Why is My Car Oil Temperature Low? – Causes, Risks, and Preventions

A few days ago, I was driving my car and noticed something that made me raise an eyebrow. The oil temperature gauge was showing a lower reading than usual. And I guess this was not a normal incident. So, I planned to find reasons to show low temp, and luckily, I got the answer. In this blog, I will explain “Why is my oil temp low?” from my experience.

Well, low car oil temperature can happen mostly in cold weather conditions. It may also occur due to low oil levels, thermostat issues, or a broken oil pump pressure-relief valve. Moreover, inadequate driving time can be a factor in getting low-temp oil.

Like making pancakes on a cold pan, running a vehicle on low-temperature oil can bring similar results. It may impact on your engine efficiency and change the driving experience. However, when you know all those reasons fully, you can prevent oil from becoming cold. That’s why I suggest you read this blog till the end.

Oil & Its Regular Temperature

As many of us know, I am explaining the role of oil or motor oil in driving a car. For sure, oil is the lifeline of any vehicle’s engine. It lubricates the moving parts and reduces friction and wear in the engine.

Any quality motor oil can cool down the engine quickly by absorbing and dissipating heat. You can even seal the gap between the piston rings and cylinder walls to prevent combustion gases from escaping. However, excessive hot or cold oil can harm the engine.

According to Way & Auto Car Need, the usual oil temperature for gasoline engines is between 230-260°F (110-127°C). If it is a diesel engine, the temp would be 200-230°F (93-110°C). If you use fully synthetic oils, it can withstand up to 300°F (149°C) temperature.

Some aspects can increase or decrease the oil temperature. For example, higher engine speeds generate more heat. This heat will surely increase the temperature. Hot weather and heavy loads can also raise it.

You can use an oil temperature gauge to monitor the temperature in real time. Frequently checking the oil level and quality can ensure proper lubrication and cooling (source).

Causes of Low Oil Temperature

Why is my oil temp low? – In this part, you will know why the oil temperature is lower than the ideal range. Usually, weather, oil viscosity, thermostat issues, etc., usually cause low-temperature oil.

Cold Weather Conditions

Oil temperature will mostly remain low if you live in areas with wintery atmospheres. It can impact on the engine performance. In colder climates or during winter, the oil takes longer to heat up to its optimal temperature. It can temporarily cool down the oil until the engine warms up sufficiently.


You can heat up the engine before driving in cold conditions. It can protect the engine from excessive frictional drag, which may cause wear and tear.

Oil Viscosity and Quality

Viscosity is the thickness of any liquid. According to Shell, oil’s viscosity changes with the temperature changes. When oil turns hot, its viscosity drops. In this way, you can consider that viscosity and temperature have a strong relationship. If your oil temp is low, it means its viscosity is high.

Again, low-quality oil may have pollutants and other minerals. As a result, its viscosity level will possibly be higher than high-quality oils. This type of oil cannot circulate efficiently within the engine. So, the engine cannot work correctly. That’s why the oil temperature remains low.


You should use the recommended oil for the engine. It will flow inside the machine properly and remain hot when the engine is on.

Inadequate Driving Time

Do you drive your vehicle less frequently? Or are your trips usually short? Then, the insufficient driving time or frequency can fail to give the engine enough time to heat up. It will keep the oil temperature low. Many drivers may take 20 minutes for the engine to idle or warm up (source). If the idle time is less, the oil will remain colder than its optimal temperature.


Either take sufficient time for engine warmup or drive long trips. Extended periods of driving help the oil reach its usual temperature.

Thermostat Issues

A defective thermostat can be another reason oil temperature is low (source). For instance, if it is stuck in the open position, it can constantly push coolant into the engine. Then, it will keep the oil temperature below its regular level (source).


You should inspect the thermostat first. If you find it faulty, replace it soon to keep the oil temperature normal.

Low Coolant Level

It can affect the engine’s overall temperature. If the coolant level is low, it may not be able to transfer heat to the radiator correctly. As a result, it can indirectly impact the oil temperature.


You should check the coolant level. You should keep it within the recommended range if it is too low.

Malfunctioning Oil Temperature Sensor

A sensor sends data about the oil temperature to the engine control unit (ECU). If you have a trendy car, the temperature sensor may be integrated into the oil level sensor (source). A faulty sensor with inaccurate readings can indicate that the oil temperature is low.


Take a multimeter to test the sensor’s resistance. Then, compare it to the manufacturer’s specifications. If you find it defective, change it soon.

Unusual Engine Cooling System

A malfunctioning radiator fan, clogged radiator, oil pump pressure-relief valve, or a faulty water pump can be the reasons for low oil temperatures. These components can impact the oil temperature.


Inspect the system to know the conditions of those parts. You may call a mechanic to replace or repair them.

Risks Associated with Low Oil Temperature

If the oil is cold, it may have several risks and implications for the engine. They can be:

Poor Lubrication

If you find the oil temperature is too low, it becomes thicker and less effective at lubricating engine’s moving parts. Then, it will cause increased friction, accelerated wear, and damage to the engine.

Increased Fuel Consumption

Any car engine needs sufficient lubrication to operate smoothly and efficiently. When you run the engine with cold oil, the engine may not produce adequate power to drive the car. If you want to run such an engine efficiently, it will demand more fuel to overcome the increased resistance.

Poor Heat Dissipation

Suppose the oil temperature is low. Then, it may fail to absorb and dissipate heat correctly. The engine will overheat then and risk its overall condition.

Increased Emissions

If the oil is colder than average, it can affect fuel atomization. It will cause incomplete combustion and increased emissions of pollutants.

How to Prevent Oil Temperature Being Low?

You can follow some tips before the oil becomes colder. However, I am not suggesting any challenging task to do.

Choose the Right Engine Oil

You should choose the quality oil for your engine. By right oil, I mean checking the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Otherwise, you may get suggestions from the dealer. You should also consider oil viscosity as it can impact the oil temperature.

Maintain Coolant Levels

As I said, proper coolant levels are essential for maintaining the engine’s temperature. So, check the coolant level regularly and top it up if necessary. It will prevent engine overheating and any relevant issues.

Monitor Engine Temperature

I hope your vehicle’s temperature gauge or warning lights work fine. If you find the engine temp too low or too high while driving the car, consider that something is wrong with the cooling system. There may even be issues with other components.

Practice Regular Maintenance

Most experts suggest following a regular maintenance schedule for their cars. It may include oil changes, filter replacements, and system inspections. Also, it can reduce the risk of engine overheating.

Conclusion: Why is My Oil Temp Low?

For sure, oil temperature is an essential concern to engine’s health. If you get the correct temperature readings on the gauge, ensure your engine is working at its best. But it is lower than expected, you must not overlook it.

I have discussed everything related to oil temperature and its low level in this blog. You have learned about the reasons, impacts, and prevention of low oil temperatures. Hence, I suggest you follow the instructions I mentioned earlier.

I hope you will have no more oil temp issues anymore. So, happy riding!

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