Oil pressure gauge

How An Oil Pressure Gauge Works?

So, how an oil pressure gauge works? If you want to know more about oil pressure gauges, you are at the right place!

The oil pressure in a vehicle helps in ensuring the lubricants reach the right areas as they need. It includes the camshaft, main, and shaft bearings. 

Further, it will reduce the amount of wear and tear of engine parts. It will, in turn, improve the lifetime and smooth functioning of your car engine.

Also, it acts as an early-warning system for your vehicle by giving notice about problems ahead of time. It will help you investigate the problems early on before a breakdown occurs. Moreover, it can help you save a lot of money as well.

Therefore, you need to learn how to read it properly as well. In this article, we shall discuss how an oil pressure gauge works and how it can help you. Please keep reading to find more insights on this important instrument.

How an Oil Pressure Gauge Works?

The oil pressure gauge monitors the level of oil pressure in the main oilways. Further, the oilway is near the filter and the pump. 

It has a tapping in the engine block, and this block has a screwed sensor or an oil pipe. Generally, electric gauges have screwed sensors, and mechanical gauge types have oil pipe take off. We shall discuss the types of oil pressure gauges as well in the article.

The oil warning sensors are screwed into the T-piece or the union. It will be in place whether or not the car has an oil pressure gauge.

Electrical gauges work by using the sensor to create a variable resistance. As a result, this resistance will affect the amount of current passing through the sensor.

On the other hand, mechanical gauges work by forcing the needle around the dial because of engine pressure. So, this is how an oil pressure gauge works.

Types of Pressure Gauges

There are mainly two types of pressure gauge, namely: electric pressure gauge and mechanical pressure gauge. Henceforth, let us discuss them in detail below.

Electric Oil Pressure Gauge

Almost all the new releases of cars have this oil gauge, and many people replace this gauge in older models. In addition, you may have noticed many wires stashed behind your vehicle’s dashboard. So, these are the wires that supply power to the electric oil pressure gauge.

The current flow to the instrument through a coil and measures resistance. The level of resistance corresponds to the oil pressure. 

It is easier to integrate electric gauges with modern circuits. Further, this is one of the reasons why they are so common in new cars.

Mechanical Oil Pressure Gauges

Mechanical oil pressure gauges do not use wires; instead, they use pipes. As a result, many technicians prefer mechanical oil pressure gauges over electrical oil pressure gauges. It is so because they consider mechanical reading smore trustworthy than electrical readings.

Mechanical oil pressure gauges measure the pressure without measuring the resistance with electrical currents. Instead, they funnel the oil into tiny pipes at the same pressure it flows in the engine. Therefore, the measurement can be more accurate.

However, this type of oil pressure gauge is unsafe since it is prone to damages. If something punctures the pipe, the oil will start spilling out at the engine pressure. It can be potentially more dangerous; therefore, it requires more attention and maintenance.

How to Read an Oil Gauge?

It is quite easy to read an oil pressure gauge. It will look very similar to most of the other indicators on your dashboard. There will be a label, usually marked as ‘OIL,’ and numbers that range from 1 to 80 or 1 to 100. Plus, it will have a dial with an indicator needle.

Some cars will have the letters ‘L’ and ‘H’ indicating high or low pressure instead of numbers. Again, you can check the vehicle’s manual for a baseline reading.

Zero Reading

Usually, the indicator will point at no numbers or zero when the car is idling. However, if this occurs at higher speeds, there is something wrong. It can mean any of the three things.

  • The oil level is low
  • Damage in the oil pump
  • Broken gauge

Low Reading

You will have to take your car to the mechanic if the gauge reads a low reading. Generally, you should be only worried if the reading is below 20. If it shows below 20 consistently, the problem could be any of the below-mentioned points.

  • Worn engine component
  • Leak in a mechanical gauge
  • Low oil level

High Reading

If the indicator needle points at the top, it means the oil level is high. The indicator needle should settle at the midpoint when the car has run for more than twenty minutes. If you notice high pressure on your oil pressure gauge, you need to shut off your engine immediately.

It could mean the pressure relief valve is broken or faulty or blockages in oil delivery lines. In addition, high pressures can cause the filter to burst. Therefore, remember to switch off the engine immediately when you notice high reading.

Oil Warning Lights

If your car does not have a standard oil pressure gauge fixed, you can talk to your mechanic and make some personalized changes. Also, it is okay even if it is not possible since all cars will have some indication of oil pressure. 

They will have a warning light system where red or orange lights mean a drop in oil pressure. Moreover, in some cars, the light indicator doubles as an engine temperature warning as well. You will have to take your vehicle to the mechanic immediately to see what is wrong in such cases.

Final Words

No matter your car type or oil gauge type, it is vital to change your car oil regularly. But, of course, you can always rely upon the car manual or your mechanic’s advice. Moreover, we hope that this article was helpful to you in understanding essential things about oil pressure gauges.

If the oil levels in the system drop, it can cause damages to the engine. Therefore, it is important to how an oil pressure gauge works. Plus, you should know how to make wise use of it.


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