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Singing the no oil pressure blues

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Old Jun 25th, 2021, 21:03   #1
142 Guy
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Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Default Singing the no oil pressure blues

I was out driving around a couple of evenings ago. I came up on a red light and had to do a firm stop and I noticed that the low oil pressure warning light on my electronic oil pressure gauge flickered on. Its programmed to do this if the pressure drops below 10 psi. Pulling away after the light changed I noticed that my pressure was lower than normal - about 30 - 35 psi @ 2500 RPM. The low pressure warning flickered again at the next stop light so I pulled over, got out and checked for oil leaks (I had checked levels a couple of days ago so I knew that was good), found none so I carefully drove home watching the pressure gauge to keep it up around 30 psi. The mechanical oil pressure switch never activated during this event so I never reached 0 pressure. Prior to the oil pressure warning light coming on that first time everything had been just fine. There were no strange mechanical noises before or after the warning light flickered.

This morning I double checked the sump oil level and it was at its normal level. On the off chance that the electronic gauge / sensor may have gone out of calibration, I disconnected the mechanical pressure switch and hooked up a mechanical oil pressure gauge so I could carry out a test to determine whether the electronic gauge was the problem. In order to hook up the temporary 'plumbing', I had to remove the oil filter to get at the fittings on the side of the block. Almost no oil drained out of the filter as I pulled it off which is not normal. After installing the fittings for the mechanical gauge I installed a new filter and then proceeded to carry out a cranking pressure test with the coil and injector fuses pulled so it would not start. I did 3 crank tests of about 5-6 seconds each and I am now getting absolutely no oil pressure on either the electronic gauge or the temporary mechanical gauge. The tube to the temporary mechanical gauge is translucent nylon and I could see that there was no oil flowing in the tube.

So, I have now gone to zero oil pressure which leads me to the following possibilities:

- one or both of the rubber rings that seal the oil delivery pipe have moved / fallen right out (I would have thought that I would still gets some oil flow to the galleries when cranking),

- the oil pump has had a drive end failure (I have that IPD re enforcing ring on the oil pump drive)

- the pump pressure relief mechanism has failed open (I have the IPD high pressure spring)

- the little tab on the end of the oil pump / distributor drive shaft that engages the oil pump has sheared right off (I would have expected this would have resulted in complete loss of oil pressure while driving).

Have I missed anything? I will add that the engine had a complete rebuild about 7 years ago and only has about 6000 km since the rebuild. Oil pressure prior to this event was just fine.

As I recall, I think the oil pump / distributor drive shaft can be removed and checked once the distributor is removed so I should be able to check that fairly easily (getting it back in to the pump with the IPD re enforcing ring will be a treat. However, if it did shear off I expect that the pump has to come off to get at the broken piece that will be stuck in the end of the pump drive. Everything else looks like removing the sump is a requirement. From the service manual, it appears that I can remove the sump with the engine in the car. This does require having the front of the car raised up, lifting the front of the engine and then dropping the front cross member a bit to get access. Once the oil pan is off I presume that access to R&R the pump is straightforward?

The sump gasket will have to be replaced. Any comments on Reintz / Felpro / Mahle / AJUSA / Elring? I am pretty sure the existing gasket is an Elring cork gasket which has weeped from day one so something that seals better would be nice. I have limited garage space so I want to get this repair turned around as fast as possible. In the event that the oil pump / pressure relief is buggered I want to have a replacement on hand so that the car is not taking up space for a couple of weeks while I wait for parts. It looks like the Melling M91 pump is the only replacement option?

If the problem was the seal rings on the oil delivery pipe, any words of wisdom on re installing those puppies so that they don't pop out again? Any other words of wisdom on possible causes or tricks in doing the repair?
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