After having all the fluids and oil checked and making the necessary replacements, does your oil gauge reading show a high pressure? This is not rare situation you are facing. One of the frequent questions asked by vehicle owners is, ‘What causes high oil pressure?’ The median level is the ideal position for the oil pressure gauge to be in.
If you are often faced with high pressure readings for oil, you need not panic that it is time for replacement of your engine. While in some cases the engine replacement may be the only choice most often than not the reason can be easily rectified. This post will explain what causes high oil pressure in detail and the ways to circumvent it.
The pressure in the engine oil is evaluated by oil flow rate via internal combustion engine. A low or high engine oil pressure should be treated with caution as both can cause trouble for you.
So how is the pressure in the engine oil determined? The pressure of the engine oil is measured by the rate of oil flow via the car’s engine (internal combustion). Watch this video for more information.
Other than finding a high reading in the pressure gauge there is no other symptom that indicates a high pressure. The reasons for increase in engine oil pressure range from oil of higher density and dirty filter to defective sensors.
By placement of external gauges in the port of the sending unit you can identify whether it is a defective part or high pressure of engine oil that is causing the spike in oil pressure.
The flow of oil in the engine is the significant criterion for checking oil lubrication and not the pressure. Low pressure can be good for the engine up to certain limits.
High pressure however is not good for the engine and you should be concerned, if you see the pressure gauge indicating a high pressure.
Since pressure indicates the flow resistance, low viscosity oil and wide oil channels in an engine lead to faster rate of flow and low oil pressure. This reduces wear and hence is a desirable condition.
On the contrary, smaller oil galleries and high oil viscosity leads to slower flow and high pressure. This affects the lubrication of the engine. In very extreme situations, the oil will not reach all the parts of the engine leading to wear of essential engine parts. In some engines, the oil would pass through a valve that returns the oil back to the engine’s sump. Thus all the moving parts will not get the needed oil for lubrication.
The oil pressure is quite high while idling or during start up. This is because of the engine temperature. In turned off condition the engine cools down along with the oil that is flowing inside the machine.
When you start the engine, the temperature increases. This heats up the oil to a level that makes it easy to flow inside the machine and this increase continues until optimal temperature for operating is reached.
If the pressure of oil flow continues even after the engine has started and is running for some time, the problem may be in the relief valve. The valve for relieving pressure is an important part of the combustion engine as it helps regulate oil pressure.
The safety device helps to prevent damage to the piping and vessels due to very high pressure. If there is fault in the valve due to some reason or other, this can lead to high pressure of the engine oil.
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You can remove the valve, clean it and replace it. If this returns the pressure to normal reading it shows the valve is the reason behind the high pressure.
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A clogged filter can reduce the flow rate and cause an increase in the pressure. When you remove oil filter and clean it, the pressure will show a normal reading, if the dirty filter is the reason for the high pressure.
The role of oil filter in the engine is to filter all the contaminants in the engine oil and keep it clean so it provides good lubrication. Unclean oil passing through the engine over a long span can damage the engine surfaces.
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The regular oil filter in a car engine has bypass valve and inlet check valve. The inlet valve helps avoid back draining of oil out of the pump when engine shuts down. Bypass valve is used as a backup measure for when the filter gets dirty. Bypass valve lets the blocked oil bypass oil filter and go to the engine.
A dirty oil filter can also cause the valve to malfunction. This can lead to two scenarios. It can cause the valve to remain closed leading to ballooning of oil filter and damage to the engine. Or the valve may remain open leading to pressurized oil bypassing the filter and flowing back via the engine causing rise in pressure. Thus, you can remove oil filter, clean it or replace it if the valve is damaged to prevent high pressure.
The quality of the oil you add to the engine can also be the cause behind very low or high pressure. If the oil is very thin or light in weight it will have very low pressure as the thin oil can pass easily through the engine. If the oil is thick, it will need a higher pressure to flow.
In general, when you change oil and replace fresh oil, there is bound to be an increase in oil pressure. If this happens, it indicates that the oil you used previously was too thin to provide optimal performance.
A damaged oil sending component may also cause the increase in oil pressure. The unit should be checked for possible faults using a tester, as it is electric.
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Block in the oil passage is another potential problem that can trigger high pressure. If the blockage has been present for a long time, it can deprive the engine of the lubrication it needs. The lifter tap in the engine is often the culprit in this case. If you find oil leak in the cam assembly this is also an indicator of blocked passage.
If the block is present for a long time, the engine would be damaged beyond repair and need to be replaced. Salvage, remanufactured and rebuilt engines are good replacements to consider, but you should know the difference and capacity of each choice before you choose one for your car.
Other than the causes mentioned above, worn bearings and damaged oil pump also cause increase in pressure. In both cases, you need to replace the bearings and oil pump to return the oil pressure to optimal level.
Keep an eye on any large increase or decrease of oil pressure from its usual level. This indicates a fault that needs to be taken care of.
As we mentioned in the beginning, proper flow should gain precedence over pressure for proper lubrication.
Choose a top quality oil brand that has high viscosity. This will reduce thinning of the oil at high temperature.
Now that you know about what causes high oil pressure and the implications of high and low pressure, you will be able to identify the real issue behind the high pressure and take the necessary action. Hope you enjoyed our guide on what causes oil pressure to increase?
If you find it informative and interesting, please share this guide on social media. You can also post your suggestions and comments here. Have a smooth and wonderful ride always!
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