Why Does My Oil Pressure Gauge Drop to Zero When Driving?

Why Does My Oil Pressure Gauge Drop to Zero When Driving?

The oil pressure guage on your vehicle is responsible for showing you how much oil pressure you have. If the gauge drops down to zero, your vehicle is no longer circulating oil. Oil is responsible for keeping components in your vehicle lubricated so they don’t wear down.

Read on to learn more about why the oil pressure gauge on your vehicle goes to zero while driving.

Reasons the Oil Pressure Guage Drops to Zero While Driving

There are many reasons why your oil pressure gauge might drop to zero when you are driving. Here we will explore the potential causes:

  • You recently changed your engine oil or replaced the filter on your vehicle. The engine may consume too much oil if the correct amount of lubricant is not added during an oil change. An aged engine will also consume more oil due to evaporation and leaks. If engine components are not adequately greased up, everything starts grinding together faster than usual, causing things like metal fatigue over time. So topping up with more oil could be a simple solution for this problem.
  • Your car has a leak somewhere in the system, causing an interruption between the pump and injectors. ​​A worn oil pump is one of the leading causes of internal leaks and is usually indicated by a noisy engine. Worn pumps fail to generate adequate pressure and need to be replaced.
  • The sending unit inside your car could be faulty or broken.
  • One of the lines from either side of your radiator could have a small crack in it.
  • Oil viscosity level also impacts the smooth functioning of the engine. While low oil viscosity generates lesser resistance leading to a lower pressure reading by the sensors, higher viscosity increases the gear resistance resulting in increased friction, with the net result being a drop in oil pressure gauge reading.
  • The pressure gauge typically reports real-time pressure in pounds per square inch or pressure bars in diesel engines. Some lubricant manufacturers produce lower viscosity lubricants that are still within the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) grade range. These lubricants offer better fluidity but may result in a lower reading on your gauges if they’re not correctly calibrated for this type of oil.
  • If the “Oil Pressure” warning light on your dashboard comes on, check the oil levels. If this does not solve the problem and there are no strange noises or odd engine behavior, then a defective sensor may be at fault. You can test the oil pressure by using an oil gauge to determine if it’s typical for your location in relation to driving conditions like outside temperature, elevation changes, etc. Oil gauges work best when they read between 30-210 PSI (pounds per square inch).
  • A plugged filter that’s clogged with contaminants like soot or water can also lead to a malfunctioning bypass valve resulting in lubricant starvation. Such defective filters may cause the oil pressure to drop to zero.

If you notice that your oil pressure gauge drops to zero while driving, then it’s time to take your car in for a checkup. This is typically a sign of engine problems that could lead to costly repairs if not addressed promptly.

The good news is that there are many warning signs and symptoms that can help you figure out what might be wrong with the vehicle before it turns into an emergency situation.