Oil Pressure Gauge Bouncing [5 Easy Solutions]

Oil pressure gauge bouncing at idle or on the turn! Then, low oil levels, improper oil filter maintenance, and loose wire connection are the culprits that cause your oil pressure gauge to go crazy. Besides, a defective sending unit is also responsible for this issue. 

No matter what the issue is behind it, you need to address this problem immediately. Otherwise, it could damage your engine permanently if the pressure gauge drops out due to the low oil level. 

Fortunately, we will show you how to solve the pressure gauge bouncing issue throughout this guideline. So, don’t miss a single line. 

Why Is My Oil Pressure Gauge Bouncing?

Don’t know why the oil pressure gauge is going crazy? Then, the following issues can be the culprit for the pressure gauge fluctuation. 

1. Low Oil Level

The needle of your oil pressure gauge will bounce or cause it to drop out intermittently if the oil level is low. When you turn or accelerate your vehicle, the oil pressure gauge will get jumpy due to the low oil level. Therefore, putting poor-quality oil into your engine can also cause this gauge bouncing issue. 

To prevent your oil pressure gauge from bouncing up and down, check the oil level. If needed, put some quarts of oil into your engine. And don’t forget to inspect for oil dilution or contamination. If the oil gets too black, replace it with new oil. 

2. Neglected Oil Filter

If you don’t maintain your oil filter properly, a blockage could occur there. And this blockage causes the oil pressure to drop, which you can see on the pressure gauge. In the worst case, this blockage could cause permanent damage to your engine. 

The possible cheap fix to this issue can be a simple oil & filter change. However, if you regularly change the oil and the filter, we bet the problem lies in your oil pressure pump or sending unit. 

3. Loose Wire Connection

If your oil pressure gauge acts erratically, we bet the issue lies in the electrical connection. It’s a bit tricky to determine the cause of a jittery electrical signal. So, we recommend you get a replacement of the sender. It doesn’t cost you more than $50. 

4. Faulty Sender Unit

A defective sender unit can also be the culprit to cause the oil pressure gauge to bounce up and down. To identify if the problem is with the gauge or not, just detach the sending unit wire and take a look at the reading. Most often it reads zero. Now, attach an appropriate grounding wire to the sender unit and the reading will be high, full, or hot. If your gauge shows this characteristic, we bet the gauge gets defective. Regarding this, just replace the sending unit. 

5. It’s Normal

If everything is working finely but the pressure gauge fluctuates, don’t worry about it. It’s normal. 

When the engine oil is cold, it remains thicker. So, the gauge will show higher pressure at a given RPM. On the other hand, the engine oil starts getting thinner when the engine warms up and the oil pressure gauge reads a bit lower. 


What does it mean when my oil pressure gauge fluctuates?

A defective by-pass valve or the spring inside the oil pump is the culprit when your oil pressure gauge fluctuates. Just replace these parts to solve the oil pressure gauge issue. 

Is it normal for oil pressure to fluctuate idle?

Yes, it’s normal for oil pressure to fluctuate at idle. You may know what is normal oil pressure at idle. However, the oil pressure will increase when the speed increases. But if the oil pressure fluctuates too much, we bet the sender unit is at fault or the oil level is low.  

How much does it cost to replace an oil pump?

The price range for the replacement of an oil pump is between $300-$2500. Ready to spend $100-$500 in parts and count $200-$200 for labor cost. 

Why does my oil pressure go up when I accelerate?

The crankshaft will rotate or spin faster as well as the oil pump shaft’s gear. Due to these reasons, the oil pressure will also go up when you accelerate. 

Why does my oil pressure go down when I stop?

The engine wouldn’t require too much oil when you stop or break the car. That’s why the oil pressure also goes down. 


The oil pressure gauge bouncing up and down is normal when engine oil is cold or warm. However, it also bounces around because of low oil level, neglected oil filter, and defective sender unit. 

Fortunately, we described above how to solve those issues. Just follow the guidelines we mentioned. If the problem continues, we recommend you bring your vehicle to a certified mechanic to deal with this issue. 

About John M

John contributed as a technical head at an automobile company just 2 years after his post-graduation in Automobile Engineering. He loves to lead a free life, so he left his job & started blogging. Now, he does research on every automotive problem, part & product and seeks a better solution & best products & shares his findings with his readers to help them as well as to minimize their struggle.

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