Driving With Bad Oil Pressure Sensor – Why is it Unsafe?

Most cars today have a lot of sensors, which use to provide the driver and passengers with important information about the current car’s operating status

In this article, let’s find out if driving with a bad oil pressure sensor is safe. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “a watched pot never boils.” Well, it’s true. A bad oil pressure sensor is just as dangerous as a faulty temperature gauge and a bad speed sensor.

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The worst thing about this problem is that most people don’t know they have one until it starts to affect their engine and they start to notice all sorts of problems.

Driving With a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor

Is it ok to drive with a bad oil pressure sensor?

No. It is not safe driving with a bad oil pressure sensor. It will often cause your check engine light to illuminate, even though there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with your car. Or worse, it won’t trigger any warning when in fact your engine runs low on oil, damaging its internal parts.

Engine Oil Pressure Sensor

Oil helps lubricate your engine, keeping it running smoothly. Low oil pressure can cause overheating, which in turn causes severe damage to your engine. According to NAPA, the oil pressure sensor assumes the role of monitoring this internal pressure and sending a signal to the oil pressure gauge on your dash, alerting you immediately if there is a problem.

Even by itself, low oil pressure can be bad for your engine. It can also trigger your check engine light, even when you have enough oil in your engine. Some car’s computers won’t know the difference between a low oil level and something that triggers the check engine light, like an oxygen sensor or bad spark plug. 

So if you drive with a low oil level often, your check engine light will be on all the time.

Engine Oil Pressure Sensor vs Switch

Are the oil pressure sensor and oil pressure switch the same? An oil pressure switch activates a warning light or signal to warn of low oil pressure. It’s either on or off. 

An oil pressure sensor sends information to the computer to tell it when oil pressure is too high or too low. It can send data continuously, which will trigger a check engine light.

If the engine oil pressure becomes faulty in, anyway, it is best to get the problem fixed as soon as possible. Make sure that you always have proper engine oil pressure. And run a test on your car’s check engine light with a scan tool from time to time.

What to do if your oil pressure sensor is bad

We have already emphasized how dangerous driving with a bad oil pressure sensor is. But, there are two things you can do when it happens:

1. Replace the sensor

You can buy a find a compatible oil pressure sensor at Amazon, or you can take yours to an auto parts store and have them check it for free (some stores will charge you). Otherwise, you’ll need to book an appointment with your mechanic as soon as possible.

2. Drive safely

If you can feel your car’s engine is running low on oil, pull over immediately and check it for leaks. When you’re driving safely, avoid going at high speeds and revving up your engine.

Symptoms of a bad oil pressure sensor

There are various symptoms that you can check for if you’re wondering whether or not you are already driving with a bad oil pressure sensor:

1. Low Oil Level/Levels Too Low

All cars have a dipstick that they use to check their engine oil levels. These are cheap and easy to replace, so there’s no excuse for running low on oil. However, if your oil level is low and your dipstick shows the same, this could also indicate a bad oil pressure sensor.

2. Repeated Blinking Oil Pressure Light

If the oil pressure in your engine is fluctuating, the light on your dashboard will also blink repeatedly, even when it doesn’t mean that there’s an issue. Hence, you can manually check your oil level and if it’s correct, then the sensor is bad.

3. Check Engine Light

A warning light is a sign of something being wrong with your car. If you’re sure there isn’t anything wrong with it but the check engine light continues to illuminate, chances are good that there is a problem with your oil pressure sensor.

4. Bad Smell

If you smell burning electronics or plastic, there’s a good chance that something has overheated and caused damage to the engine compartment. Check out the wire that connects to your oil pressure sensor for signs of melting. If it’s melted, your oil pressure sensor might be bad.

5. Engine Overheating

If you’re overheating, turn off your car and check the engine for leaks or coolant flow. The oil level may have dropped too low, causing your car to overheat. More seriously, if you’ve got a cracked block from overheating before, leaking oil could be an issue.

How to Replace the Oil Pressure Sensor

Now that you have learned how to detect a bad oil pressure sensor and what causes it, you might be wondering how difficult it is to replace the oil pressure switch.

Replacing an oil pressure sensor isn’t as hard as you’d think. First, you have to buy a compatible oil pressure sensor replacement. Even if you’re not that good at DIY repairs, you can complete this job with little difficulty by following these steps:

  1. Locate the oil pressure sensor
  2. Unplug oil pressure sensor electrical connector
  3. Remove the oil pressure sensor
  4. Compare the replacement oil pressure sensor to the one removed
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How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor?

The cost to replace an oil pressure sensor depends on the make and model of your vehicle, but it won’t be too expensive. Check out the recommended products below or search for the specific model.

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