To ensure that the engine of your car runs smoothly and efficiently, all fluids should be kept at their optimum level.
People often complain that when they drive the car out of the garage, they find a puddle of oil underneath and are confused as to whether or not to continue driving the car.
To be clear: An oil leak can severely affect the performance of the engine and the car, but more importantly, it’s quite dangerous because the leak can cause a fire that could endanger your life. If you notice a fluid leak in your car, it is strongly recommended that you do not drive your car and investigate the source of the leak. In this article we will discuss the possible reasons for the engine oil leak and how to fix the problem.
Identify the Type of Leak
Most motorists who see a liquid leaking from their car conclude that it is engine oil. However, your engine relies on many different types of fluids, and here are some tips to help determine what type of fluid is actually leaking.
Dark brown or yellow color: If the fluid is dark brown or yellow and has a slippery texture, it is most likely engine oil.
Pink or red: If the liquid is pink or red in colour and has a slippery texture, it is most likely transmission oil. Some antifreeze fluids are also red or pink.
Green or orange: A sweet-smelling green or orange coloured liquid is most likely an antifreeze. It could also be power steering fluid if it feels more like oil than water.
Clear or translucent: A liquid that has no specific color and is clear is most likely power steering fluid.
Engine Oil Leak Causes
There could be many different causes and locations for your oil leak. Here are some of the most common possible reasons for an oil leak in your engine compartment.
1. Damaged Oil Filter
A faulty or damaged oil filter is sometimes the culprit that causes the leak. Check the oil filter to see if it is correctly aligned and mounted or if there is a risk of leakage. Please note that the oil filter should be changed every time the oil is changed.
2. Faulty Oil Drain Plug:
The oil drain plug is located at the bottom of the oil sump and is accessible from the underside of the vehicle. A worn or damaged drain plug can cause the oil to leak. To check this, check the drain plug to see if fresh oil has settled on the plug.
3. Bad Valve Cover Gasket:
Valve covers are located on the top of the engine cylinder head and serve as a seal to prevent oil leakage. The valve cover gaskets tend to wear out after some time, so oil may drip from them.
4. Damaged Oil Pan:
The oil pan is located at the bottom of the engine. It will be damaged over time as debris hits the bottom of the pan and leaves dents. When the seal loosens, the oil starts to leak from the oil pan.
5. Poor Oil Quality:
Poor or cheap quality oil does not contain the right additives and conditioners to keep the engine components in good condition. Make sure you choose the right type of oil for your car to extend the life of the engine. The wrong type of engine oil can create a faulty oil pressure on your engine and lead to an oil leak.
6. Cracked Cylinder Head:
This is not common, but can be a major cause of oil leakage in old cars. If the engine cylinder head is cracked, oil can leak from the engine and even enter the cooling system. In such a situation, check your oil cap or coolant cap to make sure the cylinder head is not damaged.
7. Damaged Head Gasket:
A damaged head gasket with holes can cause oil to leak into the transmission system. If this is the case, check your gasket and have it replaced to correct the problem.
8. Main Seal
The main seal is responsible for ensuring that the oil does not leak out at the front of the crankshaft while driving. It is located behind the main disc and should be removed to diagnose the problem. The nut or bolt holding the main disc is usually very tight, so removing it may require a little bit of effort.
How to Prevent Oil Leakages?
Regular maintenance and routine oil service are sufficient to keep your car’s engine in good condition and prevent any oil leakage. If you have problems with any of the above mentioned parts, it is recommended to change only this particular part to avoid high costs. You can also use special additives which are effective and help to prevent oil leaks. If you want to look at one of these additives, you can find it here at Amazon: ATP AT-205 Re-Seal Stops Leaks, 8 Ounce Bottle
If you notice other symptoms and the problem does not occur in the above-mentioned areas, we advise you to take the car to an authorized dealer for inspection.
Engine Oil Leak Symptoms
Now that you know what engine oil feels like and looks like, it is advisable to know how your car reacts when it loses engine oil. Here are the 5 most important symptoms that can help you determine if your car is losing engine fluid and needs serious treatment.
Oil deposits under the car
When you take your car out of the parking lot or garage, check if there is a dark brown or yellow liquid under the car. If you see such a liquid, the car has definitely leaked engine oil.
Smoke from the engine compartment
If you notice smoke from the engine compartment while driving, this means that there is an oil leak. This happens when the oil enters the exhaust manifold, which leads to smoke. If you leave this problem unattended for a long time, the seal may fail.
Blue smoke from the exhaust
Look for blue smoke from the exhaust pipe, which indicates an oil leak into the engine itself.
The smell of burnt oil
If the engine oil leaks onto other hot engine components, you will notice a bad smell of burning oil and also hear a noise indicating that there is a problem.
The engine oil ensures that the engine temperature remains optimal. If there is a leak, the pistons are not lubricated properly, which leads to the engine heating up. If this remains neglected for a longer period of time, the engine can become stuck and stall.