Oil is vital for engine operation – you can’t drive without it. Trying to run your car’s engine without oil would result in catastrophic damage. However, it’s just as important that the engine oil is monitored at all times. If the level drops too low, it could cause serious damage to the engine. If the oil’s temperature rises too high, it will also cause very serious problems.

Monitoring your engine oil can be done in a number of ways. You should definitely check the level manually every time you fill up the gas tank. The Oil Pressure light on the dash will warn you if the pressure drops (due to problems like pump failure). The oil temperature sensor monitors the temperature of the engine oil and displays this information on the oil temperature gauge (if applicable).

The oil temperature sensor is an electronic component located on the engine itself. It is used every single time you start the engine, and will operate as long as the engine is running. There is no specific lifespan for these sensors, though. They’re designed to last for a long time, but they will eventually fail and need to be replaced. The prime factor that affects oil sensor longevity is heat – because of its location under the hood, it’s exposed to high temperatures whenever the engine is operating.

Because there is no set service interval for replacing your oil temperature sensor, it’s important that you know a few common symptoms that indicate the sensor may be failing, or have already failed. Watch for these signs:

  • Check Engine Light is on
  • Oil temperature gauge is not working at all
  • Oil temperature gauge is reading inaccurately or inconsistently

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or suspect that there’s a problem with the oil temperature sensor, a professional mechanic can provide a diagnostic service, or replace the oil temperature sensor.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does an Oil Temperature Sensor Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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