What Should My Oil Pressure Gauge Read at Idle?

It is not uncommon to have low oil pressure at idle on these engines. As long as you are getting at least 10psi and it is increasing when you rev the engine, then you have nothing to worry about. If your gauge is reading zero while the engine is running, there may be a problem with either the oil pump or your sending unit.

In fact, the factory recommendations are very similar to what you speak of, 10-20 psi at idle and 60 psi at 2500rpm.

It’s easy to find oil pressure recommendations, but they’re harder to understand. Factory recommendations are in the owner’s manual and on oil containers, but they aren’t always clear. Oils with the same viscosity can have different properties, like dispersants and anti-foaming agents. Engine design and bearing clearance also factor into this equation. For example, my car has a very high pressure relief spring in the oil pump that was causing me low oil pressure readings with conventional oil (5w30). Switching to a synthetic made it worse because synthetics tend to be thinner at operating temperatures than dino oils due to their better heat dispersion properties. The only way for me to get high enough pressures was by switching to a thicker oil like 10w40 or switching the relief spring out for one that would allow higher pressures at idle.

I recommend looking up recommended psi values from your manufacturer as well as what others are reporting based on what you drive if this is something that concerns you more than it should 😉

This is only a guideline however, as the oil pressure requirements within the engine vary depending on engine design and bearing clearance.

Unfortunately, oil pressure is not fixed at a certain reading. It depends on a number of factors.

  • Engine design: Shorter connecting rods require less oil pressure to get the same results. This is because the bearing ends up being farther apart and the rod itself can’t push against it as much.
  • Bearing clearance: If there is more bearing clearance, less oil pressure will be required to feed lubrication into them. However, if you have too much clearance then it becomes a danger zone as you are not feeding enough pressure to take full advantage of your bearings and may damage them over time.
  • Oil properties: The viscosity of your engine’s oil will affect how much pressure it takes to circulate through its system when compared with say, water or air which are thinner liquids with lower viscosities that require less force (in this case from pumps). Less viscous oils (like 10w-30) need less energy per unit volume than thicker ones do due to their denser molecular structure; thus their pumping requirements are also reduced accordingly at any given temperature – so keep in mind what type of oil you have in your engine!

In addition, different oils have different properties in terms of thickness and operating pressures.

This is a good question and the simple answer is: It depends. The correct pressure of your oil can vary depending on a multitude of factors, including engine type and age, ambient temperature, driving habits, etc. In addition, different oils have different properties in terms of thickness and operating pressures.

Why does this matter to you? Well, oil pressure is one indicator that lets you know you’re doing things right. While it’s not the end-all be-all for diagnosing mechanical problems with your car or truck’s engine, it is worth knowing where it should be on the gauges when you have your vehicle serviced or repaired.

So let’s get down to brass tacks: What should my oil pressure gauge read at idle? The usual range at idle across all vehicles is around 5 to 19 psi (pounds per square inch). This can differ slightly depending on vehicle type and model year. If it falls below 5 psi at idle, then there may be an issue with the oil pump or lack of lubrication somewhere else in the system. However if it sits above 19 psi at idle then there may be too much restriction in the passages for allowing oil flow through the system.

You may need to experiment with several brands to find one that operates within your pressure range.

How much oil pressure you should be reading is dependent on many factors and can’t be taken as the only measure of lubrication, but there are some general parameters that apply. Oil pressure, like gas pressure in an engine cylinder, is a function of several things: bearing clearances, oil viscosity (how thick or thin it is), and engine speed. In fact, even classifying how much oil pressure you should be seeing at idle and at higher RPMs is difficult because different engine designs and manufacturers use different values for their minimum acceptable pressures. To know whether your gauge if accurate, you may want to test it with several other brands to see if they all give similar readings.

The pressures you experience sound reasonable.

Based on your description of the pressures you’re experiencing, it’s possible that your car has low oil pressure at idle. However, this is not necessarily bad news.

The reason why low pressure at idle doesn’t have to be a bad thing is because most cars are designed to run with low oil pressure while idling. In fact, this characteristic is especially true for older cars and is one of many reasons why repairs become more frequent as a car ages.

That said, there can be some problems with these older cars when it comes to oil pressure due to simple wear and tear. The biggest issue that we see in many old vehicles is the degradation of the oil pump over time. This means that if you have an old vehicle with low oil pressure at idle but strong pressures when driving (which you do), then the culprit will likely be an aging or faulty oil pump.

In conclusion, I would encourage you to get your vehicle checked out by a qualified mechanic who can help diagnose any issues with your engine or its components.

Steven Hatman
Steven Hatman

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