3 Symptoms of a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor or Switch

Last Updated on July 9, 2021

Here we’re going to discuss the following engine sensor: The oil pressure sensor (or oil pressure switch). We’ll go over the functions of the sensor and the common signs to look for with a faulty oil pressure sensor.

How an Oil Pressure Sensor / Switch Works

The main job of an engine oil pressure sensor is to keep track of the oil pressure in the vehicle and then transmit this information straight to the combination meter or the instrument panel.

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If the vehicle has an electronic control module (almost all do), then the oil pressure switch will send this information to the module where it can be calculated.

After it is calculated, the information gets sent to the combination meter or instrument panel so that the engine oil pressure warning light or the oil pressure gauge can be activated.

Symptoms of a Bad Oil Pressure Switch or Sensor

If there is a problem with the oil pressure sensor, then this will usually activate the engine oil pressure light. It could also cause an inaccurate reading to be given from the oil pressure gauge. Below are the three most typical signs of a faulty oil pressure switch or sensor:

#1 – Repeated Blinking from the Oil Pressure Light

low oil pressure warning light on

Sometimes if the oil pressure sensor is not working properly, there will be blinking from the low oil light on the dashboard. This could cause a driver to panic because they’ll believe that their oil levels are low, which would end up damaging the engine if it were true.

In order to determine if this is a real warning or not, you should manually check your oil level to see if it is low. If it isn’t, then it is likely you have a faulty oil pressure sensor and you need to replace it right away.

Related: Common Symptoms of Low Engine Oil

#2 – Wrong Reading Shows on the Oil Pressure Gauge

oil pressure gauge

If you are driving an older vehicle, then it likely has a mechanical gauge that calculates the oil pressure. Whenever the oil levels are normal but the gauge is showing zero, this means the oil pressure sensor needs to be replaced because it is faulty or there is some type of connection issue.

If you are driving a modern vehicle, then your oil pressure gauge is probably electronic and transmits an electronic signal to get the reading.

Whenever an oil pressure sensor is not working properly in a modern car, it will cause the gauge to have strange readings or it will sit on full or zero. Check the wiring to the sensor and replace as needed.

Don’t assume your engine oil level is low without physically checking the dipstick. Otherwise you may end up with too much oil in your engine which can mean a completely different set of issues in include oil pressure that’s too high.

#3 – Oil Pressure Light Turns On

The best way to test if your sensor is bad is through the lights on the oil pressure gauge. If the low oil pressure warning light comes on when they engine’s oil levels are normal and your engine is running smoothly and quietly, then you likely have a bad oil pressure sensor. Anytime this sensor is defective, it will give you false readings.

If your oil levels are normal but you hear grinding, ticking, or other noises from your engine, you have an actual problem with oil pressure such as a faulty oil pump and the sensor is simply doing its job.

Eventually, these readings will go way beyond the normal specifications which will cause the warning light to turn on. At this point, you should replace your sensor  in order to stay properly informed of your oil pressure level.

 

81 thoughts on “3 Symptoms of a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor or Switch”

  1. Thanks for the good job that you are doing. I have a Toyota Belta. And it problem is oil pump which was not pumping oil propely to the engine. I bought a new oil pump. The problem which am still having is the same problem, new oil pump doesnt pump oil to the engine again.

    Kindly assist me what is the problem and can it be fix?

    Reply
  2. Hi,

    Thank you for the good job. I have a caldina GT manual. The oil light comes on when i engage gear 1,3 and 5
    The problem came up when i did the service and put synthetic oil. I did replace the oil with the shell yellow can oil but the problem is still there. What could be the issue?
    Oil levels are ok.

    Kindly assist.

    Reply
    • if oil level oke
      possible causes can be:
      oil pressure sensor / switch malfunction
      oil pump weak
      cylinder head oil flowing path clogged

      Reply
  3. Hey I have a problem about the oil with my Car When the car is on it’s fin but wen I step on the gas the oil comes out from the dipstick and the is like if the Pressure goes up to heads you know we’re is the breather for the heads Well from there the oil comes out threes is the leak I’m talking about

    Reply
  4. my Toyota big daddy shows oil light on the dashboard when it’s hot meanwhile I changed oil pump, oil filter with new oil. please help I don’t no what to do

    Reply
  5. 2003 xterra. Oil light flashing off and on intermittently. This happened before and was a quart low between oil changes . Went to shop said and they checked and said not low probably just faulty light on gauges. I told them I didn’t want faulty gauge as would them not know if really problem. Today it started clAttering very loud after I drove a mile then got on freeway and it went off after s few minutes. Could this be the oil sending unit and shouldn’t the shop have known this? Maybe I should go to a different shop

    Reply
  6. Well you covered alot but, 03 avalanche I have replaced the unit 4 times , in a year do to having a high reading of 80+ psi pegged out. , I usely use a mix blend .but I have noticed when I add a conventional to keep it full some where around 1 qrt before oil change it does it , it Peg’s out to 80 , grand it IAM getting better at changing it it’s in the back where the distributor was. Not I still get pissy ,, any suggestions of what may be causing this.

    Reply
  7. Hi, I have a 2015 dodge caravan the check engine light turned on had a reading and it shows I need to replace the oil sensor switch, but my oil light has not come on. Is that common?

    Reply
    • The low oil pressure light should be directly controlled by the oil pressure sensor so in theory it should come on if the sensor is bad. It’s possible it’s a false positive. If your oil level looks good and you don’t notice any oddities while driving, you could clear the code and see if it comes back. This may not apply to your vehicle, but the bulb behind the oil pressure light should still be good but if you bought the vehicle used, there’s a chance the previous owner removed the bulb to hide a problem.

      Reply
  8. This is bad advice, you can’t tell if you have low oil pressure by checking your oil levels. Your oil levels could be perfectly fine but you could have low oil pressure and this is what the “oil pressure sensor” is telling you. You may have it confused with a “low oil sensor” which checks the amount of oil, not the pressure?

    If you need to check engine oil pressure you will need to use an oil pressure gauge.

    Reply
    • Checking your oil level is just the quickest/easiest way to start diagnosing low oil pressure. Low oil isn’t the only cause of low oil pressure but it should be the first thing to check.

      Reply
  9. Hi my small Toyota car engine light stays on for like 3 to 4 minutes before it goes off and the engine sound don’t use to be normal during this periods, please what is the solution

    Reply
    • Could be a hundred different things. I’d recommend scanning the car with an OBD2 scanner for any stored trouble codes. A mechanic will be happy to do that for you for a fee.

      Reply
  10. Hi. I have a 2007 Pontiac grand prix gxp 5.3l v8 ls4 engine. My low oil pressure light came on briefly but I cleared it on the dash board myself. As soon as it came on, my lifters started tapping and I took the car home and parked it. Don’t know if it’s the oil pump or what but I checked the oil and the level was fine. I changed oil and filter with Castrol gtx full synthetic 10w30 oil and Mobil 1 filter, no luck. Still tapping. Any ideas?

    Reply
  11. I had a 1995 Dodge Dakota with a v-8 engine and I began having issues with skipping and almost like the belt was loose or fuel pump,transmission, rear end, plug wires,spark plugs. All of these came to mind so I started replacing them..no better..so, I remembered that on occasion that the oil gauge would fall but since I had been around chrystlers I just figured it was an electrical issue, like a short..so I put an oil sending sensor in and it completely started running right again..later on had same issue, well it took me a few tries at thinking wrong again, woundup being oil sensor..I now have a 2000 jeep wrangler w 2.5 liter..have had same issues. I tried everything. Guess what it was oil sensor..so 2 chrystler -jeep autos had same issues. So if someone says oil sending unit doesn’t effect the running of vehicle that BS. It has made it run so bad that it caused the death wobble several times. And that ain’t a fun place to be. Usually it was between 45 -55 mph in 4th gear. Feel it a little in 5 as long as its going above 60 mph. Hope this helps someone.

    Reply
    • A badly running engine cannot cause death wobble. Idiots putting lifts on their jeeps do. Death wobble has to do with suspension,and steering not the engine.

      Reply
    • I changed my kia sportage 2012 oil and filter, approximately 3days later the red oil light comes on the dashboard. A mechanic checked the oil level, oil pump and oil sensors switch. Then he told me the oil level is ok and pump is working well . He told me the sensors switch is faulty so can drive the car and change the sensors the next day. But while drivingbthe car from the garage the car suddenly stop on the way.

      Reply
      • When you try to restart the car, what happens? Does it sound OK? If the engine sounds terrible when you restart it, the sudden stop may be related. Otherwise, I’m not sure.

        Reply
  12. I have replaced the oil filter, the oil pump, and oil switch but still the check oil pressure light comes on the dashboard. What could be the problem?

    Reply
    • You didn’t mention if you changed your oil. It may be in poor condition or the wrong viscosity. Too thick of an oil can cause the oil pressure light to come on.

      Reply
  13. I just bought Nissan Altima 2008, and I check my engine oil daily, but my dipstick is showing a reduction in oil with huge difference every day. Like I changed my oil last week and now the dipstick is showing oil below the low level. My engine exhaust is not showing any white smoke, my engine sound is also perfect and there is no low oil sensor idication on my dash. Please help guide me through the problem. The engine is 2.5li DOHC V4, I guess.

    Reply
  14. Hi guys, I drive a manual Audi A3, and recently when travelling long distances/high speed the oil light comes on after a while and the oil is actually drained up, with no visible leaks at all. what could be the problem?

    Reply
    • Most common cause would be some type of internal leak such as the valve seals or piston rings. The leaking oil would simply burn up while driving so you wouldn’t notice any oil on your driveway or garage floor.

      Reply
  15. I have a 07 Chevy Silverado Classic v8 4.8. Oil pressure gage fluctuates from min to max depending on engine rpm. Oil level is good and it seems to be the sensor. Also the truck was neglected for a time and the oil may have been fully broke down but had recently been changed oil and filter. Sensor? Sludge in oil pan clogging sensor?

    Reply
    • Many oil pumps are positive displacement pumps driven by the crankshaft. This means the oil pressure will increase as engine speed (RPM) increases. I encourage you to do a bit of research on your truck to determine if the oil pressure readings you’re observing are typical. Know that some gauges aren’t completely accurate, so there may be some slight variation compared to others’ numbers.

      Reply
  16. I have a 2000 Expedition with a 5.4L 2v Triton V8.. My oil pressure gauge just started to act up. It will drop below the low line ad the light will come on. It stays on for no more than 2-3 sec then the pressure gauge jumps back to normal and the light goes off. I just had an issue after replacing all 4 O2 sensors where a fuse blew when sensors were installed. It caused the transmission to only work in 1st gear and threw a bunch of electical codes. The fuse fixed the issue but oil light and pressure drop started. I do have a small oil leak but I only use maybe a half qt every couple of months.

    Reply
    • It sounds like it could be an electrical issue that is causing a bad oil pressure reading, but I would take it to the shop to have them check it out just in case. You wouldn’t want to blame the oil pressure sensor and have it instead be an issue with the oil pump.

      Make sure your oil is topped up as well.

      Reply
  17. I had the heads machined, changed the gaskets, timing chains, oil pump, oil, oil filter, oil pressure sensor, and blew air threw the oil pick-up tube. Oil level is good, engine sounds good, temperature guage is normal.
    Oil pressure light comes on after temperature reaches normal operating (20 minutes idle or 1 mile of driving). Engine does seem hot and maybe smells a little burning, but no smoke. I did try resetting a possible “change oil indication”.
    Is there a relearn procedure or is some thing else going on in my 2008 Jeep Liberty?

    Reply
    • As the engine warms up, oil thins out and the oil pressure will drop. First, confirm you’re using the correct viscosity oil for your engine. This information can be found in the owner’s manual.

      Next, I would do an oil pressure test to make sure you don’t have a mechanical problem that’s giving you low pressure. Let it come up to operating temperature and make sure your oil pressure stays within spec.

      Reply
  18. I have a 2002GMC serra 4.8en gine low oil pressure changed oil pump sti ll the same starts off fine then pressure drops

    Reply
    • Perform an oil pressure test so you know if there is a mechanical problem that is giving you low oil pressure or a false positive from an electrical issue. If it’s the former, address the issue immediately as low oil pressure can quickly destroy an engine.

      Reply
  19. Hi I have a 2004 bmw 320 I and it is hard to start and when I first start it it some times burns oil and the oil light comes on for 5 to 10 seconds and then turns off and doesn’t want to accelerate off the lot I went and got an oil change and a transmision flush and new transmision oil and that did nothing will this have any thing to do with the oil sensor ?? Thank you in advance

    Reply
    • Sounds like there’s something else going on that’s causing low oil pressure. If the oil changes have been neglected, some of the oil passages may be clogged restricting oil flow and causing that light to come on. I would have the vehicle inspected at a shop so you have a better idea of what the problem is. Low oil pressure is a very quick way to destroy an engine.

      Reply
  20. I have an Astra 1.8. At idling my counter surge than it would drop below 900 rpm and the oil light would flicker. It only happens when oil has been warmed up and when idling.

    Reply
    • It could be a vacuum leak, but I’m not sure why that would cause the oil light to turn on.

      I would do an oil pressure test to make sure you don’t have low oil pressure, then perhaps a smoke test to check for vacuum leaks.

      Reply
  21. Hi I have VW JETTA 2014 model, it got a low oil pressure . i changed the oil pump , oil filter and oil switch but continued. I was then advice to rebuild the engine since the pistols had a play. even after doing that it still showing low oil pressure. please assist.

    Reply
  22. i been having as issue and im not sure of its the gauge,pump or sensor, one day i had zero pressure and after about 5 miles of driving it came up to 50, the next day as soon as i cranked it the pressure shot up to about 75 and stayed there even after driving for 30 minutes, now when i turn the ignition to on with motor off the gauge will read 75 and after i crank it and drive awhile it stays on 75, 80 is max on my gauge, this is on a 2005 yukon slt with 270k miles. Any ideas?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “oil switch light”. If you’re referring to the low oil pressure warning, that will usually only illuminate when your oil level is dangerously low. I’m not sure if it needs replacement or just a new seal, but you may want to have a mechanic to look at it and give you further advice.

      Reply
  23. WV CC 2011
    160K
    After I replaced the oil and the oil filter I got the low oil pressure waring but only at low RPM. so relapsed the oil filter again by original WV thinking I got a bad One but still didn’t fix the problem. Car runs ok otherwise

    Reply
  24. A4 Audi 1.8tfsi model 2009

    engine oil light comes on when im braking (irritating) , problem started two days ago when i changed engine oil . what might be the problem?

    Reply
    • Check oil pressure, if you can test this in motion all the better. You want to make sure you aren’t actually getting low oil pressure. If that looks good, I would test the oil pressure sensor to make sure it is functioning correctly.

      Does this happen only when you brake hard, or when you lightly tap the brakes too?

      Reply
    • Have you checked your engine oil level? Are you low on oil?

      If you have plenty of oil, the next step is to do an oil pressure test to see if your oil pump is bad or if it’s just the sending unit.

      Reply
  25. I have a 2013 silverado. Pressure guage is pegged at 80 and check engine light are on. Hooked my computer up to it and it through of a code for my oil sender/sensor. With just a bad sensor, is oil still being pumped through my engine, I don’t want to cause any serious engine issues

    Reply
    • If it’s just a bad sensor, yes there should still be oil moving through the engine normally. However you should do an oil pressure test with an external gauge to know for sure and replace the sensor as soon as possible.

      Reply
  26. Engine light is on, oil level was low but have since filled it, oil pressure gage is at 0, no engine noises.
    The oil pressure light never came on

    Reply
  27. looking for a pressure switch Range: -1 to 63 bar; Potential: 30 – 250 VAC; Current: <15 A; action: SP; CONNECTION: G1/2 IN; CONTACT ARRANGEMENT: 4NC: OEM P/N: PG0033227200

    Reply
  28. The oil pressure sensor has been changed and it still it jumps and loses power. The engine manifold light comes on. Could it be the leads with dirt in them or something else.

    Reply
  29. 03 tahoe when driving oil pressure is at 40 at idle nothing and low pressure light comes on ,,no knocking or anything and runs good ,,,is it the awitch or other problem,,,it only goes up with acceleration

    Reply
  30. 2019 Chevy Express 3500 with 21,000 miles. Engine light went on and oil gauge is at zero. when I turn the van off and back on, the oil pressure gauge zips up to the top and then back to zero and stays there. Dipstick shows plenty of oil. Van is running fine and making no strange noise. How far can I safely drive? I’m 35 miles from the nearest chevy dealership.

    Reply
    • That depends on if you have low oil pressure, or if the problem is just with the gauge. If the gauge is bad, you should be able to drive to the dealership. If you have low oil pressure, I wouldn’t drive it anywhere.

      You can’t really know for sure without an oil pressure test, but there are clues that could let you know if you have low oil pressure.

      You did the most important thing which is to verify you still have enough oil. If you hear any clattering or new noises in the engine, I would stop driving the vehicle immediately. Other than that, it’s up to you if you want to take the risk to drive to the dealership or have the vehicle towed. Driving with no oil pressure will ruin the engine almost immediately, and you will probably have to replace the entire engine.

      Reply
  31. Please help me out,, I have enough oil while checked from the dipstick and I opened the oil engine and saw how oil is flushing inside the engine but I still see oil sign on my dash board and it always comes up when I drives a long distance, I do not experience any noise from the engine while the oil sign pops up, please advise me what better should I do in this situation?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • You should do an oil pressure test. That will help you find out if you actually have low oil pressure, or if you just have a faulty gauge that is causing the signal.

      Reply
  32. 88 Lincoln Town Car on the dash there is a check oil button there is also a digital flashing oil pressure after driving it for about 30 minutes the check oil light does not come on but the digital flashing oil pressure flashes there is oil in it should I check the sensors and the pump

    Reply
    • Yes. I personally would not want to drive the car anymore until I was sure I had oil pressure. This is especially true if you hear any funny noises coming from the engine, like a knocking or rattling sound.

      You could do an oil pressure test to verify you have sufficient oil pressure. If oil pressure looks good, you may have a bad sensor. If oil pressure is not good, there may be a problem with the oil pump or a restriction in the oiling system.

      What oil viscosity are you using in the vehicle?

      Reply
  33. I have a Kia Sportage, 2013 1.6 GDI petrol. The oil light came on which was amber. I stopped and checked the oil level on the stick and it was normal half to 3/4 full. It seemed to be running ok. Is this a oil pressure sensor fault or something else?

    Reply
    • I don’t know. You could try doing an oil pressure test to make sure you still have good oil pressure. Could be a sensor issue, but a mechanic with a scan tool and a means to test oil pressure should be able to tell you more.

      Reply
    • Have you checked the oil level? If your oil level is OK, I would think about doing an oil pressure test to make sure you’re actually getting sufficient oil pressure.

      Reply
  34. I drive a. Toyota Corolla 2005 and while driving the oil light gauge flick sometimes have changes the oil pump, change the oil filter even changed the oil pressure switch and the oil level is ok still yet I get the oil flicking sign on my dashboard

    Reply
  35. Hi, I have a citroen relay 2006, on ignition red oil light flashes engine almost losses power and does at times after a short drive oil light hoes off and engine is fine. I have done complete oil change and new oil filter no change though. Thanks

    Reply
  36. So, my oil light went on yesterday. I just had the oil changed in March. I checked the oil level and things are fine. Rather than assume that it is a false positive, I think I may have to replace the oil sensor. Is this something a non-mechanic can do? My dealer charges $145 an hour for labor. There is no noise and the light is solid, no blinking.

    Reply
    • I would look up the oil sensor replacement process on YouTube for your specific vehicle and see if it’s something you would feel comfortable tackling yourself (or for your non-mechanic buddy). Every vehicle is a little different.

      An alternative would be an independent shop. These tend to be much cheaper than the dealership, and you’re getting the experience of a mechanic to help you fix the issue.

      Reply

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