Is Your Car Leaking Oil? Learn How To Deal With It

Automotive Blog

You may notice that your car is leaking oil due to something as small as an oil stain on your driveway. When you notice a warning sign, it is important to take care of the problem quickly for several reasons. An oil leak is harmful to the environment, can cause serious damage to your car's engine, cost money in the form of frequent oil changes, and even be a fire hazard if the oil leak is near your car's exhaust system.

Why Does Your Car Leak Oil?

While any car is capable of having an oil leak, it is common with older cars. This is because the gaskets used for your car's oil system will shrink and harden over the years as they get older. It can cause an oil leak to start out very small, but eventually become worse as the gasket deterioration gets worse.

Some warning signs of an oil leak include:

  • needing to refill the oil by more than 1 quart between oil changes
  • large oil puddles forming underneath your car.
  • blue smoke that is coming from the car's exhaust system, which is a sign of the engine burning oil.
  • smoke or a burning smell that originates from your car's engine.

If you notice any of these signs, take your vehicle to an auto shop and have the problem officially diagnosed.  You may be mistaking an oil leak for dirty transmission fluid, which is a whole other problem you'll need to deal with.

How Are Oil Leaks Detected?

A mechanic will check the places where gaskets and seals are used to separate the different components of your car's engine. Leaks can be very hard to find though, because the leaks are not always directly above where the oil is dripping to the ground.

Popular techniques that mechanics use involve applying talcum powder to a running engine to see where fresh leaks are originating from, or adding a fluorescent dye to your engine oil. The dye will glow a bright color when under ultraviolet light, and will help pinpoint the smallest leaks.

How Are Oil Leaks Fixed?

Repairing oil leaks may be as easy as replacing components or seals that are leaking, but not all components and seals are in easy-to-reach areas. Repairing an oil leak can require partially removing your engine to get to the leaking component.

Your mechanic will be able to diagnose where the oil leak is coming from, and give you an estimate of how much the repairs will cost before proceeding.


30 July 2015