Car Leaking Oil? How to Fix Engine Oil Leaks at Home

You pull out of your driveway and notice a deep dark spot that wasn't there before. Uh, oh. You have a car leaking oil. Not only is this a telltale sign of trouble for your vehicle, but you also have motor oil stains to prove it. So, what do you do? Well, you can take your car to a garage and deal with a big mechanic's bill, or you can fix the oil leak yourself. Yes, it is possible to fix an oil leak on your car from home. Here is how to get started.

First, What Causes Oil Leaks?

To find out how your car is leaking oil, you have to figure out what caused the leak in the first place. There is no use in fixing a problem only to have it occur again. An oil leak can be caused by one of four problems. The most common cause of an oil leak is due to a degraded engine gasket. An engine gasket is a seal that ensures that lubricants do not leak. When there is a break in the gasket, you will begin to lose vehicle fluids. In most cases, you will leak motor oil. The other less common causes of oil leaks are an oil pan leak, oil seals, or bad connections. In order to find out what is causing the leak, you will want to inspect these four areas.

Inspecting Your Vehicle for the Cause of the Leak

Now that you know the possible sources of your car leaking oil, it is time to crawl under the car and find out what is causing the problem. First, you will want to check the oil pan seals. Also, you will want to check the oil pan plug. After you check the oil pan, go ahead and take a look at the timing cover seal and the valve cover gaskets. Other places to look for a possible leak include the oil pressure sensor, the oil filter, and the oil cap. If you have an older vehicle with lots of worn parts, then it’s possible that you may have multiple oil leaks.

Now It’s Time to Fix That Oil Leak

After you have done your inspection, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and learn how to fix an oil leak. You don’t have to read a whole book to learn how to fix that leak. While there are some oil leaks that can only be fixed by expensive repairs, most can be done in your garage or driveway rather inexpensively. The only thing you will need is a car jack, jack stands, torque wrench, and some special additives or replacement parts (something like a new oil pan). Here are the two main approaches that you can take to fix your oil leak.

Using an Additive to Stop the Leak

One of the easiest ways to fix the leak yourself is to use a stop leak additive or high mileage oil blend. Such products can soften and condition your car’s rubber seals to stop and prevent further automotive leaks. It may take up to a few hundred miles of driving before the leak is completely sealed. Next, you’ll learn how to deal with an oil pan leak and other oil leak situations. You should generally try to fix the leak by replacing components before resorting to using stop leak.

Fixing the Problem with Tools

Don’t worry. Fixing an oil pan leak and other situations with tools is not as hard as you would think. All you need are some hand tools, a torque wrench, and a car jack and stands or some ramps. First, safely jack up the car so you can safely access the oil pan. Now, check for loose bolts on the oil pan. Over time, these bolts can loosen, and loose bolts leak. After tightening all the bolts on the oil pan, move over to the timing belt cover and the valve covers. Be aware that specific car models require you to tighten bolts in a certain pattern to a specific tolerance level. Check a service manual or repair guide for more information.

After You Have Fixed the Leak, It’s Time to Test

Once you believe you have fixed the problem, it is time to test everything out. Get about a quart of oil and top off your oil level. Afterward, you will want to turn on the engine with the hood up. Check the top of the engine while the car is running. Sometimes, you may find out that the oil is leaking from the gasket or the oil cap, and the engine will start to smoke because it is burning oil. It’s important to know what causes oil leaks from all parts of your vehicle.

After running the car for a couple of minutes, move the vehicle about 5 feet from where it was previously parked. Check to see if any oil leaks have accumulated on the driveway. If you still see an oil puddle, then you have to go back and recheck the tightening of your bolts.

Bottom Line

Oil leaks are one of the common and frustrating car problems that can occur. Before you take the vehicle to the garage for a hefty repair bill, learn how to fix an oil leak yourself. Remember to check everything from the oil pan to the gaskets and the oil cap. Be sure to double-check and make sure that you fixed the leak after the repair. With a little know-how and more patience, you will be able to handle any oil leak problem on your vehicle.

If you have any questions about how to repair an oil leak on your car, you can contact AutoZone for assistance.

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