Oil gauges look like most indicators on your dashboard. There’s a label (typically “OIL”), numbers (ranging between 1-80 or 1-100), and a dial with an indicator needle. Instead of numbers, some vehicles use “L” and “H” to indicate high or low pressure.
While almost every vehicle has a system for monitoring oil pressure, not all vehicles have oil pressure gauges on the dashboard. It depends on the make and model. Some vehicles provide a digital reading and others have a dashboard light that flicks on when a change in oil pressure is detected. Refer to your owner’s manual for the final word on where your oil pressure gauge is located and how to read it.
This is normal only when the vehicle is idling. If this reading occurs at higher speeds it could mean one of three things: 1) the gauge is faulty, 2) the oil level is low, or 3) the oil pump (or its drive) is broken. In any case, switch the engine off and get your engine checked out as soon as possible. If your oil is actually empty, fill it up before bringing your car into your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care.
If your oil pressure gauge consistently reads a lower number while the vehicle is idling (typically below 20 or in the lower quarter of the gauge) get it checked out. It could indicate an issue with the gauge (like a leak in a mechanical gauge), but it most likely means an engine component has worn down, creating a drop in oil pressure. By fixing or replacing the part quickly, you could avoid major—and expensive—engine damage down the line.
The needle on the pressure gauge should settle at the midpoint after the car has been running for about 20 minutes. If it settles toward the top of the gauge, it could be indicating high oil pressure. The pressure relief valve could be stuck or faulty, or there could be a blockage in the oil delivery lines. Since high pressure could cause your oil filter to burst, switch off your engine as soon as you notice the reading.
Your car’s gauges, indicators, and lights were made to help you! They clue you into issues that may not be readily apparent before they end up costing you significant time and money. If your oil warning light is on or you get a reading on your oil pressure gauge that concerns you, let our ASE-certified technicians ease your mind with a full-service oil change. This service includes a 19-point inspection that can help diagnose your car’s oil pressure issues. Schedule an oil change appointment with your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care today, and see how you can save money with our spectacular oil change coupons, too!