As you are about to leave for work, you notice a puddle of oil under your car. Even they are a few drops, the discovery of oil leaks under your car is unnerving, not to mention the messy leaks that can make your driveway look terrible. So, what should a responsible car owner do in such a scenario? Getting the leak fixed, might sound like the most accurate answer, but discovering were the leak is coming from should be your 1st port of call. It doesn’t necessarily always take a trained mechanic to figure out what is causing an engine oil leak. A little hunting tends to reveal a lot, just make it a point not to put it off or it will most likely cause costly damage to your engine. Leaks left unchecked can corrode rubber hoses or seals, causing them to degrade prematurely. If you fail to find the leak, a professional mechanic will be able to pinpoint the origins of the leak for you.
Common reasons why your car might be leaking oil
Before we get into the most common reasons why your car might be leaking oil, a quick disclaimer: There are different types of cars on the road, all of which can develop leaks from a whole host of locations. As such, this list simply covers some of the most common leaks.
Engine oil leaks are usually caused by a bad seal or gasket, they can be due to damaged parts, such as a damaged oil pan. If you find your car has an oil leak, the source may be one or more of the following:
1. Oil pan gasket
The oil pan gasket provides a seal between to oil pan and the engine block. When this gasket fails, the oil will leak without a doubt and this is one of the most common locations for an oil.
2. valve cover gasket
On top of the engine, you’ll find a valve cover, its purpose is protecting the components inside the cylinder head. As is the case with the 1st reason, this gasket provides a seal between the cylinder head and valve cover. Failure of this component will also result in an oil leak.
3. Front and rear crankshaft seals
A crankshaft is an internal engine component that protrudes slightly from both ends of the engine. Seals that prevent oil from leaking from the engine, sit at both ends of the crankshaft. These seals are referred to as the front and rear main seals, and tend to fail, causing engine leaks.
4. Oil filter and oil drain plug
Every time engine oil is changed, the oil drain plug is removed to let the old oil out and then reinstalled when new oil is being added. At this same time, the oil filter is also replaced. Since these components are tampered with so often, they are frequently the source of leaks.
5. Timing cover gasket or seal
Although some engines are timing belt driven, most modern engines now use timing chains. So that the timing chain runs smoothly, it is lubricated with oil and there is a timing cover n place to protect the timing chain. The timing cover gasket or seal keep oil inside the timing cover and if these fail, a leak is a result
6. Camshaft seals
Camshaft seal leaks are common in engines that use timing belts to keep the camshaft and crankshaft in sync. Much like the crankshaft, the car’s camshafts are on the inside of the engine. Overhead camshaft engines have two camshafts, both of which protrude a bit to provide a mounting point for the timing gears and sprockets. A camshaft seal is fitted at the end of each camshaft and prevents oil from leaking out of the engine.
7. Cylinder head gasket
Head gaskets are the most commonly known cause of internal leaks, which usually result in issues such as coolant-oil intermixing. But head gaskets are also known to leak both engine oil and coolant externally, as well.
8. Oil filter adapter housing gasket or seal
The car’s oil filter is designed such that it screws onto an adapter housing. And that housing usually has a gasket or seal behind it that tends to develop leaks over time. If your car has a cartridge-style oil filter, leaks may also stem from the oil filter housing cap or its seal.
The leak could be something other than engine oil
Just because it looks like engine oil, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is engine oil. Cars have a lot of fluids and it can be difficult to tell them apart – especially once they have gone to the ground. For instance, your car uses transmission fluid, brake fluid, and coolant. Many vehicles also have power steering fluid, differential fluid, and transferase fluid. All of those fluids tend to leak, due to worn out or broken parts.
Should you be unfortunate enough to find a puddle under your engine, take a closer look and if the liquid is red it’s most likely transmission fluid. If the liquid is green or orange and has a sweet scent, it is very likely to be coolant, and brown or black oily fluid will indicate an engine oil leak.
A leak of any kind on your vehicle should be sorted out immediately, but an engine oil leak should be looked at as a matter of utmost urgency. Knowing what is causing an engine oil leak will help you know where to look and how best to get it fixed. Please don’t ignore a leak, and hope it resolves itself. Sorting out oil leaks protects and preserves your vehicle and keeps it on the road where it’s meant to be.
In the end, we recommend to check your car by a professional, Repair Smith is an on-demand car repair service with a cool blog that can help you understand most of these issues, check here: https://www.repairsmith.com/