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can i drive with low oil pressure

Low Oil Pressure Light: What To Do And What To Avoid

Imagine this. You’re an hour away from home, after a weekend away. You want to get home as early as possible so you can prepare for work tomorrow. But, all of a sudden, your low oil pressure light comes on, and you simply don’t know what to do. If your car has a tendency to display its low oil pressure light, or you want to know what to do in this situation, then keep reading.

Your vehicle’s oil is integral to its smooth running, for a variety of reasons. Primarily, oil lubricates the moving parts of an engine. This helps to stop damage and allows your car to run smoothly. When your oil pressure drops, the friction between the engine’s moving pieces increases dramatically. This, in turn, will produce several consequences.

The first thing you’ll notice is a dramatic decrease in power. Along with this, your fuel economy will decrease. You may even notice that your engine stalls more frequently. These consequences can be very annoying to deal with, so you should attempt to fix the problem as soon as it arises. This does beg the question, how long can you drive with a low oil pressure light?

How Long Can You Drive With a Low Oil Pressure Light?

inside hood of engine

As soon as your oil light comes on, you will start to notice the annoying side effects that we previously mentioned. However, there won’t actually be any permanent damage for quite a while. In fact, you should be able to drive your car for around 500 miles before low oil pressure leads to a serious problem. For the average driver, it will take around 2 weeks to drive 500 miles.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should let the problem sit. In fact, it’s best to let a mechanic check the issue out sooner rather than later. Doing this will also decrease any risk of serious damage to your car.

How Do you Fix Low Oil Pressure?

engine oil in shop

There are a few ways to fix low oil pressure. Here are the most popular solutions:

Replace the Oil. The root cause of your low oil pressure might be the type of oil that you are using. Consider replacing your oil with a higher-viscosity oil. This will cause the oil to flow more slowly, helping to bring oil pressure back to normal levels. Make sure to consult with a mechanic beforehand, as you don’t want to use an oil that’s incompatible with your vehicle.

Replace the Engine Bearings. Another solution is to replace your engine bearings with thicker ones. This helps to reduce your oil’s clearance, which should increase your oil pressure.

Replace the Oil Pump. If your oil pump is damaged, there’s a good chance it’s lowering your oil pressure. Replacing the pump should bring oil pressure levels back to normal. Although, a new oil pump could set you back thousands.

Always consult a mechanic before attempting to fix your low oil pressure. They will be able to properly diagnose the problem, and fix it efficiently and safely.

Can A vehicle Run With Low Oil Pressure?

Low oil pressure light

If you find that your low oil pressure light comes on whilst you are midway through your journey, there’s actually no need to panic. A vehicle will be able to run with low oil pressure for up to 500 miles.

However, it is not advisable to drive with low oil pressure. In fact, doing so can lead to premature engine damage, which will be much more expensive to repair than fixing the cause of the low oil pressure in the first place. So, if your low oil pressure light comes on whilst you are driving, get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible, and don’t drive it again until the problem is fixed.

What are the Symptoms of Low Oil Pressure?

timing chain

Here are the top symptoms of low oil pressure:

  • Oil Warning Light. The most reliable indicator that your oil pressure is low is your oil warning light. If this comes on, you can be pretty certain you have a problem.
  • Poor Engine Performance. If your car starts to feel noticeably slower and more sluggish, there’s a good chance your engine has low oil pressure.
  • Engine Noise. Your engine’s oil is responsible for its smooth functioning. So, if your oil pressure is too low, you may start to notice weird noises coming from the engine.
  • Overheating. When your oil pressure is too low, your engine may overheat. Overheating is a common symptom of many problems though, so it may be an indicator that something else has gone wrong.

What Causes Oil Pressure to Drop While Driving?

Low oil pressure light

Here are the top reasons why your oil pressure is dropping when you drive:

Low Oil. If your car doesn’t have enough oil in the first place, chances are the pressure will also be low. Many cars lose oil through leaks, overheating, and general wear and tear. So, make sure to regularly check your oil levels before you drive.

Dirty Filter. If your oil filter is dirty, small pieces of debris will make their way to your vehicle’s engine. A dirty filter will also cause your pressure relief valves to become blocked, resulting in low oil pressure.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, low oil pressure is never good news. Attempting to drive with low oil pressure will only result in massive engine damage, which could set you back thousands. So, if your oil warning light ever comes on, stop driving as soon as possible, and don’t drive again until the problem is fixed. This will save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run and will ensure your engine stays in great shape.

To avoid low oil pressure, make sure to conduct frequent maintenance on your car. You should also have it serviced regularly, as this will help to keep your oil pressure at optimum levels.


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