Low Oil Pressure: Causes, Symptoms & Solutions

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If you own a vehicle of any sort, you know that there is a lot of upkeep and things to be aware of in the process. With things from brakes to suspension, there is plenty to learn about the common automobile. But, many people truly want to know what causes low oil pressure and how they can fix the problem.

When you think of a vehicle, you have to remember that gasoline is like the lifeblood of the vehicle, while the oil is meant to protect everything about the car. If the oil is the lubrication, the gas makes the vehicle run. When there is not enough oil in the engine, many problems can occur.

Some of the problems include overheating and wear down of the engine. When this happens, the engine starts to have excess friction, which can hurt the life of your car. Low oil pressure is a reality as well, as there is not enough oil in the engine. There are many reasons for this, but let us break down the top-5 causes to start.

Causes of Low Engine Oil Pressure In Your Car

When it comes to causes of low oil pressure, there a few reasons for this. First, let us start with not enough oil and head down the list. From there, symptoms and solutions will help follow-up the section.

#1 – Needing More Oil

The most common issue with low oil pressure is not enough oil. This might seems too simple of a problem, but sometimes this is the case. With the busyness that the world can bring, people just forget to think of their vehicles. Everything else gets in the way of your low oil pressure.

Just remember every time you inspect or tune your car up, have them check for oil pressure. Most mechanics already do this when you take your car in, but it would not be a problem to ask them. This will give you peace of mind, so you can move forward with the rest of your life.

To find the right oil, which we will talk about later on, you can head over to a mechanic or automotive store to help you find the right oil for your vehicle. You know how important this is.

#2 – Wearing Out The Engine

Over time, everyone’s car will start to break down. Think of your vehicle like the human body. The body works with the help of the heart pumping blood to the rest of the body with the help of veins and arteries.

In the same way, the oil will move through the engine to help things like the cam bearings and the crankshaft. If there is not enough oil to go through the engine, the clearance into the engine will become wider and wider. With this in mind, your engine parts and surrounding support will find itself in trouble. Oil could flow too quickly and your oil pressure will certainly be reduced.

#3 – Oil Pressure Gauge Issue

Sometimes, your oil pressure gauge can break. When your car is created from the start, manufacturers put a gauge for oil pressure to help to tell car owners what is going on with their vehicle right at the moment. The gauge can fail, and you will not get an accurate reading or anything reading at all.

To make sure that your gauge is working appropriately, bring your car into a mechanic. This way, they can test if your gauge is making the correct reading. If the mechanic gives a different reading than your reading, your gauge is broken and will need a full replacement.

#4 – Oil Filter Trouble

Do not forget about your oil filter at this juncture either. With its important role in maintaining oil pressure, oil filters can get clogged over time. When this happens, oil pressure can go very low.

There is a handy-dandy relief valve for most vehicles to help with the oil filter trouble as well. This never will allow the pressure to get extra high. Unfortunately, if the valve is damaged in any way at all, you will see reduced pressure because the oil will be allowed to flow at will wherever it wants through the engine and beyond.

#5 – Oil’s Viscosity

Viscosity is the last thing that could be the problem for low oil pressure. The thickness of the oil is known as viscosity, and if it is extra thick, vehicle owners will run into a problem where the oil will not flow as fast throughout your vehicle. In turn, this will cause low oil pressure. The time of year can also change the oil’s pressure based on viscosity.

Now, if the viscosity of the oil is too high, the pressure will not be able to build up at all. Knowing which oil to use is a no brainer here, but we will get to that later.

We have hit the top five oil pressure issues. But, there are still more that you should take notice of if your car ever runs into this kind of situation. Let us start with a bad oil pump. Even though this may be one of the last things to check, it is certainly the most important if things start to go wrong.

 

Oil Pump Gone Caput

Even an oil pump breaks down over time in a vehicle. This is infamous for causing low oil pressure as well. With an overly-generous amount of oil, clearances with the help of the oil pump can cause problems to say it lightly.

Oil pumps vary in how much oil they need to export, but the general rule of thumb is less than 0.003 inches. This is between the cover and the gears of course. There should not be that much opening between the housing and the teeth either at only 0.005 inches. Even between the housing pump and the outer rotor should only have 0.012 inches maximum between them. With this in mind, you can see the purposefulness of an oil pump. If things do not exactly as planned, fear will ensue for you and your vehicle. Too much of an opening will limit pressure and overall flow.

Additionally, if any debris gets in the oil pump, there could be a jamming sequence. Some things that get jammed in an oil pump include seals, gasket particles, engine chips, dirt, sand, and so much more. Think of it like when you eat food. You need to ingest things that are good for your body, or your body will have negative effects quickly or over time.

To this point, some of you may be greatly surprised that anything could ever get under your engine hood and into your engine. Well, dirt, grime, and other culprits can find there way into almost anything. Even with a screen covering the oil pump, there can certainly still be obstacles.

A large piece of debris will not get in, but the pickup screen cannot catch everything. If the screen has oil that cannot pass through, or there is a clog, grime and other particles will find their way somehow into the oil pump. Since the hole of the screen is 0.040 inches, anything can find its way into the square. The reason it is even this big is that oil still needs to flow to make the engine run. Ultimately, this means that the oil pump runs on an unfiltered product, unlike anything else in the engine structure.

To put things into perspective, the smallest of coating issues (only 0.05 inches thick) can clog up the opening to the oil pump. Even a small amount like that can reduce 40 to 50% of the oil flow. When it comes to your engine running smoothly, this will be a big negative, as you try to get the most out of your vehicle.

 

Relief Valve Getting Leaky

We have already talked about the issues with a broken relief valve. However, this component can become leaky as well. In turn, it can allow small debris inside as well. Typically, the valve should work between 40 to 60 pounds per square inch (psi). When the leaking happens, the psi can shrink below 40.

At this point, your oil filter can break and even blow up under your engine. That might be a sight to see, but not when it involves your friends. Not just the filter will blow, but the plugs holding in the filter may be blown into oblivion as well.

 

Symptoms of Low Oil Pressure

When you see your indication light coming on with oil pressure as its focus, it is certainly time for you to take action. If you ignore this reading, here are some of the symptoms of low oil pressure that you will start to take notice of.

To start, you will hear valves in your engine start to clatter. The hydraulic lifters will be working extra hard without the proper oil to help with lubrication. Instead of using oil to lubricate, it will try to use oil. This would be a great time to rush to a mechanic or get a tow. If you do not, more detrimental things will start happening.

Next, you will continue to hear a thing that should trouble you about your vehicle. Knocking noises will begin to happen as well as rapping. This would be your rod bearings that are saying enough is enough.

Lastly, your engine will seize up and your vehicle will come to a complete stop. Your engine has now passed away. Things just got a lot more expensive for you.

Know that it is normal for oil pressure to reduce over time. This is the wear and tear that is bound to happen with any vehicle on the market today or in the hands of leasers and owners.

 

Low Oil Pressure Solutions

There are a lot of solutions that we can get to when fixing low oil pressure, but one of the best ideas is to go see an oil mechanic unless you think you can do the deed on your own. The mechanic most likely has a reader who will be able to work for your car. Do this kind of investigative work may help the auto mechanic to see the problem is coming from somewhere else like the fuel pump or another important part of the vehicle. A great mechanic will consider all these things.

Overall, you should make sure to get regular maintenance on your vehicle. Think of it as your trips to the doctor and the dentist. You need to go at least once in the year, so they can see how you are holding up. The same can be said by taking your car in to check the oil pressure. If you bring your vehicle regular enough, you will save yourself from costly repairs down the road. When you routinely monitor your oil, which does not take very long at all, you will fend off serious issues like engine block cracks. You certainly do not want to pay for that kind of repair.

However, some of you might want to figure out things on your own. In that case, it is now time to diagnose the problem on your own time. Start by using your dipstick pushed right into the engine. As you check how the oil levels are doing, make sure you get a proper reading. Having too much or not enough oil is detrimental for different reasons.

Remember when checking with a dipstick that you pull it out, clean it, stick it back in, and then you will get a proper reading. Especially if you have just used the vehicle, the oil reading will be splashed with oil as the car was in use. The low reading means oil is going too fast or a leak is happening. Neglect may be the last piece of the puzzle here. You can add the oil first, but this will only stopgap the problem. There is something worse going on.

If you have come down to a diagnose of leaking oil, there are a few things you can do. First, try fixing the leak with seals or brand new gaskets. Is the engine burning oil? You may need to fix the cylinders and rings. To figure this out, you can use a leak down and/or compression test. This will tell you how bad the rings and cylinders actually are. You can start with seals, but it may need an overhaul with valve steams and the whole thing to boot.

After you have checked the oil viscosity is correct for your vehicle, you can try to clean any clogs in the filter. From here, if things are still having issues, the oil pump is the only feasible problem. You can either have a mechanic replace the oil pump or it is on you to do.

 

What Oil To Buy

Or all you may have to do is change out your oil instead. The heavy viscosity oils include 30W, 40W, and 20W-50. This will help maintain the best oil pressure. If you live in a hot weather area, this is the best form of oil money can buy. However, if you also have cold weather where you are, these oil options will not be your friend. The lubrication problem you will see is an overheating of cam engines.

On the other hand, low viscosity oils could be the solution as well, with forms of 10W and 5W-20. Ideal for cold weather, the lubrication of your engine will be no problem at all. However, these options are not good for the hottest of weather.

Looking for year-around oil? 5W-30 is the gold standard for this type of person. For the most modern engines, any of these options can work. You just need to know how they will impact your vehicle in the area you live in.

Final Verdict

Now that we have come down to the end of the article, you have all the information at your disposal. It is now up to you with what you want to do with it. At first, having low oil pressure might not seem like a cause for concern, but this could be a detriment to you and your pocketbook.

As you take this problem seriously, you will be able to get to the bottom of the issue quicker than you ever thought possible and come up with quality solutions. It really is about trial and error to work through the step when figuring out what you need to do in your car.

When you have come up with the solution, and everything is said and done, then you can go back to using your car like it was meant to be. This way, you can own the roads wherever you travel to. Great memories will ensue and you will not worry about a thing. Stay safe on the road of life, wherever the highways and byways take you.