Understanding Low Oil Pressure – Causes, Symptoms & Solution

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Low Oil Pressure Gauge in Car

Understanding Your Vehicle’s Oil Pressure

Engine oil is one of the most 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 a lot of 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 get right into exploring 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 lined up which 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 is equivalent to increased friction among parts of the engine. Thus, when metal is rubbed against metal, it results in clunking and knocking noises from the engine.

If you start hearing such noises, immediately stop the engine to prevent any severe damage. However, if you were to keep driving with rattling noises, it may completely seize the engine.

Burning Smell 

A burning smell is the most common symptom of an external oil leak. Most commonly, 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 would 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 which ultimately leads to engine overheating.

Overheating is a very complex issue, as it might not always be due to low oil pressure. Yet, it can be one of the most prominent symptoms of low oil pressure in your car.

What Are Causes of Low Oil Pressure?

Clogged Oil Filter

The oil filter does its job of trapping the 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 an 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 logically expect a significant decrease in the pressure of the oil as well.

However, oil pump failure might happen due to many reasons such as poor maintenance, improper installation, contamination, etc.

Apart from these, oil pump damage may also happen with time. Thus make sure to 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 take up 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, the 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 which 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 if the level is where it should generally be. You can use a dipstick, as it 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, if you are facing issues due to external leaks, they are pretty easy to fix. All you require are the replacement for damaged pipes and hoses, which is a pocket-friendly solution.

Final Word!

In essence, many of you might have assumed low oil pressure as a very trivial problem. 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.