What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Oil Pump

When you talk about engine maintenance, owners fear that their vehicle experiences bad oil pump symptoms. It usually entails shelling out vast amounts of money to replace the damaged oil pump for a new one.

How bad is this problem? Very briefly, oil pumps function as something similar to our circulatory system — pumping oil to other parts of the engine.

The pumping of oil, in this case, means lubrication for the metallic parts of the engine. Oil pressure and lubrication help in the proper running of the vehicle, avoiding any engine damage due to friction.

Lubrication also helps in preventing an overheated engine. In this case, oil cools down the parts that warm up when the vehicle is in use.

However, damages can also happen to the oil pump. This usually leads to oil not reaching other parts of the engine, resulting in failure to lubricate and absorb heat on the machine.

Sadly, failure to address this mechanical issue immediately can bring severe damages to the vehicle engine.

What makes our oil pump malfunction? What are the usual symptoms that lead to damages in this part of the engine?

Lastly, what should you do to avoid this from happening in the future?

Common Symptoms of a Failing Oil Pump

Vehicle owners consider a faulty oil pump a severe problem. Still, you can quickly discover several warning signs of the problem. Here are some of the common bad oil pump symptoms that you should look for:

Low Oil Pressure

Low Oil Pressure

A car’s engine can run rich, lean, or too hot in a matter of seconds due to low oil pressure from a damaged oil pump. This happens when the pump fails to bring oil to other engine parts, resulting in overheating and friction.

When this happens, the low-oil warning light in the dashboard will turn on. The damaged engine will also result in the inability of the vehicle to function correctly.

Having low levels of oil in your engine can also compromise your safety. For instance, this symptom can also lead to difficulty steering, making it hard to maintain control while driving.

Fluctuations in Engine Temperature

Fluctuations in Engine Temperature

Remember when you talked about the heat-absorbing function of oil pumps? Engine parts with little to no lubrication and increased friction may bring a sudden increase in the engine’s temperature.

Drivers are notified of this significant temperature spike in the engine when the coolant temperature warning lights up on the vehicle’s temperature gauge.

Unusual Hydraulic Lifter Noises

Unusual Hydraulic Lifter Noises

The vehicle’s hydraulic valve lifter aids valve-trains in withstanding an engine’s thermal expansion process with little or no damage. This mechanism is usually prone to friction, thus requiring lubrication to function correctly.

However, the hydraulic lifter valve will create noisy ticking or tapping sounds when the oil pump is not operating normally.

Clanky Valve Train

 Valve Train

Similar to the hydraulic lifter valves, pushrods, valve guides, and seals require lubrication. Thus, when you hear some weird noises coming from these parts, it may signify a problem in your oil pump.

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Unusual Noises from Oil Pump

Oil Pump


Lastly, the worn-out oil pump will also produce a whiny sound, which can be heard when the vehicle operates idle. You can definitely suspect a problem with that part of the engine since oil pumps do not produce noise.

How To Test If You Do Have a Bad Oil Pump?

Table/Graph/Chart: [Engine Oil Speed]

How To Test If You Do Have a Bad Oil Pump

Discovering potential issues with your vehicle’s oil pump through these symptoms is essential. However, you should also test the pump to know whether replacing it is a suitable option for you.

Here are some tests that you can do once one or more of the above symptoms manifest on your vehicle:

Find a Good Place to Stop

Low oil usually results in a decrease in the vehicle’s performance. In this case, you don’t want an abrupt stop in the middle of the road and affect other motorists.

Thus, if you notice the oil light turned on as you’re driving, park your vehicle on the side of the road immediately. There, you can safely look into some problems with the vehicle’s engine.

As you use your vehicle again, monitor whether the low-oil indicator light turns off after refill. Watch out for other signs of a bad oil pump that may manifest later.

Check Your Oil Level

As the indicator suggests low oil levels, look into the current amount of oil in the engine with a dipstick. Refill the machine with more oil if you have determined that the engine needs to be refilled.

Suppose the low-oil light remains on despite refilling the engine. In that case, you could check the electrical wiring that causes the issue. Otherwise, if you rule out bad engine communication and hear unwanted engine noises, monitor oil pressure as the vehicle operates.

Determine If Indicators Have Issues

If the vehicle’s low-oil light is on, but the engine still runs smoothly, there may be a problem with the electrical wiring. This may be due to oil affecting the communication lines or simple faulty wiring that affects the dashboard indicators.

Gauge Your Oil Pressure

If the problem persists, you need to attach the oil pressure gauge to the vehicle’s oil port. After that, look for any issues with your car or motorcycle’s oil pressure or recommended pressure levels.

What Causes an Oil Pump Failure?

There is no exact lifespan for oil pumps. These can either last long or easily worn out in just a period.

Yet, you’re sure that the performance of oil pumps over time depends on a wide range of factors. Another thing to consider is whether our vehicle engines are correctly maintained.

Nonetheless, listed below are some of the common reasons for a faulty vehicle oil pump.

Natural Deterioration

Engine parts such as oil pumps will deteriorate over time as they are prone to wear and tear. Even adequately maintained ones will stop functioning one day, requiring you to replace them with a newer one.

Contaminated Oil

Contaminated oil refers to unwanted fluids and debris that make for a damaged oil pump in the future. Lubricant oil is thick and can easily catch other particles outside or within your engine.

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Air molecules also contribute to the contamination of oil inside the engine. Dissolved air provides little to no effect, but unstable entrenched air may end up clouding or foaming the oil.

Contaminated Oil

Missed Oil Change Schedules

Did you know that irregular oil changes can also contaminate the remaining liquid inside the pump? As oil stays over time inside the engine, it will collect shafts, particles, and deposits from the friction of metal engine parts.

Inefficient Oil Supply for Engine

Driving with low oil inside the engine is a problem for your vehicle. Forcing the oil pump to function with low oil levels will deal with the friction of non-lubricated engine parts.

If you have a constant habit of using your vehicle despite having low oil, then the engine is at risk of further damage in the long run.

Sludge Build Up In Engine

Engine sludge refers to the build-up and hardening of oil on some parts of your engine. This can affect the function of these parts as oil is not distributed and engine parts are not oiled up.

What To Do If You Have a Bad Oil Pump?

Now that you have a damaged oil pump in your engine, you’ll ask yourself, is this worth repairing? Unfortunately, unlike other engine issues, you cannot repair damaged and faulty oil pumps.

Oil pump repairs are impossible due to the complex damages relative to the other parts near the pump. Even if you try fixing the gears, clearances, valves, and other engine parts, you’ll still encounter problems that are impossible to repair.

Using a worn-out oil pump can also bring more severe damage to the vehicle and may compromise your safety. The most practical option here is to replace the old oil pump with a new one.

Oil pump replacement is expensive, costing between $300 to $600 or $1,080 to $1,300. Yet, other engine parts may also be recommended for repair, ramping up the cost even more.

Some websites provide step-by-step do-it-yourself procedures in replacing your old oil pump with a new one. Unless you’re well-versed with engine replacement and have the necessary tools, always refer to professional automotive mechanics for proper assistance.

How to Prevent an Oil Pump Failure?

Does the phrase “Prevention is Better Than Cure” still hold in oil pump maintenance?

Well, yes! Especially if you want to avoid high expenses from oil pump replacements and other repairs, maintenance is the better option.

Oil pumps are essential in a properly functioning vehicle. It’s this part that makes other engine parts operate without friction and premature wearing over time.

However, these are delicate engine parts that can be prone to various damages. A malfunctioning oil pump can also affect your vehicle in the long run.

Fortunately, you can perform our oil pump and engine maintenance without spending more money from our wallets. Here are some ways to keep our oil pumps in good shape.

  1. Do not ignore alerts when there’s a low level of oil inside the engine. Regularly check the oil level of the vehicle using a dipstick.
  2. Not every lubricant oil is appropriate for every vehicle. Choose and use the right oil for the vehicle you’re using, provided that the manufacturer recommends the lubricant.
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Viscosity also matters in choosing the right oil for the engine. Refer to the manufacturer guide for details on the appropriate lubricant for the vehicle you’re using.

  1. Practice regular and proper oil change to avoid oil contamination and engine sludges.
  2. Replace your old oil filter with a new one as you’re about to use a new lubricant oil for the engine.
  3. As you swap your old oil pump for a newer one, you also need to clean the oil sump. Fill the pump with new oil rather than refilling the much older oil.
  4. Drivers should always be wary of their oil pressure indicator. This monitors whether there are problems with the oil level or the oil pump itself.
  5. Constantly monitor the pressure relief valve, the part of the engine that regulates the amount of oil pressure allowed in the pump.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you drive with a bad oil pump?

You can still drive your vehicle with a bad oil pump. However, it will entail some changes in the performance of your car on the road.

Starting the engine repeatedly with a bad oil pump can also damage the vehicle’s engine.

Can an oil pump get clogged?

Yes, especially on the oil filter. Contaminated oil and engine sludges are some of the common causes of clogging involving oil in the engine.

Can a bad oil pump cause overheat?

Yes, as a bad oil pump fails to perform its function to absorb heat from the engine. In turn, the motor parts will wear out from friction, resulting in high temperatures that may damage the vehicle.

How long does an oil pump last?

No one can determine the lifespan of oil pumps. However, the longevity of the pump can depend on how it is used and maintained throughout time.

Final Thoughts

Bad oil pump symptoms are a red flag for your vehicle. Not only does it pose severe damages to the pump and engine, but it could also compromise your safety.

Sadly, repairing a worn-out oil pump is impossible. Replacement is possible, but it can cost you massive amounts of money.

Fortunately, there are ways to maintain a good-functioning oil pump. Just remember to guide yourself with the procedures as stated in the manufacturer guide.

In addition, while a DIY repair is possible, we highly recommend you refer to a professional repair service for assistance.

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