How to Check if an Oil Pump Is Bad

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If an oil pump has gone bad, use a manual oil-pressure gauge to find out what the real oil pressure is when the engine is running. Discover what parts must be removed to inspect an oil pump itself with help from an ASE-certified master automobile technician in this free video on oil pumps.

Part of the Video Series: Auto Repair & Maintenance
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Video Transcript

You might find yourself driving one day and notice that your oil pressure light is flickering at you and wonder to yourself, "How do I tell if my oil pump is bad?" Well, it's not always that easy to tell. Generally one of the first things that you ought to do is to check the basics. First off check your oil level; actually you take out the dip stick and make sure that the level is proper. Oil level that is either too low or for that matter too high can cause the oil pressure to be low which could cause the light to come on. The next step would be to determine if there is a problem with whatever turns the light on itself. Most cars use an oil pressure sender or an oil pressure switch and this is a typical oil pressure switch and it's possible that the problem that you're having is only related to a problem with the switch itself. So we really need to find out first off what's the truth. It's possible that the center could be aligned to us. So what we need to do first off is to actually take a wrench and remove the old pressure sender and then with the proper adapters, actually install a manual oil pressure gage and take a reading as to find out what the real oil pressure is. Low gage readings or light being on will normally occur; this, this; an oil, okay, an oil pressure light coming on or a low reading on your dash gage is cause typically with one of these senders senses less than two pounds per square inch. But it can also happen if the internal diaphragm leaks; so that's why we're going to hook up a, an oil pressure gage to find out what their pressure really is. Once the gage is installed, we have to run the engine of full engine operating temperature and see what happens with the pressure at idle and a cruising RPM. So what we'll do is we'll do that and see if the pressure is indeed low. If the pressure still actually shows to be low, we do investigate other things. In order to check the oil pump itself, it maybe necessary to remove the engine oil pan or other components to gain access. Here we have one that's already been removed from a vehicle and I'll remove the plate so we can actually see the popping gears on the inside. The way that the oil is pop is by through the rotation of these gears causing the chambers to expand and then compress in order to cause a popping action of the oil. The test that we do in here are, are two folds. First off we'll do things like measure using a straight edge; the clearance in between the surface and the gears, compare that to specifications and we'll also measure the clearance in between the gears. If either of these things are find to be excessive then the pump must be replaced.


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