How to Test an Oil Pump

by Chris Heinrich
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Oil is critical to the good functioning of every automobile. It lubricates the engine's moving parts so that they do not grind against one another, and the oil absorbs excess heat. You must take care not only to change the oil regularly and use the proper oil weight but also to assure the pump that distributes it is in good working order. If you are concerned there may be a problem with the pump, you can easily test it and make repairs before lasting damage is caused.

Step 1

Check if the low oil pressure light is on or the oil pressure gauge reading is lower than usual. A ticking or clattering sound in the engine can also indicate trouble with the oil pump.

Step 2

Stop the vehicle immediately if you notice any of the above problems.

Step 3

Check the oil level on the dipstick after the car is off for a few minutes, and add more oil, if necessary, until it is full.

Step 4

Start the engine again, and pay attention to any of the indicators of oil pump trouble.

Step 5

Check the oil pressure sending unit on the engine, if the low oil pressure light remains on but there are no other indications of trouble. Potential problems with a mechanical sending unit include bad wiring or a plug in the hole where oil enters the unit. Potential problems with an electrical sending unit include a worn spot on the rheostat.

Step 6

Mount the oil pressure gauge on the engine's oil port and read the pressure while the engine is running, if the low oil pressure light remains on but there are no other indicators of trouble with the pump. If the gauge shows normal pressure, there is a problem with the sending unit, not the oil pump.

Step 7

Remove the oil pan from the engine and check the filter on the pickup tube. Clean it if it is severely clogged and replace it. If you have made all these checks and the problem indicators persist, take the car to a mechanic to have the oil pump replaced.

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