When we get into our vehicle, everything is usually second nature. Starting the engine, listening to the gentle purr of the motor (or the load roar depending on your equipment), followed by looking at all the gauges on the dash to make sure everything is working as intended.
We rarely give a lot of thought to what’s going on beneath the hood. Even those of us who are automobile aficionados and give great care to our cars’ inner workings don’t usually worry unless something is wrong.
But what if one of those gauges reads that something is wrong? What if your oil pressure is high or low? What does it mean? And what can you do to fix it?
Don’t Think Oil Pressure Matters? Think Again
Some people ride their vehicles for miles, across months and even years, even if there are problems that need fixing. Sometimes it is a lack of knowledge about how to fix it, while other times people assume the issue can’t be that bad if the vehicle is still running.
Oil pressure is critical when it comes to internal combustion engines. Given that these engines are still widely used in cars, despite some modern alternatives taking spots in the market, it is important to make sure you know how to care for them.
When we start our vehicle and hear the engine, it is easy to overlook all the complexities that are just out of sight. With so many parts working together and at such a frantic pace, it gets hot quickly. But in addition to heat, your engine must also be able to fend off the constant threat of metal-on-metal. When parts collide with one another repeatedly, it can easily wear down your car’s critical components over time.
That being said, how exactly does oil pressure factor into it? Oil is used to lubricate components within your vehicle. It is picked up by a pump and transported through passageways into bearings. Having the right level of oil pressure ensures that the metal on parts like the rotating shaft and bearing shell don’t touch beyond the initial startup and shutdown procedures.
Not only does this cut down on metal-to-metal contact, but it helps keep the engine cool by minimizing friction between moving parts and even stationary parts that can heat up quickly by being too close.
In order to make sure your oil pressure is safely in the median range where it is recommended to be, you need an oil pressure gauge – but which is the best one?
Finding the Best Oil Pressure Gauge: How We Choose Our Ratings
When it comes to finding the right oil pressure gauge, a lot is at stake for the buyer. You’re not just spending money on a product – you’re spending money on a product that will provide critical information about your vehicle’s performance.
When we factor in the best characteristics of oil pressure gauges, we won’t worry about the installation process – while that is important in some ways, we’ll focus mainly on two characteristics. The first is how easy it is to read.
Many people dislike having an abundance of gauges in their car. It seems like each one is centered around a different unit of measurement and those who aren’t vehicular experts may find two many gauges are just as bad as not having enough. We’ll focus on gauges that provide you the information you need without requiring you to decipher anything.
The other factor that we will take into heavy consideration is cost. When you’re investing in an oil pressure gauge, you’re investing in your vehicle’s future – but that doesn’t mean you have to empty your bank account.
Keeping in mind that there are plenty of big-name brands out there offering quality oil pressure gauges, we’ll rank them – here is our personal top ten.
Best Oil Pressure Gauge Choices: Which Model Made the Top 10?
Straight away, we’ll make note that this isn’t the cheapest one on our list. How can it be the top spot if we’re going by cost-efficiency? For one, we’re also going by how easy it is to read. And with a clear list of increments ranging in multiples of 10 up to 60, this one makes it easy to see where your pressure is.
But it’s the number of great reviews it has gotten that makes this product so worthwhile. With durable stainless-steel housing material and solid brass internals, the 1.5-inch diameter gauge is reliable in both its accuracy and its longevity. It will last you, and provide accurate readings. Not bad for $50!
Not bad at all – and that’s putting it mildly. With this gauge, you get a reliable product that can be used to help you keep an eye on your oil pressure easily. It will also hold up well over time, making it a smart long-term investment.
This one costs around $20 depending on where you shop. And while it doesn’t have the sleek looks of the ACCEL, it does have one clear advantage – it measures oil pressure on a scale of 0-100 PSI. This time, they’re separated in increments of 20, with three markings in between each so you can be a little more accurate with your readings.
The plain white face and black numbers may seem bland for some. But for others, the 12-volt internal lighting sets it off nicely and makes for a basic but rugged look. It’s designed for negative ground systems, and comes with the tubing and thread fittings necessary for installation.
If you like a back-to-basics approach when it comes to looks, this is a great gauge to choose. It’s also gotten plenty of positive reviews, a testament to Sunpro’s engineering mastery when it comes to this type of product.
- Traditional incandescent lighting illuminates around the perimeter of the dial
- Auto Meter’s race proven mechanical instruments provide trusted accuracy while being...
- No electrical system required for gauge operation - compatible with every street or race...
This is another meter that goes all the way up to 100, and takes the same approach as our number-two entry in terms of numeric labeling. With incandescent lighting around the dial’s perimeter, it highlights the white numbers on the black face nicely.
Auto Meter’s products are proven in racing environments, combining accurate readings with a simple installation process. It’s also designed to offer high levels of durability, even in tense environments where other components may fail.
The only thing that makes this model place lower is the price. At $70, it’s one of the pricier models in the top spots though it offers great quality that has led to high reviews.
- Traditional incandescent lighting illuminates around the perimeter of the dial
- 12 and 16 volt compatible, well-suited with nearly every street car or race car electrical...
- Gauge kit includes 1/8” NPT pressure sender, 1/4” NPT adapter, bulb and socket...
Auto Meter makes the list again, this time with a great model from the Z-Series. It offers measurements from 0-100 PSI, and measures in labeled increments of 25 with single markings in between each. It has incandescent lighting around the black dial with white numbers.
This model is well-suited with many popular cars including street racing cars, and is compatible with both 12-volt and 16-volt setups. Another testament to Auto Meter’s mastery of the oil pressure gauge market.
This one only ranks lower than the first Auto Meter entry because the price is around $5 higher on most listings – though if you prefer the specs on this one, it could be a superior choice depending on your need.
Rounding out the first-half of our list is the electric white LED performance series model from Prosport Gauges. This one measures PSI up to 150 in increments of 30 with multiple markings in between each for better accuracy.
It has a white LED light that can be run at all times or only during the day. There’s also a one-year warranty, rounding out this $40-ish gauge nicely.
It’s cheap, it’s sleek, and it has the readings to be used for a variety of automotive needs – even sports cars or motorcycles need to know about their oil pressure.
- MaxTow Oil Pressure Gauge is Designed to Monitor & Display the Amount of Oil Pressure...
- Oil Pressure Readings from 0 to 100 PSI - 2-1/16" (52mm) Gauge with Black Dial, Clear...
- Double Vision Display with Analog & Digital Readouts - Green LED Backlighting - 3 Daytime...
If this was a contest about looks alone, it would be hard to beat this model from MaxTow. That sleek combination of green numbers over a black face makes for a beautiful display across the two-and-one-sixteenth-inch face.
There’s also a double display option – meaning you can look where you are on a scale of 1-100 via increments of 10 with four markings in between, or simply read the exact pressure from a conveniently labeled display.
The only thing stopping this model from ranking higher is the price. It’s around $100, but on the upside, it’s gotten plenty of positive feedback – largely from its combination of looks and performance.
- GlowShift White 7 Color Series Oil Pressure Gauge is Designed to Monitor & Display the...
- Oil Pressure Readings from 0 to 100 PSI - 2-1/16" (52mm) Gauge with White Dial, Clear Lens...
- 7 Solid Color Modes & 2 Color Cycle Modes Allow You to Match Your Factory Dashboard Lights...
To be clear, these gauges all utilize a three-color scheme for the most part. You get a black face, red lighting around the dial, and your choice of a variety of colors for the numerical markings themselves. It’s labeled a lot like the entry above, but without the digital display.
That perk may be missed, but this one is also a little cheaper. It’s around $85, and offers a dimmer function that works up to 30-percent, allowing you more control over how your gauge looks in various types of lighting.
It’s a lot like the MaxTow, but perhaps not as well-known. That doesn’t make it any less reliable, nor does it take away anything from this model’s sleek looks.
Prosport makes the list yet again, this time with their EVO-Series. It is a versatile gauge in the sense it can display numbers in either white or green – both look right at home over the black face.
There’s also a unique combination of a digital gauge ran in analog format, showing intervals of 15 PSI leading all the way to 150. The display is also dimmable, and the unit comes with a one-year warranty.
Prosport is a leader in the field of oil pressure gauges for a reason – their EVO-Series is another example of how combining great looks with solid design can make for a better overall product.
- Standard 2" white dial for 2-1/16" openings
- 0-100 PSI range with 270 degree sweep
- Features a chrome bezel with removable chrome mounting panel
With a sleek silver casing, white face, red dial, and black numbers, this model from Bosch looks the part of a basic but high-quality oil pressure gauge.
The 0-100 PSI measurements are in increments of 20 and compose a 270-degree sweep. The chrome panel surrounding the unit can be removed for a more compact fit.
At just over $20, this is a solid basic gauge. Combine the fact it comes from a reliable company and has good reviews, and it is an easy choice for our top ten.
- Black colored face with numbers in white; black pointer with black and white bezel
- Gauge diameter is 2 1/16-in and reads from 0-100 PSI
- Sending unit is mechanical with 90-degree sweep
This model from Equus rounds out our top ten. It’s cheap at around $20, and uses a nice black face with white lettering design – combined with a red dial and touches of yellow, it makes for a sleek look.
It is also designed to read pressure in increments of 20 all the way up to 100. Even if you’re using it at night, you’ll be able to see thanks to the backlit illumination option.
It’s a model that balances cost-efficiency with sleek design, making it a great choice to finish out our list of top 10 oil pressure gauge options.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For in an Oil Pressure Gauge
When you’re considering an oil pressure gauge, what should you look for? The first step is easy – make sure you find something that is easy to read. Installation hardware is a bonus, though many mechanics and automotive engineers can provide that for you – for a cost.
It’s also wise to consider the price as well as the look. If you’re looking for something that fits your budget, you should also consider whether it fits the type of vehicle you have. Every car is different, but all of them need proper oil pressure if they use a combustion engine. Having the right gauge can help you ensure you stay on track.