Having a bad oil pump isn't something vehicle owners look forward to as it can be problematic. For this reason, knowing its symptoms will be advantageous to quickly address the problem.

In this article, we will walk you through the symptoms of a bad oil pump. Also, we will highlight:

  • The oil pump replacement cost
  • How to check your oil pump
  • Whether or not you can drive with a bad oil pump.


Without further ado, let's get started!


Can You Drive With A Bad Oil Pump?

Yes, you can. However, this is highly conditional. What this means is that you may only drive with a bad oil pump if you are on your way to get a replacement. You shouldn't drive with a failing oil pump for too long or you will risk damaging the crankshaft and the camshaft bearings.

Additionally, driving with a bad oil pump implies a lack of lubrication which could damage the car's hydraulic lifters.

To hit the nail on the head, while it's possible to drive with a bad oil pump, we strongly advise against it. Doing so would risk expensive engine damage.


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Symptoms Of A Bad Oil Pump

If your car shows any of the following warning signs, you should book an appointment with a local garage immediately. It may be suffering with a bad oil pump.


BookMyGarage branded infographic that shows the key warning signs of a bad oil pump


Low Oil Pressure

Your vehicle's oil pump is responsible for providing and regulating the oil that lubricates the car's engine as well as controlling its temperature. It does this by facilitating the distribution of oil throughout the various engine components. As a result, the engine's moving parts will easily slide against each other without any risk of damage because they are properly greased.

Low oil pressure resulting from a bad oil pump will cause the moving parts of your vehicle's engine to rub roughly against each other. Keep in mind that if your car’s oil pressure is low due to a malfunctioning oil pump, the oil light on the dashboard will illuminate.


Increased Engine Temperature

As mentioned above, inadequate oil in the engine of your car resulting from a defective oil pump causes it to run dry.

This means that its components won't have the required lubrication to move freely. The inability of your engine's moving components to move freely implies more friction, which will generate heat.

This causes an increase in engine temperature. If the engine is properly lubricated, the oil will absorb the excessive heat that the engine generates while dissipating it as it moves around the engine.



Some bad oil pump symptoms are more noticeable than others. For example, you may notice noise coming from various vehicle parts as an indicator of a failing oil pump. These sounds can come from the following:


Hydraulic Lifter Noise

The hydraulic lifter is a major component of the engine's valve-train operations as they help maintain valve clearance. By implication, it needs lots of lubrication to work properly. In the event of low oil pressure stemming from a malfunctioning oil pump, oil is prevented from reaching the hydraulic lifters.

Because of this, the hydraulic lifter won’t be able to move properly, and it will create a lot of noise as tries to do so. Also, a lack of lubrication in the hydraulic lifter causes wear and tear due to friction, shortening its lifespan.


Valve-train System Noise

A vehicle's valve-train system consists of key parts such as seals, pushrods, and valve guides. These components need proper lubrication for the metal parts. Poor lubrication caused by a bad oil pump results in excessive friction in the mechanical parts. As a result, noise is produced in the valve-train system.


Oil Pump Noise

The oil pump operates silently under normal working conditions. However, if it is faulty, the oil pump will produce a whining sound whenever it tries to distribute oil around the engine. This sound is due to the wearing out of the oil pump gears and is more noticeable when the vehicle is idling.


How To Check Your Oil Pump

Now that you know the dangers a faulty oil pump poses to your vehicle's engine, knowing how to check/test your oil pump for failures will be helpful. As such, you can replace it once you start to notice symptoms. Here is how to check your oil pump:


BookMyGarage branded infographic showing 3 ways to check your bad oil pump's condition


Step 1: Stop Driving

If you are driving and notice that the low oil light on your car’s dashboard is illuminated, you must stop the vehicle and use a dipstick to check the oil levels. Add more oil if the oil level is low. Start the car and watch out for any of the symptoms of a malfunctioning oil pump.


Step 2: Check the Engine's Oil Pressure Measurement Unit

If the low oil pressure light is still triggered after refilling the engine oil, your vehicle may have a problem with its measurement communication system. This is often caused by faulty wiring. However, if you do not have any electrical issues with your vehicle and notice strange noises coming from your car after topping up the oil, you should check the oil pressure of the car.


Step 3: Use a Pressure Gauge to Check the Engine Oil Port Pressure

If the low oil pressure light won't turn off in spite of addressing the above-mentioned problems, it indicates that you have a bad oil pump. What you need to do now is to put an oil pressure gauge on the oil port of the engine. After that, check the oil pressure readings and compare them with your vehicle's recommended oil pressure to see if there are any differences.

If the readings come out to be normal, chances are you have a problematic sending unit. However, if the readings show that you have low oil pressure, clean the oil filter and proceed to test/check the pump once more.

If you’re stuck by the side of the road and can’t complete this test yourself, call your recovery provider. They will have the equipment on hand to test whether your oil pump is faulty.

Should this issue persist, we recommend booking an appointment with a local garage. They will complete a FREE visual inspection to find the cause of your problem and then provide a transparent quote for an oil pump replacement if this is what you need. Compare garages near you to find the best deal and book your visual inspection in just 2 steps.


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Oil Pump Replacement Cost

On average, the cost for an oil pump replacement sits between £300 to more than £2000, depending on the car and the cost of labour.



As stated earlier, knowing the symptoms of a bad oil pump can save you a lot of trouble in the long run, as it helps you to ensure it is working properly. Neglecting this part can lead to plenty of expensive repairs as your car won’t work properly with a faulty oil pump. If you notice an issue, make sure you stop and test your oil pump. Call your recovery provider if you need help with this.