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Low Oil Pressure Symptoms and Solutions

How To Know If Engine Oil Is Low

Some of the common low oil pressure symptoms include:

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  • A low oil pressure warning light
  • Reduction in your vehicle's performance
  • Weird burning oil smell
  • Loud engine noises
  • Engine overheating

Dealing with low oil pressure is a very serious situation, and if you detect the issue early, you save yourself a ton of money. This article walks you through the common low oil pressure symptoms and highlights your problem's different causes and solutions.

Why is low oil pressure critical?

Before we dive into the details about low oil pressure symptoms, it is very important to understand why it is critical to deal with low oil pressure in the first place.

In any vehicle equipped with a combustion system, the engine's internal components interact with each other all the time. When they interact, they generate friction and cause different temperatures to increase the engine's overall temperature.

When the engine temperature exceeds a certain threshold, you'll deal with what's known as engine overheating, which is a very serious problem that could cost you a lot of money in no time. In some instances, engine overheating might lead to damaging the entire engine and requiring installing new components.

The good news is that a simple component like the engine oil is the superhero to resolve overheating or excess temperature due to friction. When you lubricate the engine with the right oil, it will work smoothly, and you won't deal with such complications.

Due to various reasons, you might get to a point where your vehicle does not have enough oil, which means that the engine doesn't receive the right level of lubrication. As a result, your vehicle will show many symptoms to grab your attention to deal with this drop in engine oil level before getting into major complications.

What are the common low oil pressure symptoms?

Since low oil pressure is linked to engine overheating, which is a serious problem, you should never ignore dealing with low oil pressure at all. Ignoring the problem can lead to major complications in no time but detecting it early helps you resolve the problem without needing to install major components.

Let's learn about the common symptoms of low oil pressure below:

1-    A low oil pressure warning light

The warning light on the dashboard is the first and most serious symptom that you will see immediately when you have low oil pressure. Your vehicle relies on the warning lights to grab your attention to his old internal issues. As a driver, you should never ignore these warning lights because you can deal with major complications in a very short time.

Thus, whenever you notice a warning light saying that your oil pressure is low, you should immediately pull over and stop your vehicle in a safe area before making any other decision. It's not worth waiting a couple of minutes on low oil pressure issues if you don't want to deal with major breakdowns.

2-    Reduction in your vehicle's performance

When your engine doesn't receive enough lubrication, it will be stressed all the time. That's why you'll notice that your vehicle's performance is not as usual, and you might even deal with some other complications like engine misfiring or stalling.

When this happens, you should immediately consider taking action to resolve the issue. Keep in mind that all this reduction in engine performance might be linked to something else going on, which means that it shouldn't be the low oil pressure. However, no matter what's the reason, any weird engine behavior should be taken seriously.

3-    Weird burning oil smell

Low oil pressure is an indication that there is an internal or external oil leak. When that happens and as you're driving the vehicle, this oil leak might drop on hot components around the engine compartment, and you'll notice it in the form of a weird burning oil smell. If I got when you noticed this, you should pull over and consult your mechanic.

In general, automotive experts recommend that whenever you deal with weird smells coming from your vehicle, take it seriously because it is a way to grab your attention that there's something wrong going on in the vehicle. But, again, this thing could be very simple, but it could be very serious.

4-    Loud engine noises

Also, when the engine doesn't receive the right level of lubrication, it will be stressed, and it will make some weird noises because of the internal moving components and grinding against each other. These noises will sell more like ticking or probably grinding and sometimes knocking.


Again, anytime you deal with strange noises coming from your vehicle, you should take it seriously because it is a way to tell you that your car is suffering from an internal or external problem.

5-    Engine overheating

Obviously, since the main role of motor oil is to lubricate your engine, waiting too long on low oil pressure immediately leads to engine overheating because the engines' internal components will grind against each other and cause some friction.

Engine overheating is a very broad topic that can be linked to many other components in your cooling system or other related systems. Therefore, whenever you deal with engine overheating, you should perform a thorough investigation to confirm where the issue is coming from.

Many tools could help you do so, including the OBD2 scanner. This scanner reads your engine's internal computer and displays an error code that you can translate into what is causing the issue. Depending on this counter use, you might get an idea about potential repair options and repair costs.

What causes low oil pressure?

Low oil pressure won't happen by itself, and it should be linked to an internal problem. Let's take a closer look at some of the common causes for low oil pressure:

1-    Drop in engine oil level

The low oil pressure is just an indication that you don't have enough oil in your engine. This drop in engine oil can happen due to various reasons that are most likely related to internal or external leaks. For example, many internal components or connections might have minor cracks dropping the oil gradually. However, in some instances, major cracks can lead to a significant drop in the oil pressure in a very short time.

2-    Troubles in the oil viscosity

You must generally follow whatever is specified in your vehicle's owner’s manual regarding the type of oil to use in your engine. Trying to save money on oil is never a good idea if it's leading you to choose a lower quality oil.

Every oil comes with a certain characteristic, including viscosity or resistance to flow. If you did not follow a specified in your vehicle’s manual, you might end up with the wrong oil leading to continuous low oil pressure, which could cause significant catastrophic outcomes.

3-    Issues with the oil pump

Oil doesn't run by itself around the engine. It requires certain pressure to come from the oil pump, so it runs and flows properly. When the oil pump is not working as strong, oil cannot reach inaccessible components around your engine, and your vehicle will chill a drop in oil pressure.

When this happens, you should inspect the pump and resolve it immediately.

4-    Clogged filters

Your motor oil must go through a specific oil filter before it gets to the engine. This way, you confirm that any oil getting to the engine is clean enough and won't cause internal problems. Unfortunately, this filter gets either partially or completely clogged over time of use and prevents oil flow from getting to the inaccessible components around the engine.

That's why when you wait a long time on replacing the oil filter, you'll deal with low oil pressure issues. Typically, your mechanic should replace the oil filter every time you perform an oil change, and that's why it's generally a rare cause for low oil pressure unless your mechanic is not professional and doesn't know that the oil filter needs to be replaced.

What to do when you deal with low oil pressure symptoms?

When dealing with low oil pressure, it's important to know that you're dealing with a very serious situation. That's why try following these steps to prevent dealing with major consequences:

  • If you're driving on the highways, try pulling over and parking in a safe place. If you have enough time, it would be safer for you to take the nearest exit and park and some of the city roads rather than staying on the side of the highway. Obviously, this all depends on the severity of the problem and if you notice other symptoms that might indicate an immediate critical situation to stop.
  • Once you're pulled over, stop your vehicle and allow your car to cool down for at least 15 minutes.
  • Pop the hood and let air get inside the engine compartment to cool down the vehicle in cases of engine overheating related to the low oil pressure.
  • Look underneath the vehicle and see if there are any signs of oil leaks or fluid dripping underneath the car because it could be either engine oil dropping or coolant dropping because it's all linked to each other.
  • Do not attempt to start the vehicle if the warning light is still there, and give your mechanical call to get an idea about what needs to be done next. Your mechanic should provide you with accurate advice about whether to continue driving the car, which is very rare or get your vehicle towed to the years to repair shop.
    – once you get to the mechanic shop, your mechanic should do a thorough inspection to confirm the faulty component. Then, you must replace the faulty component or resolve any leaks that might be causing the issue.

How much does it cost to fix low oil pressure symptoms?

Since low oil pressure might be linked to various faulty components, repair costs can range widely from $300 up to $600. Obviously, if you're driving a luxury car, repair costs might be significantly higher than this.

Therefore, experts recommend that before you invest a penny and resolve your low oil pressure issue, you should evaluate the situation and check the overall repair costs you're dealing with. If you confirm that repair costs are close to 75% or more from your vehicle's value, you might want to sell this car and use its money to buy a better vehicle that serves you without any issue.


Your engine oil is one of the most critical fluids that you must maintain at the right level all the time. Dealing with low oil pressure is a very serious problem because it leads to engine overheating and can damage your engine in no time.

Learning about the common low oil pressure sometimes helps you detect the problem early and prevent dealing with significant outcomes. This article highlighted some of these symptoms, including a warning light on the dashboard, weird burning smell, drop in engine performance, weird engine noises, engine overheating, and others.

Whenever you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, you should pull over and stop your vehicle in a safe area before consulting your mechanic. In most situations, your mechanic must do it for inspection to confirm the faulty components to resolve the issue.

If your low oil pressure leads to significant engine damages, you can always sell your vehicle and use its money to purchase a better car, especially for repair costs are higher than the value of your vehicle or close to 75% or more from your vehicle's value.

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