Oil pressure problems

morrisman1, Aug 6, 8:43am
Im stumped. Well here is the run-down of the events. One morning approx a week ago I noticed that my oil pressure light flickered when starting up then after 2 seconds extinguished so I thought hmmm what is that. Well it did it the next day too. That got me thinking what could be causing the change because usually it takes less than half a second to go out on cold starts and less on warm starts but this was taking two seconds on cold start. Also while the light is on and for a second afterwards I can hear more noise from the engine's upper end.

First thing I did in the troubleshooting process was change to a Ryco filter as they have the anti-drainback valves in them and the Fram I had on there didnt. This made no difference. Next step I thought was to install an oil pressure gauge to see what it was doing so I bought one and went to put it in and noticed oil all over the original oil pressure switch. Instead of putting the gauge in I replaced the sensor thinking it may have been letting air in. Anyway this morning it STILL had the light on for two seconds and the associated extra noise which is only noticeable to the trained ear.

It seems to be only when the engine has been sitting overnight. Even today when it was sitting 10 hours while I was at work the light behaved as it should on startup and Id consider that a cold start

I will look at putting the pressure gauge in over the weekend because it sort of concerns me what has changed to cause the problem. I am running Castrol GTX Modern engine 15w40 API SM grade and have had that in for about 3000km now. The engine is a first generation GA16DE in a 1991 nissan sentra. Please offer advice as to what I should look into next!

unbeatabull, Aug 6, 8:49am
Stupid question, checked oil level!

mugenb20b, Aug 6, 8:50am
I could be on the wrong track here, but, I'll give you my two cents worth.
1. Timing chain tensioner is (about to be) toast.
2. Blocked pick up screen.maybe.
3. Worn timing chain or camshaft.

goron56, Aug 6, 8:57am
Yep your doing the right thing, fit a manual oil pressure gauge,i have an sr20de and an sr20det in my fleet and the recommended oil pressure for them at hot idle is no less than 15 psi,anything above that and you'll be sweet.

morrisman1, Aug 6, 9:03am
yes unbeatabull oil level is just fine. I dont know how the timing chain tensioner works on the GA16 for the lower chain but Im aware the top chain does not have one. I maintain the car well so a blocked pickup screen I think is not likely and the sump is in good nick. Im looking forwards to what the oil pressure gauge will tell me as the light only tells you when pressure is above 10psi or something like that.

How SHOULD the pressure behave like once I have the gauge in so that I have something to compare against

treachug, Aug 6, 11:02am
Quick google search found this:

"Nissan recommended that both the GA16DE and the SR20DE engines be lubricated with SAE 5W-30 motor oil. Nissan advised that the Sentras could instead take 10W-30 oil if the ambient temperature were to remain above 0 degrees Fahrenheit"

So maybe the oil viscosity is slightly thick at start up (the 15 part of the 15w40) & takes the 2 seconds you mentioned to get oil pressure. (slightly thicker oil going thru small feed holes designed for thinner oil etc).
I would also check a commonly overlooked ingredient - the factory API rating. Maybe the late API rating of 'SM' is too modern for a '91 engine, it may need SH or SL etc. What does the owners handbook have as recommended!

morrisman1, Aug 6, 11:42am
the manual recommends API SG 7.5w30 to 15w40 oil. Would a thicker oil not cause higher oil pressure instead of lower!

safteystv, Aug 6, 11:47am
how many ks has the car done , have you desludged the cam lube system , when was the last engine oil flush done! also haveyou only noticed the light !

morrisman1, Aug 6, 12:32pm
car has done 286000km. No I haven't not de-sludged the cam lube system as I was not aware the GA series was prone to blockage like the early SR engines are. As a pilot its just natural to check the oil pressure on startup, I look at the light every time I turn the key and yes the problem has only just started.

trouser, Aug 7, 3:54am
A 280,000k ga16. This is no veyron pal.

morrisman1, Aug 7, 4:20am
3000km oil changes! Are you crazy! Hell, it doesn't even start to black up the oil till about 5000km in. 10,000km is about right for those engines, it aint turbo or diesel or anything overly high performance.

Anyway this morning the oil light went out after about half a second and no valve train noise, so it behaved as it should.

msigg, Aug 7, 4:37am
Theres nothing wrong with the light coming on for 2 to 4 seconds till the oil is all around the engine, obviously your tolerences are a bit out with that sort of Km. Just make sure its got oil to the correct level. That engine will do another 100,000km no sweat.

morrisman1, Aug 7, 5:07am
I know theres nothing wrong with 2-4 seconds but when it suddenly starts doing 2 seconds after a couple years of always doing half a second then I ask questions because its not wear and tear that makes those changes so rapidly.

Ill observe the trend for a few days and if it still takes too long to come up Ill put the oil pressure gauge in.

johnf_456, Aug 7, 10:22am
+1 Just ignore it, I know its hard to ignore being a fussy person myself but its only for a few seconds for the oil pressure to come. And as others have said its not worth worrying about, if its not burning it big time, smoking it ain't gonna go yet.

brodie64, Aug 7, 12:15pm
With only skim reading this and seeing the mention of the SR20 motor, is the motor in question similar to this in way of having the oil feed rails that run along the top of the cams! If so, these are very common for getting blocked in the SR series motors. MIte be worth checking as they are pretty simple to clean out and make sure they are fine. But do not drill the holes out (or if you do, make sure you know what you are doing) as when the holes are too big, you will lose more oil pressure.

hallucinogen_99, Sep 21, 2:42pm
On my 80 000KMs GA16DE, I run Castrol Magnatec 10W-40 and a genuine Nissan oil filter ($20 here on TM) and oil light goes out straight away on startup. I have had problems running Fram filters in the past on Rover V8s.