If your oil pressure sensor is displaying a low oil pressure warning, have it checked as soon as possible. Low oil pressure can be extremely damaging to your engine. It signifies that the engine components receive less oil for lubrication, which might result in internal wear-tear and friction. 

There are several reasons why your gauge displays a low oil pressure rating at idle. This article will look at some of the causes and proposed solutions. First, let us understand more about low oil pressure at idle. 

What is considered Low Oil Pressure at Idle? 

Low oil pressure typically indicates a lack of oil pumping in your system, implying that engine components are receiving less lubrication. Less lubrication in your engine can cause friction between components, resulting in increased wear and tear. This results in increased engine noise, white emissions from the exhaust, and decreased engine performance. 

At idle, the normal oil pressure range for cars is roughly 20-30 PSI, however, for heavy-duty vehicles like trucks and buses, it is 25-35 PSI. Anything less than 20 psi is considered low oil pressure and will activate the low oil alarm on your dashboard. 

Low Oil Pressure Symptoms 

Some signs of low oil pressure inside the engine include: 

  • The oil pressure light flashes on and off. 
  • Constant engine noises 
  • Lower power performance 
  • Emission of black smoke from the exhaust 
  • The smell of burning oil 

How to Check Oil Pressure  

Your engine model usually determines the normal oil pressure level; heavy-performance vehicles have a different normal oil pressure range than low-performance vehicles. Make sure to ask for a normal oil pressure range for your car from the manufacturer or a professional. Usually, anything between 25-65 PSI is considered idle oil pressure. A manual gauge is a superior approach to checking your oil pressure because your car’s oil pressure gauge may be faulty. 

Steps to check oil pressure 

  1. Purchase a manual oil pressure gauge and ensure that the socket is the correct size for your oil pressure sender. 
  2. Attach the socket to the oil pressure sender (used to sense oil pressure in your automobile) and the other end to the gauge, tightening it properly with a wrench. 
  3. Start the engine and wait a few minutes for the oil to warm up to the operating temperature
  4. Check the pressure gauge readings; if they are constantly flickering, it could be that your oil pressure is not steady. 

Reasons for Low Oil Pressure 

Now you have checked your engine’s oil pressure, and it is showing low oil pressure. There could be several reasons why your engine’s oil pressure is dropping. 

Low Oil 

Dipstick Reading

Low oil pressure in your engine could be due to the engine’s low oil level. There could be several explanations for the low oil level. There may be an oil leak in your engine, or you may not have changed your engine oil in a long time.

Low oil pressure causes less oil to be pumped into the system via an oil pump, resulting in a low oil pressure alarm. You can also check your engine oil light flickering to determine if the oil is low.

Clogged oil filter 

The oil filter keeps your oil clean and free of dirt, debris, and other metal contaminants. If your oil filter is not working correctly or has been clogged, this can cause an increase in impurity in your engine’s oil, resulting in less oil flowing through the engine system.

Clogged Oil Filter 

Less oil in your engine will, in turn, alarm the low oil pressure warning. If this is the case, change the oil filter but not the oil.

Faulty Pressure Gauge 

A pressure gauge determines the amount of oil in your engine. There are usually two types of pressure gauges in vehicles, mechanical and electrical. Electrical oil pressure gauges are commonly used in modern vehicles. The gauge is linked to the engine block via a wired sensor. When current is passed via the coil, the needle moves due to the production of a magnetic field. If there is a problem with the wire or coil of the electrical pressure gauge, it will result in incorrect oil pressure readings in your engine. 

Improper Oil Viscosity

viscocity of engine oil

The viscosity of your engine oil is critical in determining oil pressure. High-viscosity oil flows more slowly than low-viscosity oil, making it more suitable for hot weather situations. If we use high-viscosity oil in a low-temperature environment, or vice versa, less oil will flow through the engine. Oil with too high or too low viscosity can cause a low-pressure warning at idle. 

Worn-out Oil Pump 

The oil pump circulates engine oil to various engine components such as piston rings, bearings, and the camshaft. Your oil pump may fail due to improper installation, poor engine maintenance, or wear and tear. A faulty oil pump will be unable to pump the required oil into your engine, resulting in low oil pressure. 

How to Fix Low Oil Pressure at Idle? 

  1. Check your oil pressure readings against the external oil pressure gauge. If the internal and external pressure gauges do not give the same readings, get your oil pressure gauge replaced or repaired. 
  2. Always ask your car manufacturer for the recommended viscosity of your engine oil. Make sure to check the oil’s viscosity rating. For example, in 5w30, the number following W represents the oil’s viscosity in high temperatures; the higher the number, the better it will function in hot conditions. You cannot replace 5W30 with 5W20 as it might harm your engine.
  3. Replace your oil filter to avoid contaminants in your oil. Cleaning oil filters is very difficult owing to small microscopic pollutants. You can ask your mechanic to clean it if it is not completely clogged with oil. 
  4. Have your oil pump repaired as soon as possible. Also, make sure engine parts are serviced regularly to avoid any maintenance issues in your engine. 
  5. Check your oil level with a dipstick daily. If the dipstick is dry, your vehicle is running low on oil, and you should refill it immediately. 
  6. If you notice oil stains under your car in a parking lot, it could indicate an engine leak. Make contact with your mechanic and have it repaired. 


Low oil pressure can cause friction and wear and tear in your engine. If your oil pressure gauge reads less than 20 PSI, this could indicate that your engine has low oil pressure. There are multiple causes of low oil pressure in your engine, including low oil, clogged air filters, defective oil pumps, and others.

In case of low oil pressure, increase your oil pressure to the normal range. This can be accomplished by using the proper viscosity of oil, cleaning your oil pan daily, or getting a proper oil filter for your engine. We should change our engine oil regularly and use high-quality oil to avoid such conditions.

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