Why is My Car Leaking Oil?

close-up of a mechanic checking the oil level in a car

Getting Oil Leak Repair

Besides having air in the tires and gas in the gas tank, a car needs motor oil to function. And like when the air leaks from the tires and they go flat, when the oil leaks from the motor, it quits working. Just like when a tire leaks oil, you have it repaired. When the engine has an oil leak, getting oil leak repair as quickly as possible is important. 

Is it normal for oil to leak from a car? Or is a car oil leak serious?

A few drops of motor oil under your car may not seem like a big issue, but it can become an expensive problem if an oil leak repair isn’t completed soon. The engine could begin ‘knocking’ which is when the internal metal components are rubbing together without lubrication. The engine can ‘freeze’, which is the result of those components not being lubricated, they quit moving. 

The accumulated oil leak will also degrade the rubber components on your car, creating more repairs, and can be a fire and safety hazard too as you drive down the road. And any of these scenarios can leave you and your passengers breaking down on the side of the road.

Additionally, the oil stains have an impact on the aesthetics of your home and then there are the environmental issues of not getting that oil leak repaired. That motor oil leaking from your car contains a mixture of toxic substances, including arsenic, lead, and zinc that are flaked or shaved off metal from the engine. 

When those oil leaks are washed off with rain or when you water the lawn, those substances seep into the ground and sewage system, making their way to the public water system and waterways. This affects the environment for animals, fish, and plants. By not getting an oil leak repaired, the repercussions are ongoing and even back into the food we eat. 

Where does a car oil leak come from?

There are a few common areas where an oil leak repair may be needed: 

  • Engine gaskets are degrading
  • The oil pan is leaking around the gasket
  • Various seals are improperly installed or worn-out s
  • The oil pan drain plug is defective or missing
  • Valve cover gaskets are worn and deteriorating
  • Oil filter is defective or loose
  • A hole in the oil pan

Why does a vehicle leak oil?

Here are four possible reasons for a car oil leak that need your attention for oil leak repair soon: 

  1. WORN-OUT OIL FILTER: A common problem that requires an oil leak repair is when the oil filter has come loose, when it’s developed a leak, or when it’s degraded and worn out. The oil is needed to filter any contaminants in the oil before they get inside the motor. After thousands of miles, they aren’t filtering as well and become full oil, then start leaking.  It is important to get the oil changed as recommended by the manufacturer or your mechanic is important. 
  2. A BROKEN OR LOOSE FILLER CAP: The filler cap is where oil is poured into the engine and if the cap breaks or comes loose, the oil will run out and onto the ground while the car is parked. Or driving the car with a broken or loose oil cap will allow the oil to blow all over the engine. This is a quick oil leak repair if you don’t wait to long. 
  3. A BROKEN OIL PAN GASKET: A car engine has several gaskets throughout to keep the fluids used where they belong. Those fluids include the coolant, gasoline, and most importantly, the oil. Leak repairs for all these fluids is important to maintain the car’s integrity. 
  4. OVERFILLING OIL: This can be a simple mistake by pouring oil into the reservoir without checking the oil level first. If you have noticed oil puddles but there aren’t any lights on the dashboard, it is probably due to too much engine oil added. An easy oil leak repair is to drain some of the oil out. 

Can a car oil leak be fixed?

Yes, in most cases, an oil leak repair is possible. What kind of repair will depend on how bad the leak is and where it is located, it may be an expensive oil leak repair, but it may be a simple oil leak repair you can do. 

After you have inspected all possible problems and determine it isn’t anything major, like a cracked engine block, it is time to find out what to do with a car oil leak yourself. A few possible oil leak repairs are: 

  • USING AN ADDITIVE: Sometimes a miracle fix for cars is additives. Like those that can stop leaks in tires, there are products on the market that can stop an oil leak. These are products that condition and soften the rubber seals anywhere motor oil goes and can sometimes stop the oil leak. It isn’t always a quick fix; you may have to drive the car for a while for that additive to work into the motor. 
  • FIXING IT WITH TOOLS: If the additive solution doesn’t work at the oil pan, that is an oil leak that needs a new oil pan gasket or maybe the oil pan needs to be replaced. You’ll need to drive your car up a set of ramps, making sure you have help, or jack it up and place it on jack stands. With a few basic hand tools and a torque wrench, you can loosen the bolts holding the oil pan, replace the gasket, and reposition the oil pan, tightening up the bolts. The service manual will provide more information that will tell you how tight the bolts should be when you reposition the oil pan.
  • TIME TO TEST: Now that you feel the oil leak repair is complete and the problem is fixed, it is time to check the oil level. Make sure it has the recommended amount per the manual or the manufacturer’s recommendation. Start the engine and allow it to run for a few minutes. Check the oil while the motor is running and inspect the engine top and bottom for oil leaks. If you don’t find any, you have completed your oil leak repair.

 How much is it to repair an oil leak?

Not the words you want to hear, but it depends. The make, model, type, and year of the vehicle are the first key factors for an oil leak repair.  The next, and maybe most crucial factor is where the leak is located.  You could have an oil leak repaired for under $200 and it could cost up to $1500.00 or more.

close-up of a mechanic pouring oil into a car engine

Before You Hit the Road: Can you drive with an oil leak?

Is it just a small leak, a few drops of oil on the driveway, then yes, a short distance of 10 miles or so to the mechanic shouldn’t create any major damage. With a more severe leak, it is recommended not to drive the car and call for towing service to take it to your mechanic.