5 Signs of a Bad Oil Pump

Your oil pump is an integral yet often overlooked part of your engine. The pump sends oil through the entire engine, maintaining an even pressure and ensuring that the engine is lubricated. If it goes out, your engine will follow soon after. Since oil pumps are far cheaper to replace than the entire engine, it’s a good idea to learn to recognize the early warning signs of oil pump failure.

Low Oil Pressure

The first obvious sign of a bad oil pump is continual low oil pressure. Of course, low oil pressure can also be caused by not having enough oil, getting an oil leak, or even by having the wrong kind of oil for the time of year. The first thing you should do is use your dipstick to check your oil levels; if your oil looks low, add a little more. This will temporarily solve the problem if you have an oil leak; however, if the problem persists, you should start looking at the other warning signs.

Check Engine Light

The next thing you’ll notice is that your “check engine” light has come on. Obviously, this can be caused by a wide variety of different symptoms. However, the check engine light is often one of the earliest signs that something is wrong; if you do have a bad oil pump, you will often notice the light before you notice any of the other symptoms. Since many of the other symptoms indicate that the damage to the rest of your engine has already started, you should get your car to a mechanic as soon as you see the yellow light show up on your dash.


Once the oil pump has been out for long enough, you will start to notice strange noises coming from your engine. Your oil lubricates your engine and keeps all of the different parts working smoothly together. If you don’t have a steady level of oil pressure, your engine will start to make noise. According to CarsDirect, this noise generally comes from the car’s hydraulic lifts. However, the noise can also come from your engine’s valve train, or even the oil pump itself. As always, if you start to hear a clanking noise in your car, get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. If these parts continue to grind against each other, they can become damaged beyond repair.

Engine Overheating

After the parts of your engine wear against each other for a while, your engine will start to overheat. This is because an even oil pressure ensured that everything operated smoothly and at the right speed. Without it, your engine starts to grind to a halt. Your engine won’t always overheat right away; however, if you start to notice the heat levels getting up there, or smell smoke or burning, stop your car and check your oil pressure as soon as possible.

Difficulty Starting the Car

Your car won’t start if the oil pressure is too low for the same reasons that the engine is overheating. Without oil to lubricate the various parts, the engine can’t turn over and work properly. This symptom can be caused by any form of low oil pressure, or by one of many other problems with your car; if it happens in conjunction with the other symptoms, you should at least take a look at the pump.

Each of these symptoms on its own can have a variety of causes. Low oil pressure can be caused by a leak, just as failure to start can be caused by a faulty fuel pump. However, if they all occur together or around the same time, the oil pump is likely at fault. As soon as you notice low oil pressure, stop your car immediately. Oil pumps can be replaced, but engines are incredibly expensive to repair.