What Is High Oil Pressure and How to Solve It?

High oil pressure can indicate something seriously wrong with your engine, so it shouldn’t be ignored. If you do, you could cause severe damage to your engine or even result in complete engine failure, which can be very costly and even cost you your vehicle.

This article will examine the most common pressure problems, what causes high pressure, and how to fix them so they don’t damage your vehicle. 

Let’s dive in.

What Is High Oil Pressure?

Your vehicle’s oil pressure is determined by the resistance that the oil faces when it flows through the engine, lines, and other passages. It’s indicated on the oil pressure gauge on your dashboard. The best time to observe it is after the engine has been running for about 20 minutes and the oil has reached its standard operating temperature. 

High pressure occurs when there’s more resistance to the flow than there should be. This can be caused by a number of different issues, some serious, and others not. In either case, it’s a critical warning that there could be something very wrong with your system, and if ignored, it can cost you dearly. 

Since pressure depends on resistance, it will vary with the engine’s size, the passages’ diameter, and the oil’s viscosity or thickness. Most vehicles operate best between 25 and 65 PSI; anything over 80 is typically considered too high. 

Will High Oil Pressure Damage My Car?

High oil pressure should never be ignored, as it can cause serious damage. While there are a few instances when it’s a faulty gauge or sensor, it’s usually because the pressure is too high. 

In that case, it means that the lubricant cannot properly pass through the boreholes to reach all parts of the engine, which means that your engine is not being properly lubricated. This causes friction, wear and tear, and damage to components, which, in the most extreme cases, can result in complete engine failure. 

What Are the Most Common Oil Pressure Problems?

Numerous factors can cause pressure problems; let’s look at the most common issues.

Low Oil Pressure

Low pressure often occurs when there’s not enough oil in the system, which should be checked by looking at the oil dipstick. If it’s low, add more. So, if you see low pressure, it’s a good idea to top up your fluids and make regular lubricant and filter changes. 

However, if you’ve done your maintenance and it’s still low, you may have a faulty oil pump. 

High Oil Pressure

High oil pressure occurs when there’s too much resistance to the proper flow through the engine. That increased resistance can prevent your moving parts from being lubricated properly. 

It’s a very serious issue that causes an increase in friction in the moving parts, which can damage your engine and, in severe cases, lead to complete engine failure. 

Air in the Oil System

Sometimes, air can get into the system and bind with the oil when it’s agitated under pressure, which is called oil aeration. It can also occur when there’s a leak in the suction line, which is when the line should be replaced or repaired. In either case, this can lead to higher pressure and cause your system to malfunction, which can also damage your engine. To remove air, you should bleed your oil system.

Using Oil of the Wrong Viscosity

Always check your manufacturer’s recommendations in your owner’s manual for what oil you should use. Synthetic and traditional lubricants come in different viscosities, which all affect the pressure. Your engine was designed to use a specific type of lubricant, so always use exactly what your manufacturer recommends. 

Dirty Oil or Dirty Filters

Running your engine with dirty oil and not changing your filters can result in serious pressure issues, damage to your engine, reduced lifespan, and, in the worst cases, complete engine failure. Avoiding that is simple—change your oil on time according to your manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Vehicles that can use synthetic lubricants usually need less frequent changes than those that use traditional oil, which will need more frequent changes.  

Faulty Oil Pressure Guages or Sensors

Sometimes, your pressure might be perfectly fine, but your gauges say it is too high. This could be a faulty gauge or a faulty sensor. Never just assume they are faulty, however. 

Always rule out the more serious issues so you don’t damage your engine. If you have, and it still says it’s too low or high, then you should bring your vehicle to a certified mechanic to diagnose the problem. 

Faulty or Worn Out Oil Pump

If your oil pump is old or faulty, it might not be pushing the lubricant through the system as it should, resulting in high or low pressure that can cause serious damage to your engine. If you suspect your pump is old or faulty, change it immediately. 

What Causes High Oil Pressure?

Numerous things can cause high pressure, from using the wrong lubricant to old or faulty parts. The best way to diagnose it is to read your vehicle’s owner’s manual, take it to a mechanic, or test the pressure directly using an external gauge. 

Following is a list of the causes you are likely to encounter:

  • Dirty or contaminated oil filters—When oil is blocked from freely flowing through a dirty filter clogged with dust or other debris, it causes higher resistance and, therefore, higher pressure. 
  • Blockages in the passages to the crankshaft will also prevent the oil from flowing efficiently through them and lubricating the engine. This blockage will increase resistance and, therefore, increase pressure. 
  • If your relief valve is malfunctioning, this can also cause high pressure. If it is not open to allow relief when the pressure reaches a certain PSI, the pressure will continue building to levels that could damage your engine. 
  • Oil viscosity, or thickness, can also result in high pressure when you use a lubricant that is too viscous for your engine. Cold temperatures can also produce too viscous oil, resulting in higher pressure. This is why you should wait 20 minutes before you check it to allow time for the lubricant to heat and thin so that you get an accurate reading of your operating pressure. 
  • Malfunctioning engines can also cause high pressures, which could indicate a much more serious problem. In this case, you should consult a mechanic for advice. 
  • More is not always better; too much lubricant can be just as bad for an engine as too little. Too much oil can manifest as high pressure, signaling the need to check your system. If ignored, too much lubricant will damage the gaskets, resulting in leakage and possibly complete engine failure. 
  • Faulty sensors can also indicate high or low pressure when it may actually be in the standard operating range. Unfortunately, to figure out if you have a sensor issue, you should rule out everything else first. Never assume you have a faulty sensor or gauge, or it could cost you your engine. If you are handy with vehicles, you can check this yourself; otherwise, if you have ruled out everything you can, bring your vehicle to a certified mechanic to diagnose the problem. 

How Do You Fix High Oil Pressure?

Properly maintaining your engine, including changing filters regularly and following the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of lubricant that you should use, can help prevent most pressure problems. 

Sometimes, however, parts fail for unknown reasons, in which case you should talk to a mechanic to repair them if you aren’t confident enough to tackle the job yourself. But first, here are some fixes you can do yourself. 

Topping up the Oil Level

If you have an issue, the first thing to do is check your levels. If they’re low, top them up. If someone overfilled them last time, that can cause high pressure and other serious problems. In that case, drain some lubricant out and check it again until the level is at the optimum level, as indicated on the oil dipstick. 

Regular Oil and Filter Changes

Regular oil and filter changes are one of the most common means of preventing and fixing issues. Dirty oil and filters cause more resistance to flow, resulting in higher pressure. If ignored, this can lead to engine damage or failure. 

Replace the Pil Pump

If your oil pump is old or faulty, it can cause the pressure to be too low or too high because it is not working as it should. In this case, replace the pump immediately before it causes additional damage to your engine. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Drive a Car With High Oil Pressure?

You can drive a car with high oil pressure, but it’s not advised. While it’s not guaranteed to cause engine failure, it certainly could. Even in the best-case scenario, high pressure can cause damage to your engine and reduce its lifespan. It’s just not worth the risk.

How Do I Check My Oil Pressure?

Most vehicles have a gauge on their dashboard, allowing you to monitor your oil pressure easily at a glance. Start your engine, allow it to heat up, and check the pressure. Otherwise, you must use a manual oil pressure gauge connected to the oil pressure sender in the engine block.  

Is 70 Oil Pressure Too High?

Oil pressure varies from vehicle to vehicle, but most engines usually have between 25 and 65 PSI. If yours is at 70 PSI, the odds are good that it’s too high. Therefore, you should troubleshoot the problem to find out what’s happening and prevent damage to your engine or worse. 

Final Thoughts

If you suspect you have too high oil pressure, you should troubleshoot all the potential causes. These include too much or dirty oil, clogged filters, air in the system, using too viscous lubricants, faulty sensors, faulty gauges, blockages, malfunctioning relief valves, and malfunctioning engines. If you detect any of those issues, you should correct them immediately or have a certified mechanic work on your vehicle. 

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