Oil leaks are a common yet dangerous scenario in many older vehicles. If you find oil leaking from your car, you should know how to stop engine oil leaks immediately to avoid any potential accidents and excessive fuel loss.
Depending on the type and intensity of the leak, the solution may be as simple as using a stop leak additive or as intricate as replacing certain parts. Most engine leaks originate from either the valve gasket or the oil seal. So, inspecting those might be the fastest route to finding a fix.
Other than those two, more types of leaks can occur. We will walk you through every kind of oil leak that can develop and provide a definitive fix to them.
Oil Leaks: Types And Causes
If you notice oil spots on the road or the driveway, you can tell for sure that your engine is leaking oil. Considering every component the oil passes through, the causes of an oil leak can be diverse.
However, we have narrowed them down to a handful of types of leaks for your convenience.
The most common type of engine leak is caused by the wearing out of rubber seals in the engine that prevents oil leaks.
Due to high temperature and pressure inside the engine, the seals get damaged over time and are unable to stop the oil from leaking.
An engine gasket or a valve gasket is a seal that sits below the valve cover to protect engine components from excessive friction and prevent oil leaks.
As a gasket has to withstand the opening and closing of the valves constantly, it’s not uncommon to see it wearing out and subsequently leaking oil.
Oil leaking from the top of the engine is a common sign of a worn-out gasket. This type of leak is a more common scenario in older vehicle models.
Defected Oil Pan
As you should probably know, an oil pan is where the engine oil is primarily stored and used from. So, you can imagine if there’s ever an issue with the oil pan, oil leakage is inevitable.
The oil pan also has a drain plug, which is the more common cause of leaks from oil pans. Since the rest of the oil pan is mostly made out of metal, it is less likely that oil will leak from the body.
If you see your car leaking oil after an oil change, the oil cover has probably been installed incorrectly. In this case, some simple tightening will fix the issue.
Damaged Oil Filter And Oil Cap
An oil filter is placed below the engine, which filters out impurities within the oil to keep the engine clean. Since the filter is mostly made out of synthetic fibers, it can wear out over time resulting in oil leakage.
If your oil filter is damaged, it’s important to swap it out right away. Otherwise, the impurities in the oil will make the engine dirty and might cause it to slow down or become noisy.
Moreover, an oil cap is a lid that covers the opening of an oil filter. It can also break down over time, causing oil to leak.
Fixing Engine Oil Leaks
Knowing the types of leaks that can occur, you can pretty confidently figure out which type of oil leak your engine is having and take action accordingly.
Before we jump right into the solutions, you need to pinpoint your particular issue. To do that, just inspect the components that we talked about above.
You might need the help of some tools to inspect each component. Having a car jack, some basic screwdrivers, and a torque wrench will help.
Method 1: Using Stop Leak Additives
A stop leak additive is essentially a high-mileage synthetic oil that you can use instead of your regular oil to stop the oil leak.
It works by nourishing and conditioning the rubber oil seals to repair and make them usable again. These additives restore the thickness of degraded or shrunk rubber seals, making them usable again and preventing leaks.
To use a stop leak additive, simply go to your nearest automobile shop and get a decent branded stop leak oil.
Then, drain the previous oil from your engine through the oil pan plug. (You will need to use a car jack to lift your vehicle to access the oil pan plug)
Insert the new additive into the engine; however, it will take a hundred miles or two before it takes complete effect and stops the leak.
Also, note that it only works in small leaks, primarily from broken seals such as gasket leaks. Nonetheless, before moving on to the next methods, this should be the first thing you try.
Method 2: Tightening Screws
The oil pan has several screws around it; if loose, oil can leak aggressively. To fix that, you need to check up on the oil pan and tighten up some screws.
After lifting your vehicle with a car jack, you can test each screw with your hand to see if any screw is loose. Use a wrench to tighten it up if you find a loose one.
Also, inspect your oil filter cap to see if it’s loose. You can tighten it up with your bare hands.
While tightening a screw, be careful not to over-tighten it, as many vehicle models have screw tolerance levels. You can look up your car’s service manual for more info.
Method 3: Replacement
Certain components, when degraded, cannot be repaired and must be replaced. Such components include oil filters and oil pans. A valve gasket might also require replacement if the damage is severe enough to be not fixed by stop leak additives.
You can replace certain components by yourself if you are comfortable and experienced enough with your vehicle.
A damaged oil pan can be replaced with relative ease. Find the correct model for your vehicle from your automobile shop. Remove all the screws holding the previous oil pan with a torque wrench and install the new one.
Valve gaskets can be replaced quite easily as well. Open up your hood and find the head of your engine. Lift the valve cover and remove the previous gasket. Clean the surrounding area before installing the new one.
However, we do not recommend changing the oil filter yourself as it is placed so deep inside the engine. Getting the help of a technician will be more convenient.
Preventing Engine Oil Leaks
If you are wondering about engine oil leak repair cost, it extensively varies from model to model. A decent additive will cost you around $25. Oil filters can be found for under $10, and valve gaskets are normally worth upwards of $150.
So, it’s better to prevent a leak from happening in the first place. The primary way of avoiding leaks is to use high-quality engine oil.
If the oil has good viscosity and is free of impurities, it minimizes damage to surrounding components.
Additionally, checking up on the stated components now and then will help you take action before it’s too late.
After you’ve applied the mentioned methods, make sure to test out and inspect for all possible leaks. Knowing how to stop engine oil leaks will save you money and time.
Resolving an oil leak is not very complicated and will help you improve fuel economy. Hopefully, you won’t have to be troubled by an oil leak anymore.