Increased or high oil pressure in your car is an alarming situation and should be dealt with quickly.
Ideally, the oil pressure should stay at the median point on the gauge and if it is abnormally high, then an inspection will be required. Most drivers conclude that it is time for engine replacement when facing a high oil pressure situation, however, that is not always true.
In this post, we will explain to you what causes high oil pressure and how can you prevent and also fix it.
High Oil Pressure Causes
We will begin with the actual causes of high oil pressure. Further down, you will find more information about high oil pressure. There are a lot of different things that could cause high oil pressure. Here are the 7 most common causes of high oil pressure:
1. Engine Temperature / Idling Pressure
Engine temperature is the most common reason for high oil pressure. When your engine oil is cold, you normally have very high pressure. Check your pressure when your engine oil is hot instead. If the pressure is too high when the engine oil is hot, you have to start diagnosing it!
2. Relief Valve Malfunction
The relief valve prevents damage to the piping and vessels due to high pressure. If the oil pressure does not reach its optimal level after driving the car, then there might be a problem with the relief valve. One way to check is by removing the valve, cleaning it and installing it again to test whether the oil pressure goes back to normal. It is located at the oil pressure pump and can be pretty hard to reach sometimes.
3. Problem With the Oil Sending Unit (Sensor)
The high oil pressure problem can also be due to a faulty oil sending unit. It can give you a false signal that the gauge is showing an overly high pressure, but in the reality the pressure is good. Diagnose it with a manual oil pressure tester to get the right pressure.
4. Poor Quality Oil
Using a low-quality oil can also be the reason behind high or low pressure. A poor quality oil which is thin or lightweight can easily pass through the engine and will have a low pressure; whereas thick oil would require a high pressure to flow. If you change the oil to a different brand and notice an increase in pressure, it means that the previous oil was too thin to provide ideal performance.
5. Contaminated Oil Filter
The oil filter is responsible for keeping the contaminants out and ensuring that the clean fuel reaches the engine. Over time, dust and debris clog the oil filter and as a result, sn inadequate amount of fuel does not reach the engine. Consequently, the engine’s temperature rises which leads to high oil pressure.
6. Blocked Passage
Blockage in the oil passage can cause high pressure since the engine is deprived of proper lubrication. A damaged lifter tap can cause the blockage and if it remains blocked for a long time, the engine would be damaged to an extent that it would need to be replaced.
7. Changing Oil Grade
Experimenting with different oil grades can sometimes be a bad decision, especially if you don’t consult an expert. Different oil grades have a distinct viscosity level and are meant for certain engine types. The recommended oil grade for your engine can be found in the owner’s manual.
The Role of the Oil Pressure
The oil pressure ensures that the mechanical components of the vehicle stay well lubricated. This improves the life-span of the mechanical parts such as camshaft, main and balance shaft bearing, and prevents the engine from getting too hot while driving. It’s very important for your engine to always acquire the right oil pressure. Without oil pressure, your engine will seize within a few minutes depending on the load and RPM.
Because of the importance of the oil pressure, there is an oil pressure warning light on your dashboard and if your oil pressure gets too low or too high, the oil pressure light will flash on your dashboard. If your oil pressure light is flashing on your dashboard, you should stop your vehicle and turn it off imminently!
So…What’s the Ideal Oil Pressure?
The ideal oil pressure ranges between 25 to 65 psi when the engine oil is warm and 1000-3000 rpm, whereas if the oil pressure reading shows 80 psi or above then there is a serious problem. This is, of course, depending on what engine you have and how worn the engine is. If you want to learn the exact oil pressure that you should have in your car, I recommend you check in your car repair manual!
What to Do If Your Engine Gets Damaged by a Faulty Oil Pressure?
If your engine was starved of proper lubrication for a long time, there are chances that it is damaged now. Engine replacement can be an expensive option but it gives a new life to your car. If the budget is tight, consider choosing rebuilt or salvage engines which also offer great reliability and are pocket-friendly as well.
To ensure the long life of your car engine, make sure to inspect it weekly to notice anything wrong. Our best recommendation is to take it to an official dealership or auto-specialist to save time.
High Oil Pressure Symptoms
Overall there is really no significant symptoms to look for when it comes to high oil pressure. You often only see it if you have a manual gauge installed to your engine; some cars do have this as standard. Another symptom of high oil pressure is oil leaks around the engine. High oil pressure can also cause high crankcase pressure which could cause your engine to start to leak oil through the gaskets. On some cars, the oil pressure light will flash on your dashboard if the pressure get’s too high!
Diagnosing the Oil Pressure Gauge
Before concluding that your car has a high oil pressure problem, it is a good idea to first check that the oil pressure gauge is working properly.
If the car is on idle and the engine oil is hot – you normally have low pressure. If the engine oil is cold and you rev up your engine, the gauge should be much higher.
The best way to check if the gauge is correct is to use a manual pressure gauge. If you want to get one, you can check out this one on Amazon: OTC Tools 5610 Trans-Eng Oil Press Tester
Hello I’m Magnus, the owner and the writer of this website. I have been working with cars since I was 16 and I’m specialized with in-depth Automotive diagnostics. Also been driving drifting for the last 6 years. I’m here to give you answers to all your automotive questions and I hope that you enjoy our content.