How do oil pumps work?

Engine oil circulates through the engine to lubricate the moving parts, creating a protective barrier between the metal parts. Each engine is equipped with an oil pump to transport oil. The design and oil flow requirements of each engine vary greatly, and so does the price difference between different pumps. Some pumps may cost as little as 10 dollars, while some pumps can cost hundreds of dollars. When replacing a new oil pump, it is necessary to pay great attention to the quality of the oil pump. How do oil pumps work? What do you need to know about the diagnosis and maintenance of oil pumps?


First of all, what is an oil pump?

The pump pressurizes oil and transports it through the engine to lubricate and cool moving parts such as crankshafts, pistons, and bearings. These all help to reduce friction and wear on these components, thereby extending the service life of the engine. An engine without a working oil pump can seize up in a few minutes or less due to overheating. The sudden stop of the oil pump will cause irreversible damage to the internal components of the engine.


The suction line draws the oil from the oil pan and pushes it through the tank to the oil filter. The oil then continues through finer channels, delivering the lubricant to the bearings, moving parts, and the flow that covers the upper parts. All of this flows back into the oil pan, where it is collected and goes through the process again.

 oil pumps

How does an oil pump work?

There are two main types of oil pumps for engines: gear pumps and vane pumps.


Gear pumps use two gears meshed together to generate suction and pump oil. The gears are selected to trap the oil between them and then push it through the outlet of the pump. These pumps are usually used in older mechanical engines.


Vane pumps use rotors with sliding blades to pump oil. As the rotor rotates, the blades create suction, drawing oil into the pump. The blades then begin to move outward, compressing and pushing the oil through the outlet of the pump. Vane pumps are commonly used in newer electronic engines and are often integrated into the front engine cover.


Both types of pumps are driven by the engine, either through a crankshaft or camshaft, and can be located inside or outside the oil pan.

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What should we pay attention to when repairing an oil pump?

Identifying damaged oil pumps is the first step. There are several indications that the engine oil pump may be malfunctioning.


  1. Low oil pressure. One of the most common signs of pump failure is low oil pressure. This can be indicated by an oil pressure gauge or warning light on the dashboard, or by using a pressure tester when diagnosing.


  1. Noise from the engine. A malfunctioning oil pump will whine or tick, especially when the engine is idling. The sound comes from hydraulic pressure running out of oil or bearings or pistons that are no longer protected by the oil film.


  1. Engine overheating. Insufficient oil pressure can cause the engine to overheat because the engine is not properly cooled.


  1. A faulty oil pump can cause the engine to lose power, stall, or not start at all. This is usually caused by fuel supply components, such as turbochargers, ceasing to work when they do not get enough oil.


  1. Oil warning light. Some vehicles have a warning light that indicates low oil pressure, which may be due to a malfunctioning pump.


  1. Oil spills. If there is oil leaking from the front of the engine, it could be a sign of a problem with the pump.


It is important to note that some of these signs can also be caused by other issues, such as low oil levels, blocked oil filters, or bearing wear, so it is vital to properly diagnose the problem to avoid further damage.

 oil pumps

What is the cause of the broken oil pump?

The pump has a rugged design, and if your engine is properly maintained, it should last the entire life of your car. The main fault point of the oil pump is that the oil is not changed on time. Sludge and other contaminants or debris can become lodged in the pump or suction line, causing premature wear of the pump's gears or blades.


Running the engine at high RPM for a long time can also lead to early failure, when the oil is heated too much, it permanently loses viscosity, and wear occurs.


For most vehicles, replacing the oil pump is a tough job. In addition to draining the oil, it is often necessary to remove the oil pan and the front engine cover. However, by regularly changing the engine oil and avoiding overdrive for long periods, it is easy to prevent failure in the first place.


If you need an oil pump, please purchase it at WDPART. You'll find high-quality parts from the industry's top brands, as well as trusted advice from WDPART employees.


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