Identifying Oil Pump Failure Symptoms and Solutions

Written by

Charles Bolte


Vernon Hoppe 

oil pump failure symptoms

Is knowing the oil pump failure symptoms important? Of course, it is vital knowledge for every car owner, for it will help them maintain the vehicle properly.

If the car oil pump is free from symptoms, it can function correctly and prevent friction that causes overheating. That’s because an oil pump regulates the oil to different engine parts to keep them lubricated.

If that fails, one of the probable causes could be the oil pump.

Common Symptoms of Oil Pump Failure


Sighting the oil pump issues is quite easy, especially if the owner prioritizes the functions of their vehicle before usage. Usually, signs of a bad oil pump appear when the engine oil is not checked regularly. Unfortunately, it’s a very common problem.

This behavior isn’t wise because it can only damage the vehicle. That’s why before it happens, one must be aware of the symptoms that could lead to the oil pump not working or the engine damage.

1. Noise from oil pump


A common sign of a failing oil pump is the noise when the engine is on. The normal state of an oil pump is to have little to less noise, which means a smooth flow of lubrication throughout the engine.

However, if there’s a bad oil pump sound, it can mean a replacement is due for the oil pump. If the change in pump oil is not arranged, it can affect the whole engine.

2. Warning light


Meanwhile, another symptom that can signal a problem with the oil pump is the low oil level warning sign. This signal can correlate to an oil pump problem as the duty of supplying oil cannot be fulfilled. Naturally, the vehicle interprets that as low oil.

When that happens, the low oil warning lights up on the dashboards to signify a problem.

3. Temperature increase


In relation to the warning light, another sign that may appear on the car dashboard is the rising temperature of the engine. Since the engine oil is not circulating due to oil pump failure, it can lead to friction.

When there’s friction, there will be heat, which means the engine is not performing well. That’s why it is a must to keep the oil pump functional to prevent such an outcome.

4. Noise from valve-train


On the other hand, the valve-train is another engine part that can produce odd noises showing one of the oil pump failure signs. This noise from this part of the engine occurs due to a lack of running lubrication among the valve, seals, and pushrods.

Without engine oil, these parts will have difficulty running the engine. When that happens, friction will begin resulting in damaging these mechanical parts.

5. Noise from hydraulic lifters


Lastly, when it comes to the pushrods and valves of the valve train, these mechanical parts can also malfunction if the hydraulic lifters fail. Usually, it is due to a lack of lubrication too. At this point, it will also result in friction and odd noise.

Once that happens, the hydraulic lifters will fail. In short, the valve-train that keeps the engine running will fail too.

Causes of Oil Pump Problems


Understanding the symptoms of a bad oil pump is not the only solution to prevent oil pump failure. It also counts when the causes are identified initially before the situation worsens. That way, risks like engine failure can be prevented.

There are tons of factors that influence the oil pump to fail. However, these causes are the effect of poor maintenance from the vehicle owners. That involves not cleaning the engine oil parts resulting in clogging (e.g., clogged oil pump screen, oil filter, etc.)

Other factors are also at play that cause oil pumps to have problems. For instance, oil contamination involves any substance that may mix with oil and might affect the oil pump function. Once the oil becomes thicker, it will be harder to pump.

How to Identify Oil Pump Failure


After knowing what causes the oil pump to fail, it will be one step closer to safety. Through a diagnostic test, the mechanics can ensure that there’s an ongoing problem. In the case of an oil pump, it’s the test to ensure it is still functional.

  1. Measure the engine oil
  2. Start the car to check if there’s noise
  3. Refill the oil and see if the warning light will turn off
  4. Drive to the nearest mechanic store

Repairing and Preventing Oil Pump Failure


Testing oil pumps is necessary to identify whether a replacement is due. Through analyzing bad oil pump symptoms, various problems like oil pump leak can be acknowledged.

If there are at least one to two problems, preparing for the replacement cost would be best.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to tell if an oil pump or sensor is bad?

It is very easy to identify if there are oil pump and oil pressure sensor errors. These 2 parts are correlated with each other as the oil pressure sensor alerts the vehicle. Thus, the warning sign lights up.

In this case, the vehicle owner can immediately identify if both errors are present. In short, it will be faster to develop a solution as the oil pump and sensor problems are verified.

How to tell if the oil pump is going out?

The oil pump is not indestructible, which means it can be faulty as time passes. When that happens, various symptoms are present, which, if not resolved, can affect the whole engine.

That’s because the oil pump cannot function well, resulting in little to no lubrication traveling in the engine.

How much does it cost to replace an oil pump?

It will depend on how deep the mechanic must go before accessing the damaged part. Normally, the cost will range from $250 to more than $1000. That’s why if there’s a repair needed, the vehicle owner must be prepared for the expenses.

However, there are cases where people tend to save expenses by changing the part themselves and buying a new oil pump (Chevy oil pump, Toyota oil pump, etc). It can work as long as the person is knowledgeable in the field.

Although, it is still best to trust a professional to avoid other problems.

Can you drive with a bad oil pump?

Yes, it is possible as long as it is for a diagnostic test and repair. Like other engine problems, it is not encouraged to drive the vehicle to not strain the engine more.

Furthermore, it will risk the driver’s safety to drive the car while it is in low performance. It can be prone to accidents, which is why long drive isn’t recommended.


Finding oil pump failure symptoms is easy, but that also means that it can be damaged. When that is verified through a diagnostic test, it would be best to change it right away. Doing so will prevent more expenses, such as engine replacement.

A damaged oil pump is better than the whole engine as it will be more costly. So, to prevent this problem, try to initiate maintenance tasks more to secure vehicle performance.

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