How to check for engine oil leak

Engine oil leak is one of the most common problems suffered by car owners and in fact the most difficult to find. We tell you ways to identify the exact location of the leak

Oil leak
Photo Courtesy: ericpetersautos.com


While there are numerous issues that your car can suffer from including engine seizure, brake failure, steering system malfunction et al, it’s the recurrent ones that are the prime cause of stress to car owners – flat tyre, weird noises from the engine bay and the likes. But the most troublesome of all is when you find out that your car is leaking oil. The increased difficulty in spotting the problem area is what makes oil leaks a worrisome affair. 


Before we get into spotting the location of the oil leak, it is important to understand the consequences. Leaking oil not only serves a threat to fellow motorists but there is also the risk of overheating engine or even an engine failure for that matter which makes it increasingly essential to attend to with utmost urgency. 


Spotting its exact location can be quite a task. For starters you can use the leak patch on the ground as a starting point of your investigation. A leak in general always flows down due to gravity and back cause when you are driving it is going to flow backward due to the wind. Oil can flow right back up to the cross member, fuel tank or even fuel tank for that matter. 



Car oil leak

Photo Courtesy: toyotanation.com



The best way to narrow down on the exact location of the leak is to start inspecting the underbelly of your car from the back. In places where oil doesn’t flow naturally, but is flowing due to a leak, there will be a residue of dust and sludge settled over it. Fresh oil coming out regularly is the biggest indication of an oil leak. Gradually move ahead examining the places where you can spot fresh oil. Again, due to the oil flowing from top to bottom, chances are that several places will have deposits of fresh oil. 


You best bet is to identify these places and clean those areas with a cloth. Spray some foot power on areas that you think might have a leak. Fire the engine and leave it for just enough time to get the oil pressure build up. Once the pressure is built up, the fresh oil will continue to leak and it will get easy for you to identify the problem area. 




Causes of engine oil leak

Courtesy: autoleak.com



Possible causes of an oil leak:

1.) The Oil Filter: A worn out or loosely fitted oil filter can be one of the primary reasons for an oil leak. It is advisable to change the oil filter each time you change the oil. 


2.) The Oil drain Plug: At the base of the oil pan is a drain plug that is exposed from the underbelly of your car. Misaligned thread, worn out thread of the drain plug or a loosely fitted plug can also cause leaking of oil but is relatively easy to identify as the oil will drip gradually and would be fresh. 


3.) Oil filler cap: Aside from dripping down, oil can also spill out from the fuel filler cap if it’s loosely fitted and the vehicle is in motion. 


4.) The Valve gasket: The gasket is the most common cause of an oil leak. It is a seal that is used to join two mechanical parts like the cylinder head and the engine block or the engine block and the oil pan. The gasket tends to wear out or even break with time especially due to the pressure especially on vehicles that have considerable miles on the odometer. 


5.) Physical Damage: Sometimes physical damage caused to the oil pan when the car’s underbelly scrapes against the road or hits a stone can also lead to an oil leakage. 


5 Offers Available