Possible Reasons for Your Car’s Oil Leak
By Bavarian Performance Specialists September 26, 2018
Any time a vehicle begins leaking fluid, it’s not a good sign. Whether it’s coolant, power-steering fluid, brake fluid, or transmission fluid, the problem needs to be addressed immediately to avoid serious performance and functionality issues. However, another fluid that commonly leaks is engine oil. Engine oil is an essential fluid for your vehicle in that it prevents engine damage, allows parts to move and function smoothly, and overall contributes to engine health and performance. In this article, we’ll go over what the experience of an oil leak might be like for you, including how to determine what the cause of the issue is and what you can do to fix it.
Engine oil – a distinct fluid leak
When you notice any leak at all in your vehicle’s engine or beneath the car, it is critical to first determine what type of fluid is leaking. All vehicle fluids are generally different colors and consistencies, which allows engine oil to be easily distinguished from the others mentioned previously (radiator fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power-steering fluid). Engine oil is usually a dark brown/red color, and can rarely be misdiagnosed as another type of fluid. It also helps to have some idea of where oil may leak from, which allows the problem to be diagnosed fairly easily by professionals.
The most plausible sources of an oil leak
Oil leaks commonly occur in a few distinct places in your vehicle. The oil may be coming from the engine, leaking from a drain plug, overflowing from a filler cap, or a few other potential scenarios that we’ll briefly discuss here. Properly diagnosing engine oil leaks is essential to keep it from happening again. Oil leaks may be the result of:
• Poor vehicle design
• Poor part design
• Failing engine components
• Negligent or inaccurate automotive services
• Normal vehicle age and wear
Here are the most common causes of motor oil leaks:
Worn, dirty, or clogged oil filters
Oil filters are responsible for keeping the oil in your engine clean and contaminant free. However, as time goes by, especially if filters aren’t replaced regularly, they can become clogged, which significantly impedes the oil flow through your engine. This often leads to oil buildup in certain parts of your engine, which causes serious performance issues including leaks.
Worn valve gasket seals
These parts are in charge of the important task of keeping the motor oil within the system it routinely circulates. Acting as a stoppage for oil flow, it’s reasonable that the valve gasket seal can create oil leaks if it isn’t working properly. While it’s normal for valve gasket seals to become susceptible to wear over a period of consistent high temperature exposure, it is most likely to fail in older vehicles with higher mileage.
Drain plug failure or looseness
The drain plug is what keeps the oil from flowing out of the bottom of your vehicle. This is the plug that is taken out when your oil is changed, allowing the old oil to flow out of the system. Once the plug is put back in place, new oil can be poured in, and the drain plug should contain it from gravity’s pull downward. If the drain plug isn’t properly tightened and replaced by the technician who performs the servicing, oil can certainly leak from the plug.
The simplest cause
Lastly, and simplest, an oil leak may be caused by a spillage of oil from the filler cap. Like the drain plug, the filler cap keeps the oil contained, except from the top of the engine, not the bottom of the car. It is important to make sure your oil filler cap is tightened each time your oil is changed or inspected, and to replace a filler cap that no longer seals properly or tightens accurately.
The Bavarian Performance Specialists of Ventura County service German autos in the areas of Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills, Westlake, Malibu, and Newbury Park, CA. Since 1983, we’ve made our clients’ safety and satisfaction our main priorities, and it’s allowed us to build a reputation for honesty and integrity – qualities that are hard to find in an auto shop. Engine oil care is something we take seriously, because we know it’s one of the most important preventive maintenance procedures for ensuring vehicle reliability and optimized performance. If you’d like to learn more about our shop, or would like to schedule an oil inspection with us, please contact us directly.