- Thicker engine oil with a higher viscosity rating can increase engine oil pressure (PSI or kPa). BUT its not a permanent fix.
- Using thicker oil is not recommended because it can affect the lubrication process inside the engine.
- Oil pressure is created through a combination of fluid flow and restriction. Using thicker oil increases restriction but not flow.
- Proper lubrication requires a thin film of oil between engine parts, such as bearings and crankshafts. Thicker oil can create low flow, leading to metal-to-metal contact and potential engine damage.
- If low oil pressure is observed, the root cause should be addressed rather than simply using thicker oil as a temporary solution.
Will Thicker Oil Help Increase Oil Pressure?
The short answer is yes, but slightly, and it is just a bandaid to an underlying problem.
A shift to a thicker engine oil can increase your vehicle's oil pressure, but it carries a risk of restricting flow.
With that being said, it's crucial to understand that this doesn't necessarily mean better lubrication or improved performance for your engine.
Oil requires FLOW, and if you use thicker engine oil, you could be restricting that flow to critical passages and components in your engine.
In fact, experts agree that such a change won't make a significant difference in most cases and can lead to bigger issues if the engine is starved under colder temperatures.
Again, the real issue lies with the oil pressure and how well the oil flows within your system.
Thicker oils are often associated with improved lubrication because they're less likely to wear down quickly or leak from worn-out seals. This provides greater protection in hotter temperatures, but their higher viscosity impedes flow rate and could strain your oil pump over time.
Using excessively thick oil can lead to decreased oil flow, particularly during cold starts when the motor has been sitting for long periods, and the viscosity of the engine oil rises due to lower temperatures.
On a side note, thicker oil COULD help with some oil consumption, but I am referring to 0W-40 to 5W-40. In my case, for our Audi A4, we used 0w-40 and noticed 1 quart of oil burning every 1,000 miles. Previously, we ran 5W-40 and did not have that issue.
We will be running 5w-40 Euro from now on.
This brings us to another critical point – if you're dealing with oil pressure issues, there may be underlying problems that you may need to address.
There could be a slew of issues ranging from A bad oil pump, faulty oil pressure sensor, or deteriorating engine bearings, which are all potential culprits that no thicker oil will permanently rectify. Instead of resorting to band-aid solutions, addressing these issues directly before they escalate into more serious complications like spun bearings or seized engines would be wise.
Understanding Engine Oil Pressure
When maintaining and troubleshooting your vehicle, oil pressure is a key factor. It plays an instrumental role in keeping the engine running smoothly and efficiently.
There are two important areas to consider: Flow and Restrictions. You will need both.
If one or the other is out of balance, you will not have the correct oil pressure, and the oil light will pop up.
Does Thicker Engine Oil Increase Pressure?
The Role of Viscosity in Engine Oil Pressure
Now, let's discuss viscosity grades. It's important to understand this and how different types of engine oils interact with your car's systems.
Engine oils are characterized by their viscosity (how easily they flow).
Typically represented by numbers 5W-30 or 10W-40, these figures indicate how well an oil flows at cold temperatures (the first number) versus high temperatures (the second number).
Higher oil viscosity at high temperatures (second number) generally leads to greater protection against metal contact within your engine bearings.
But only up until certain limits, after which you may experience reduced performance due to reduced normal oil flow. Higher second numbers are typically associated with turbos and modern cars since they are more efficient.
For Example: Think of it like drinking a milkshake through a straw versus a glass of milk.
You will have a harder time based on the thickness of the shake. The same can be said with oil viscosity.
Modern engines are designed with specific viscosity grades based on numerous factors, including expected operating conditions and design tolerances, so deviating from manufacturer-recommended specifications may result in unexpected performance and engine failure.
Thicker engine oil does not improve performance as the engine was engineered to run based on normal operating temperatures and viscosity.
What Determines Oil Pressure?
The oil pump, oil pressure sensor, and oil pressure gauge work together to maintain a certain pressure level.
If this balance is disrupted due to overly thick or thin oil, you might encounter problems like increased Oil consumption, as I experienced with our Audi.
Underlying Issues for Oil Pressure Issues
The first factor is the oil pump. The power of this component significantly influences oil flow and, consequently, oil pressure. If you've got a bad or worn pump, your vehicle will likely experience low oil pressure.
Then there's the matter of engine bearings. These components are essential for maintaining Normal Oil Pressure within an engine system. As they wear over time, gaps can form between these bearings and other engine parts, causing a drop in pressure as more space is available for the oil to flow into.
The most important factor is the condition of the oil itself: its level and cleanliness impact its ability to maintain ideal pressures within an engine system.
Low levels of dirty oils may cause potential issues because they alter normal operating conditions inside your motor, affecting overall performance.
One major downside when you opt for thicker oils is sludge formation. This gunk builds up over time as heat and contaminants break down the molecules within the oil. It can restrict flow through vital channels within your motor and ultimately decrease overall performance.
To sum up:
- Oil Pump: A bad or worn pump can decrease your car's oil pressure.
- Engine Bearings: Wear and tear over time might result in lower than normal pressures.
- Viscosity Grades: Using the wrong viscosity grade can affect proper functioning.
- Modern Engines: Inappropriately matched oil grades with modern engines could lead to changes in pressure.
- Oil Condition: Low or dirty oils might negatively impact pressure.
These are the factors that determine your engine's oil pressure. Remember, it's not just about "Will thicker engine oil increase oil pressure?" but a combination of these components and conditions that affect how your vehicle operates.
Common Engines that Are Known for Oil Pump Issues
Various engines from different manufacturers can experience oil pump issues at some point during their lifespan. However, certain engines are more notorious for oil pump or related lubrication issues due to design flaws, manufacturing discrepancies, or other reasons.
Here are a few engines that have been noted for oil pump or related issues over the years:
- Volkswagen 2.0T TSI engines (2008-2012): Earlier versions of these engines had a chain-driven oil pump, and there were reports of tensioner failures which could lead to catastrophic engine damage.
- Ford 5.4L Triton engines: Some owners of vehicles with the 5.4L Triton engine have reported issues with oil pump drives, leading to oil pump failures.
- Nissan VQ35DE: Found in many Nissan models, this engine has occasionally been reported to experience premature oil pump failures.
- Toyota 22R/22RE: These engines, used in many Toyota trucks and 4Runners in the '80s and '90s, were known to occasionally have oil pump issues, particularly with the oil pump drive gear.
- Subaru EJ series engines: Some of these engines, particularly in the turbocharged WRX and STI models, have experienced oiling issues, although not always directly related to the oil pump. Sometimes, these problems are tied to oil pickup tube cracks or issues with oil flow.
It's worth noting that external factors like infrequent oil changes, incorrect oil viscosity, or external contaminants entering the engine can influence oil pump failures. It's also crucial to remember that while a particular engine might have a reputation for certain problems, it doesn't mean every engine of that type will experience that issue.
Oil Additives that are Proven to Work (Based on My Experience)
Unpacking the Myth: Thicker Engine Oil and Pressure
There are many oil additives on the market today. Back in the day, Slick50 was advertised to help ensure additional protection for the engine. Fast forward to today, Lucas leads the forum discussions as improving lifter tick, for example.
I can attest that it did help reduce the tick in my BMW M54 engine ever so slightly.
Remember, oil viscosity, or its thickness, plays a significant role in this whole process, so any additive volume needs to be considered.
Here are my recommended oil additives that have helped in one way or another.
Liquid Moly Oil Saver
Now, let's talk about some proven solutions for combating issues with excess oil consumption and improving overall performance. One product I give a thumbs up is Liquid Moly Oil Saver, especially for oil leaks.
Gaskets and seals tend to dry out and shrink over time. In my case, the rear seal was weeping oil, and I opted to try Oil Saver by Liquid Moly.
It works by rehydrating the seals and plumping them up to help restore their sealing properties. This is how high-mileage oils work as well.
After 1,000 miles, the rear seal was no longer weeping, and this definitely works. Again, your mileage may vary. It may also help slightly with valve stem seals.
The can replaces 1 quart of oil and comes in a nice metal can. The color and flow are very similar to oil.
It does not work immediately, and you must drive for the additive to work its magic on the seals.
This additive works wonders for reconditioning worn seals and reducing overall consumption by adjusting to the size gap between worn engine components.
Seafoam in Oil
Another versatile option worth mentioning is Seafoam. Known for cleaning harmful deposits from internal engine parts, Seafoam improves overall performance by smoothing out rough idling engines and reducing excess blow-by issues.
In terms of boosting oil pressure, though?
Well, here's where things get interesting! While Seafoam doesn't directly increase oil pressure like changing viscosity grades might do (since it doesn't thicken up the existing motor oil), it does help maintain consistent levels by removing sludge build-up inside your engine that can interfere with proper oil flow.
It will produce TONS OF WHITE SMOKE as it burns off in the combustion engine.
These additives won't fix a bad oil pump or a severely worn pump.
Remember, using thicker oils or additives as a band-aid for engine failures can lead to more harm than good in the long run. Understanding and addressing the root cause of oil pressure issues is always better than simply treating symptoms!
Real-World Costs to Fix Oil Pressure Issues
Let's delve into the costs associated with fixing oil pressure issues. This is a topic that, while it may not be top of mind when you're thinking about your car's maintenance, can actually have a significant impact on both your vehicle's performance and your wallet.
Depending on the issue, it might be a rubber line that needs to be replaced or your oil pump that needs to be replaced. All costs vary, but you can use RepairPal.com for an average repair estimate.
RepairPal.com is very useful, and you can easily input the make and model to reference costs.
To give a ballpark figure:
- Parts: An aftermarket oil pump for a common economy car might range from $50 to $200, while for luxury or performance vehicles, it could be several hundred dollars or more. OEM pumps tend to be on the higher end of this spectrum.
- Labor: Most mechanics charge between $70 to $150 per hour, depending on the location and the shop's reputation. Replacing an oil pump can take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours or more, depending on the vehicle's complexity.
An oil pump replacement, including labor and parts, might range from $250 to $1,000 or more for most vehicles. Again, this is a rough estimate, and actual costs can vary widely.
However oil pump failures are rare, but when they do happen, it typically leads to bigger problems.
Did you know that an overly thick oil can potentially damage the oil pump itself – especially if it's already worn or weak? Replacing a bad oil pump isn't cheap.
Expert Opinions on Oils and Pressure
Regular oil change intervals, good quality oil, and general maintenance are key to long-lasting engine performance. Any additives or thicker oils are just bandaids to an underlying issue with your vehicle.
It might be a simple fix or just a low oil lever, but you should put importance if you get any oil-related dash light code.
In my opinion, oil fixes in a bottle typically have a placebo effect. You WANT to fix the issue without spending time and money at a shop.
I get it, but all vehicles have sensors that are unbiased. It will tell you of a problem.
Modern vehicle computers will work to compensate, but you will be alerted if anything is out of spec or out of range.
Conclusion: Balancing Oil Thickness and Pressure
Oil pressure and oil thickness are two key elements that vehicle manufacturers have engineered in the design and performance of an engine. In addition, thousands of vehicle owners share their experiences online on oil changes, oil pressure issues, and more.
While it's a tricky balance to strike, you're better informed about how they can impact each other and your engine's performance.
Cold weather will impact viscosity, so use the recommended weight in your owner's manual.
On the other hand, if your vehicle is experiencing low oil pressure issues due to worn parts like a bad oil pump or faulty oil pressure sensor, merely switching to a thicker oil isn't an all-encompassing solution either.
- Oil Flow: Using too thick an engine oil may reduce flow capabilities.
- Oil Consumption: Thicker oils can cause excessive consumption and emissions.
- Engine Failure Risk: A worn pump struggling with high-viscosity oils might fail altogether.
Remember, normal oil pressure varies between makes and models but as long as there's enough of it to avoid metal contact within the engine components – that's what counts most.