If your car is constantly warning you that the oil is low even if you’ve just checked and verified otherwise, the oil pressure sensor has gone out.
These electronics are normally placed on the transmission or the rocker arm in your vehicle and track the flow of oil in your engine.0 When the sensor doesn’t detect enough oil, it turns on the oil light on your dashboard.
When something goes wrong, that light may be permanently stuck on – until you replace the sensor.
Luckily, the average cost of replacing an oil pressure sensor is about $150-$200. That includes $10-$200 in parts and an average of $100 or one hour of labor. This job is very straightforward, and you shouldn’t expect any complications, so that price range will be accurate everywhere but your dealership, where you can increase it by about 30%.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of oil pressure sensor replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
|Supplier||Oil Pressure Sensor Cost||Cost of Labor|
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How Much Does Oil Pressure Replacement Cost?*
The cost of replacing an oil sensor will mostly depend on the cost of parts.
Here, an OEM part from a dealership will likely cost much more than an aftermarket sensor. On the other hand, labor rates are normally very similar across many vehicles.
For example, the following chart details the quotes to replace an oil pressure sensor for popular vehicles.
|Vehicle||Oil Pressure Sensor Cost||Cost of Labor|
|Dodge Ram 1500||$30-$45||$60-$95|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee||$45-$58||$99.95-$195|
*Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (January 2023). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Oil Pressure Sensor Replacement Pricing Factors
In most cases, replacing an oil sensor is a very straightforward job. It should cost an average of about $150-$200 no matter which vehicle you have.
In very extreme cases, it will cost as much as $450 – but that’s only likely to happen if you go to a dealership. Otherwise, the following price factors will be the most important.
Cost of Parts
Oil pressure sensors are simple electronic switches that measure the flow of oil through your vehicle. In most vehicles, they’re situated on the transmission, where you can access them from under the car – without removing any parts.
In others, they’re situated on the rocker arm, on the side of your engine. Here, you can also remove them without removing any parts.
In each case, you can expect to pay an average of about $40 for your replacement oil pressure sensor. However, parts can range from $10 to over $200.
You will not normally see high price ranges for parts outside of performance parts or OEM dealership parts. However, even dealers don’t normally charge more than about $50 for an oil pressure sensor.
You may have to replace the oil and the filters when you replace the oil pressure sensor. This can range in cost from about $50 to over $200 depending on what type of oil you’re using. It might also not be necessary to replace the oil.
If you’re having the work done by a technician, ask for advice. In addition, you don’t have to drain the oil to replace the sensor.
Cost of Labor
In most cases, replacing an oil pressure sensor will take 30-60 minutes of your technician’s time. Most mechanics have a minimum rate of one hour of time or will have a flat rate for the job.
So, if you go to a major chain shop like YourMechanic, you can expect to pay their flat hourly rate of $94.99 in most areas, except where that rate is higher because of the local cost of living.
In addition, dealerships will charge more. Here, you can expect the average cost of an hour of work to range between $180 and $220.
Your dealership may not charge you the full amount, however some will. It depends on the dealership.
You can also choose a local mechanic or an uncertified one to greatly reduce total costs. However, doing so may mean that you choose a technician without experience with your vehicle.
Resetting the Onboard Computer
Many modern vehicles use an onboard computer to manage the sensors and data from across the vehicle. If you install a new sensor, you may have to update that system.
This can be free. However, it may also cost you anywhere from $50-$180 depending on your vehicle, the dealer, and the software.
5 Signs of a Bad Oil Pressure Sensor
If your oil pressure sensor goes out, your car is simply not reading the correct amount of oil in the vehicle.
That can mean that the sensor doesn’t detect when the oil pressure is too low. More often, it means that the oil pressure sensor detects too little oil, despite there being plenty.
In either case, you’ll get the following 5 symptoms of the problem.
1. Oil Pressure Light Doesn’t Go Off
Normally, if the oil pressure sensor light goes on, you can stop, top up the oil, and the light will go off. If not, then you might have a leak, a filter issue, or a clog.
But, if you inspect the system and even replace parts and nothing resolves, the sensor may be the issue.
Fortunately, a vehicle diagnostic should actually detect the faulty sensor before you go through the trouble of replacing your oil filters and lines.
However, if the sensor is out, you may replace those parts anyway, only to find that the light doesn’t go off.
2. Incorrect Oil Reading
The most common symptom of an oil pressure sensor that isn’t working is that the sensor gives an incorrect reading.
For example, it has a low oil warning despite you having just checked and even topped up the oil. Or it fails to display a low oil warning, despite you having just checked and the oil is low.
In either case, the oil filter sensor is the most likely issue.
3. Check Engine Light
The check engine light may come on if the onboard computer detects that the sensor is bad or if the sensor stops feeding it data. This means you’ll have to go to a mechanic or the dealer for a diagnostic check.
Here, the readout will tell you what’s wrong. However, this could be anything if you only have this symptom.
4. Overheating Car
If your oil pressure sensor isn’t alerting you when engine oil gets too low, your car may overheat. Here, overheating can happen because of low coolant, a damaged radiator, damaged exhaust, or several other issues.
However, if the oil is low and you didn’t get a light alerting you to the fact, the issue is at least, in part, a faulty oil pressure sensor.
5. Oil Pressure Light Blinking
The oil pressure light is blinking it either means that the oil pressure is extremely low and the vehicle is overheating or that the oil pressure sensor is reading it as such.
If your car is fine and the oil levels are good, a blinking light is almost always a sign that your sensor is faulty.
How Do You Replace an Oil Pressure Sensor? (Video)
If you want to save money on your oil pressure sensor replacement you can likely do so by doing the work yourself.
In most cases, you can expect to spend 1-2 hours on the job, depending on whether or not you’re familiar with your vehicle and where the oil pressure sensor is located.
Finding the Oil Pressure Sensor
The oil pressure sensor may be located:
- Next to the oil filter
- Behind the distributor or air filter
- On the rocker arm
Things You’ll Need
- Replacement oil pressure sensor
- Wrench set
- Replacement oil if necessary
Replacing the Oil Pressure Sensor
- Buy a replacement oil pressure sensor and use it to check what you’re looking for and what size wrenches you need.
- Find the oil pressure sensor in your vehicle. Remove anything you need to access the filter, e.g., the air filter. If you have to replace the distributor, make sure you can put it back exactly how it was by marking the distributor position.
- Check it for rust, leaks, etc. No external damage does not mean the sensor is fine.
- Pull the female hose out of the oil filter.
- Unbolt the oil pressure sensor using a wrench and pull it out.
- Screw the new oil filter into the socket.
- Re-attach the hose.
- Replace anything you removed to access the sensor.
From there, you can start your engine up and let it idle.
If your oil pressure sensor light or check engine gauge does not go off immediately, you can reset the system by turning the vehicle off, turning the ignition to the “on” position, and pumping the gas three times for 10 seconds each time.
Then, turn the ignition on and off again. If you still have a check engine light, it’s likely related to a different issue.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to do a final check of your engine oil and top it up or change if necessary.
If you still have questions, these answers should help you with replacing your oil pressure sensor.
Can you drive with a bad oil sensor?
If you know that your oil pressure is good, there’s no reason not to drive with a bad oil pressure sensor. However, choosing not to replace the sensor puts your engine at risk.
For example, you’ll have to remain vigilant and keep checking your oil to ensure that oil pressure doesn’t actually drop too low. If you forget, your engine could overheat which could cause a significant amount of damage.
What happens if the oil pressure sensor goes out?
If the oil pressure sensor goes out, the vehicle will simply stop reading the oil pressure accurately. The result could be a reading that is too low, too high, or no reading at all.
However, it won’t affect the oil pressure in your car, because sensors don’t control the flow, they only measure it.
What causes oil pressure sensors to go bad?
Oil pressure sensors normally last 7-10 years. However, they can fail early if conditions are bad.
For example, if there’s a lot of salt or moisture in the air. Or, if your onboard electronics spikes to higher currents, for example: if you don’t disconnect the battery during vehicle maintenance and cause a short, if you overfill the oil, or if you use chemical additives in your oil.
Oil pressure sensors often use springs to check oil pressure, which means they can loosen up or start to leak over time.
When this happens, you’ll normally see oil on the electronics when you remove the sensor. And, if there’s oil on the outside of the sensor, it always means there’s a leak.
Can you reset your oil pressure sensor instead of replacing it?
In most vehicles, you can reset the oil pressure sensor by getting into your vehicle, turning the ignition into the “on” position without starting the engine, and then pressing the gas pedal for 10-second intervals, three times in a row. Then, you can turn the ignition off and on again.
However, this won’t fix faulty sensor issues. It will simply ensure that the sensor restarts to get a proper reading of the current oil pressure if you’ve just refilled or changed the oil.
The oil pressure sensor is a straightforward repair that you can expect to do several times over the lifespan of a car. In most cases, it will cost $150-$200, although the upper range of costs is about $420 and the lowest range is about $80. However, with oil pressure sensors averaging $40 and repairs averaging $100+, averages are stable across most vehicles no matter the make and model.
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