Causes of Car Engine Oil Leaks and How to Prevent Them

April 3, 2023

In this article, we will explore the common causes of car engine oil leaks and how to prevent them. 

We understand that car engine oil leaks can be a frustrating and costly problem for car owners. If left unchecked, they can cause significant damage to the engine and other components. 

By following these preventative measures, you can save yourself time, money, and headaches down the road.

Keep reading to get insights on how to go about car engine oil leaks.

Causes of Car Engine Oil Leaks and How to Prevent Them

engine gasket oil leak

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1. Worn-Out Oil Filters

You can often trace an oil leak under a car back to a damaged oil filter, which is responsible for filtering out contaminants from the oil to prevent damage to the engine. 

Although most oil filters function well, after a certain number of miles, they can become degraded from extensive use.

When an oil filter fails, the oil will begin to leak, and the engine’s internal pressure may cause the filter to loosen or become dislodged. 

Fortunately, repairing or replacing an oil filter is a simple task you can complete at home.

2. Engine or Cylinder Head Block

If you notice oil leaking from your car, it could be a sign of a cracked engine cylinder head or block. This is usually caused by freezing coolant due to insufficient levels. 

Replacing the entire engine might be necessary. Furthermore, oil could also leak from your exhaust or shock absorber. 

It’s always best to visit a mechanic for a prompt diagnosis and solution.

3. Broken Head Gasket

A damaged head gasket can cause oil to leak into the combustion chamber or coolant system. If the oil pressure channels near the edge of the head gasket are leaking, the oil may also leak externally. 

Although rare, you must quickly act if oil comes between the engine block and cylinder head. Oil leaking from the right side of the engine could also indicate a damaged gasket.

4. Excess Oil

Don’t panic if you see oil spots under your car and the engine oil light on the dashboard is not flashing. What may seem like an oil leak can often be traced back to a simple mistake. 

Moreover, pouring too much oil into the engine can cause an overflow, resulting in oil puddles. Similarly, spilling oil when filling it up can also cause the same issue.

Luckily, there’s an easy fix. Just use a rag to clean up any spilled oil on the engine and a dipstick tube to extract excess oil. Problem solved!

5. Driving in Poor Conditions 

engine oil leak repair cost

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Driving near the ocean or coastal areas can be a thrilling experience, but it may also have consequences for your vehicle’s engine. 

Salty air and moisture in these regions can lead to faster corrosion of the engine’s metal components, causing them to degrade and develop leaks more frequently. 

While a trip to the beach here and there won’t cause significant issues, those who reside near the coast or travel seaside roads often should monitor their vehicle’s condition more closely.

Moreover, cold weather or excessively rapid acceleration in frigid environments may stress the engine’s gasket and other components. 

This can cause the engine’s durability to deteriorate, resulting in oil leaks over time. Keeping a close eye on your vehicle’s performance and maintenance requirements can help prevent oil leaks and extend the life of your engine.

6. Oil Drain Plug

An oil leak can result from a damaged or worn-out drain plug, which can occur if the plug or its sealing is not replaced during oil changes

It is important to ensure the plug is tightened correctly to prevent leakage. The oil drain plug can be found at the bottom of the oil sump and accessed from underneath the vehicle. 

Such leaks are also known as oil sump leaks.

7. Damaged Valve Gasket

The valve cover gasket seals the valve cover and the components within the cylinder head. An oil leak from the top of the engine may indicate a problem with this gasket. 

Over time, the gasket can wear down and must be replaced to prevent further oil leakage. It’s important to address this issue promptly, as continued oil leaks can cause damage to other engine components.

8. A Broken or Loose Filler Cap

Loose or broken oil filler caps commonly cause car engine oil leaks. This problem is easy to spot, as you will likely notice oil puddles forming under your car or pooling around the engine. Fortunately, fixing this issue is a quick and straightforward process.

To repair the leak, start by adjusting the filler cap to ensure it is not loose. If it still doesn’t stay in place, then you can easily purchase a replacement cap and install it yourself. 

A tight-fitting filler cap can prevent further oil leaks and keep your engine running smoothly.

9. A Broken Gasket

is it normal for an old car to leak oil

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Gaskets are a crucial part of a car engine, as they facilitate the flow of essential fluids such as oil, coolant, and gas. 

Nevertheless, these gaskets gradually deteriorate over time, causing the seals they create to weaken. This typically happens after the vehicle has been driven for around 100,000 miles. 

If you suspect that a worn-out gasket is causing your oil leak, it’s best to seek the assistance of a professional with the expertise to address such issues. 

They can diagnose the problem accurately and recommend the appropriate repair solution.

Final Word

Generally, car engine oil leaks are a problem that should not be taken lightly. You can avoid the headaches and costs associated with oil leaks by being proactive and taking preventative measures such as regular inspections and maintenance. 

Ultimately, a little prevention can go a long way toward keeping your car’s engine healthy and prolonging its lifespan.

Hopefully, this article about the causes of car engine oil leaks and how to prevent them has helped you.

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