T Nation

Whacky Oil Gauge

Lets see if this flies here. I drive a 2000 Dodge Dakota 4.7L. A couple weeks ago my oil pressure gauge would go from normal, drop all the way down causing the “Check Gauges” light to pop on, and then return back to normal. Sometimes it’ll stay low for a long amount of time, sometimes it dips down and immediately goes back to normal. I just topped my oil off and replaced the oil sensor. Now it’s not going up at all. Do I have a bad pump? Maybe a bad filter?

I’m aware going to a shop and having a professional would be the easiest course of action. Be a college student and all, that’d be stretching my wallet thin. Let’s avoid the obvious by not telling me to get a professional to look at it.

The engine would be making God awful noises if you weren’t getting oil to the crankshaft mains or to the valve train.

Make sure the wire from the sensor to wherever it plugs into the rest of the harness is intact and not shorting out anywhere.

Take the truck to AutoZone and have them read your trouble codes. Write them down and Google those codes.

Look up a YouTube video of how to change that oil pump in your vehicle. It may be as simple dropping the pan. But I’d bet it involves unbolting motor mounts and moving the engine up a few inches to get clearance.

Since its intermittent I’d go with oil filter, especially if you don’t know how long it has been running on that oil. You may have some globs of sludge in there, and adding some fresh just makes the sludge more mobile.

You can also check it on the stick with a clean white paper towel by pulling the dipstic and looking at it. If its a little dark but still like honey, not bad. If its dark and mucky- bad.

I have diagnosed the problem: you are driving a 17 year old Dodge.

I (my company) buys pick ups for basically every field worker (oil). For various reasons related to tax and liability, my lawyers have convinced me to provide money to workers for the vehicle they need. So they buy their own and we pay the note. They have a GPS that turns on when they are working.

We’ve narrowed the approved list down to F-series, GMC or Chevy, and Toyota (but only for the fancy guys who live in Midland/Odessa). No Dodges.

They just break when actually used as work trucks on leases (bumpy, dirt, heavy equipment in back).

As an aside, I’ve never seen a functional 17 year old Dodge. That’s impressive or it was never used for work.

For a constructive input: change the oil and filter, preferably with one of those slude-remover treatments as part of the process.

Jiggle the wires to the guages/senors. Look for obvious lose items. Unplug and plug stuff back in.

Follow the wire for the oil pump and make sure it’s sound end-to-end.

If that doesn’t work, change the pump.

@SkyzykS just reminded me of a good old trick that I definitely wouldn’t recommend.

Get a new oil and filter ready to do a change at your garage.

Pour one cup of diesel fuel into the oil fill cap.

Drive around the block for 15 minutes until everything is up to operating temperatures.

Drive home and immediately change your hot oil. Being careful not to get burned. Leave your drain plug and filter off for a half hour while everything oozes down from the heads to the drip pan.

Put your new oil and filter in once everything has cooled down.

Or spend $15 on sludge remover (BG or whatever) and avoid potential sudden death/fire.

I do the same thing with seafoam, but let it cool down a little first.

Then add the rest of the can after the change.

This being a convo about vehicles- I have to give my new old car a once over. That thing is a clunky squeaky mess and I’m about to break a new personal record for expired inspection without a ticket.

May be BS or not, but I love seafoam.

And Purolator filters.

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Appreciate all the responses. I ended up just switching everything out; filter, oil, sensor, and pump. I had a few hours to myself after work and a few bucks to spend so I went ahead and just killed everything. Back to normal now :+1: forgot to buy washer fluid though :rage:


When I first got her, she had so many issues. She was cheap enough that I didn’t mind spending a little bit more in fixing up. I’m handy so I never spent a dime on a professional except when I got into a fender bender and ruined my insurance for the next few years. I would say she has severe rust, beyond all hope and I’d be lucky to finish 2018 without a replacement. I’ve hauled things from a bed of straw to a couple beds but never needed it for heavy equipment thankfully

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I’ve been curious about this. It started happening around here a lot a couple years back when the Marcellus shale really took off. All of the sudden there were kids running around driving brand new trucks and the companies paying for it.

I thought it was just a gimmick to get kids to jump through hoops?

On Dodges- We had an early 90’s dually with the cummins for our first tree cutting truck. That thing was a beast. and it actually lasted pulling chippers and loaded with logs. Its 1st low gear was unstoppable. Then they went to crap.

A kid at a shop I was at had a more recent one that you could actually watch rust during lunch. I’d never seen anything like it, but have come to find out that they all do that now.

They’re like that witch from The Wizard of Oz.


This could be a dip tube issue if it pops back up.

My 2008 GMC Envoy with the 5.3L has an Oring on the dip tube that is known for drying out and leaking. I don’t know if Dodge has this design flaw but it could.

If it happens again try some seal conditioner, or even if it doesn’t it won’t hurt.

Cured my issue of sudden oil pressure drop. I also installed a mechanical gauge for peace of mind.


Oh, I suppose it’s a perk, in that the kid gets to have his own truck. But the oilfield always supplies a truck to basically everyone in the field. It’s as needed as a hard hat.

The main reasons are:

  1. People take care of their own stuff better.

  2. Oilfield workers make LOTS of money. As in, it’s normal to make mid-six-figures for a 10 year guy and starting out 18 year olds easily make over $100,000. They drink and party hard. And then drive home. The lawsuit is markedly more defensible if they are driving their own vehicle and (per the GPS tracker) not in the course-and-scope of their employment.

  3. It’s kind of golden handcuffs. They buy an expensive truck and will have to start making payments if they quit/fuck up/fail the drug test. Ergo, they don’t.


That is brilliant. Villainous, but brilliant. I’d say the job is golden handcuffs anyway. How many guys with a HS diploma make $100k doing anything at 18yo?

It reminds me of all the pawn shops, tattoo parlors, bars and car dealerships around Camp Lejeune. 19yo jarheads come back with a whole tour of pay they haven’t been able to spend and blow it all in a week. Then all the sudden they can’t make payments on their mustang or pickup and have to pawn it because if a collector calls your CO you’re in deep shit.

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Explains all the new trucks with Texas plates on the pipeline sites here.


People say all sorts of things about oil companies, but “not being clever” is seldom one of the insults, especially our lawyers who cook this shit up.