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Symptoms of Low Oil Pressure: What Happens When Oil Pressure Is Low?

Symptoms of Low Oil Pressure

Some of the common symptoms of low oil pressure are:

1-    Low oil pressure warning light

2-    Smells like burning oil

3-    Weird clunking noises

4-    Drop in the vehicle’s performance

5-    Engine overheating

6-    Significant reduction in the fuel economy

Your engine oil is one of the very critical fluids in your car that must be maintained properly. The oil is responsible for lubricating internal engine’s components and prevents friction that could cause overheating.

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It is very critical to familiarize yourself with symptoms indicating issues with that engine oil level. Once you notice these symptoms, you can immediately take whatever action to resolve the issue and prevent complicating the problem that could end you with significant repair costs.

This article walks you through the common symptoms of low oil pressure. In addition, it helps you understand several facts about engine oil to get an idea about how critical the situation is when dealing with low oil pressure.

Why is it important to maintain a proper engine oil level?

Before we dive into the details about symptoms of low oil pressure, you must understand the importance of having the right oil level in your vehicle.

Since your engine consists of many moving components that, there is a very high chance for these components to interact with each other, causing a lot of friction, which could increase the engine temperature.

Your vehicle's engine must maintain a specific temperature range, and if it exceeds this temperature range, engine overheating happens. And overheating is one of the very critical situations that could immediately result in destroying the engine and acquiring installing a new one.

With adding motor oil, the engine receives the right level of lubrication, and therefore, friction due to interaction between moving components is illuminated. Every vehicle must maintain a proper level of engine oil, and if it does not have seen level, oil won't be able to lubricate the engine properly continuously. Thus, the lower the oil level, the more critical it is to your engine.

What is the low engine oil pressure?

Your engine will require a certain level of oil, and it needs to be under a certain pressure. When the oil is pressurized at the right level, it runs smoothly around the engine and reaches various components.

When the engine oil pressure level drops below the typical operating numbers, it indicates some internal or external leaks. When that happens, you must take your vehicle to the independent shop immediately and consult your mechanic about whether you can drive the car to their fair shop or not.

What are the common symptoms of low oil pressure?

Although your vehicle's owner's manual will give you an idea about when to change the engine oil add when to expect low engine oil pressure, sometimes you might deal with problems before the due dates.

Familiarizing yourself with symptoms of low oil pressure is very critical to prevent engine damages. Let's take a closer look at some of these symptoms:

1-    Low oil pressure warning light

Low oil pressure warning light is the first symptom that will immediately pop out, indicating that their engine's oil is below what it should be. Therefore, you must never ignore any warning lights on the dashboard, whether related to the low oil pressure.

Once you notice the low oil pressure warning lights, you must immediately take your vehicle to the nearest repair shop and get it resolved. However, sometimes when the oil pressure drops below a certain threshold, the problem might be beyond repairs, and you might not be able to drive the vehicle even a single inch or reach the repair shop. Therefore, you must reach out to a towing company and have the vehicle towed instead of driven in this scenario.

2-    Smells like burning oil

Another common symptom indicating that's your engine oil is not at the right pressure is when you notice some burning oil smell. If that happens, you must turn off the vehicle immediately and allow it to cool down before checking the oil level.

You can do so by letting the engine sits for at least 15 minutes and then use the dipstick to check the current oil level. If you notice that the oil level is below it should, you must top it off immediately. Sometimes even if you top it off, the oil level will continue to drop, and the engine's oil pressure will also be impacted. This indicates that the oil is difficult, and there are some internal or external oil leaks.

3-    Weird clunking noises

When the engine does not receive the right level of lubrication, the internal moving components will grant against each other, causing some clunking noises. Therefore, listen for any weird noises and monitor where these noises are coming from. Sometimes low engine oil pressure might result in different types of noises like knocking or probably grinding.

As a rule of thumb, whenever you notice any weird noise coming from the vehicle, you must take it seriously because it typically indicates an internal issue. Some of these recently linked to minor problems, but others are related to severe issues, and if you ignore them, you sacrificed major components like the engine or the transmission.

4-    Drop in the vehicle's performance

Vehicles are designed in a way that responds immediately to any changes in the oil level. Therefore, with the engine does not receive the right level of lubrication, it will add some stress on the engine, and therefore the engine's performance and energy will not be focused on producing the moving power to your vehicle. Therefore, when your vehicle has low engine oil pressure, you'll notice a significant reduction and the engine's performance.

5-    Engine overheating

Unsurprisingly, when the engine does not receive all the needed lubrication, you will immediately notice some engine overheating issues. Obviously, engine overheating could happen due to various other reasons that could be related to the cooling system.

Therefore, it is important that once you notice engine overheating to stop driving the vehicle and consult the mechanic to confirm the real culprit because it's not going to be always a low engine oil unless you check it out.

6-    Significant reduction in the fuel economy

In some severe low engine oil pressure, you might notice that you will need to visit the gas station more frequently than usual. This is because the engine's focus is to deal with overheating and friction issues related to the low engine oil, and therefore, it will not produce the same amount of power for the same amount of fuel.

What causes low oil pressure in an engine?

Understanding what causes low engine oil pressure is very critical to prevent the situation from happening in the first place. According to experts, here are the several top causes for the low oil pressure warning light reading:

1-    Low oil

Obviously, when the engine's pan doesn't have the right oil level, the oil will lose a lot of its pressure, and therefore, your vehicle will immediately trigger the low engine oil pressure.

If that's the situation, you must perform a quick dipstick to check the current oil level and top it off with whatever is mentioned in your vehicle's owner's manual. The problem should immediately be resolved once the oil is topped off, and the warning light should disappear. If that did not happen, then the problem might also be linked to another issue that requires attention from a professional mechanic.

2-    Bad oil pressure gauge

In some scenarios, the oil pressure gauge might not be working properly, and therefore, it will send faulty signals to your vehicle's computer. Therefore the computer will immediately trigger the low oil pressure warning light.

Thus, you must have your mechanic inspect the oil pressure gauge and ensure it reads the right reading. Otherwise, the problem might be linked to some of the other components down the list.

3-    Defective oil pump

If you confirm that your vehicle has the right oil level, the problem might be related to a different component, probably the oil pump. If the oil pump does not work properly, it won't send the right amount of pressure and will not push oil around the engine no it should.

Therefore, you will notice that the vehicle is telling you there is no enough oil pressure, and that's when you have to inspect the oil pump and replace it if needed.

4-    Clogged oil filters

Oil does not immediately run around the engine, and it goes through certain filters to prevent any contaminants from reaching the engines. However, these filters can get clogged over time of use like any title filters throughout your vehicle. Therefore, you must clear these filters or replace them when necessary.

If the oil filters are clogged, the overall oil pressure will be impacted, especially if the clogged filters resulted in some oil leak around different locations in your vehicle's lubrication system.

5-    Engine damages

If your engine reaches the end of its lifetime, it might also result in low engine oil pressure. If the engine has a lot of wear and tear among its components, its oil pressure will be impacted, and therefore, your car will complain that there is insufficient engine oil pressure.

Unfortunately, when the problem with low engine oil level comes from the engine’s tear and wear, the only solution is to get your engine rebuilt or install a brand new or used engine. Obviously, this scenario is one where you need to make an informed decision and evaluate the situation completely before spending thousands of dollars on a vehicle that does not deserve.

In many situations, drivers end up selling their cars and using the money towards a better car that doesn't have major engine problems worth the repair. Luckily, Cash Cars Buyer is one of the limited companies that's guaranteed to buy your vehicle no matter its problems or its brand.

How to prevent risks of low oil pressure?

Once you understand the main causes for low engine oil pressure, you must eliminate these causes as much as possible. Experts recommend the following practices to reduce the risk of low oil pressure as much as possible:

1-    Never skip an oil change

When you perform oil change regularly, your mechanic will immediately notice any sign of proper future low engine oil pressure. Therefore, maintaining the regular maintenance and changing the oil helps you detect problems early and before it happens.

2-    Choose the right oil

Another important thing that you can do to eliminate low oil pressure is to choose the right oil indicated near the vehicle's owners' manual. Every car will require a certain type of oil that provides certain viscosity capabilities and will have the proper pressure level to prevent low oil pressure situations.

3-    Replace the oil filters

By replacing the oil filters with every oil change, you eliminate low oil pressure situations related to clogged oil filters.


Your engine requires a certain level of oil to ensure lubrication and prevent overheating. When the engine oil pressure drops below a certain threshold, it indicates an internal or external leak.

It is important that once you notice any of the symptoms of low oil pressure to take your vehicle immediately to the repair shop and resolve the problem to prevent engine overheating that could result in engine damages.

This article walked you through the common symptoms of low oil pressure: low oil pressure warning lights, engine overheating, knocking or clunking noises, etc.

If your engine overheating issue resulted in engine damages, it's not the end of the world, and therefore, you're advised to sell your vehicle to Cash Cars Buyer and use the money towards a better card that doesn't have any major problem.

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To learn more about our process and our teen, you can reach out to us by giving us a call at 866-924-4608 or visit our home page click on the free instant online offer.

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