Low Oil Pressure Means Trouble: What You Need to Know

Low Oil Pressure Means Trouble: What You Need to Know

Low oil pressure in your vehicle can signify potential issues that need immediate attention to prevent damage and maintain optimal performance. In this guide, we’ll delve into what low oil pressure entails, its causes, signs, implications, and steps to address and prevent it

Importance of Oil Pressure

Oil pressure is one of the most critical factors contributing to an engine running smoothly and lasting long.

Engines are complex machinery that has much weight to pull – literally. Oil in an engine ensures that all the moving parts are well-lubricated and can function optimally.

When the oil is flowing through an engine, pressures build up. This pressure ensures the oil reaches everywhere it needs to and keeps flowing.

Suppose the pressure drops to the point where oil no longer flows freely around all the engine’s moving parts. In that case, unlubricated metal surfaces will come into contact.

This results in friction, warping, seal breaking, and other issues. In short, it’s a quick way to ruin an engine. Oil problems can inflict significant damage to your vehicle if left unchecked.

So, it’s essential that you keep an eye on your oil pressure gauge and conduct routine maintenance. If the warning light comes on to indicate there is a problem with the pressure, stop your vehicle as soon as possible.

To give an idea of what the problem might be, here are 5 of the common causes of low oil pressure in your engine:

5 Causes of Low Oil Pressure

Low oil pressure has many possible causes, some more obvious than others.

If your oil warning light is on and you want to perform some checks yourself, the following information should help:

Oil Level Is Too Low

The oil level dropping below the minimum dipstick line is one of the most common causes of low oil pressure. This can happen anytime, even if you’ve recently had an oil change.

Over time, engines burn oil more quickly. This is due to piston rings wearing, seals leaking, and so on. Or, you may have an oil leak. So, you may see a faster drop in oil pressure depending on the age and condition of your vehicle.

This is most likely if you discover your oil level is too low despite recently having it topped off, as you wouldn’t expect it to suddenly burn quickly.

What to do – Check your oil level. If it’s below the recommended minimum amount, top it off. Check for leaks by looking for oil drops on the floor and monitor how many miles before you need to top off again.

The Viscosity of the Oil Is Too High or Too Low

Oil viscosity relates to how easily the oil flows around the engine at any given temperature. If the oil’s viscosity in your engine is wrong, it can register as low oil pressure.

High-viscosity oil typically produces more excellent resistance, while low-viscosity has the opposite effect. Commonly, lower-viscosity oils are used in colder temperatures. In contrast, in the summer, when temperatures rise, a higher-viscosity oil is often used. All engine oils come with a grade and viscosity rating. It’s essential to check your car’s manual to identify the correct oil.

What to do – If you’re topping off your engine oil, check with the manufacturer’s handbook that you’re using the correct oil. If a garage did the oil change, ask them what oil they used.

Signs of Engine Wear

If you check your dipstick and it says you have enough oil and are sure it’s the correct viscosity, it might be a sign that your engine is starting to wear.

Oil has to flow freely through several moving parts in an engine. In particular, the engine bearings are prone to wear at high mileage, which can cause a drop in oil pressure.

Many factors contribute to how long an engine will run before showing signs of wear and burning oil quicker. As a general rule of thumb, you should be proactive in maintaining the engine health of cars or trucks used frequently.

What to do – You need to have your engine checked by an engine technician to establish if worn engine parts are the cause.

Oil Pump Failure

The oil pump is what regulates semi-truck oil pressure. If the pump is malfunctioning, one of the first things that will happen is that your low oil pressure warning light will come on.

You may also notice decreased power, rising engine temperature, and stalling.

What to do – You will need to have your pump checked by a mechanic to confirm whether this is the cause.

Clogged or Dirty Oil Filter

Oil filters help to remove contaminants, dirt, and other debris from engine oil. These particles can build up over time and, without a filter, would cause severe damage to an engine.

Filters can only hold so much before they need replacing. If your filter starts to get clogged up, less oil will flow around the engine, causing the pressure to drop.

What to do – Have your oil filter checked by a mechanic and replaced if necessary.


Never ignore low oil pressure as a warning indication. You can safeguard your car’s engine and guarantee reliable performance for many years to come by being aware of its causes, symptoms, and effects and by putting routine maintenance procedures into place.

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