Troubleshooting Low Oil Pressure

Low oil pressure can cause some serious problems with your vehicle. If you have low oil pressure then your vehicle is not getting enough oil to all the parts that require it in order to properly function. There will be more friction which can cause the engine to smoke, the vehicle to stall and over time you could suffer a broken head gasket. Low oil pressure can be caused by several things but figuring out which is correct takes time as well as trial and error. The following information will explain the most common problems associated with low oil pressure.

Faulty Sensor

Your car has a sensor under the hood that lets you know when your oil is low. The sensor is connected to that pesky red light on your dashboard. Like any other mechanical device it can fail. The sensor can stop working properly for a number of reasons including age, rust or accidental disconnection. Determining if the sensor is not working can be achieved through several methods:

  • Take the vehicle to a garage and they can test the sensor.
  • If there are no leaks in the oil pan, line or gaskets.
  • The oil pan is full.

If these three things are accurate than there is a chance the sensor is not working correctly.

Leaking Oil

This will involve climbing under the vehicle. This is much easier to do if you can jack the vehicle up. Look at the ground where the car is parked and if you see a pool of oil then it is a safe bet you have a leak. Not all leaks are this easily identified. When you are under the vehicle, find the oil pan. Inspect the edges for pooling oil or heavy build-up. Use a rag and solvent to properly clean the oil pan and wait a few minutes to see if oil begins to become visible. Also look for any cracked hoses or tubes and check the connections for wear.

Lack of Oil

One of the most common ways to discern low oil pressure is by determining how much oil is actually in the vehicle. The only tool you will need is a paper towel. Open the hood of your car and locate where the oil is placed. Remove the cap and pull out the dipstick. Use the paper towel to wipe off the dipstick and replace it in the engine and pull it back out. Examine the dipstick for the full line. If there is little or no oil present this will cause low oil pressure. Simply fill the oil reservoir.

Oil Filter

The purpose of the oil filter is to remove unwanted debris from the oil. This debris can cause serious problems in your engine. If the filter is too dirty it will no longer properly filter out the debris which will wind up causing clogs and engine seizure. You should replace the oil filter every 3000 miles or every time you change the oil. Open the oil filter compartment and inspect the filter for grime and oil build-up before replacing it.