How To Spot an Oil Leak

Posted by Zane Winberg on

An oil leak should never go ignored. What starts out as a small problem can quickly turn into bigger issues, even cause damage that is irreversible to your car’s engine. If you suspect your car’s oil is leaking, make finding and fixing it your number one priority. With a little time and investigation, you can reveal a lot.

Causes of an Oil Leak

There are many different things that lead to an oil leak and can sometimes be difficult to identify. To take out some of the guesswork, here are common causes of oil leaks:

Valve Gasket - Over time and lots of miles on a car, gaskets can become damaged which does not allow for a proper seal causing a leak.

Oil Drain Plug - Each oil pan has a drain plug. A worn out, misaligned, or loose plug can cause an oil leak.

Oil Pan - A oil pan can become damaged by road debris and rocks and cause leaks.

Oil Filler Cap - A missing, loose, or broken cap can lead to a leak because oil can easily spill.

Oil Filter - Filters can be installed improperly, loose, or wear out causing a leak. Be sure your filter is changed and checked for correct fitting each time your oil is changed to avoid future leaks.


How to Spot an Oil Leak

Spotting an oil leak can be extremely obvious or not at all. Here are a few ways to spot an oil leak, big or small:

Stains or Puddles - The most obvious indicator of an oil leak is a brown puddle or stain under the engine compartment of your car.

Low Engine Oil Level - Check your vehicle’s engine oil often. If you notice the level on your dipstick drops over time, you’re losing oil.

Blue Smoke - Blue smoke from your tailpipe is often an indicator that oil is leaking into the engine.

Burnt Oil Scent - If you smell burning oil after you’ve driven your vehicle, oil could be leaking onto hot parts of your engine.


Fixing an Oil Leak

If you notice any signs of an oil leak, the best thing you can do is address it! Keep in mind that the first sign of an oil leak does not necessarily mean you have a major, expensive problem. As previously mentioned, it is very important to address an oil leak sooner than later. If your car’s oil has not dropped below the minimum, there should be no problems or risk associated with driving your car. Although, it is wise to remember that small leaks can quickly become big leaks which can cause damage to your engine. So, it’s best to reduce your driving as much as possible until you are able to address the oil leak. Unless you have the right knowledge and tools, you may want to leave the detective work and repairs to a pro.

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