately. So keep an eye on your coolant levels and any warning lights that come on while driving.
The first step in preventing low oil pressure is recognizing it when it happens. If you’re aware of what normal oil pressure feels like and causes low oil pressure, you’ll be better equipped to protect your engine and catch any potential problems before they cause damage.
Normal oil pressure should feel somewhere between 40-60 psi (pounds per square inch). If you notice that it has dropped below 40 psi, there may be a problem with either your engine or its components. Below are some of the most common ways to fix low oil pressure issues:
1. Change Your Oil Filter, And Oil
A dirty filter can restrict oil flow, which will cause pressure to drop, so it’s important to keep filters clean and change them regularly. It’s also a good idea to check your owner’s manual for instructions on how often you should change your engine oil and its grade (some engines require synthetic or other specialty oils).
2. Check For Air In Your Engine
Air bubbles can block oil flow, which will cause pressure to drop. A common cause of air bubbles is a faulty gasket or seal; if you’ve recently replaced any seals or gaskets, it’s a good idea to check that they are correctly seated and not leaking.
Another common cause of air bubbles is a clogged fuel filter; be sure to replace your fuel filter regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If air is in your system, have an expert drain your engine oil and replace it with fresh oil to remove any trapped air.
3. Make Sure All Your Hoses Are Connected Correctly
If one hose becomes disconnected or leaks, it could reduce pressure by allowing pressurized oil to escape into other areas of your vehicle.
When replacing hoses, ensure they are compatible with each other for example, do not use a transmission hose on an axle line. It’s also important to check that clamps and fittings are secure;
If you notice any signs of wear or damage, replace them immediately. And finally, always be sure to tighten fittings when installing new hoses. A loose-fitting can allow pressurized oil to leak out and cause low pressure.
4. Check Electronic Control Unit
The ECU (electronic control unit) regulates oil pressure by controlling fuel delivery. A voltage drop will prevent your ECU from regulating fuel flow properly, which will cause engine RPMs to fluctuate as well as oil pressure.
If you suspect that you have low voltage, check your battery and alternator and have them replaced if necessary. If these components are working correctly, there’s possible an issue with one of your sensors or relays-check all electrical connections and replace any damaged parts immediately.
If you’re still experiencing problems after checking all these components, have an expert run a diagnostic test on your vehicle to exactly pinpoint what is causing low oil pressure
5. Make Sure Your Oil Filter Cap Is Not Leaking
A leaky cap can allow pressurized oil to escape into other areas of your vehicle, which will cause pressure to drop significantly. It’s important to check that all caps are tightly sealed when installing new filters or changing old ones.
While you’re at it, be sure also to check that hoses and fittings are secure. If you notice any signs of wear or damage, replace them immediately.
6. Look For Leaks
As mentioned above, air bubbles can block oil flow and cause pressure to drop-but so can actual leaks. Check all hoses and seals around gaskets; if you find a leak anywhere in your system, repair it right away before allowing more oil to escape into other areas of your vehicle.
A Helpful Tutorial You May Need!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Happens If There Is No Oil Pressure?
If you notice a sudden drop in oil pressure or no oil pressure, pull over and turn off your engine immediately because it can cause serious damage if left running for even a few minutes.
Is It Ok To Drive With Low Oil Pressure?
You’re putting yourself and others at risk if you drive a car with low oil pressure. Low oil pressure means your engine is functioning on very little lubrication, which can lead to an array of major (and minor) mechanical issues. If your engine shows symptoms of low oil pressure, it’s important to check it out ASAP.
How Much Does It Cost To Fix Oil Pressure?
That depends on several factors. First, what is causing your low oil pressure? Is there a leak in your system that needs repair or replacement, or are you experiencing a problem with your gauge? The answer will affect how much work must be done and how expensive those repairs might be.
What Happens When Oil Pressure Is Low?
When oil pressure drops too low, oil isn’t flowing freely through your engine and some parts. If you own a car, truck, or SUV, it’s important to understand what happens when your oil pressure is low. In most cases, there are two causes for low oil pressure: either your vehicle needs an oil change, or there’s something wrong with one of your engine components.
If you have low oil pressure, it could mean that your vehicle is in potential danger. In reality, several things can cause your oil pressure to drop.
As we have already discussed what does low oil pressure mean, hopefully, you will be able to identify and solve it by yourself. The good news is that these issues are easy and affordable fixes.
If you have low oil pressure and cannot fix it by yourself, don’t hesitate to contact an auto repair shop near you as soon as possible so they can fix what’s wrong with your car and save your travel.
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Meet our senior writer and content manager of Automasterx. He has worked in several mechanical garages and mastered different vehicle diagnoses and parts repair. He never stops until finding out the ultimate solutions for any vehicle fault code. However, ensuring the only solid solutions for each vehicle malfunction is his core part of the duty, alongside analyzing fault codes and signals.