Why Is My Car Leaking Oil?

September 8th, 2022 by

If you’ve started noticing brown liquid pooling underneath your car after you’ve parked it, this could mean your car has an oil leak. It’s important to fix oil leaks as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your vehicle’s engine. But how do you know what’s causing the leak, and how can you fix it? Below are some common reasons your car might be leaking oil, along with tips to help you prevent a leak from occurring.

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Damaged Oil Pan or Gasket

reasons why my car is leaking oil

One of the most common reasons your car might be leaking oil is a damaged oil pan. The oil pan serves as a storage area for oil when the engine isn’t using it. The oil pan includes a gasket that isolates the oil pan from the engine block. A damaged oil pan or gasket can cause an oil leak. These components are located at the bottom of the engine and can be damaged by road debris. Wear and tear can also damage or loosen them, which may result in a leak.

Worn Valve Cover Gasket

Your car’s engine may have one or two valve gaskets that create a seal between the valve cover on top of the engine and the upper part of the cylinder head. If this valve cover gasket becomes worn, it could fail to keep oil from leaking. The valve cover gasket can also harden and develop cracks over time, which can cause leaks. If you notice oil leaking from the top of the engine, it could indicate problems with the valve cover gasket. Typically, this part lasts between 20,000 and 50,000 miles before needing to be replaced.

Loose Drain Plug

A loose drain plug is another common reason your car might be leaking oil. Drain plugs, which are attached to the oil pan, allow oil to drain from the engine. If the drain plug becomes loose, the accumulated oil may leak. If you notice oil leaking directly underneath the drain plug, this component may be causing the leak. You may also notice leaking oil soon after an oil change, which may have caused the drain plug to loosen.

Faulty Oil Filter

Oil filters help the engine oil stay clean by filtering out contaminants and debris. Over time, pressure can build up in the oil filter, which can cause it to rupture and leak. Installing the wrong oil filter or failing to install it properly can also cause oil leaks. Like a loose drain plug, a faulty oil filter may become apparent after a recent oil change. Ensure the oil filter is correctly installed and sealed to prevent an ongoing leak.

How To Tell Whether Your Car Is Leaking Oil

There are several ways to check whether your car’s engine is leaking oil. The most obvious way is to look under your vehicle for an oil spill. Check for a greasy brown liquid, usually located directly underneath the engine. Depending on the severity of the leak, you may see a few drops of oil or a sizable puddle.

In some cases, the shielding underneath your car may collect the oil before it spills, which can conceal an oil leak. Some drivers learn their car is leaking oil when the “check engine oil” light appears. This warning appears when the engine has a low oil level, which can indicate a leak. Look underneath your car for spills, and if you don’t see any, bring your vehicle to our service center at Performance Honda. Our certified service technicians will inspect your engine for possible oil leaks and recommend ways to fix the issue.

Other signs of an oil leak include engine smoke, overheating, or a burning smell that occurs when the oil leaks and makes contact with the hot engine components. If you open your hood and see the engine covered in oil, this could also indicate a leak.

Can You Drive a Car With an Oil Leak?

An oil leak can be a sign of a more serious issue, so if you notice oil leaking from the engine, it’s best not to drive the car. As the oil continues to leak, a low oil level could damage the engine. If you must drive, keep your trips to 10 miles or less. It’s important to make a service appointment as soon as possible if you notice an oil leak so that you can diagnose the issue and get it fixed before the leak causes further damage.

How To Prevent Your Car From Leaking Oil

If you’re concerned about oil leaks, you can take some proactive steps to prevent them. The easiest and most effective way to prevent an oil leak is to change the oil in your car’s engine according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you’re unsure of the oil change interval for your car, check your owner’s manual for more detailed instructions. Today, many newer vehicles can last 7,500 to 10,000 miles between oil changes. At a minimum, you should change the engine oil at least once a year.

Another way to prevent oil leaks is to check the engine regularly. If you pop the hood and see oil, make an appointment with our dealership service center or an auto repair shop. Similarly, if the “check engine” light or another oil-related warning appears on your dashboard, schedule a service appointment as soon as possible. Having qualified technicians inspect your car sooner rather than later could help stop the leak from becoming more serious.

If you’ve noticed an oil spill or believe your engine may be leaking oil, make a service appointment at Performance Honda in Fairfield, Ohio. Our Honda-certified technicians will perform a thorough inspection to identify the cause of the leak and repair the issue. We strive to make vehicle service as simple as possible by offering online appointment scheduling, so you can find a time that works with your schedule. Before you visit, check out our latest service specials to help you save money on maintenance and repairs. For more information, contact us today.


Image Credits: Image by Robert Couse-Baker is licensed with CC BY 2.0

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