Oil Pressure Gauge Goes Up And Down While Idling – Here’s Why

Fluctuations in oil pressure gauges are common. People assume that Oil pressure gauge goes up and down while idling is caused by sensor issues. However, there are several other potential factors at play, including failing oil pumps, blown head gaskets, and clogged oil passages. 

To resolve this issue, it’s important to properly diagnose the underlying cause and take appropriate action. Depending on the specific problem, this may involve repairing or replacing individual components or even replacing the entire system. 

We’ve outlined potential causes and solutions to help you address the issue of your oil pressure gauge fluctuating while idling. By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your vehicle’s oil system is functioning properly and prevent potential damage to your engine.

Oil Pressure Gauge Goes Up And Down While Idling

Here Is A List For The Potential Problem

We have listed the primary reasons for oil pressure gauge fluctuation during idling.

Here Are The Problem:

  1. Incorrect oil pressure sending unit
  2. Failing oil pump
  3. Blown head gasket
  4. Clogged oil passages

What Causes the Oil Pressure Gauge Goes Up And Down While Idling?

The most common reason for this issue is faster motor spin, which is also known as RPM or revolution per minute. When the oil pump rotates faster, it generates greater oil pressure. So oil attempts to flow through a restricted opening. And it can cause an increase in pressure.

But for fluctuating this pressure, there are a few known causes associated with this. Here we will be describing everything one by one.

Incorrect oil pressure sending unit

Incorrect oil pressure sending unit

The oil pressure sending unit is a component that detects the oil pressure. After analyzing the engine, it sends the data to the oil pressure gauge located on the dashboard.

And if the oil pressure gauge leaks or the sensor may become damaged, this can lead to inaccurate readings being displayed, despite the oil pressure being at the optimal level.


The resolution of this issue is dependent on its present condition. If the issue is merely a leakage, fixing the leak would suffice. 

But if the problem is a damaged sensor, replacing it would be a better solution. This is because repairing the sensor would incur the same cost as purchasing a new pressure gauge.

Failing oil pump

Specifically, when you experience the oil pressure gauge down, it is the reason for a failing oil pump. The oil pump can be damaged in many different ways, including low oil level, clogged oil filter or worn engine bearing. 

If you drive your car in this condition for a long time, it may hamper the other major parts of the engine. And the end result is pressure gauge fluctuation when idling.


It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of oil pump damage. Therefore, it is recommended to have your oil pump troubles diagnosed by an expert before deciding on a course of action. 

Issues such as leakage, improper oil level, or a bad pressure sensor can often be resolved with straightforward fixes. However, if the pump itself is broken, replacement with a new one will likely be necessary.

Blown head gasket

Although a blown gasket is not always the primary cause, it can contribute to fluctuations in the oil pressure gauge. The head gasket can become damaged by overheating, chemical contamination, or high pressure. 

Its primary function is to prevent oil and coolant from mixing, but when it’s blown, this separation fails, leading to inaccurate oil pressure readings on the gauge.


When a head gasket is blown, the only viable solution is to replace it with a new one. Although head gaskets themselves are relatively inexpensive, the process of replacing them is labor-intensive and can be costly. 

Clogged oil passage

Clogged Oil Passages
Clogged Oil Passages

There is a connection between high oil pressure and clogged oil passages. Oil passages can become clogged due to dirt, debris, or other engine oil accumulation. When these things deposit for a long time in the pathway, they block the channel.

And when the passage becomes clogged, the flow of oil through the engine is impeded. So this can lead to difficulties in obtaining accurate oil pressure readings because the blockage prevents the oil from reaching all the necessary parts of the engine.


Cleaning the clogged oil passage will fix the whole issue. For cleaning this passage you can call an expert because it won’t be easy to clean.

Are Temperature and Oil Pressure Gauge Issues Related?

If your temperature gauge reading high, it could be an indicator of a potential issue with the oil pressure gauge as well. Both gauges are crucial for monitoring the health of your vehicle’s engine. A malfunctioning temperature gauge may cause the engine to overheat, leading to increased oil pressure. It is essential to address any gauge issues promptly to prevent further damage to your engine.


Here are a few questions and answers regarding the oil pressure gauge going up and down while idling. 

Is It Typical For Oil Pressure To Fluctuate?

Yes. It’s normal for oil pressure in a vehicle to go up and down when the engine speed changes. But if the changes are too much or don’t follow a pattern, it could mean there’s an issue with the oil system. You should monitor the oil pressure and talk to a mechanic if you see any big or unusual changes.

What steps can you take to determine if your oil pressure gauge is faulty?

If you suspect a faulty oil pressure gauge, you can perform several tests to determine the cause. These include inspecting the wiring, testing the gauge with a multimeter, and checking the sensor for voltage. If you lack the skills or confidence to do it yourself, it’s advisable to seek help from a mechanic.

How To Read an Oil Gauge?

To interpret an oil gauge, find it on the dashboard, and check its reading while the engine is running. The gauge will display the oil pressure in psi. A typical healthy engine should register a reading of 25-60 psi, depending on the vehicle’s make and model.

Final Words

Hope you get a clear idea of why the oil pressure gauge goes up and down while idling. When the oil pressure gauge fluctuates while idling, it could be an indication of a variety of problems, including a faulty oil pump, low oil level, clogged oil passages, or a blown head gasket. 

To prevent potential engine damage or failure, it is crucial to quickly diagnose and address the root cause of the problem. Consulting with an experienced mechanic can aid in pinpointing the underlying issue and assuring that necessary repairs are performed promptly and efficiently.

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