Why Is Your Car Leaking Oil, And What Should You Do?
It’s a sight we all dread; that little puddle of oil glistening on the tarmac when we return to our parked car. Is it OK to drive your car if it has an oil leak? Is there anything you can do about it yourself? In this article, the Country Vehicles team looks at engine oil leaks, their causes, and what to do about them.
Recognising Engine Oil Leaks
The puddle of oil on the tarmac is easy to spot, but there are plenty of other symptoms that you may not recognise as being engine oil related. Here’s a quick check list of things to watch out for:
- Puddle Under the Car. This is quite a giveaway, but it’s always worth checking whether the oil is actually from your car and not someone who parked there before you. You can check by placing a piece of cardboard over the oil to see if there are further drips.
- Dashboard Warning. The red oil can, or similar symbol, will flash on your dashboard if your engine oil level, or oil pressure is low. It may be that you simply need to top up your oil, but if it occurs more than once, there could be a leak.
- Smoky Engine. This is a sign that oil is dripping onto an engine component and creating smoke as a result. It needs to be investigated.
- Bad Smell. The smell of burning engine oil is extremely unpleasant and acrid, so you will definitely notice it if it occurs. You should stop driving and investigate.
- Engine Overheating. This could be down to low oil levels which are reducing lubrication and therefore creating friction which generates heat. An overheating engine should always be attended to promptly.
How Much of a Problem is An Oil Leak?
Oil is an important component in the overall performance of your car. A leak will lower the amount available to lubricate vital engine parts and this will lead to overheating which – if not dealt with – could cause engine seizure. Even a small engine leak needs attention, therefore. Getting your local garage to take a look the moment you notice an oil leak, could save you a sizeable repair bill further down the line.
7 Causes of Engine Oil Leaks
There are many reasons why your car may be leaking oil, and the best way to achieve clarity is to get a mechanic to take a look at the engine. The reasons we see most regularly for oil leaks are listed below:
- Oil Filter. A poor fitting or rusty oil filter is often the cause of engine oil leaks. A change of oil filter is part of car servicing, so get this done regularly to avoid the problem.
- Valve Cover Gasket. These are designed to stop oil from leaking, and you’ll find it at the top of the cylinder head. They naturally wear with time and can be replaced easily.
- Drain Plug. These should be replaced at each oil change. If they’re not replaced the o-ring may start to leak. This is located under the car and can be tightened up or changed easily.
- Oil Pressure Sensor. This is a component that may be made of plastic, so it’s vulnerable to cracking or deterioration over time. It’s very simple to replace.
- Oil Pan. Located on the underside of the engine, the oil pan can easily be damaged by debris from the road hitting against it. This is a common cause of oil leaks; it’s fairly easy to diagnose and fix.
- Cylinder Head Gasket. If you have a problem with your head gasket, the damage could allow oil to leak into other parts of the engine. This needs urgent attention.
- Loose Oil Reservoir Cap. This is the cap that you use when testing your oil levels. If it’s not fitted back properly, or you forget to put it back on, you’ll have an oil leak with a very simple remedy.
What to do if You Have an Engine Oil Leak
This depends on how well you know your way around your car’s engine. Many of the fixes for oil leaks are simple to carry out, if you know what you’re doing. If not, take your car along to a local garage to be checked over as soon as you’re aware of the leak. If you’re worried about driving the car, let them know, rather than taking the risk.
Country Vehicles is a Local Garage in South Bedfordshire
Country Vehicles Shefford is ideally placed if you need an engine oil leak checked out in South Bedfordshire. We’re an independent garage with a local reputation for friendly customer service, a team of excellent technicians, and prompt servicing or repairs on any vehicle.
Worried about oil engine leaks? Call Country Vehicles in Shefford on 01234 381555, drop in to see us, or contact us online.