Do you have an oil pressure sensor that doesn’t seem to give the correct readings? Do you want to know if you can unplug it and drive your car? You’ve come to the right place! We've researched this question and have the answer for you.
The short answer is that, yes, you can unplug the oil pressure sensor and continue to drive your car. In most cases, it wouldn’t affect the performance of your car.
Although you can continue to drive your car after you unplug the oil pressure sensor, the question is; do you really want to? Learn more about the effects of driving with high or low oil pressure, what causes it, and why you might need to bypass the oil pressure sensor in the sections below.
The Oil Pressure Gauge And The Oil Pressure Sensor
The oil pressure sensor is a special type of sensor that you can normally find on the cylinder head. The exact location will be different for different manufacturers.
The oil pressure sensor is responsible for determining the real-time pressure of oil inside the engine. It then sends the reading to the oil pressure gauge. The oil pressure gauge interprets the reading and displays it for you.
The gauge will show you if the oil pressure is dropping or not. Ideally, oil pressure should be at around 25 PSI when idle, and at a maximum of 65 PSI when at peak RPM.
Missing Oil Gauge
Some modern vehicles no longer have an oil gauge. Instead, they use a switch-like sensor instead of a straight oil pressure sensor.
This type of sensor behaves like a switch. It is off when the engine’s oil pressure is normal and turns on when it isn’t. When it turns on, you will see the oil pressure warning light on your dashboard.
How important is oil pressure?
Maintaining the right oil pressure in your vehicle is important to keep your engine well-lubricated.
Low oil pressure means that the oil in your system will not be able to reach all areas of your engine. The oil-starved areas will have higher amounts of friction, which can then lead to engine failure.
Low engine oil pressure will also lead to broken seals and the build-up of pressure and temperature.
On the other hand, very high engine oil pressure is not good too. If the oil pressure is too high, the oil will not be able to produce a sufficient protective film to prevent the parts of the engine from rubbing against each other. Without protection, there will be too much friction from the moving parts of the engine.
This, too, will lead to engine failure.
Similarly, very high engine oil pressure will lead to broken seals and a sudden increase in temperature and pressure.
Thus, neither high oil pressure and low oil pressure are not good for the engine.
What causes low oil pressure?
Low oil level is one of the most common reasons for low oil pressure. If there isn’t enough oil for the oil pump to circulate inside the engine, then the oil pressure will start to drop.
Worn Piston Rings
When the piston rings start to wear out, the engine will burn oil faster and cause the engine to lose oil fast. Piston rings are normally cast-iron rings to resist heat and pressure more easily.
Each cylinder has two to three piston rings that maintain the seal between the cylinder and the piston. The top rings are the compression rings, and the bottommost ring is the oil control ring.
In modern engine designs, the middle ring is known as the wiper ring because it is responsible for removing excess oil from the wall of the cylinder. It is also responsible for improving the seal of the combustion chamber.
Bad seals on your engine will also lead to oil leaks that can cause your engine to lose oil.
Wrong Oil Viscosity
Using engine oil with the right viscosity is important. Oil viscosity is the property of an oil to flow at specific temperatures. Manufacturers recommend specific oil viscosity to be used in their engines.
If the oil in your car's enginge is the wrong viscosity, it could affect oil pressure.
A low-viscosity oil might be too thin for your engine. An oil that is too thin will not be able to provide the protection that your engine needs. This thin oil will thin even further when temperatures rise, making it even more problematic for the engine.
On the other hand, engine oil with high viscosity will be too thick to get to all the corners of the engine that needs it. A common misconception among car owners is that a high viscosity oil will provide better protection for the engine. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
An engine made for low-viscosity oil will not be able to circulate a high-viscosity oil. This will lead to areas inside the engine that are oil starved.
Clogged Oil Filter
The oil in your engine will pass through the oil filter so that it can get rid of impurities in the oil. This is the reason why the oil filter will eventually get dirty—all the dirt inside the engine will accumulate inside the oil filter.
Unfortunately, the flow of oil inside the oil filter slows down as it traps more dirt.
To prevent this situation, always replace your oil filter each time you change your engine oil.
Failing Oil Pump
The oil pump is responsible for circulating oil inside the engine. If the oil pump starts to fail, it will no longer be able to push the oil with the right force so that it will reach the areas that it needs to go. Thus, oil pressure will start to drop.
If you suspect a failing oil pump, bring your vehicle to a mechanic to check it.
What causes high oil pressure?
High oil pressure is just as bad as low oil pressure.
Any resistance to the flow of oil influences oil pressure. If there is too much resistance, oil pressure will go up.
The oil pressure gauge shows any increase in oil pressure. However, it is best to wait for around 20 minutes after you start the engine for the reading to stabilize. This is about the time that the oil needs to reach the ideal operating temperature.
High oil pressure is an indication that the engine oil is having difficulty reaching some areas of the engine. These areas will become oil-starved and will lead to engine failure.
Relief Valve Failure
The relief valve’s purpose is to provide an exit channel for the oil when the oil pressure starts to rise. If the relief valve starts to fail, the oil pressure will rise quickly.
Blockage along the bores where the engine oil passes through will increase oil pressure and prevent it from reaching the areas that it should lubricate.
Warping of the engine block or the cylinder head from too much heat can prevent oil from flowing freely.
Can you unplug the oil pressure sensor?
You can unplug the oil pressure sensor and lose the benefit of getting an advance warning when the oil pressure starts to drop or rise. In some car models, the oil pressure warning light will turn on when you remove the oil pressure sensor. Some car models will also have the check engine light on when you remove the oil pressure sensor.
It is not a good idea to have either the check engine light or the oil [ressure warning light on because you will not be able to tell if you’re having an actual issue. Keep in mind that the check engine light comes on to warn you of issues on the engine. Some of these issues can be critical to the engine.
You will not be able to tell when you’re having an issue with the oil pressure of your car, and having either a high or low oil pressure can cause damage to the engine fast.
Removing the oil pressure sensor puts your car at unnecessary risk, and you gain nothing by permanently removing it.
Can you drive with the oil pressure sensor unplugged?
The oil pressure sensor does not affect the performance of the engine and the engine will continue to function after you unplug the oil pressure sensor. The oil pressure sensor monitors the state of the oil pressure because this can have an immediate negative impact on the engine.
In some car models, the oil pressure sensor goes through the ECU. Modern oil sensors can cause the ECU to stop the flow of electrical energy to the fuel pumps if it detects a problem. This situation can prevent the engine from starting.
You can bypass the oil pressure sensor temporarily to start the engine. This can be done if you have a faulty oil pressure sensor that is preventing the fuel pump from starting the engine.
Unplugging the oil pressure sensor and bypassing it can be done to start the engine in the case of a faulty sensor. However, permanently removing the oil pressure sensor is not a good idea.
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