Do You Have An Oil Leak Under Your Car or Truck?
Posted by Michael Manning on
Learn How to Diagnose the Oil Slick By Its Location From the Engine
An engine oil leak can be fairly small—or one that’s pretty catastrophic. Although the smaller ones are preferable to large ones, you’ll want to investigate any situation where there’s an engine leaking oil and, as part of the troubleshooting process, you’ll likely ask yourself the following questions, among others:
- Why is my car leaking oil?
- Where is my car leaking oil from?
- Is an oil leak serious?
- Can I drive with this leak?
- What will happen if the oil runs out?
Before we provide answers to those questions, here are a few common signs of a car leaking oil.
Often, you first suspect a leak when you see dark puddles beneath your car. If the drips or puddles are more colorful—perhaps blue, green, orange, or pink—then this is likely an antifreeze leak. Going back to our oil leak diagnostics, a dashboard light will often come on to warn you of a problem. Still other times, your engine may smoke, have the smell of burning oil or even overheat.
So, no matter which signs trigger your suspicion of an oil leak, what do you do next?
It’s important to fix leaks of any size because, if an engine leaking oil runs out of the fluid, then the engine itself will ultimately fail. Oil is what lubricates the multiple fast-moving parts inside of the engine and, without this fluid, the parts will grind against one another and generate too much heat. The vehicle will stall out and the engine might be seriously damaged. So, a car leaking oil should have the issue promptly addressed.
Why is My Car Leaking Oil?
Where is My Car Leaking Oil From?
A range of reasons exists for an oil leak with some of the more common ones including a worn-out engine gasket or seal, a damaged oil pan, or an old oil filter. Incorrectly installed gaskets and seals also cause problems. Plus, even a new vehicle can develop a leak if there’s a manufacturing defect. To find out the problem with your vehicle, park it on level ground and allow the engine to cool down if you’ve been driving. Remove your keys from the ignition, too.
Place newspapers or a sheet of cardboard beneath the vehicle and look at what drips onto it to verify that it’s oil instead of other fluids. An engine leaking oil may lose thin, slippery, amber-colored fluid with a chemical smell. If the fluid is dark and gritty, this can still be oil: dirty oil. Also, use a dipstick to see if oil levels are lower in your vehicle than they should be. Does this fluid look like what’s dripping out of your vehicle?
Once the engine feels cool to the back of your hand (wear gloves so you don’t burn yourself if you check too quickly), disconnect your battery at the negative terminal. Put on a pair of safety glasses and use an air compressor to blow away dirt. You may then decide to use an engine cleaner to degrease the engine so you can make a good visual inspection.
Wait half an hour after cleaning to give your engine time to leak fresh oil and then you can inspect it for leaks. You may quickly discover the source. For example, if oil goes all over the engine, there could be a gasket leak. Or it may take more time to trace signs of oil to its source. Plus, although it’s a good sign when you find a leak’s source, remember that more than one can exist, so do a thorough investigation.
As an alternate route, you may decide to use tracer dye to find the leak. This dye glows in response to ultra-violet light. Mix it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, add it with the recommended volume of engine oil, and then let it run through the engine. Put on special glasses and then you can use a UV light to spot the dye and any corresponding engine oil leak.
After you find the problem(s), the answer to two more of our questions—"Is an oil leak serious?” and “Can I drive with this leak?”—may become more apparent. If, for example, you have a large puddle of oil on the driveway and the dipstick shows low amounts of fluid, then you may not have enough oil to lubricate your engine. In this case, the situation is likely to be serious, and driving the vehicle could damage the engine. If, on the other hand, you have a smaller and/or slower leak, you may be able to top off the oil and get to where you can remedy the problem.
Partsology to the Rescue
When you have engine oil leaks, Partsology has the high-quality parts you need at amazing prices—delivered the next day with the finest of customer service. Plus, if you have any questions, our customer service team is fast, friendly, and ultra-responsive. To get the information you need, please contact us at 844-800-6866. Whether it’s a leaky oil pan gasket, valve cover, or something else, we’ll provide the parts and answers you need to get your oil leak repaired, ASAP.