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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was driving home on the freeway one night when my "check oil" light started to flicker. I immediately tried to get off the freeway, however, the nearest exit was roughly 1/4 mile away. Upon reaching the exit, the oil light began to stay on, rather than flicker on-off. As I pulled into a gas station off the freeway, there was a sound emitted from the engine - coming from the timing belt side. I shut the car off as soon as I pulled in.

I had the car towed and it was diagnosed as a faulty oil pump. The oil pump was replaced and the car is back in action.

My question is, did the failing oil pump cause any permanent damage to the bearings or valve train? It feels like the idle on the car has gotten worse since this incident.

*On a side note, I had my mechanic change all the seals (oil pump, crankshaft, …) on the timing belts side because they were leaking. Any correlation to the failed pump?

She's been with me a solid 240K, was hoping to see 300k :(
 

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The danger when an oil pump goes is mostly damage to the main and rod bearings. There are other things that are lubricated of course, but those are the first things to normally go when oil pressure is lost. If the engine still runs well and sounds healthy, it's possible that you dodged a bullet and did little harm. Only time will tell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. I was afraid of that. Is rough idle a symptom of failing bearings? It's gotten somewhat worse than before the oil pump failed.
 

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Severely worn bearings would be noticed by an obvious knocking sound. Your mechanic would have likely pointed that out. Your idle is likely another issue. Maybe a vacuum line or something that became dislodged or not reconnected when they did the other repairs?

If it's running pretty well and not making any new noises, I'd bet you are OK for a while!
 

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Your engine is probably fine. As long as the oil pump was giving at least a few pounds of pressure, the vital parts will get enough oil to prevent damage, given you drove very little with the oil light on.

I agree with what Zembonez is saying, the idle problem was probably caused by the mechanic inadvertently.
 

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The two indications of damage from this incident would be oil pressure, and engine noise.
The general rule of thumb is you need 10 psi oil pressure, or more, for every 1000 engine rpm. I.e. at 3000 rpms your oil presure should be 30 psi or more, between 30 and 40 usually. At idle, you could be ok with as little as 10 psi (it takes less then this to make that dash light go on) at 1000 rpm ( but normally the oil pressure would be even higher then this.)

You can test the oil pressure using a gauge, as for the engine noise, damaged bearings are rarely quiet. listen closely for "tick tickety tick" or "tock tock" sounds from the lower engine.
Like the other fellow said, might as well keep driving it and cross your fingers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the reply Almighty. Keeping them crossed. I'll listen for any noise - so far so good. Idle is getting rougher, much like a muscle car with aggressive cams. The last time it felt like this, the solution came from changing the plugs. That was 3 weeks ago. I can't imagine they've gone bad that quickly.
 

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Any severe damage would have been evident after replacing the oil pump. If there were any seriously wrong, you would know. You reacted to the situation appropriatly. As other posters have said, only time will tell if this episode accelerated wear to where the engine will let go. However, the engine also has around 300k on it. My gut is that you will be fine. Your saving grace was the oil pressure dummy light sending unit was operational. Good luck.
 

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If your rough idle continues, I would recommend setting the timing. if the timing is set, the belt may be off a tooth. However, its probably the distributor timing. Should always be reset after replacing timing belt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks scarney.

Funny you should mention that. I started poking around car last night after I got a reproducible case. The car only sounds like the timing is off (think Subaru boxer engine) after I drive it and restart it within a few hours. If I let the car sit overnight, all is well. Started by pulling the plugs - no oil. Then I remembered reading a post here a few months back about the seals in the distributor being a common area of leak. Sure enough, used a towel to blot the underside of the distributor - oil galore. Oil was pooling in the cap after a drive, killing the spark. Thanks to my crappy distributor cap seal, the oil would leak out overnight (onto the transmission where I saw another pool) and the car would work like new by morning.

Now where can I find that distributor DIY ...
 

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These guys are trying to be nice telling you your engine probably was not damaged, but the reality is it probably was. Try to get a compression check as soon as you can. Usually when the oil light comes on, damage to the engine has already occurred.
 

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Zythr, of course there is going to be wear in the engine. However, if the engine is not knocking or making abnormal noises, should he take the bearings out and mic everything? That would be more useful than doing a compression check imho.

As far as the idle, good find. might have to replace the entire distributor. Also, recommend ensuring that your pcv/breather hose is not obstructed as this will decrease pressure inside the engine and thus reduce the chance of leaks. Or that is the theory lol.

Sean
 
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