Do you regularly monitor the oil pressure reading of your engine? If yes, you’re certainly increasing the life of your vehicle’s engine. Maintaining adequate oil level keeps engine’s moving parts lubricated and prevents friction and damage. Thus, oil works as an important component of the engine which contributes to its smooth and efficient performance.
But, perhaps you don’t know that oil pressure reading can be inaccurate if your engine has a bad oil pressure sensor. The false oil pressure reading can mislead you and prevent you from maintaining enough oil in the engine. In such situation, if you keep driving your vehicle assuming that your engine has sufficient oil level, you can cause severe damage to the engine.
But if you know what are the symptoms of a bad oil pressure sensor you can safely get out from this trouble by replacing the oil pressure sensor timely.
Before we go ahead, let’s first understand the working principle of this essential component.
How Does an Oil Pressure Sensor Work
The function of the oil pressure sensor is to display a warning signal when the oil pressure drops to critical levels or go beyond the normal range. The oil pressure sensor illuminates the oil light which indicates that either there is low or no oil pressure in the engine.
This important component of the engine is generally located in the cylinder block of the engine or in the oil filter housing, connected to the car’s computer system.
The oil pressure sensor involves two components – a spring-loaded switch and a diaphragm. The switch is connected to the diaphragm in such a way that the diaphragm is exposed to the oil pressure. When you turn on the ignition key, a force is developed by the oil pressure on the diaphragm which overcomes the switch spring pressure and keeps the switch open as long as the oil pressure remains above the lower limit.
When the oil pressure drops to below the lower limit, the spring develops the force which closes the switch and this closed switch turns on the low oil pressure warning light on the car’s dashboard.
If this low-oil pressure warning light blinks continuously, it means there is a short drop in the oil pressure. But if the warning light remains switched on, it indicates a complete loss of oil pressure.
Symptoms of a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor
Being the lifeblood for the engine, oil pressure level plays a significant role in ensuring the optimum performance of your vehicle’s engine.
Here are a few symptoms that would indicate the problem of a bad oil pressure sensor so that you can take appropriate action before the engine comes to some dangerous consequence.
#1 – The Oil Pressure Light is On
Your car’s oil pressure gauge indicates the oil levels of the engine and with this, you can easily monitor even the slightest changes to the pressure of oil. If the low oil pressure warning light comes on, but when you manually check the oil level in the engine using the dipstick, you found that the oil is at a good level.
It means you certainly have a faulty oil pressure sensor that is giving false readings. In this case, you should replace the sensor and keep yourself informed of the oil pressure level.
#2 – The Oil Pressure Light Blinks Constantly
In some instances, if the oil pressure sensor is not working properly, the Low Oil Light will blink on and off. This can be quite alarming to a driver because the low oil level can cause significant damage to the engine.
But to ensure whether the reading is accurate or not, you should physically check the oil level with a dipstick and see if the oil level is actually low. If it is up to a good level, it is likely you have a bad oil pressure sensor that needs to replace right away.
#3 – Oil Pressure Gauge is at Zero
The older cars come with a mechanical gauge that calculates the oil pressure. If the oil levels are normal but the gauge is pointing at zero, this means either the oil pressure sensor is at fault or there is some connection problem.
If you’re driving a modern car then you likely have an electronic oil pressure gauge that transmits electronic signals to get the reading.
If there is any issue with the oil pressure sensor, the gauge will either sit on full or zero, giving you a completely inaccurate reading. At this point, first, you should check the firing, if it is okay then replace the sensor.
Can You Drive With a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor
Driving a car with a bad oil pressure sensor means you are putting yourself into an unsafe condition. When you have a bad oil pressure sensor, you will not know when the oil pressure level has gone below the lower limit and at this point, if you keep driving the vehicle, the engine can seize or the internal parts of the engine can damage that will require costly overhaul.
It is better that whenever you see any of the symptoms given above such as oil pressure warning light is flickering or the pressure of oil is at zero on the gauge, get your vehicle to a mechanic and get the oil pressure sensor replaced as soon as possible.
How Long Can You Drive With a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor
If you have a bad oil pressure sensor, the worst thing that will happen is that you will not be able to know the accurate level of the oil. So, it can’t be said how long you would be able to drive.
But if you consider checking the oil pressure level manually, which is a bit time-consuming, you can know the exact level of oil pressure and according to that, you can raise up the level of oil to keep continue to drive.
But you can’t go with manual checking forever, there must be a perfectly functioning oil pressure sensor that can instantly indicate of the oil pressure level. Therefore, it is good you get the oil pressure sensor replaced.
Oil Pressure Sensor Replacement Cost
However, the replacement cost can vary according to the different brands and suppliers of parts but the overall cost will not exceed $130 which is highly affordable. The best thing is that the oil pressure sensor is an inexpensive component that will cost you around $50 to $60.
The labor cost will also fall between $60 and $70 as this part can be easily accessed and replaced. Thus, the total replacement cost will come from around $110 to $130. So, there is no point for delaying the replacement of such an important component of the engine.
When you turn on the ignition key, the oil pressure builds up and oil pressure switch activates and takes over providing energy to the fuel pump. But when you have a bad oil pressure switch, it causes the fuel pump to run erratically that causes rough idle.
Yes, of course, the engine can damage if the engine is starved for oil pressure. With a low oil pressure, the engine components like bearing, camshaft will not get sufficient and consistent lubrication and if you keep continue driving with reduced oil pressure, at some point, there will be no oil pressure that will result into damage to these engine parts.
In our final words, we will only advise not to leave the bad oil pressure sensor unattended as it can cause some serious damage to your car’s engine, and possibly it can put your safety at stake. So, don’t take the risk of driving you car with a bad oil pressure sensor. We only want you to stay safe, and make sure the oil pressure sensor of your engine is working efficiently.