Q: Do I need a high-volume or high-pressure oil pump?

close up of the oil pump for a ford y-block v8
(Image/Jim Smart)

A: When buying an oil pump, you have a few options. The right pump for you depends on how your engine is built and how it’s used. The basic rule is 10 psi of oil pressure per 1,000 rpm at normal operating temperature.

For example, if you’re highway cruising at 2,500 rpm, you should have 25 psi. At idle, the same engine might have 10 psi or less.

Standard Oil Pump Basics

standard oil pump will meet or exceed OEM specifications. Standard pumps are fine for most engines. It will provide enough flow and pressure for stock to moderate performance engines.

High-Volume Oil Pump Basics

A high-volume pump will push more oil through the system. It has larger gears to move more oil per revolution.

These pumps are good for performance engines with larger bearing clearances. The added oil will help maintain oil pressure and carry away heat.

A high-volume pump may also be required to lubricate add-on engine parts, including:

  • External oil coolers
  • Remote oil filters
  • Camshaft phasers (Variable Valve Timing)
  • Superchargers and turbochargers

High-Pressure Oil Pump Basics

High-pressure pumps have a stiffer spring in the bypass valve. This allows more pressure to build before bypassing the oil back to the pan.

These pumps are required for performance engines that turn high rpm. If you are racing at 7,000 rpm, you need 70 psi. With some pumps, you can change the pressure relief spring to raise or lower the pressure.

High-Pressure, High-Volume Oil Pump Basics

A high-pressure, high-volume pump has both larger gears and a stiffer bypass spring. These pumps are only required for high-performance race engines.


  • A high-volume pump WILL NOT suck the pan dry. Clogged oil drain-back holes and poor oil control will.
  • High oil pressure WILL NOT “wash out” your bearings. Excessive heat from low oil flow will overheat and destroy your bearings.
    • This is usually caused by bearing clearances that are too tight.

This is another in a series of weekly Q&A Mailbag sessions with Summit Racings tech department, in which there are hundreds more. Click here to see them all.

Share this Article
Author: Dave Matthews

Dave Matthews was a mechanic for the U.S. Army, a Ford dealership, and served for many years as a fleet mechanic for construction companies. Now a technical content producer at Summit Racing, Dave has spent decades working on everything from military vehicles to high performance race machines.