An oil pump is crucial for safe and efficient engine operation. It draws oil from the oil pan and distributes it throughout the engine to lubricate its moving parts. A failed oil pump will lead to serious engine damage and expensive repairs.
How to find out that an oil pump is faulty
Lack of oil pressure
When an oil pump is running, it creates relatively high pressure needed to force oil through all passages and deliver it to all moving parts for their proper lubrication. A malfunctioning oil pump will cause damage to vital engine components such as bearings, pistons, cylinder walls, camshafts and the crankshaft.
Oil pressure warning light is on
Your engine control unit relies on the oil pressure sensor to monitor oil pressure. Once the sensor sends low pressure readings, the oil pressure warning light and the check engine light will come on.
Inability to start the engine
On some vehicles a lack of oil due to a faulty oil pump will cause the engine control unit to cut off the engine-start circuit, so the engine won’t start.
Abnormal engine noise
Loss of oil and oil pressure will increase friction between engine moving parts, resulting in abnormal noises like tapping or knocking.
What is an oil pump?
Once an engine starts, its oil pump draws oil from the oil pan and forces it through tight passages, which increases its pressure. When the pressure becomes too high, an oil pressure relief valve placed at the outlet of the pump opens to keep the oil pressure within its optimum range.
There are two types of oil pumps, including gear and rotor.
Gear oil pump
These oil pumps come with two gears of a different size. Oil enters the inlet of the pump, goes around each gear and exits through the outlet.
Rotor oil pump
As its name says, a rotor pump features an inner and outer rotors which force the oil. The oil comes in through the inlet of the pump and is forced out through its outlet.
While most vehicles on the road come with an oil pump located in the oil pan and driven by a shaft turned by the camshaft or distributor, modern vehicles feature an oil pump in the front cover that is driven by the crankshaft directly. Regardless of its design, an oil pump sucks oil from the oil pan and transports it to the engine parts.
Can it be fixed?
A properly operating oil pump is vital for long-lasting engine performance. If it fails, you should shut down the engine and get in touch with your mechanic.
Sometimes, a faulty oil pump can be repaired; however, in most cases it must be replaced. Besides, driving with a failed pump can cause damage to internal engine parts. If so, the entire engine rebuild or replacement may be required.