How to Fix Low Oil Pressure at Idle

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Engine oil is the blood of the engine. It circulates through the system, performing many important tasks such as lubricating moving parts and cooling the engine. To function properly, the engine oil must maintain proper oil pressure.

If your car has low oil pressure when it’s idling, don’t panic! There are a few things that you can do to fix the problem. Here are a few tips. In this article, we will cover the question: How to fix low oil pressure at idle other relevant topics related to idle oil pressure

Why Oil Pressure Is Too Low at Idle?

Actron SP0F000052 Bosch Style Line 2" Mechanical Oil Pressure Gauge (Black Dial Face, Black Bezel)

The best way to determine and find out if your engine oil pressure is low is by checking your oil pressure gauge when the engine is idling. Low oil pressure at idle can be caused by a number of things, from a faulty oil pump to low oil levels. 

There are a multitude of reasons why your engine oil pressure might be low when the engine is idling which will require different solutions. Diagnosis is key in finding a solution to your problem.

How to Fix Low Oil Pressure at Idle? Causes and Solutions

what causes low oil pressure at idle

The following are some of the most common reasons why you might experience low oil pressure at idle and how to fix it:

Low Oil Level 

More often than not, low oil pressure at idle is simply due to a low oil level. This is a key part of maintenance that can often go overlooked. A low oil level will not only cause low oil pressure, but it can also damage your engine. 

This is because when the engine isn’t getting enough oil, which leads to not enough engine parts, nooks and crannies wearing down and experiencing excessive friction due to not enough lubrication. 


Fairly simple enough, if your low oil pressure is due to a low oil level, you can easily fix the problem by adding more oil. When topping up your oil, first pull out the dipstick, clean it, put it back in and then pull it out again. Make sure the oil is at the “full” line. If it’s not, add more oil until it is. 

Also Read: When Is the Best Time to Check Your Oil

Poor Car Maintenance 

oil pressure drops at idle car change oil

When was the last time you changed your oil? Depending on how often you drive, and the type of oil your car uses, will determine how often you should change your oil. You can usually find this information in your car’s owner’s manual. 

The engine oil can get sludgy and old over time, which will make it difficult for the oil to flow through your engine. This will cause low oil pressure at idle because there simply isn’t enough oil getting to all of the engine parts that need it. 


The oil in your car can get dirty and sludgy over time, which will cause low oil pressure. If you’re not sure when the last time you changed your oil was, it might be time for a change. The recommended mileage you should go between oil changes can be found in your car’s owner’s manual. Swapping out your old oil for a new one will help to clean out the sludge and dirt and should restore your oil pressure to normal. 

Worn Out Oil Pump 

The oil pump’s job is to circulate the oil through your engine. If the oil pump is old and worn out, it might not be doing its job properly, which will lead to low oil pressure. It works by pressurizing the oil and then sending it through tiny passages in your engine. 


If your oil pump is old and worn out, it might not be doing its job properly, which will lead to low oil pressure. The best way to fix this problem is to replace the entire oil pump. This can be a bit pricey, but if you’re experienced with car repairs, you might be able to do it yourself. 

Also Read: How Much Does It Cost to Replace an Oil Pump

Faulty Oil Pump 

Melling M295 Oil Pump, Wet Sump, Internal, Standard Volume, GM LS-Series, Each

The pump itself can fail due to a number of reasons such as bearing failure, seal failure or electrical problems. When this happens, it means that oil isn’t getting circulated properly and you guessed it, low oil pressure at idle. 


If the oil pump itself is faulty, as mentioned above, the best way to fix the problem is to replace it. Again, this can be a bit pricey, but if you’re experienced with car repairs, you might be able to do it yourself. Just be sure that you have the correct replacement pump for your car. 

Clogged Oil Filter 

Genuine Toyota 04152-YZZA1 Oil Filter

The oil filter has very important job of keeping the oil clean. Over time as more and more oil passes through it, the oil filter can become clogged with dirt and debris. If your filter becomes clogged, it will restrict the flow of oil to your engine which leads to low oil pressure at idle. 


To solve the issue of a clogged oil filter, you’ll need to replace the filter. This is a much easier fix than replacing an oil pump and it’s not too pricey either. You can find oil filters at most auto parts stores. Just be sure to get the correct size and type of filter for your car. 

Old and Worn-out Engine

low oil pressure at idle old and worn-out engine

Sadly, sometimes low oil pressure at idle can be a sign of a much bigger problem, an old and worn-out engine. As your engine ages, parts will begin to wear out and break down. Certain seals and joints will not be as tight and compact, eventually starting to leak, which will cause a loss in oil pressure.


The most likely cause of low oil pressure in an old car is simply that the engine is worn out. If this is the case, there’s not a whole lot you can do other than replace the engine. This is a big repair and can be quite costly, so it might be time to start shopping for a new car. 

Wrong Oil Viscosity

Amazon Basics High Mileage Motor Oil - Full Synthetic - 5W-30 - 5 Quart

A rather silly, but easily overlooked mistake, is using the wrong oil viscosity in your car. Oil comes in different weights or viscosities and each one has a specific purpose. Most cars use a multi-grade oil which means it can be used in a variety of temperatures. 

For example, a 5W-30 oil is an all-purpose oil that can be used in both hot and cold weather. However, if you were to use 5W-30 oil in the winter, your engine might not get enough lubrication when it’s cold leading to low oil pressure. 


Adding the wrong oil viscosity is a very easy mistake to make, but it can also lead to low oil pressure. If you’re not sure what type of oil your car needs, be sure to check your owner’s manual. Most cars use a multi-grade oil which can be used in a variety of temperatures.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Low Oil Pressure?

The costs associated with fixing low oil pressure will depend on the underlying problem. If the cause is something simple, like a low oil level, the fix will be very inexpensive. Just be sure to buy the correct type of oil for your car. 

If the problem is a bit more serious, like a worn-out oil pump, the repair can be quite costly. Replacing an oil pump is not a difficult repair, but it can be pricey. The cost of parts and labor can range from $500 to $1,500. 

The most expensive fix for low oil pressure will be if the engine itself is worn out. In this case, you’ll need to replace the engine which can cost upwards of $4000 or more. 

What Is An Ideal Oil Pressure

This is not easy to answer as it will depend on a vast number of variable factors including the make and model of your car, horsepower, RPMs, and fuel type. When your engine reaches operating temperature, system pressures can range from 20 to 30 psi at idle to 45 to 70 psi at highway speeds. Check your car repair manual for detailed specifications.

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So, that’s how to fix low oil pressure at idle. Remember, the best way to avoid low oil pressure is to maintain your car well and to change your oil regularly. If you do find yourself with low oil pressure, be sure to check the underlying cause and fix it as soon as possible. Thanks for reading!

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