Common Oil Pump Failure Symptoms

March 27, 2012

A look at the three main signs that you need to fix or change your oil pump: low oil pressure, high engine temperature, and noise.

Changing Oil Pump

While most drivers may never need to change their oil pump, it is important to know the symptoms in case you are experiencing problems with your vehicle. Your oil pump is an integral part of your vehicle's engine performance, and if it fails it could cause serious damage to your car. An engine oil pump sucks oil out of your oil pan and pumps it through your oil filter onto the bearings.

Most likely the first symptom will be your engine or oil light indicator on your dashboard coming on to alert you there is a problem. Still this isn't always the case and often times the driver fails to notice the light or ignores it. Typically if the oil light is on it is an indication that the oil pressure is low. This isn't an automatic indication you have a problem with your oil pump, as there could be a leak, or your engine could be burning oil. The problem could be solved by checking the dipstick and adding oil if it is low. If the light persists you can check for these other symptoms:

  • Low oil pressure. A bad oil pump will lose the ability to properly pump oil through your system. This will result in low oil pressure that could lead to further vehicle damage.
  • Increased engine operating temperature. Oil reduces the friction on the parts in your vehicle, which in turn keeps temperatures regulated while the vehicle is in operation. When the flow of engine oil is reduced, the parts don't remain properly lubricated and thus heat up. Increased friction leads to increased temperatures and possibly more problems down the road.
  • Noise. Your vehicles hydraulic lifters are an important part of your engine's operation and it is important that they are adequately lubricated. When your engine is working properly these lifters are virtually silent, but when the flow of oil is cut off to the lifters they begin to make noise and wear unevenly. It is extremely expensive to have lifters replaced and extremely important they are properly lubricated. 

In addition to the hydraulic lifters, your valve train may begin to make noise if your oil pump begins to fail. This includes the pushrods, the seals, and valve guides. All of these parts need to be properly lubricated as well. A bad oil pump can result in a lot of additional noise from your valve train system.

Lastly, your oil pump may begin to make noise if it isn't working properly. This is a less common problem than some of the others presented here. If your oil pump begins to make noise it will be a loud whining or whirring sound. This is a result of the internal gear mechanism wearing down. As it begins to fail, your oil pump could make a bit of noise.

It is unlikely that most drivers will ever experience an oil pump failure, but if you experience any of these symptoms, you may need to have your vehicle checked. It is always best to repair parts as soon as you experience a problem as extended wear could lead to a reduction in your engine life.

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