The oil pressure gauge drops to zero when idle. This is why

The most common cause of a dropping oil pressure at idle is a sign that your car is low on oil. Therefore, it is recommended you check the actual level of oil using a dipstick.

High oil temperature can also cause low oil pressure, which is highly contributed by the power applied to the engine through acceleration. Faulty reading can also cause the oil to drop when the oil pressure sending unit is not functioning correctly. 

Confirming the oil level in your car is the first action that should be taken to ensure that the reading is correct and, thus, determine the appropriate action to take.

Low oil pressure at idle worries many drivers as oil is necessary for adequately lubricating the moving parts. Therefore, it is essential for you as a driver to understand what the error means and an effective way to solve the problem.

Car maintenance needs sufficient knowledge for effective and lasting solutions.

Common causes of low oil pressure at idle

Low oil

When the oil level in the engine deeps too low, it can cause a change in pressure. Therefore, the pump cannot effectively work when the oil is at a low amount. It is common to observe that oil pressure dips may happen at higher speeds or during acceleration.

Through a dipstick, the oil levels can be determined and thus considered a simple oversight that can be easily solved. However, in other situations, this may result from mechanical issues requiring proper attention from a mechanic. 

Poor oil quality

Poor oil changing choices may also affect the engine. If you opt for low-quality oil, this could affect the pressure. The contamination of oil and dirt leads to the oil losing its properties, contributing to the loss of pressure.

Contaminated oil is also less likely to clean the engine as it should, which eventually causes mechanical issues. 

Defective oil pump

Faulty readings are often done through defective oil pumps. The oil pump’s primary role is to ensure that the engine oil keeps circulating in the system.

Therefore, when it fails, the oil can no longer move through the engine. Thus the oil indicator may show. A defective oil pump contributes to engine damage and should be immediately checked to avoid further damage. 

Wrong oil grade

This is a common occurrence that can be done by using the wrong type of oil in the engine. Some engines can use various grades of engine oil, while others do not have that quality.

Pressure is likely to be affected by the type of oil used, which is determined when the oil is too thick or too thin. These specificities may affect the engine’s lubrication, causing the pressure to lower. 

Faulty pressure gauge

This may result from a flawed electrical system or happen immediately after an oil change. As a result, inaccurate readings occur and may take time before they register or fall back in line as intended. 

Clogged oil filter

Changing an oil filter is necessary; thus, when you do not do so for a long time, it becomes clogged with sludge, which reduces the flow. Flow reduction then reduces oil pressure in the engine, hence the low-pressure indication when idle. 

Damaged engine.

This is among the worst-case scenarios that may happen to your car. A damaged engine may often be a result of poor maintenance. You must have your vehicle checked from time to time and thus improve its performance. 

How to fix low pressure at idle

  • Add more oil. When you use your dipstick and notice that the oil level is far down, it clearly indicates that you have to add more. Also, ensure the oil viscosity matches the oil present and is of good quality. This is an essential maintenance step that you can apply.
  • Oil and oil filter change. In the case of contaminated and dirty engine oil, changing the oil and the oil filter is necessary to regulate the pressure better. This can be part of your essential maintenance.
  • Replacing a faulty oil pump. Oil pump replacement averagely costs $350 to $2000.
  • Use the right oil. This can be determined by looking at the car manual to identify \ the exact oil required. You can also look for a reliable service center for practical advice. 
  • Change the engine. In very few cases, you find engine issues that can be fixed. Severe damage to the machine will automatically lead to a change. This can cost between $4,000 to $10,000, depending on the type of car. You can opt to have your engine rebuilt or get a remanufactured one.

Take away

Regular maintenance can be one of the most effective solutions or choices that you can take up. Maintaining care will help you avoid costs such as engine replacement, which is cheaper than buying a new one.

Knowledge of your car is necessary to prevent mistakes such as mixing oils and when to take action. Therefore, periodic inspections reduce the risk of low oil pressure at idle.

Scroll to Top