What is an Oil Pump?

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  • Written By: Jessica Reed
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 06 February 2020
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An oil pump is used to provide oil to the moving parts of a machine. The oil helps lubricate the parts so they will turn smoothly with little resistance or friction between them. It not only makes the machine run smoother, but extends the life of the machine's parts. It also ensures that the parts don't melt or become warped from the heat generated as they move. The most commonly known example of an oil pump is located in the internal combustion engine of a car.

Near the bottom of the engine is the oil pan which stores the oil for the oil pump to draw from. The oil pump is mounted inside the oil pan and connected to the engine to ensure they turn together. Since the oil is pumped under pressure, a sensor is used to monitor how much pressure the oil is under. If too much or too little pressure is created, the sensor will cause a warning light to appear in the car. This warns the driver that something is wrong.

The oil pump must be taken care of for the car engine to keep functioning properly. This includes getting an oil change roughly every 3,000 to 5,000 miles (4,800 to 8,000 km) depending on how often the car is used and the manufacturer's recommendations. It's also important to check the oil level of the vehicle on a monthly basis to ensure it has enough oil.


To do this, the owner removes the dipstick located in the engine and wipes it off with a paper towel. He then proceeds to dip it back into the holder and pull it out again. A set of lines on the dipstick mark where the oil level should be. If the oil level is below these lines, more oil needs to be added to the car. Oil can be purchased from the store to add to the car by hand.

Bottles of oil come marked with a number, such as 10W-30. This number expresses the viscosity of the oil, or how thick it gets under certain temperatures. Oil needs to maintain a certain thickness that is not too thick and not to thin to function. The number beside the W expresses the viscosity of the oil during the winter when it is cold. A lower number means it will flow better under cold temperatures. The second number expresses how well the oil will flow when it is hot.


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Post 1

I think I damaged my oil pan. I went up a bumpy driveway and when I got to the top, I heard a crunch and the check oil light came on. There were pot holes everywhere and I managed to drive home safely -- but I know that it's probably going to be several hundred dollars to get it fixed.

I'm not an expert, but I know a little about cars. Can anyone tell me how to change an oil pan?

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