A bad oil pump can do damage to your car’s engine and limit your vehicle’s overall performance.

That’s why it is so important that you know the symptoms of a bad oil pump to look out for.

Read on and find out the 5 main symptoms of a bad oil pump, how to check it, and whether or not you can drive with a bad oil pump.


Symptoms of a Bad Oil Pump

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


If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should book an appointment with a local garage immediately as your vehicle may be suffering from a bad oil pump.


Low Oil Pressure

The oil pump is responsible for providing and regulating the oil that lubricates the engine, as well as for 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.

Oil leaks can occur if the lubricating system is damaged by the pressure produced by the oil pump.

Without sufficient oil pressure, the oil won’t be able to travel through the lubricating system and into the machine parts to lubricate them.

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.

You may notice an illuminated engine oil pressure warning light on the dashboard if the oil pressure is low.


Increased Engine Temperature

Inadequate oil in the engine resulting from a defective oil pump will cause it to run dry.

This means that its components won’t have the required lubrication to move freely – meaning more friction, and more heat being generated.

This will cause an increase in engine temperature, which can damage the engine and its components.

If the engine is properly lubricated, the oil will absorb the excessive heat that the engine generates whilst dissipating it as it moves around the engine.


Hydraulic Lifter Noise

The hydraulic lifter is a major component of the engine’s valve-train operations, as it helps to maintain valve clearance.

It needs a lot of lubrication to work properly – oil won’t reach the hydraulic lifters if there is low oil pressure stemming from a malfunctioning oil pump.

As a result, the hydraulic lifter won’t be able to move properly, creating a lot of noise as it tries to do so – likely a tapping or clicking sound.

A lack of lubrication in the hydraulic lifter will cause wear and tear due to friction, thereby 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 will lead to excessive friction in the mechanical parts – and a tapping or clattering noise being produced in the valve-train system as a result.


Oil Pump Noise

When it is working normally, the oil pump will operate silently.

However, if the oil pump is faulty, it will produce a whining sound as it tries to distribute oil around the engine.

This sound is due to the wearing out of the oil pump gears and will be most noticeable when the vehicle is idling.


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You should quit oil pump operations if you hear any of these noises and inspect your lubrication system accordingly.


How to Check Your Oil Pump

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

Now that you know the dangers a faulty oil pump poses to your vehicle’s engine, you can learn how to check – or test – your oil pump for any failures.

You can then replace it if you notice any symptoms.


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 car and use a dipstick to check the oil levels.

You can add more engine oil if the oil level is low.

Start the car and look out for any 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 you refill the engine oil, then there may be a problem with the vehicle’s measurement communication system – often causing by faulty wiring.

However, if you don’t 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 even after addressing these aforementioned issues, then you likely have a bad oil pump.

You now need to put an oil pressure gauge on the oil port of the engine.

Next, 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 normal, chances are you have a problematic sending unit.

However, if the readings show that you have low oil pressure, you should clean the oil filter and proceed to test the pump once more.

If you are stuck by the side of the road and can’t complete this test yourself, you should call your recovery provider.

They will have the equipment on hand to test whether your oil pump is faulty.

If the issue persists, you should book an appointment with a local garage to have the problem resolved.


Do I Need to Book an Oil Change?

An oil and filter change does not directly involve servicing the oil pump.

However, ensuring regular oil changes can indirectly help to maintain the overall health of the oil pump by providing clean oil that reduces the likelihood of contaminants.

As oil becomes dirty and the filter becomes clogged over time, it is essential that you book an oil and filter change regularly.

During an oil change, a mechanic will drain and refill your engine oil and replace the dirty filter.


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How Much Does an Oil Pump Replacement Cost?

On average, an oil pump replacement costs anywhere from £300 to upwards of £2000.

The cost of your oil pump replacement can vary depending on the car and the labour costs involved.


Can I Carry Out an Oil Pump Replacement Myself?

Replacing an oil pump should only be done by an experienced mechanic with the right tools and space to complete the job.


Can You Drive With a Bad Oil Pump?

Technically, yes – you can drive with a bad oil pump – but we would strongly advise against it.

You should only drive with a bad oil pump if you are on your way to get a replacement.

You should not drive with a failing oil pump for long, as you will risk damaging the crankshaft and the camshaft bearings.

Driving with a bad oil pump implies a lack of lubrication which could damage your car’s hydraulic lifters and could risk expensive engine damage.


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If you notice an issue with your oil pump, make sure that you stop and test it or call your recovery provider to assist you.



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