If you’re a car owner, then you know that there are a few things you have to worry about when it comes to your vehicle. Whether it’s making sure the oil is fresh or keeping an eye on the tire pressure, avoiding breakdowns is key. One thing that might not be on your radar, though, is the oil pressure sensor. If this device goes kaput, it can mean big trouble for your engine. Here are five bad symptoms of a faulty oil pressure sensor.
(Keep in mind that this is just a general guide – always consult your mechanic if you notice something wrong with your car).
What is an Oil Pressure Sensor?
An oil pressure sensor, as is evident from the name as well, is used to measure the pressure of engine oil. All internal combustion engines use a lubricant to avoid wear and tear of core engine components.
When rotary parts of the engine like camshafts and bearings are moving, their surfaces mate with each other. As metallic surfaces hit one another, you usually hear a clinking sound. Such surfaces offer high friction to each other, and a lot of heat is dissipated.
Thus there is a need to lower this friction and prevent power loss through heat generation. This is where the engine oil comes into play. It acts as a lubricant and protective layer between mating parts.
The engine oil needs to be delivered at a certain pressure. This certain pressure would ensure that oil is reaching all locations inside the engine and no part is running dry.
This is why it is required to keep an eye on the pressure of oil. If the pressure of oil drops below a certain level, a dedicated oil pressure light comes on. It is a direct result of the reading from the oil pressure sensor.
Where is Oil Pressure Sensor Located?
An oil pressure sensor is located inside the passageway of engine oil delivery. Engine oil is stored in a separate reservoir, then as per requirement, it is delivered with the help of an oil pump to the engine.
The oil pump pushes oil through a pre-determined passage. Here, the resistance offered by the passage to the oil is calibrated against the pressure scale. Thus we get a reading on the pressure gauge.
Symptoms of a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor
A faulty oil pressure sensor can pose a lot of problems to your engine. Therefore it is a must to keep an eye on it. Following are the most common signs of a bad oil pressure sensor.
- Check Engine Light
- Oil Pressure Warning Light
- Sporadically Blinking Oil Light
- Strange Noises From Engine
- Faulty Oil Pressure Gauge Readings
Let us see these symptoms of a bad pressure sensor in a bit of detail:
1. Check Engine Light
If anything goes wrong with any sensor, relay, or switch in the car, the check engine light will come on. It is the first and foremost indication that some electronic component of your vehicle has gone bad.
The same is the case with an oil pressure sensor. When it goes out, your car’s ECU is informed about this immediately. As it stops receiving readings from the pressure sensor.
2. Oil Pressure Warning Light
Apart from the check engine light, there is a separate oil pressure light on the dashboard panel. It is directly connected to the oil pressure sensor. If the oil sensor reads oil pressure to be very high or low, this warning light comes on.
A separate engine oil pressure light on your dashboard goes on to show the importance of maintaining sufficient oil pressure in the engine.
3. Sporadically Blinking Oil Light
When the engine oil pressure sensor goes bad, you may get faulty readings on the oil pressure gauge. If the oil pressure reading is too low or high, the engine’s oil pressure light comes on.
But when you start seeing a blinking oil pressure light, it means that the oil pressure may have crossed the allowable pressure limits on either extreme by a considerable margin.
Thus, you need to check your car immediately if the oil pressure warning light starts blinking.
4. Strange Noises From Engine
As it has been pointed out above as well that the combination of rotary parts in the combustion chamber brings about the engine cycle. During each revolution, surfaces of parts like bearing and camshafts touch each other.
Now, what a faulty pressure sensor does is that it might send a high oil pressure reading to the ECU when the actual oil pressure is low.
The ECU will instruct the oil pump to lower the oil pressure in this scenario. As a result, the oil pressure drops to even lower levels.
The engine oil will not reach some locations due to this. Hence the metallic surfaces will mate with each other under dry conditions. You will hear clinking noise coming out of the engine.
Clinking noise from the engine is a clear indication that something has gone wrong with your car’s lubrication system.
5. Faulty Oil Pressure Gauge Readings
An oil pressure gauge is present on the dashboard of your car. It receives readings from the oil pressure sensor.
When the oil pressure sensor goes bad, it starts reading the wrong internal pressure in the oil pressure sending unit. Consequently, faulty reading is displayed on the oil pressure gauge as well.
Oil Pressure Sensor Replacement Cost
The replacement of an oil pressure sensor will cost you somewhere between $100 and $210 depending upon the make and model of your car. Thankfully the new oil pressure sensor is not that expensive. You can easily get an oil pressure sensor from any auto store for $50 to $120.
Neither is the procedure of oil pressure sensor replacement that tough. So, labor charges for replacing an oil pressure sensor are between $50 and $90. This would bring about the total oil pressure replacement cost to $100 to $210.
If you are driving a luxury segment car, service centers tend to charge a bit extra.
An oil pressure sensor is an extremely important sensor of your car. It is so vital that a separate light is dedicated for it on your dashboard.
The common symptoms of a bad oil pressure sensor include check engine lights, blinking or static oil pressure warning lights, faulty reading on the oil pressure gauge, and rattling noise from the engine.
The replacement of the oil sensor is not a very tough task. But you need to be sure that the underlying problem is related to it. At times the symptoms of a bad oil pressure sensor can be vague.
In addition to a bad pressure sensor, several other mechanical and fluid-related issues can cause the low oil warning lights to come on. Low engine oil pressure can be caused due to the low oil level in your engine. Or it may be due to a bad pump.
Thus, when troubleshooting for a bad sensor, you must watch out for such problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the average lifespan of an oil pressure sensor?
Like every other sensor, an oil pressure sensor is designed to last the lifespan of your car. But that is not the case usually. Most sensors start failing once your vehicle has crossed the 100k miles mark.
Why does the oil pressure sensor go bad?
Pressure sensors are nothing but a combination of electronic and mechanical components. These components wear out after a certain period. Or in the case of the oil sensor, too much pressure can cause damage to sensitive components. Hence, it might go bad before reaching its actual age.
Can a bad oil pressure sensor put your car in limp mode?
Yes, a bad oil pressure switch can definitely put your car in limp mode. Limp mode is the protective layer in modern cars. When any sensor goes bad that can put the engine’s integrity at risk, the car goes into limp mode.
In which the speed of the car is limited and advanced features become locked. It is done to prevent the car from further damage.
Can you replace an oil pressure switch yourself?
Yes, you can easily replace a faulty oil pressure sensor yourself. It is quite an easy task, you just need to locate the sensor, which is usually under the hood, near the oil passageways. The replacement procedure is as simple as swapping. You just take out the old sensor and put the new one in.
Can a bad oil pressure sensor increase the fuel consumption of your car?
Yes, a bad oil sensor will increase your car’s fuel consumption considerably. A bad pressure sensor can become the reason for the low pressure of oil. It would mean that oil is not reaching some parts of the engine.
In which case, these parts will run dry, and much of engine power will be lost as heat to overcome the friction between these dry mating parts.
Thus low power output for more amount of the fuel consumed translates into the higher fuel consumption of your vehicle.