What Happens When An Oil Pump Fails?

April 23, 2022

Repairing the oil pump leaking and loss of power to pump the oil to engine parts.

If you’re the kind of guy who sometimes tinkers with your car’s engine, you will be familiar with the oil pump. Of course, the oil pump is the very heart of your car’s lubrication system. The oil pump sucks oil from the oil pan and then forces it around the engine’s oilways. It is an internal combustion engine’s component that circulates engine oil to the camshaft, rotating bearings, and pistons. Hence, its role in lubricating all these engine components is critical to the engine’s cooling. 

As it supplies oil to the running car engine, it prevents the engine’s metal components from rubbing with each other. The oil pump likewise absorbs excess heat from these components while they run.

The oil pump might look quite robust and heavy-duty. Yet, it is not impervious to damage and failure. Over time, it might fail. Hence, it will help if you are wary of the telltale signs of a failing oil pump, for if the oil pump fails, the proper lubrication of the engine components will get compromised. Without lubrication, the engine will get damaged if you don’t replace your oil pump immediately.

What Damages Would a Defective Oil Pump Create?

As mentioned above, the engine and its components need lubrication and cooling. Oil, of course, can provide this lubrication and cooling. There will be too much friction between the engine’s different components without oil. Bearings, for example, without lubrication, can get scratched with ease. Moreover, the aluminum heads can rub with the camshafts. So, damages among these components can soon ensue. 

Oil serves as the buffer between these adjacent components. Hence, the engine design allows for the continuous flow of pressurized oil through the engine system to replenish the oil that has been forced out from these surfaces. 

A thin oil film should stay for a while to ensure that the different engine components don’t rub with each other. Let me give you an overview of what will happen if the metals are allowed to rub with each other. For example, if a millionth of an inch gets scratched from the metal in every engine revolution running at 3000 RPM, you can expect one-inch wear within five hours. 

During regular engine operation or if the oil pump is running well, the bearings don’t rub with each other because of the thin film of oil. If the pumps fail, the metals rub with each other, leading to the deterioration of your engine. 

The car’s engine is composed of metal components that operate at a high-stress level. The oil serves as a stress-reliever by minimizing friction between these moving parts. This oil needs to be pressurized to get into the system. For this reason, there is an oil pump. Moreover, this circulating oil allows for the cooling and filtering of contaminants like minute metal particles. 

Suppose the pumping of this pressurized oil gets hampered. Your engine becomes a candidate for engine failure. Without the pressurized lubricating oil, the metal surfaces will rub at tremendous speed, and heat builds up that could weld together these moving metal parts. You can barely imagine what will happen to your engine if that occurs. Moreover, some parts of your engine can get ejected.

Symptoms of Defective Oil Pump

Your engine will continue to work better if you regularly maintain it. However, the oil pump may fail over time, and if you don’t address this issue promptly, your engine might get compromised. Hence, it will help if you are familiar with the following telltale signs of oil pump failure:

Oil Pressure Warning Light/ Low Oil Pressure

The oil pump regulates the oil pressure. So, if the oil pump fails, you will notice a significant decrease in oil pressure. You will also see a signal on your dashboard with the oil pressure warning light turning on. If this happens, check the oil level. 

If the engine’s oil level is too low, normalize the oil level by adding more oil. If, after adding oil, the oil pressure remains low, it is more likely that the oil pump has failed. Ensure you promptly replace the oil pump before this issue balloons into a more significant problem.

Increased Engine Temperature

The engine is the main component of the car that powers the vehicle. The engine’s critical components work feverishly while you drive your vehicle. The valve-train system, for example, enables the car’s engine to go on running. Moreover, you’ll see that the valve-train has hydraulic lifters. Besides, it contains seals, pushrods, and valve guides.

The engine also has other components that work hard for the engine system to function well. These components depend likewise on the regular flow of pressurized oil for lubrication. If the oil pump fails, the oil will run out, and friction and heat will build up, leading to increased temperature in the engine.

Noise from the Oil Pump

Although this is a rare symptom, there will be instances when you will hear noise from your oil pump before it deteriorates totally. A properly functioning oil pump will silently operate, and noise will only emanate from the oil pump if it is deteriorating and about to fail. 

This noise is usually a whining or whirring noise. If this happens even if the car is idling, then it might indicate a failing oil pump, with its internal gear wearing out. So, it will help if you replace your oil pump promptly.

Hydraulic Lifters Noise

The hydraulic lifters aid the valve-train in sustaining its functionality. They, however, can work well if they are lubricated with sufficient oil. Hence, oil pressure will decrease if the oil pump fails, preventing oil flow onto the hydraulic lifters. In turn, when lacking in lubrication, the hydraulic lifters will make noise leading to their wearing off quickly.

Noise Emanating from the Valve-Train System

Another indicator that the oil pump is on its way out is if you hear noise coming from the valve-train system. The valve-train system features several crucial components like seals, pushrods, and valve guides. These components keep the engine working and running. These components, however, necessitate lubrication and pressurized oil to work well because they are made of metal. 

Friction increases if there is insufficient oil serving as a buffer between the moving parts of the valve-train system. This friction causes the noise that emanates from the valve-train system. Hence, if you hear noise from the valve-train, it might indicate a bad oil pump.


How Much Would It Cost to Replace an Oil Pump?

When replacing a defective oil pump, you will pay for the cost of replacement parts and labor. You can save, of course, if you know how to do it yourself. But if you’re not confident of doing it, you better avail of the service of an expert. 

An oil pump will cost anywhere between $100 to $300, depending on the model and make of your car. The labor costs will run somewhere between $200 to $300. 

It will take several hours to replace a defective oil pump, further upping the labor cost. So, adding the labor cost and the cost of the replacement pump, you are likely to pay anywhere between $300 to $600.


Conclusion

Your car is a necessity that you can’t do without. As such, it will help to give your car regular car maintenance to ensure that it is always in a topnotch condition and safe to drive. As a caveat, you need to be wary of any symptoms of oil pump failure so that you can quickly address this failure issue. In this way, you can prevent the spread of problems to other parts of your engine. 

A timely determination of the oil pump failure will help you minimize the damage to your engine. But if you are not prompt in dealing with this issue, your engine might end up with more damage. Lastly, the repair cost might balloon, putting a dent in your savings.

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