You quickly pull out of your driveway on the way to work and notice a dark spot on the ground that you could have sworn was not there last night. Uh-oh, you guessed it – an oil leak. We’ll go over the steps of learning how to fix an oil leak so your car can continue running safely and at a high level!
Drivers should first know the main causes of an oil leak, like broken seals, a admage gasket, damaged oil filter, leaking oil pan, or blown head gasket, before figuring out the steps of how to fix an oil leak.
Once drivers identify the causes of an oil leak, they should take note of oil leak symptoms, like low oil levels, visible leaks, smoke from the exhaust pipe, or an overheating engine.
Causes of An Oil Leak
Broken Seals or Damaged Gasket
Once you stop driving and your car is parked, a car’s engine block and the head will be hot from the heat generated while driving. The metal components expand when they’re heated, which in turn, puts pressure on the seals and gaskets.
The engine seals and gaskets are meant to prevent an oil leakage. However, once the engine begins to cool down, the metals contract, which leaves gaps between the seals and the metal parts. These gaps can cause an oil leakage, since there won’t be enough pressure to prevent an oil spill.
Taking your car to an auto shop to see a mechanic can help teach you the steps of how to fix an oil leak if you notice broken seals or a damaged gasket. By fixing the gaps between the seals of the metal parts in the engine, you can prevent the leak from getting any worse.
Damaged Oil Filter or Oil Pan
If your oil filter is damaged, the oil can leak as it runs through the filter and flows into the car’s engine. If it isn’t the oil filter but the oil pan is damaged, this can leave a puddle of oil under your car after you’re done driving.
When your vehicle is going over lower-lying portions of the road or roads with potholes, an oil pan can become dented if it is hit with enough force to cause some damage. The aftermath of this trauma can be a quick leak that occurs when the car is parked that slowly gets worse over time.
Oil Pan Function
The oil pan gasket is the part in your car that seals the oil paint to the engine block’s bottom part. The oil pan gasket prevents the motor oil from leaking out as it moves to the pan and to the motor. The oil pan gasket mechanism consists of a gasket body containing a large air cylinder hole in the middle of the gasket body, an asbestos pad layer, and a coating.
When looking at how to fix an oil leak, sometimes this will require replacing the oil pan or oil gasket in your vehicle. The general range is between $100 and $350 for the oil pan gasket replacement cost, but there are some types of vehicles where the replacement cost is much more depending on the labor cost. For parts, it is generally between $40 and $150, with the main range betting between $110 and $150, and the labor depending on where you take your vehicle.
Oil Pan Plug Is Misaligned
Your oil pan plug can be damaged if you see that it has stripped threads or it is not properly inserted or fully tightened. To provide a quick fix that can temporarily replace the mechanism is a rubber plug. Unfortunately, over time you will have to get a full replacement with long-term materials.
Getting a permanent repair typically involves replacing the plug with a steel thread that is the correct size for the unique shape for your car. Learning how to fix an oil leak might mean learning the steps to replacing the plug with the correctly-sized thread for your car.
Blown Head Gasket
When you drive an older car, a blown head gasket could be a common reason for the oil leaking from your car. Also, the rubber materials that are supposed to seal off of your engine block might have decomposed over time. This could cause the oil to leak from the top of the engine block.
If you’re driving a car without an ample amount of coolant, this can cause the engine to overheat. An overheated engine can cause the head of the cylinder to warp out of the correct shape and cause the head gasket to leak.
If you live in a cold-weather climate, an engine can freeze if you don’t have enough antifreeze in your car to keep the water in your system from freezing due to the colder weather. Regardless of whether you have too much coolant or too little, learning how to fix an oil leak can help keep your engine running smoothly in any climate.
Oil Leak Symptoms
Oil can leak from the oil pan gasket while it circulates and travels between the engine block and the oil pan. It is crucial to recognize the symptoms of this oil pan leak and the oil pan gasket replacement so that you can immediately learn how to fix an oil leak before it gets any worse.
Visible Oil Leak
A factor that can influence the steps of learning how to fix an oil leak is the visible oil leak from underneath your car. The biggest and most obvious symptom of any oil pan gasket issue is the oil leaking from underneath your car.
To prevent the leak from getting worse over time, make sure you visually check your vehicle before driving. If you see a small puddle of a dark brown or black fluid under your car, then you have an oil leak and should check out the price of the oil pan gasket replacement.
Smoke From The Exhaust Pipe
Drivers should learn how to fix an oil leak when they notice excessive smoke coming from your exhaust. When your engine overheats, and there is too much friction, it is common for a blue smoke to be produced from your exhaust pipe. Sometimes, the smoke will come directly out of the engine compartment, causing overheating.
If the oil is leaking out of your vehicle, your engine will not be able to receive enough oil to lubricate the parts to prevent friction, cool down the engine from overheating, and keep the engine’s longevity at an all-time high. If your car does not have enough oil, your engine can overheat due to the intense friction. The engine overheating means you need to look into how to fix an oil leak before it causes a hefty engine replacement cost.
- The average price of replacing an engine in most passenger cars ranges between $3000 and $4000, while new engines typically cost between $4000 and $6000. Some engines will be more costly depending on the vehicle, while some will be less. The average price of a used car is just over $8,000, making the engine replacement cost worth the price.
Low Oil Levels
When learning how to fix an oil leak, you first need to take a dipstick and check your car’s oil level. If the oil level is too low in your car, then you need to visually inspect and check the car for any leaks if you have not already seen them or seen a puddle developing under your car.
Engine Warning Light
The check engine warning light can come on for a variety of reasons, and many of these reasons can be the cause of needing to change your oil. If you have an oil leak, this light will illuminate on your dashboard. When looking at how to fix an oil leak, drivers may be alerted to the problem immediately by the check engine light on the dashboard.
How To Fix An Oil Leak Steps
Inspect the Vehicle
The first step in learning how to fix an oil leak is to inspect the vehicle for the cause of the leak. Once you know the possible source of the car leaking oil, you need to find out the root cause of the issue.
- The first place to check when finding the source of the oil leak is the oil pan seals.
- If the oil pan seals are not the problem, the next location to check for an oil leak is the oil pan plug.
- Once the oil pan has been scanned for any problem areas, look at the timing cover seal and the valve cover gaskets for any damage or breakdown of parts.
- Another place you can look when finding out how to fix an oil leak is the oil pressure sensor, the oil filter, and the oil cap.
Fix The Leak
The next step in learning how to fix the oil leak is to actually address and repair the culprit that is leaking! You don’t have to be an expert to do this – car owners can quickly learn how to fix an oil leak in just a short time period.
- The materials you need when learning who to fix an oil leak is a car jack, jacks stands, torque wrench, and additives or replacement parts.
Use an Additive
One of the main methods that drivers use to learn how to fix an oil leak is to use an additive or a high mileage oil blend. These products work together to soften the rubber seals and prevent any further leaks from occuring due to cracks or debris build up.
Although it can take a few hundred miles for the products to begin working and to completely seal the valves, it works well to do efficiently and quickly when you are on your one.
If you find that using additives when learning how to fix an oil leak did not do the trick, it is time to get a little more labor-intensive. For this procedure, you will need hand tools, a torque wrench, and a car jack and stands.
- First, you need to safely jack your car so you can access the oil pan to find the culprit for the leaking oil and check the oil levels.
- Next, check for any loose bolts or damaged parts on the oil pan that can cause the leak and lack of fluid. Over time, these bolts can loosen due to excess use and cause an unsturdy oil pan.
- After you tighten the bolts on the oil pan, move to the timing belt cover and the valve covers to make sure they are tightened to the specific level for your vehicle. If you are unsure, check a service manual or repair guide to make sure the covers are tightened properly.
Test the Oil Pan
The final step in learning how to fix an oil leak is to test the work you have just done!
- Get a quart of oil and top off your oil level in the oil pan.
- After you top off the oil level, you will want to turn on the engine with the hood up to ensure no oil is leaking from the gasket or the oil cap.
- The engine mih begin to smoke since it is burning oil, meaning you need to re-test the tightness of the oil gasket and the oil cap.
- After you run the car for a few minutes, move the vehicle from where it was previously parked.
- If you find that oil has accumulated on the surface, then you have to go back and recheck your work when learning how to fix an oil leak.
The Bottom Line
Once drivers identify the causes of an oil leak, they should take note of oil leak symptoms, like low oil levels, visible leaks, smoke from the exhaust pipe, or an overheating engine. By knowing the causes and the signs of an oil leak, drivers can help keep their car working in an optimal condition!