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Summary
  • A faulty oil pressure sensor might lead to an inaccurate oil pressure gauge. Testing and replacing this pressure sensor is simple as long as it’s accessible.
  • It’s always best to troubleshoot before you replace the oil pressure sensor or switch. Perform a preliminary inspection first, then use a mechanical gauge to check on the engine oil pressure.
  • To replace the oil pressure sensor or switch, prepare the tools and equipment you need and follow the guide in this article to remove the old sensor and install a new one.

If your oil pressure gauge isn’t reading correctly—but you don’t hear any abnormal noises from the engine—you may have a faulty oil pressure sensor. Because monitoring your engine’s oil pressure is important, you’ll want to diagnose and repair the problem right away.

The good news is, as long as you can easily access the oil pressure sensor, it’s pretty simple to test and replace.

automotive oil pressure sensor
An oil pressure sensor (or oil pressure sender) is a pressure transducer that measures oil pressure.

How to Test an Oil Pressure Sensor or Switch

There are two primary types of oil pressure monitoring devices: oil pressure sensors and oil pressure switches. An oil pressure sensor (also referred to as an oil pressure sender) is a pressure transducer that measures oil pressure. The sensor’s internal resistance changes in response to fluctuations in oil pressure.

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Meanwhile, an oil pressure switch is just that—a switch that closes when oil pressure drops below a certain threshold.

Before replacing an oil pressure sensor or switch, you’ll want to do some troubleshooting. You want to confirm that the part is faulty, while also verifying that the engine isn’t suffering from low oil pressure. Follow the troubleshooting steps below to get the job done.

Perform a Preliminary Inspection

If your dashboard instrumentation indicates low oil pressure, the first thing you’ll want to do is check the engine oil level. A low oil level can lead to a lack of oil pressure—and costly engine damage.

Next, you’ll want to perform a visual inspection of the oil pressure sensor or switch. Look for issues, such as damaged wires and poor connections.

If everything looks okay, you can move on to checking the engine oil pressure with a mechanical gauge.

engine oil level inspection
A low oil level can lead to a lack of oil pressure—and costly engine damage.

Check the Engine Oil Pressure With a Mechanical Gauge

The next thing you’ll want to do is check the engine oil pressure with a mechanical gauge. Doing so will rule out a low oil pressure condition inside of the engine.

Before you connect the gauge, you must first remove the oil pressure sensor (or switch). To get an idea of how to remove the sensor, read the corresponding section toward the bottom of this article.

Once the sensor is removed, you can install the gauge’s adapter into the engine. Then connect the gauge to the adapter. Start the engine and note the reading on the gauge. If the gauge shows normal oil pressure, the issue is with the oil pressure sensor, its circuit, or the dashboard instrumentation.

See also  P0989 Code: Transmission Fluid Pressure Sensor/Switch “E” Circuit Low

Since oil pressure sensors are relatively inexpensive, most people opt to replace the sensor at this point. If the replacement part doesn’t fix the problem, consult a repair manual or repair database for information on troubleshooting the rest of the circuit

How to Replace an Oil Pressure Sensor or Switch

In most cases, replacing an oil pressure sensor or switch is a fairly straightforward affair. But the process will vary, depending on the year, make, and model of the vehicle. On some cars, you may need to remove additional components to access the sensor.

So, it’s a good idea to consult the replacement instructions for your application in a repair manual or repair database. But for a general overview of what’s typically involved with replacing an oil pressure sensor, check out the information below.

mechanic checking oil pressure sensor
Before replacing an oil pressure sensor or switch, confirm first that the part is faulty while also verifying that the engine isn’t suffering from low oil pressure.

Tools and Equipment Needed to Replace an Oil Pressure Sensor

The tools needed to replace an oil pressure sensor will vary, depending on the type of car you have.

In general, however, you’ll need:

  • Jack and jack stands
  • Oil pressure sensor socket (recommended)
  • Ratchet and socket set
  • Repair manual or access to a repair database
  • Safety glasses
  • Torque wrench
  • Wheel chocks

Oil Pressure Sensor Replacement Instructions

Now, let’s get started replacing your oil pressure sensor. The following steps will give you an idea of what the job typically entails

Note: The following are general guidelines for educational and entertainment purposes only. Consult your vehicle’s factory information for specific repair instructions and recommended safety procedures.

Oil Pressure Sensor Removal:

  1. Put on your safety glasses.
  2. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  3. Safely raise and support the vehicle using a jack and jack stands. Set the parking brake and chock the rear wheels.
  4. Disconnect the electrical connector from the oil pressure sensor.
  5. Use a ratchet and an oil pressure sensor socket to loosen the sensor. In some cases, you may be able to use a regular socket or a wrench instead of the dedicated sensor socket.
  6. Remove the oil pressure sensor from the vehicle.
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replacement oil pressure sensor
If your oil pressure gauge isn’t reading correctly but you don’t hear any abnormal noises from the engine, you may have a faulty oil pressure sensor.

Oil Pressure Sensor Installation:

  1. Compare the new oil pressure sensor to the old oil pressure sensor to ensure that both are the same design.
  2. Coat the threads of the oil pressure sensor with sealant (if the new sensor does not come with sealant pre-applied),
  3. Install the new oil pressure sensor in the engine. Use a torque wrench to tighten the sensor to the manufacturer’s specification.
  4. Reconnect the oil pressure sensor’s electrical connector.
  5. Safely remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle.
  6. Reconnect the negative battery cable.

To find a high-quality oil pressure sensor for your vehicle, check out our wide range of replacement products.

About The Author
Written By Automotive Subject Matter Expert at CarParts.com

Mia Bevacqua has over 14 years of experience in the auto industry and holds a bachelor’s degree in Advanced Automotive Systems. Certifications include ASE Master Automobile Technician, Master Medium/Heavy Truck Technician, L1, L2, L3, and L4 Advanced Level Specialist. Mia loves fixer-upper oddballs, like her 1987 Cavalier Z-24 and 1998 Astro Van AWD.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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