What is Oil Pump | Drive Mechanism , Electronic Oil Pump

What is Oil Pump | Drive Mechanism , Electronic Oil Pump

The oil pump is the heart of the lubrication system. It sucks oil up from the oil pan and forces it around oilways in the engine, before the oil drops back into the sump and is recirculated. The oil pump is a highly critical part of the engine – if an oil pump stops working it will lead to expensive engine failure 100% of the time. That’s one reason why the oil pump is so directly driven from the crankshaft.

Oil pumps are situated in the oil pan, or more usually at the front of the engine.

automobile oil pump
automobile oil pump


1. Crankshaft Driven

Situated directly on the end of the Crankshaft, this design usually incorporates a cover which sits directly above the Sump.

2. Chain Driven

With more modern vehicles being equipped with Timing Chains, the Oil Pump has followed this trend by being driven by a Chain system.

3. Belt Driven

Equipped with a Pulley rather than a Sprocket, this design is driven by a Rubber Belt, much like a Water or Vacuum Pump.

4. Intermediary Shaft Driven

Driven by an auxiliary source such as a Lanchester Unit or Balance Shaft, this is a compact design most commonly used in VW/Audi/Seat/Skoda

5. Gear Driven Pump

Gear driven pumps include an intermeshing gear which are predominantly used on Heavy Duty Diesel applications.

6. Shaft Driven Pump

Incorporating a drive shaft, this type of pump is usually driven off a Camshaft or Intermediary Shaft. These usually have a Spline or Slot fitment on the end of the shaft.


The oil pump sucks oil up from the sump through a pipe – called a pickup pipe. The pipe’s nozzle sits below the surface of the oil, and it is covered by a guaze filter which prevents large particles from being sucked up into the pump.
If this filter screen was to be completely blocked, then the engine would not pick up any oil and the engine would at great risk of being destroyed. Therefore the pickup pipe may have bypass valve in case the screen is blocked. In this situation it’s better that the engine continues to receive oil and we take the chance of damage to the oil pump: an oil pump is considerably cheaper than an engine rebuilds.


Both these pump mechanisms will continue pumping oil up to extremely high pressures. In order to prevent damage to the engine, an oil pump includes a pressure-relief valve which will open when oil pressure becomes to high.
The pressure relief valve is on the output side of the pump. The oil on the output side pushes on a piston, or ball bearing. That piston is held closed by a calibrated spring and once the pressure reaches a determined level, the spring will flex and the piston will unseat, allowing oil to return either to the inlet side of the pump or directly down into the sump.


An electronic oil pump would be more controllable in relation to engine speed, and engines are now starting to use electronic water pumps. But it’s unlikely that oil pumps will ever be electronic. Pumping cold, viscous oil is hard, and more importantly, the failure of an oil pump is disastrous for an engine. With a mechanical pump there is the guarantee that if the engine is running, the pump is turning. That said, some huge industrial engines and race engines are pre-oiled using an electrical oil pump that runs before engine startup and after shutdown.

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Sachin Thorat

Sachin is a B-TECH graduate in Mechanical Engineering from a reputed Engineering college. Currently, he is working in the sheet metal industry as a designer. Additionally, he has interested in Product Design, Animation, and Project design. He also likes to write articles related to the mechanical engineering field and tries to motivate other mechanical engineering students by his innovative project ideas, design, models and videos.

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