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Low Oil Pressure At Idle – Causes And Solution

March 17, 2024 | Victor Lukasso

The oil pressure gauge in your car will always show you whether the oil pressure is low, high, or average. When you notice that the oil pressure is running low, fixing the issue immediately is essential to prevent engine damage.

Below are a few causes and remedies for low oil pressure at idle.

Causes of Low Oil Pressure at Idle

1. Defective Oil Pump

When it comes to maintaining the health of your car engine, the oil pump plays a crucial role in keeping the engine oil circulating correctly. However, if the pump fails, it won’t be able to pump the oil throughout the engine effectively.


One sign that the oil pump has gone bad is the flashing of the oil indicator. It’s essential to address this issue immediately to prevent potential engine damage.

2. Poor Oil Quality

Low oil pressure at idle is often caused by poor oil quality. This can happen when car owners switch from using high-quality oil to a lower-quality one.

Poor oil quality can negatively affect the pressure because it cannot lubricate the components as effectively as higher-quality oil, leading to pressure loss.

It is essential to use the recommended oil grade and to regularly change the oil to ensure that the engine is properly lubricated and the oil pressure is maintained at optimal levels.

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3. Clogged Oil Filter

Regularly changing the oil filter is crucial to maintaining the proper flow of oil and preventing low oil pressure in the engine. If an oil filter is not replaced promptly, it can become clogged with sludge, restricting the flow of oil and ultimately leading to low oil pressure. Therefore, replacing your oil filter regularly is necessary to ensure that your oil is properly filtered and your car performs at its best.

4. Wrong Oil Grade

Using the wrong grade of oil can be a common reason for low oil pressure at idle. If you accidentally use the incorrect type of oil during your last oil change, it can result in various issues, including pressure problems.

Although some engines can accommodate different types or grades of engine oil, some require a precise formulation. Therefore, you must check your vehicle’s manual or consult a professional to ensure you use the correct oil grade.

5. Faulty Pressure Gauge

When you experience low oil pressure at idle, a faulty pressure gauge can also be the reason. This often occurs when there is an oil change, and it takes time for the system to adjust to the new viscosity.

However, if it takes unusually long for the pressure gauge to register correctly, you should have it checked, along with the electrical system.

6. Damaged Engine

Low oil pressure at idle is often caused by engine problems, which can occur when a car is improperly maintained. If you have checked for any physical or mechanical issues and cannot identify a problem, the engine may be the culprit.

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7. Low Oil

If the oil level in your engine is too low, it can cause a pressure drop as soon as the engine is idling. This is because the pump cannot function properly with insufficient oil. As a result, during turns at higher speeds, the oil pressure fluctuates as the oil shifts from side to side and away from the sensors.

In some cases, low oil levels may be due to neglect, while mechanical issues may be at play in other cases. Identifying the root cause of low oil levels is essential to address and fix the problem.

How to Repair Low Oil Pressure at Idle

Once you have identified the common causes of low oil pressure at idle, knowing how to repair it is essential. The severity of the issue will determine the repair needed. However, fixing low oil pressure at idle can be simple and quick, even if you are not a mechanic.

Follow the steps carefully to fix low oil pressure at idle. If you encounter any difficulties, it’s best to consult a mechanic to avoid the problem escalating into a severe issue.

1. Add More Oil

If you notice low engine pressure at idle, the first thing to check is your engine oil level. If the level is too low, it can cause low oil pressure. Use your oil dipstick to check the current level, and add more oil if it’s too far below the dipstick. Ensure the oil level is between the maximum and minimum lines, and use high-quality engine oil for the best performance.

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2. Make Use of the Right Oil

Opting for quality engine oil is crucial when replacing it. To ensure you use the correct type of oil, refer to your car’s owner’s manual. If you’re unsure or need further guidance, seek advice from your car dealership or mechanic.

3. Perform Oil & Oil filter Change

Regularly changing your engine oil is crucial, as contaminated and dirty oil can affect the accuracy of oil pressure due to changes in viscosity. This will lead to underperformance of your engine oil. After changing your engine oil, the pressure should regulate better. If it doesn’t, then the problem could be something else.

4. Repair the Pressure Gauge

If you have an erratic and unpredictable pressure gauge, it is crucial to repair or replace it. An electrical or sensor problem could be causing the issue, which can negatively impact engine performance.

To fix the gauge, you must identify the faulty part, which could be the gauge or one of the sensors. Professional diagnostics are necessary to determine which part needs repair or replacement.

5. Replace Oil Pump

Replacing a malfunctioning oil pump is a highly effective solution to resolve low oil pressure at idle. The decision to repair the existing pump or install a new one depends on the mechanic’s advice and the cost involved, which can vary based on the type of vehicle.

The repair or replacement expense will depend on your vehicle’s make and model and may range from $350 to $2,000 on average. It is advisable to consult a professional mechanic to evaluate the situation and provide guidance on the best course of action.

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Meet Victor Lukasso, the owner of V. Auto Basics. Through this blog, Victor Provides Insights on the latest tips, maintenance, repair, and techniques in the automotive world.