5 Simple Steps: How to Check Oil Pressure of Your Car

Car enthusiast or not, we all know how it’s very important to maintain not just the car interior or exterior per se but also its engine. This is why it’s important to know how to check oil pressure in your car, because the oil status is what will keep your car going.


​Your car oil pressure can actually be a significant indicator if your engine bearings are worn out or if your engine oil is dirty. However, there are still a lot of other possible causes of unstable oil pressure. That is why you have to be able to know when your car pressure is still normal or not.

Early diagnosis and prevention is still better than cure.​

Some Things to Remember First​

Just as we mentioned earlier, an unstable oil pressure might be an indicator that something is very wrong in your car engine or just the oil pump itself. Either way, it’s best to detect any defects while it’s early to avoid accidents when your car is in use. You don’t want to discover what’s wrong when it’s already too late.​

Here are some of the most common causes of low/high oil pressure:​

Worn-out Engine Bearings​​

This is one of the most common causes of low oil pressure. High mileage engines are more prone to having low oil pressure. This is because worn out main and rod bearings allow clearances increase oil flow. This,  in turn, reduces pressure.​

Check your mileage and car engine regularly! Excessive clearances in between camshaft journals and cam bearings, leaking galley plugs and oil pump leakage might trouble you some more. Nothing beats a good new car engine.​

Bad Oil Sending Unit​

The oil sending unit is mostly responsible for controlling your car’s pressure light or gauge (depends on what is installed in your car). Depending on what appears on the pressure light or gauge, you will know whether your car’s oil pressure is too high or too low.​


Troubleshooting the oil sending unit is actually pretty simple. You just have to unhook the wire going to you oil sending unit. Then ground it with the key still in. If your gauge rises to its highest point, then all is well.​

Dirty Oil + Dirty Engine​

When oil is not getting into the crankcase as quickly as it should, it causes the engine be starved of oil. Dirt and buildups in the oil return holes are the main reason behind this. So make sure that the oil you out in your engine is actually clean and that you clean your engines every now and then.​

Blocked Oil Passage

Finally, a blocked oil passage can also cause high pressure. A lifter tap and an oil leak at the cam assembly might be good symptoms of a blocked oil passage. Beware, though this issue can become pretty serious if treated late.

Materials That You'll Need​

Generally, checking and fixing oil pressure is a simple task compared to other issues with your car. Hence, you’ll only need a couple of tools and items to do this efficiently.

  • Pressure Gauge - A pressure gauge is the best tool to use to measure the performance of your engine when running. A normal reading of 10 PSI/1000 RPMs from your pressure gauge is handy whenever you’re checking the status of your oil pump and sending unit. These two components are integral in the performance of your engine and the status of your oil pressure.​
  • Engine Oil - If your oil pressure warning light is on, it’s usually because of low engine oil. Typically, adding sufficient engine oil is all you need to get the job done if there are no further breakages.​

Steps to Take When Checking Your Car's Oil Pressure

Step 1: Check The Warning Light


For starters, your vehicle is bound to have a warning light for its oil pressure. This is more commonly called as the Engine Oil Pressure Warning Light. Before proceeding with anything else, be sure to look at the warning light first.

The warning light is usually found in your dashboard. It’s an icon present in one the gauges depending on your vehicle. Universally, the engine oil pressure warning light symbol is an engine oil container icon. If you’re not familiar with how it looks like, then an easier comparison would be a gravy boat.

If the warning light is on, then it means your engine might be burning too much oil or there’s an excessive loss of oil. Of course, there are other factors such as the oil pressure sensor malfunctioning.

Step 2: Inspect For Oil Leaks


Losing oil internally can be a reason for your warning light to go on. Oil leaks are usually the culprit of this. Open your car’s hood and inspect the engine immediately. You want to look for leaks around the oil pan, crankshaft oil seals, and valve covers.

To check oil leaks, just run a rag across the components to check if there’s spillage. Look for greasy areas as well as it may be caused by a breakage in one of the engine’s components.

Step 3: Check The Oil


To reiterate, there are a lot of causes when your engine oil pressure warning light is on. It’s not like a low gas warning light which is solved in only one way by, of course, filling your gas tank. With that said, there are a lot of ways to go from here.

Determining the problem can be done in very simple methods. However, you should first determine the amount of oil in your engine. To do that, simply use the dipstick for your engine oil.

If the dipstick shows that the oil level is below the "Add" line indicator, then it means you’re running low on oil. Even worse, if you’re dipstick doesn’t have any oil there, then it can mean that the oil is getting drained fast.​

Step 4: Fixing Low Oil


If step 2 corresponds to your dipstick, then you need to know how to resolve this problem. The good news is that low engine oil is generally easy to resolve. Simply put sufficient engine oil without overfilling it. Be sure to pour it only until it reaches the "Full" line indicator.

The real problem is when you fill the crankcase with enough oil but the reading in the oil gauge remains the same, or if the warning light is still on. If this happens, remove the oil pressure sending unit and attach a pressure gauge to the engine.

Afterward, run your engine and check if the pressure is normal. A normal pressure would read about 10 PSI/1000 RPMs. If the pressure is normal, then your oil pressure sending unit is the problem and it’s likely that it needs replacement.​

Step 5: Bad Oil Pump

pressure gauge

After step 2, if the dipstick reads an oil level between the indicators "Add" and "Full" while the engine is noisy, it might mean a faulty oil pump. Similarly to step 3, you can validate this by attaching a pressure gauge to the engine.

However, unlike step 3, make sure to keep the pressure sending unit intact. If the pressure runs at a normal reading, then it means your pump is still okay. Anything outside of the normal might indicate it’s worn out or broke.

Here's a quick video on how to check oil pressure:


An unstable oil pressure is not the only trouble you will be dealing with when you own a car. That is why it is very important to know the basics. Knowing early defect symptoms, diagnosing and DIY fixes is a must.​

Should you feel like something is wrong with your car, trust your car and have it checked as soon as possible. (if you cannot diagnose it on your own) It’s better to spend on your car repair in a one-time-big-time rather than go through the hassle of having it repaired every time it breaks.​

How did you find this article? Is it helpful and informative? If you enjoyed reading our tutorial, please share it with your friends. Drop us a comment or a message and we’d love to hear from you.​

Anthony Ebden

He's an auto blogger. He worked as an auto mechanic for more than 5 years and his mission is to provide our readers with the best car maintenance tips, DIY guides and the most updated trends in the automotive industry.

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