Vehicle engines rely on oil to keep them lubricated and running smoothly. The oil pump is responsible for circulating oil throughout the engine; when it isn’t working correctly, it can cause low oil pressure.
Low oil pressure can lead to several problems, including engine damage.
If your car has low oil pressure, the oil pump is not circulating oil properly, which can cause the engine to overheat and eventually shut off.
If you notice that your car’s oil light is on or the engine is making strange noises, it’s essential to check the oil level immediately.
Most cars have an oil pressure sensor that will trigger a warning light on the dash if the pressure gets too low. The message “oil pressure low, turn off engine” is usually accompanied by this warning light.
Usually, the low oil pressure warning light looks like an oil can with a drip coming out of it. If you see this light, pull over and turn off the engine as soon as possible to avoid further damage.
Several things can cause a car to run low on oil. While some of these causes are normal wear and tear, others may indicate a more severe problem.
An oil pan leak is one of the most common reasons for low oil levels. The oil pan is located at the bottom of the engine and holds all of the motor oil.
Over time, the seals and gaskets around the oil pan can degrade, allowing oil to leak out.
The oil filter is responsible for trapping impurities in the oil, and it can become clogged with dirt and debris over time.
If the oil filter becomes clogged, it can restrict the oil flow to the engine, causing low oil pressure.
As the engine components start to wear out, they can create more friction, which means that the oil must work harder to lubricate them, which can decrease oil pressure.
Burning oil which is when oil enters the combustion chamber and gets burned up along with the gasoline. While worn piston rings and valves are the most common culprits, burning oil can also come from other places, such as worn or damaged gaskets.
If your car is low on oil, you may notice one or more symptoms.
Various factors can cause an engine to run rough, but usually, it’s because the oil isn’t correctly lubricating the engine components, meaning there isn’t enough oil circulating.
Another symptom of low oil pressure is an engine making strange noises. These noises are usually due to a lack of lubrication, as well. You may notice a knocking noise coming from the engine or sound like the car is misfiring.
If the engine isn’t properly lubricated, it can start to overheat. This overheating is usually due to a build-up of friction inside the engine. If the engine overheats, it can cause severe damage.
The engine can shut off if the oil pressure gets low enough. This step usually happens when the oil level is extremely low, or there is a blockage in the oil filter.
While you can technically drive a car with low oil pressure, it’s not recommended. If the oil pressure is low, the engine isn’t properly lubricated, which is necessary for it to run correctly.
If you have low oil pressure, pull over and turn off the engine as soon as possible.
Continuing to drive with low oil pressure can cause severe damage to the engine and may even lead to engine failure.
If your engine is low on oil, adding more as soon as possible is essential. Depending on the severity of the leak, you may be able to drive for a short time before the engine starts to suffer damage.
However, driving for more than a few miles with low oil pressure is generally not recommended. If the oil leak is substantial, the engine can seize up immediately, causing severe damage.
If your car has low oil pressure and won’t start, adding more oil may not be the solution. In some cases, the engine may have already sustained damage from running low on oil and may need to be repaired or replaced.
However, if your engine oil light has just come on, you can likely add more oil. But that’s only if the low oil pressure has not already caused damage to your engine and forced it to turn off.
What you do depends heavily on how low it is. If your oil level is just a quart low, you’re not in much danger. You can probably drive safely to the store or to a service station to have it topped off.
If your oil light comes on or your dipstick shows less than a quart of oil, don’t drive any further. Instead, turn off the engine and call a tow truck.
Driving with low oil can ruin your engine, so it’s not worth the risk, even if it’s just a short distance.
If you’re on a road trip and your car starts making strange noises, pull over to the side of the road and turn off the engine. Again, call a tow truck and take the vehicle to a service station or a mechanic to have it checked out.