3 Symptoms of a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor or Switch

Last Updated on June 18, 2020

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.

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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.

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.

#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.



  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?

    • how you know the brand new pump not working?
      are you see oil warning pressure light comes on, or engine knocking noise when engine run after replacing new pump?

  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.

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

  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

  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

  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

  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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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

    • 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.

  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?

  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.

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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

    • 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.


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