Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingEngine Oil and Lubrication Oil Pressure Sensor – How To Diagnose And Replace It?

Oil Pressure Sensor – How To Diagnose And Replace It?

by Jordan Harris
Oil Pressure Sensor

Have you started noticing the oil light on the dashboard and the car simply doesn’t feel right? In this case, you probably have either a problem with low oil or the oil pressure sensor is broken on your vehicle. That’s why we are here to help you out by dissecting the most important aspects of this problem.

Having a situation like this is not good. Mainly because you will not get the correct reading from the sensor and you will not be aware if you have a problem with your oil pressure. Resulting in catastrophic damage in some cases and this can cost thousands of dollars to fix.

This is why you need to learn how to diagnose stuff with an OBD2 scanner tool and fix some simple things like this sensor in your vehicle. Why pay hundreds of dollars to mechanics for this sensor when you could just unbolt it and replace it by yourself for less than $50? And if you are one of those DIYers, we are going to help you out in your pursuit of a solution to this problem by listing all of the essential data for you.

First, we are going to cover what is this sensor all about and where is the oil pressure sensor location. Then we will cover the bad oil pressure sensor symptoms and the oil pressure sensor replacement. So, if you want to learn more, follow along till the end because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.

What Is The Oil Pressure Sensor?

Now before we dive into more complex topics, let’s start with some of the basics. And that is what is the oil pressure sensor and what job is this sensor doing in our car? Knowing this stuff is quite essential, so if you are not familiarized with this component follow along. If else, you can jump to the bad oil pressure symptoms.

The oil pressure sensor is also known as an oil pressure switch or oil sending unit. Most people distinguish it by its second name. That’s why you should not be confused when you hear someone call this sensor an oil pressure switch because they are the same component.

Nevertheless, the main role of this component is to make sure that you have the right oil pressure in your internal combustion engine. Without this sensor, you will probably get the wrong reading and you will think that everything is good while your oil pressure is going down.

And without proper oil pressure, you will get a ton of issues in your engine. Mainly the engine will not be able to operate at the right spec and deliver the power that is demanded by it.

That’s why you really need this sensor and it is such an important piece of the puzzle. Without it, you basically trust your gut about the oil level that you have in your car. This sensor not only observes the oil pressure but also turns on the light when you have low oil as well. Now in the following chapter, let’s see how this oil pressure sensor works in practice.

How This Oil Pressure Sensor Works?

Now let’s cover another important topic before we learn the bad oil pressure sensor symptoms and that is how this sensor really works? Knowing the method of action of this sensor is useful to know because you will understand why it is so essential in your vehicle.

This sensor is mounted on the engine block from one side and from the other side it is mounted to the electrical harness like every other sensor in your vehicle. This is how you get notified that you have a problem with this component and that you need to fix it.

There are three different types of oil sending units. There are 1 pin, 2 pin, and 3 pin sensors that are used. The method of action of this component is really simple. There is a ground connection that opens and closes when there is pressure buildup.

When you start the car the oil light is on. And this happens for only a few seconds. Meaning that the sensor still hasn’t got the ground connection. But as the pressure builds up in the engine. The ground connection will be no longer there. Meaning that the small spring inside will open the sensor.

This action will remove the light from the cluster. But when this switch is broken, your ground will not open, resulting in permanent oil light on the dashboard. This can be frustrating for you to deal with but it is what it is. In the following chapter we are going to cover more in-depth on this light and where it is usually located.

Oil Pressure Sensor Light

We have covered how this oil pressure switch or sensor works. Now let’s take a look at the type of light that it shows on the cluster.

As you probably know, there are a ton of lights on the cluster and some people who are not into cars do not know what they really mean in practice. Not knowing what these lights mean can be really bad because you could possibly have a serious issue with your car and if you are not aware of it, the problem could get much worse and you end up with a totaled engine.

Especially in this case with this switch. If you don’t get the proper readings from it. You will basically end up with a totaled engine sooner or later. And you want to avoid this from ever happening to you. But how this light looks like? Let’s explain.

Oil Pressure Sensor

This light often is located around the cluster. Either at the bottom of older cars where all the lights are lined up or around the tachometer or the speedometer. This is a manufacturer preference and the layout of lights depends from manufacturer to manufacturer.

In this case with the oil light, it is usually mounted at the bottom of the cluster. What the oil light looks like?

This oil pressure sensor light is designed like one of those vintage oil dispensers that were used back in the day when you press them and they release oil where there is a need to do so. Some people call them oiling cans. Either way, the light usually resembles this device. And in most cases, there is the lettering “Low Oil” underneath the sign. Now let’s discuss the oil pressure sensor location.

Oil Pressure Sensor Location

Now as we covered the basics of this component. Let’s discuss more on the oil pressure sensor location. Where this component is usually located? Let’s elaborate.

In most old-school engine designs that use spin-on oil filters the sensor is mounted close to the mounting point of the filter. This is the case because there is oil pressure buildup in this area and it is relatively easy for the switch to determine if there is pressure or not.

The spin-on oil filters are the ones that have metallic housing on them and they basically spin on the engine.

There are also cartridge oil filters. These filters are a bit different when it comes to the mounting point. These are usually mounted on the top of the engine.

And since they are at the top of the engine, the sensor is located somewhere at the top end of the engine block.

Each manufacturer places this sensor in a different location. So, if you want to get the right information about the exhaust location of the sensor for your specific vehicle, you better browse the web for some diagrams to learn more about its exact location.

This is how you can be sure that you get the right one from the first try. Now let’s learn something more about the bad oil pressure sensor symptoms.

Bad Oil Pressure Sensor Symptoms

Now as we already familiarized ourselves when it comes to the oil pressure sensor and we understood what is its main role in the internal combustion engine. Let’s now focus on some other things.

Namely, the bad oil pressure sensor symptoms. As you probably know, every component when it starts to fail is starting to develop certain symptoms.

Some of them are obvious while some of them are more hidden. It is your task to study these symptoms and estimate if this component has failed in your vehicle. That’s why in the following chapters, we are going to share all these symptoms with you. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

1. Oil Light On

The first in our list of bad oil pressure sensor symptoms is the oil light. This light as we mentioned will turn on all the time whenever there is a problem with this pressure switch.

Usually, when things are completely normal, the light for the oil turns on at the start when your crank the engine. But after a couple of seconds, it should turn off. This means that you have the right oil pressure and the sensor gets the right readings.

If this light is turned all of the time, it means that you either have an issue with the level of oil or the oil pressure. Or, like in our case, the switch or sensor creates a problem because it does not get the right readings.

The inside of the component is basically clogged with oil and the ground connection is all the time on. So, you get constantly notifications that you have a problem with the pressure. Now let’s move to the next symptom.

2. Bad Oil Pressure Gauge Readings

The second in our list of bad oil pressure sensor symptoms is the symptom that you will notice when there are bad readings on the oil pressure gauge.

Not all cars have this gauge. Mostly the older models have it or diesel vehicles. Carmakers do not include it for some reason. Even though it is very important for observing the work of the engine and making sure that everything works well.

When this problem with the switch happens, if you have a gauge for this purpose, you will notice how the needle of the gauge has dropped to zero. This will be indicated to you that there is something wrong with the engine itself. But this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Mainly because this gauge really depends on the sensor that we are covering in this article. Without this component being in the best shape, your readings will all be messed up and you will have big trouble getting the right input from these gauges.

So, if you really suspect that there is a problem and this problem isn’t in the engine itself. You might be wanting to check the pressure switch and see if this component is in good condition. If it’s not, then you need to further investigate the matter and diagnose it. Later on, we will explain how this is done the right way.

3. Oil Leaks From Around The Switch

The last in our list of bad oil pressure sensor symptoms that we are going to cover are the oil leaks from the sensor itself.

A bad switch could lose a ton of oil in the process. So, if you notice that your oil level suddenly has dropped, then this is a clear sign that there is something wrong with the sensor or your car is burning oil.

In most cases, the connector will be covered in oil or there will be grease spots. But in some more extreme cases, the car could lose a ton of oil through this sensor. And frankly, this is not good. You need to make sure that the sensor is in good condition and diagnose it in the right manner.

In the following chapters, we are going to explain this in-depth where we will learn how to diagnose a bad oil pressure sensor at home and on the cheap using common tools. So, if you want to learn more about this, follow along.

How To Diagnose It?

So, how you can diagnose a bad oil pressure sensor? Well, the main thing you can do is to check the symptoms that you are experiencing while you are driving the car.

Start the vehicle and monitor the oil pressure gauge as well as the oil light. See how they behave. As we mentioned previously, if the light is on all the time and the gauge doesn’t have reading, it is a clear sign that you have some sort of problem. Either with the oil pressure or with the switch itself.

In this case, you need to take things further and check the oil level and the work of the engine in general. If you don’t experience a low level of oil or any problem with the engine work. Then you highly likely are having a problem with this component. You can replace it and see if the problem is solved. It is cheap to purchase and easy to install.

But you can take things even further and bench test this component. For this purpose, you will need a multimeter and you will also need to remove the component from the vehicle.

Then, bench test it with this multimeter device. In the video that we have attached, you can take a look at how this is done the right way. If you don’t want to get a multimeter, just replace it. And how it’s done we will cover up next.

Oil Pressure Sensor Socket

Now before we learn more about the process of replacing this sensor. Let’s learn what type of socket you will need to remove this component. This will be extra useful for you to know what tool you are going to need for this job.

And in order to remove this component, you will need a 1-1/16’’ socket. This socket will work on most of the Ford/Lincoln, Chrysler, and GM vehicles. Now let’s learn more about the oil pressure sensor replacement.

Oil Pressure Sensor Replacement

Oil pressure sensor replacement is dead easy. This is a real beginner-friendly job that I would recommend to anyone who is just starting with cars and want to learn more about them. As we explained, you will only need a socket key and you will be good to go. So, how this is done?

The first thing you need to do is turn off the engine and let it cool down. Then locate the switch and then unplug the connector.

Get the socket key and unscrew the sensor. Then screw the new sensor and tighten it up to spec. Plug the connector back in and start the car. The problem should be sorted.

Cost To Replace It

So, what is the cost to replace the oil pressure sensor? The cost to sort this problem is relatively cheap. You can get this sensor for about $50 or even less in some cases. If you replace it at home, you will get a really good deal.

If you decide to go to a shop, you will highly likely pay a lot more, between $100 and $160 to be more exact. Since they charge you for the labor.

Driving With Bad Oil Pressure Sensor

Driving with a bad oil pressure sensor is not a good idea in the long run. Mainly because you will lack all the essential data about the oil pressure in your engine.

Oil Pressure Sensor

So, if you lose a lot of oil from your engine, there is a high chance that you will not be able to see this because this component is broken. So, fix this issue as soon as possible.

Facts: Signs of a Bad Engine Oil Pressure Sensor and How to Diagnose and Replace It

  1. The engine oil pressure sensor is installed between the oil filter and the car’s oil pan, and it monitors the oil pressure in the lubrication system to ensure the engine functions well.
  2. Three signs of a bad engine oil pressure sensor include an inaccurate reading from the oil pressure gauge, an oil pressure warning light that is on or blinking, and an illuminated check engine light.
  3. To diagnose a faulty oil pressure sensor, first check the engine oil level and condition, then inspect the wiring to the sensor, and finally check the actual oil pressure using an oil pressure gauge.
  4. Oil pressure sensors exist in two types: a simple switch that leads to an open circuit when it detects the minimum required oil pressure (for modern car) and a sensor that measures the actual oil pressure in the engine (older car).
  5. It is not safe to drive with a bad engine oil pressure sensor because it can give wrong oil pressure readings, putting the engine and the driver at risk.
  6. The cost to replace an oil pressure sensor is typically around $60, and the labor charges vary depending on location and how long the replacement takes.
  7. There is no specific schedule for replacing the oil pressure sensor, but it can last a long time if you take care of your vehicle and replace the engine oil and oil filter according to schedule.
  8. It is crucial to attend to a faulty engine oil pressure sensor promptly because it can cause severe damage to the engine if left unattended.


In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the oil pressure sensor. First, we learned what this component is and where it is located.

Then we covered the bad oil pressure symptoms and we learned how you can diagnose this problem quickly and effectively.

Lastly, we learned how you can replace this component and at what cost. It is a fairly cheap component that should be a no-brainer to replace if you want your car to be in perfect working order.


Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions…

Where Is The Oil Pressure Sensor Located

This sensor is usually located next to the oil filter housing or the oil filter mounting place. Depending much whether you have a spin-on oil filter or cartridge oil filter. But this doesn’t always need to be the case. So, when you look for your specific vehicle, make sure that you look online for the engine and then learn the location specifically for this engine.

How To Replace Oil Pressure Sensor

Replacing this component is easy. You only need a socket key. Then remove the connector that is holding the sensor and then put the socket key inside and unbolt the switch. Then bolt on the new switch and then plug back in the connector. After this, you are done. Perfect job for beginners.

How To Tell If Oil Pressure Sensor Is Bad

There are two ways you can tell if this component is bad. The first way is to rely on the symptoms that this component is creating like the bad readings from the gauge and the oil light on the dash. Or bench test this component with a multimeter tool to make sure that there is something wrong with it. Either way, this is a really cheap part. So, if you are somewhat sure, you can go and replace it.

5.3 Vortec Oil Pressure Sensor Location

On the 5.3 Vortec, this sensor is located at the rear of the engine. It is right between the firewall and the engine. And it could be a pain to remove it if you don’t have a long socket key.

5.7 Hemi Oil Pressure Sensor Location

On the 5.7 HEMI, this component is located next to the passenger’s side motor mount. You can only access it from below. Meaning that you will need to put the car on a lift to get a hold of this sensor and remove it.

2007 Chevy Tahoe Oil Pressure Sensor

Similar to the 5.3 Chevy engine we covered, on most of the Chevy or GM products this component is located somewhere between the firewall and the engine. It is usually tucked below the wiring. You can access it from the top of the engine, no need for a lift.

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