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Why Oil Pumps Fail?
Tight tolerances make for a precarious existence for this critical component. Oil pumps don't always need to be replaced when oil pressure drops, but when one does need to be replaced, it is important to know the ins and outs of oil pump failure. By far the most common reason for an oil pump to fail is from dirt or debris in the lubrication system. According to some data, prime culprits include wire bristles from cleaning brushes, valve seal material, and other assorted dirt. When one considers that oil pump clearances are in the order of .003", it is not hard to understand why foreign material can cause oil pump failure. Pieces of nylon cam drive gears have also ended up in oil pumps. Don't expect the screen to filter out these objects as most have a bypass hole or slots designed to allow oil to flow when the oil's viscosity is too high to flow effectively through the screen. A cold start and a piece of debris can quickly lead to oil pump lock-up. So, whenever an oil pump is being replaced, jobbers should advise their customers that oil systems should be flushed out thoroughly. Debris can also end up in the pressure relief valve, possibly causing pressure to bleed off leading to a low oil pressure situation, perhaps ending up in engine damage. In addition, manufacturers have reported that there appears to be an increase in post rebuild engine failures as a result of the oiling system failing to prime itself. Reports from warranty claims have revealed completely dry oil pumps in some cases. To avoid this, jobbers should advise all customer to immerse pumps in oil and hand prime the oil pump before installation. Furthermore, it is not advisable to use petroleum jelly, lithium grease lubricants as a prelube in the oil pump, or liberally in the engine at all as they do not pump and can fill the pumping channels, curtailing is ability to move oil. For engines that are already assembled, but have been shipped or left sitting in storage, it is particularly advisable to pressurize the entire oiling system prior to start up using an electric drill as the oil pump may not be able to pressurize the system quickly enough to prevent damage. This procedure should be performed on any engine that has been assembled, before start up, to prevent dry start.
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