What Happens If I Drive With a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor?

Incorrect Oil Pressure Gauge Reading, Oil Warning Light blinks on and off, or Illuminated Check Engine Lights are warnings of a bad oil pressure sensor.

And driving with a bad oil pressure sensor may cause SERIOUS damage to the engine.

Today, I will tell you how serious it is, 5 common bad oil pressure sensor symptoms, and also guide you on how to replace them in case needed.

What Does Oil Pressure Sensor Do?

The oil pressure sensor is a device hooked directly to your automobile’s oil pressure gauge or meter. Its responsibility is to monitor oil flow and temperature in your automobile. This sensor also communicates with cars that have an electronic control module.

Therefore, when the oil pressure sensor discovers that the oil levels are below average, it triggers an indicator on your dashboard to notify the driver of this change.

There are two types of notifications that you will receive. The first is a warning light telling you of the drop in oil pressure, and the other indicator is an oil pressure sensor fault notification.

What Happens When The Oil Pressure Sensor Goes Bad?

The consequences of a spoilt oil pressure sensor are dire. Primarily you will be unaware of any changes in your engine oil level. As a result, where the oil is neglected, it becomes a sludge incapable of moving through the engine to expel heat. The result is likely to be a complete engine failure and irreparable damage.

Furthermore, the low oil light will consistently blink on and off when the sensor spoils, indicating low oil. As such, you will be forced to manually check engine oil levels to ensure that they are at the desired point on the gauge. This is a stressful and time-consuming activity.

Read more: How To Tell If Engine Is Damaged From No Oil?

4 Bad Oil Pressure Sensor Symptoms

There are many ways to discover whether your oil pressure sensor has gone rogue. Here they are:

Incorrect Oil Pressure Gauge Reading

One of the most common signs of such a failure is a discrepancy in its readings. Therefore, if the low-pressure light is on, but there is still sufficient oil in the engine, then it is a clear sign that your oil pressure sensor has started to malfunction. 

The Check Engine Light Is On

A faulty oil pressure sensor may trigger the dashboard’s engine oil pressure indicator, which is not the norm. Generally, the engine indicator is a warning that something is wrong with your car. If you have checked and nothing seems to be the matter, then a likely problem maybe the oil pressure sensor. 

Foul smell

Smell burning plastics or electronics in your car, then a possible reason is that an overheat has caused damage to something in your engine compartment. Check the cable connecting your oil pressure sensor for any signs of overheating or melting. If the overheat has damaged it, your oil pressure sensor may also be affected. 

Engine overheat

If your car seems to be overheating, then you need to turn it off immediately. Seek out leaks or spilled coolant around the engine. Extremely low oil levels are a prime cause of car overheats. However, if there is a cracked block from a previous overheat, leaking oil may cause. 

Also, note that if your engine is underperforming and your oil levels are regular, your sensor light may have an excellent reason for coming on. Such a circumstance is indicative of a deeper fault such as faulty oil pumps or low oil in the engine, and sometimes the latter fault may be the result of a leaking gasket or vehicle hose. 

Oil Pressure Switch vs. Sensor: What’s The Difference? 

Most people mix up oil pressure switches with sensors, but they are very distinct. Oil pressure switches are responsible for activating an indicator that notifies drivers of low oil pressures, and this indicator is either on or off. While oil pressure sensors inform the computer whenever the oil pressure is too low or high.

This data is continuously sent, triggering a check engine light. Running a test on your car’s check engine light with a car scanner is an excellent way of discovering what fault may be causing it to come on.

How To Test an Oil Pressure Sensor?

Here is how to test your oil pressure sensor yourself to ensure it is working:

  • Firstly, insert your key into your car’s ignition and turn the accessory setting on. Do not run the engine.
  • Next, check the oil gauge on the dashboard and note its level. If the level is zero, unplug the wire linking the sending unit. If the indicator goes up to three, your oil pressure sensor is faulty and needs a replacement.
  • If it does not rise to three, place the unplugged wire on the negative part of your car battery or any other part of your automobile. If the zero-oil level shown on the gauge remains the same, then your sensor is still in good condition.

How To Replace an Oil Pressure Sensor?

After discovering that your oil pressure sensor is flawed and needs changing, oil pressure sensors are not so hard to replace if you can find a compatible replacement. 

The procedure is perfect for novices who lack knowledge of DIY repairs. To know which oil pressure sensor is an ideal replacement, you must:  

Step 1: Locate your oil pressure sensor.

Step 2: Unplug the electrical connector.

Step 3: Remove the oil pressure sensor.

Step 4: Seek out a replacement sensor that matches the removed one. 

Generally, the cost of replacing oil pressure sensors is relatively inexpensive. However, the actual expense will depend on your car’s make and model. 

How to replace an oil pressure sensor

Sum up

An oil pressure sensor plays a crucial role in maintaining your engine oil pressure. Driving with a bad oil pressure sensor is dangerous and will put your vehicle at risk of serious harm. Therefore, you must diagnose the fault promptly to know the root cause. 


Where is the oil pressure sensor?

The oil pressure sensor’s location depends on your car’s make. However, it is often mounted inside the engine block or placed around the cylinder heads. Do your research on the expected location of your car sensor to avoid confusion. 

Can a bad oil pressure sensor cause loss of power?

Although optimal oil pressure is required for the engine to perform correctly, a bad oil sensor will not directly cause a loss of power. However, you will have no automated means of knowing if there is a drop in oil pressure, which could adversely affect your engine, damaging your car. It is therefore vital to find a replacement sensor as soon as possible. 

Can you unplug the oil pressure sensor?

Yes, you can unplug the oil pressure sensor. However, note that this can have negative consequences in the long term. To unplug the sensor, disconnect the electrical connector. Then with the aid of a ratchet and a socket for oil pressure sensors, release the sensor. A wrench or regular socket may also remove the sensor depending on the make and model of your car.

Will my car run without an oil pressure sensor?

Of course, your car can run without an oil pressure sensor, but it is something you would rather avoid. Without this sensor, your vehicle can run without oil, and you will not be any wiser until your car’s engine is irreparably damaged. 

Can a bad oil pressure sensor cause rough idle?

A wrong sensor itself should have no bearing on the engine is idle. Low pressure can wear your engine, causing it to be rough idle, but it is not the most likely cause. RPM Volatility is caused by factors other than a bad oil pressure sensor. These factors include a bad fuel regulator, dirty fuel filters, dirty fuel injectors, faulty fuel pumps, and clogged fuel tank strainers. Cleaning your fuel tank with fuel injectors and replacing your fuel filter are all remedies to rough idle. 

See also:

Low Oil Pressure at Idle 

How To Tell If Engine Is Damaged From No Oil?

2 thoughts on “What Happens If I Drive With a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor?”

  1. Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed!
    Very useful info particularly the last section 🙂 I
    take care of such info much. I used to be seeking this certain info for a long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

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