Why Is My Car Leaking Oil? Top Causes And How To Fix It

Why Is My Car Leaking Oil Top Causes And How To Fix It

First, why is my car leaking oil?

In order to reduce friction in your engine, oil is used. Your engine is functioning properly without rubbing against one another and causing corrosion when you have high-quality, clean oil that is doing its job properly. But over time, oil gets contaminated and loses its viscosity. It becomes dirty, to put it simply. And when that occurs, it loses its capacity to reduce friction, which means that the parts of your engine will literally be wearing down one another, leading to erosion and possibly serious mechanical failures.

It’s commonly believed that changing your car’s oil is the single most crucial maintenance step you can take. Nevertheless, a lot of car owners put off doing it, and the consequences of doing so can be disastrous.

Common Reasons Why Your Car Might Be Leaking Oil

Soon we’ll discuss the typical causes of oil leaks in cars. An immediate disclaimer, though: There are countless varieties of cars on the road, and leaks can appear in any number of places. Because of this, this list is not exhaustive; rather, it just covers some of the most typical leaks, like an oil leak from the timing cover and an oil leak in the engine’s front.

Although damaged parts, like a cracked oil pan, can also be to blame, the most common cause of engine oil leaks is a poor seal or gasket. Your car’s engine oil leak could be caused by any of the following:

Damaged Engine Gaskets Or Pans

Things in your car’s undercarriage are susceptible to damage from road debris. For instance, the oil pan, which is situated at the bottom of the engine, serves as a reservoir for the engine’s cooling, lubrication, and cleaning fluids. The oil pan may leak due to damage from debris or road imperfections. Due to wear and tear, extremes of cold and heat, and other road damage, the gasket that seals the pan frequently gives way to leaks. Finding and fixing these leaks can be challenging.

In order to keep the oil inside the engine, valve covers are sealed with cork-like or rubber gaskets. Rubber products, particularly in harsh climates, wear out and become dry and brittle, making it impossible for them to form an effective seal, which causes leaks.

Improper Installation

The drain plug is found at the base of the oil pan on your car. This apparatus, which is a necessary part, is taken out countless times over the course of your car’s life in order to change the oil. Leaks may also be caused by a drain plug that is improperly installed, overtightened, or too loose.

Missing Or Damaged Filler Cap

Your engine can be filled with oil right there, where the oil filler cap is located. Remove the cap to check the oil level and see if your car is leaking any. Significant leakage will occur if the cap’s seal is worn out, damaged, loose, or missing. When you check your oil, look at the seal’s condition. If the seal is damaged or worn, replace the cap.

Valve Cover Gasket

Your valve cover gasket may not be working properly if the engine is dripping oil from the top.

On top of your engine, you’ll find a valve cover protecting the components inside the cylinder head. The cylinder head and valve cover are sealed together by a gasket, as you might have guessed. It’s important to remember that Inline engines have a single valve cover (along with a single valve cover gasket), whereas V-style engines have two. 

The valve cover gasket deteriorates over time and loses some of its ability to keep the oil out. If the area around the valve cover gasket is covered in oil, this means it’s time to replace the part

Front And Rear Crankshaft Seals

An internal engine component that extends just a little bit from the engine’s ends is the crankshaft. It can serve as a mounting point for the flywheel or flexplate as well as the external harmonic balancer by protruding slightly from the chassis. At both ends of the crankshaft are seals that keep oil from escaping the engine. The front and rear main seals are common names for these.

Oil may start to assemble on the engine’s underside if the crankshaft seal leak is minor. However, if the leak is significant, there might be an obvious oil leak in the engine’s front.

Oil Filter And Oil Drain Plug

Every time you get your oil changed, the oil drain plug is removed then reinstalled. In conjunction with this, the oil filter is changed. It goes without saying that since these components are altered so frequently, leaks frequently originate from them.

Timing Cover Gasket Or Seal

While some engines have a timing belt, the majority of modern applications use a timing chain. Oil is used to lubricate the timing chain, which is covered to keep it safe. Oil is kept in its proper location by the timing cover gasket or seal: inside the timing cover.

Timing cover gaskets deteriorate over time, just like many other auto parts. Oil from the timing cover interior may start to leak as the gasket ages. In some cases, the gasket is not worn out; rather, it’s the timing cover itself.

Timing cover leaks are frequently to blame for oil leaks coming from the front center of the engine. To determine whether the timing cover or timing cover gasket needs to be replaced to stop your oil leak, a mechanic will need to examine your car.

Why Is My Car Leaking Oil Top Causes And How To Fix It
Why Is My Car Leaking Oil? Top Causes And How To Fix It

Camshaft Seals

Engines that use a timing belt to keep the camshaft and crankshaft in synchrony frequently experience leaks in the camshaft seal. The camshafts in your car are located inside the engine, similar to the crankshaft. The timing gears or sprockets are mounted on the camshafts of overhead camshaft engines, which have two (or more). To stop oil from leaking out of the engine, a camshaft seal is fitted around the end of each camshaft.

If the leak is coming from the camshaft, oil should be visible below the valve cover at the back of the engine. Smoke can begin to billow out of the engine compartment due to a significant camshaft leak. On occasion, you might even detect smoke without seeing it. If you have an oil leak, a mechanic can examine your car to see if the leak is being caused by a worn-out or damaged camshaft seal.

Cylinder Head Gasket

More often than not, head gaskets are blamed for internal leaks, which can lead to problems like coolant consumption and coolant-oil mixing. Head gaskets, however, can also externally leak coolant and engine oil. Flat engines, also referred to as boxer engines (we’re looking at you, Subaru), are particularly prone to this issue.

Oil Filter Adapter Housing Gasket Or Seal

The oil filter for your car is secured by a screw to an adapter housing. And guess what? Behind that housing is typically a gasket or seal that is prone to leaks. The oil filter housing cap or its seal may also be the source of leaks if your car has a cartridge-style oil filter.

Identify Where Your Car Is Leaking Oil

A brown, greasy spot in your driveway, parking space, or garage used to be the most obvious indication that you had an oil leak. However, many modern cars today have protective shielding that frequently catches the oil before it touches the ground. That might be good for your driveway, but it’s not so good for you when you’re trying to find a potential big leak. Leakage is most definitely indicated by low oil levels. You should frequently check your oil levels as a result.

Open the hood and take a closer look if you notice an oily engine, which is usually a sign that your engine is dripping oil. Extra greasy parts might be a sign of engine seepage from a variety of locations. The smell of burning oil is the very last and most conclusive sign that your car is leaking oil. Due to the engine’s high temperature, when oil leaks onto its various surfaces, it burns and gives off an unpleasant odor.

How To Spot An Oil Leak At Home?

There are a few clear-cut signs and symptoms of oil leaks in cars. A quick scan of the area will reveal the signs, which may include: 

Smoking From Engine

A malfunctioning cooling system, wiring issues, or fluid leaks are a few of the potential causes of engine smoke. For instance, when engine oil, brake fluid, or transmission fluid leaks onto a hot engine component, it can cause smoke.

Pull over where it’s safe to do so if you notice your engine smoking. Immediately after stopping the engine, allow it to cool. Next, lift the hood to reveal the issue. Additionally, wait until you can see flames before using the fire extinguisher. If not, the extinguisher will cause more damage than good. 

Overheating Of Engine

Engine oil serves as a coolant in addition to a lubricant and a filter. As it passes through the various parts, it cools the engine. The level of oil drops along with a reduction in cooling effect when there is an oil leak. The engine might overheat as a result of this. 

Smell Of Burning Oil 

Other engine components may be damaged by oil that leaks from the valve cover. And, since they are piping hot when driving, they create a burning oil smell. Burning oil under your hood is likely the source of any unpleasant odors you may notice.

Read about: How To Check Car Oil In The Easy Step-by-step Way?

Oil Is Spilling

The most noticeable sign of an oil leak are oil spills. Any spill or splatter under your car will be caused by leaks in your car. You might see a few drops or a tiny puddle, depending on how severe the leak is. Whichever it is, an oil puddle directly beneath your car indicates that there is an oil leak in the engine. And you need to get it checked out right away.

Checking Engine Oil Light On

Another indication of an oil leak is if your dashboard’s check engine oil light is on. It is the ideal oil leak indicator because it is only intended to light up when the oil level is too low. If the light appears while you are driving, stop and check your car. Look for oil spills if it illuminates when you turn on your car. 

Check the oil level in any situation where the check engine oil light comes on.

Can You Operate A Vehicle That Is Leaking Oil?

If the engine is dripping oil from the top or bottom, you shouldn’t operate the vehicle. Why? Oil is a flammable liquid that can ignite under certain conditions. If the oil burns, a fire could possibly break out, destroying the vehicle. 

There are other reasons why you shouldn’t operate an oil-leaking vehicle in addition to this one. Additionally, an oil leak can hasten the premature hose and seal wear, necessitating their replacement earlier than anticipated. 

A leak could also cause you to lose all of your oil. While you are driving, even a small leak could grow quickly to be a significant leak. Operating a vehicle that is low on oil could seriously damage the engine.  

For these reasons, if your car is leaking oil, it’s best to stop driving it right away. As soon as you can, get in touch with a qualified mechanic to fix the oil leak and stop further harm.

Are Repairs For Oil Leaks Costly?

Depending on the underlying issue that is causing the leak, the cost of repairs to fix an oil leak will vary.

For instance, replacing the oil pan gasket might set you back a few hundred dollars. However, the cost of fixing an oil leak in the timing belt will be higher. 

You should always request an upfront estimate of the cost of repairs because the price can vary significantly.

How To Fix An Engine Oil Leak In Your Car?

Unchecked leaks can get on rubber hoses or seals, causing them to age prematurely. In addition to being an environmental risk, oil leaks can leave unsightly stains on your driveway. Not that there is ever a good time for catastrophic engine failure, but the worst of all is that engine oil leaks pose a fire risk in your engine compartment and can cause catastrophic engine failure at the worst possible time. Your top priority should therefore be to stop oil leaks.

Keep a close eye on your oil dipstick to look for engine oil leaks.If the level gradually decreases, oil is being lost. (Opens a new window) While driving, look to see if the tailpipe is emitting blue smoke. A leak into the engine itself could be the cause of blue smoke. Take a whiff to check for burning oil after a drive. This could indicate that oil is dripping onto hot engine parts. Finally, especially after it has been left sitting over night, look for the typical oil stains or puddle under the engine compartment.

Look a little closer if you see a puddle under the engine. Transmission fluid is most likely present if the liquid is red. Coolant is to blame if the fluid is green or orange and smells sweet. An engine oil leak will show up as brown fluid.


The post talked about why is my car leaking oil.

The small oil puddle that is growing under your car is easier to ignore, yes. Alternately, act as if your engine isn’t where you’re smelling burnt oil. And does your tailpipe emit any blue smoke at all?

You simply cannot afford to ignore oil leaks. It doesn’t always take a trained mechanic to figure out what causes engine oil leaksJust don’t put it off or it can damage your engine.

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