How to Test an Oil Pump

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Check Oil light (Photo: @TonyTheTigersSon via Twenty20)
If you’re a vehicle owner, you’ve probably experienced the sinking feeling caused by your “Check Engine” light blinking on.
Not all engine problems can be prevented, but most of them can with regular cleaning and maintenance.
Your car’s oil pump pumps oil to your engine to keep its components lubricated and working in harmony (meaning, without any friction). If your oil pump isn’t working correctly, it can cause your engine’s parts to burn or wear away due to friction, resulting in overheating and even engine fires in some cases.
Do you know the symptoms of oil pump malfunction? And, more importantly, if you think something is wrong with your oil pump, do you know how to test it? Here’s everything you need to know.

Signs your oil pump is malfunctioning

Many things can signal an oil pump malfunction in your car. Some include:
“Check Engine” or “Check Oil” light illuminating: Perhaps the most obvious sign there is something wrong with your oil pump is a warning light illuminating on your dashboard. When this happens, it’s time to do some investigative work, like testing your oil pump.
Engine overheating: When the different components of your engine are not adequately lubricated, it creates friction, causing the engine to overheat.
Engine noises: Likewise, inadequate lubrication could also cause your engine systems to make a lot of noise.
Low oil pressure: If the oil levels in your car are either too high or too low it can impact the oil pressure, this can also be a sign of a bad oil pump.

Test your oil pump

If you think your oil pump is malfunctioning, you should take your car to a professional to have it tested or test your oil pump yourself by following these steps:
Identify the normal engine oil pressure for your car: Before you test the oil pressure in your vehicle, you need to know what the normal oil pressure should be. Reference your owner’s manual to find the ideal oil pressure for your car model.
Remove oil pressure sensor: When you pop the hood of your car, you will see a small black cylinder — this is the oil pressure sensor. It is responsible for reading the oil pressure and displaying the information on your dashboard. To test your car’s oil pressure manually, you will need to remove the sensor. Use a wrench to loosen the nut holding it in place.
Use an oil pressure gauge: An oil pressure gauge is a device that reads and displays the oil pressure in an engine. Screw the end of the hose to where the sender was previously attached and place the reader on the dashboard (or somewhere where you’ll be able to see it once seated in the car).
Turn on your car: Turn on your vehicle and take note of the pressure reading on the oil pressure gauge. Wait about 10 minutes for the car to warm up and then take a second at the reading. The readings shouldn’t be more than ten PSI from the recommended pressure stated in your owner’s manual.
Test the oil pressure at different RPM levels: Last but not least, test the pressure at two or three different RPM levels. While having your car parked (make sure to do this in an open space), put your foot on the accelerator and keep it steady until you reach 1000 RPM. Repeat the process at 200 RPM. The readings on the oil pressure gauge should not be more than 10 PSI away from the ideal pressure outline in your owner’s manual.