Understanding Low Oil Pressure – Causes, Symptoms & Solution

Low Oil Pressure Gauge in Car

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Understanding Your Vehicle’s Oil Pressure

Engine oil is one of the essential elements of your car. By serving its job to provide lubrication, it reduces friction among rotatory components. Moreover, the only way to ensure your engine stays protected is by ensuring your car has an appropriate oil pressure level.

What if the oil level reaches a limit lower than the normal range?  It signals a significant problem. I know you might have many questions about low oil pressure in your car! To address all your concerns, this article will go through low oil pressure symptoms, their underlying causes, and a list of effective methods to fix them. Without any further delay, let’s explore what causes low oil pressure in the first place!

What Are Some Symptoms of Low Oil Pressure?

Warning Light Display 

One of the initial low oil pressure symptoms is the display of a warning light on the dashboard. Most modern cars have a system that automatically warns the driver when the oil pressure is low. When the oil pressure goes lower than the normal range, it triggers the sensor, and the light turns on. However, the pressure sensor is faulty; thus, it gives a false signal. Irrespective of faulty signals, if the light turns on, make sure to get it evaluated.

Poor Engine Performance 

If the oil pressure reduces, the friction among parts of the engine increases. This ultimately hampers the efficient performance of the engine. When the parts do not receive proper lubrication, it makes the engine work harder, thus resulting in damage and decreased performance.

Rattling Noise

As mentioned above, low oil pressure equals increased friction among engine parts. Thus, when metal is rubbed against metal, it results in clunking and knocking noises from the engine. If you hear such noises, immediately stop the engine to prevent severe damage. However, if you keep driving with rattling noises, the engine may completely seize.

Burning Smell 

A burning smell is the most common symptom of an external oil leak. Common cracks in the pipes and hoses result in oil leaks over hot metal components, thus giving off a burning smell. This symptom becomes most evident while driving. If you are facing any such issue, check for the oil level. You will notice a lower-than-usual oil level in your car.

Engine Overheating

A significant reduction in oil level results in reduced lubrication. Thus, when the engine tries to work harder, it generates more heat, ultimately leading to engine overheating. Overheating is complex, as it might not always be due to low oil pressure. Yet, it can be one of your car’s most prominent symptoms of low oil pressure.

What Are the Causes of Low Oil Pressure?

Clogged Oil Filter

The oil filter does its job of trapping dirt and debris, thus preventing it from reaching the engine. However, if it gets too clogged with debris, it cannot even let the oil pass through it. If the filter remains clogged for too long, the associated pressure relief valves will let the oil flow freely, which can be cautiously damaging. Thus to avoid anything like this from happening, make sure to change your oil filter now and then to prevent low oil pressure in the engine.

Low Engine Oil 

Insufficient amount of motor oil is the most common of all low oil pressure causes. You might be taking it as relatively insignificant as many drivers do not even have a track of their last oil change. Not performing regular oil checks on your car result in low oil pressure, thus causing complications. Despite regular maintenance of oil checks, the other underlying reason might be the presence of leaks in supply lines, due to which your oil runs out faster than ever.

Incompatible Motor Oil:

Using incorrect motor oil can also cause low oil pressure in your car. Here, incorrect motor oil refers to the incompatible oil viscosity for your vehicle. Low-viscosity fluids enable the smooth flow of components. However, if you are using high-viscosity oil, it provides inadequate lubrication, thus resulting in low oil pressure.

Damaged Oil Pump 

Low oil pressure can also happen because the oil pump stops functioning as expected. Similar to the role of the heart in the human body, the oil pump also regulates the normal flow of oil throughout the system. If it fails to supply oil to the system, one can expect a significant decrease in the oil pressure.

However, oil pump failure might happen for many reasons, such as poor maintenance, improper installation, contamination, etc. Apart from these, oil pump damage may also happen with time. Thus, get it repaired or replaced to regain an appropriate oil pressure level in your car.

Problematic Engine

If you don’t know this already, let me tell you that older engines are more susceptible to low oil pressure. It’s mainly because older vehicles use more oil for lubrication; thus, oil pressure decreases quickly. I know what you might be thinking. Over time, the engine has to wear. No matter how tough the metal, wear is inevitable. Overheating, use of chemicals, and friction among metals all result in the fastest wear of the engine; thus, lubricant flows through unknown passages, thus resulting in low oil pressure in the engine.

Possible Solutions

Now that you have factual information about symptoms and causes that lead up to low oil pressure, the following are the maintenance tips you can adopt to avoid it happening again.

  • Since low oil pressure can cause severe damage to the engine, thus make sure to regularly check the oil to see if the level is where it should generally be. You can use a dipstick, which holds both maximum and minimum levels, thus can help in quick analysis.
  • Whenever you go for a routine-based oil change, always use the one that matches the viscosity level compatible with your car. It is suggested not to rush and make a wise decision about it.
  • Developing a routine oil change schedule is extremely important to avoid low oil pressure and associated complications that stem from it.
  • If low oil pressure signals are due to a faulty sensor or gauge, the only fix is to replace the system.
  • Lastly, they are pretty easy to fix if you are facing issues due to external leaks. All you require are replacing damaged pipes and hoses, a pocket-friendly solution.

Final Word!

Many of you might have assumed low oil pressure is trivial. However, now that you are familiar with the seriousness, it is suggested that the sooner you get it checked, the better it is for your engine’s overall health.

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