Why are my car and engine leaking oil? 8 causes & fixes

A set of symptoms can occur in a car, suggesting technical problems with its engine.

Unfortunately, most car owners ignore these signs if they notice them or fail to notice them.

This can have a very negative impact on the functionality of the car and its future repair price.

All these inconveniences could be easily avoided if car owners would take the best preventive measures at the right time.

engine oil

But to make the right choices at the right time, you must first know what signs to look for.

There is a good chance that your car already shows these symptoms, and you don’t even know it because you don’t know what they look like.

One of the most common signs of a car suffering from certain malfunctions is the presence of a puddle of liquid below it.

Have you ever noticed that when you keep your car parked for a long time in a particular place, a puddle of oil forms under it?

If you answered positively to this question, you should know that your car may suffer from an oil leak that you should repair as soon as possible.

Another symptom that occurs frequently and indicates the occurrence of technical failures is the smell of burnt oil.

Most often, its place of origin is within the engine.

If your car’s engine emits such a smell, it is recommended that you drive to a car repair shop.

Most likely, the engine is damaged and needs to be repaired as soon as possible.

But the presence of dripping oil and the smell of burnt oil are not the only signs that may suggest several technical faults in your car.

Another prominent symptom is the release of blue smoke from the car’s exhaust pipe.

look inside an engine

Usually, it should not have such a color.

This discoloration may suggest a leak in your car’s engine.

This can cause a significant amount of oil to be burned by the car’s engine, leading to a change in the color of the smoke.

This can be caused by a variety of defective parts, such as:

  • Leaking valve seals.
  • Damaged piston rings.
  • Worn cylinder walls.

The most recommended action you can take is to drive the car to a car repair shop so that it can be inspected and repaired by experts.

As you can see, several signs can easily suggest that your car is leaking oil and that it needs to be repaired.

A mechanic can quickly notice these symptoms with a trained eye due to his experience in the field.

But if you are not an experienced mechanic, this doesn’t mean that you can’t notice these signs yourself in time to avoid more severe problems in the future.

Anyone can quickly observe them if they are well informed and know where and what to look for.

Fortunately, we are here to help you and provide you with all the information you need to spot any leaks in time.

In the following, we will present all this information in an organized and well-structured way so that you can understand it as well as possible.

What causes the leak?

To better understand them, we must first discuss their causes.

A car that suffers from such a malfunction usually has one of the following two types of damage:

  • A defect in a seal or gasket.
  • A faulty part in the car structure.

Some of the most common causes of oil leaks in a car are malfunctions or wear in the following parts:

1. Oil pan gasket

oil pan

Of all the causes, this is one of the most common.

The oil pan gasket has a single role to play in the car.

This unique role is to ensure the creation of a seal between the following two components:

  • Oil pan.
  • Engine block.

Usually, this gasket should prevent any amount of oil from leaking out.

But if it can no longer accomplish this mission, this will lead to a leak.

It should be avoided at all costs to prevent costly new problems in the future.

That is why replacing the oil pan gasket with a new one is recommended as soon as you notice that it can no longer fulfill its role.

2. Valve cover gasket

car repair shop

It is pretty easy to see if the valve cover gasket is malfunctioning and whether or not it is the cause of the leak from your car’s engine.

If you notice that the engine leaks in its upper part, this is the detail confirming the suspicion.

In this case, the perpetrator who is to blame for this is most likely represented by the valve cover gasket.

The valve cover is a component located in the engine’s upper part.

It plays a crucial role in its optimal operation.

Its essential role is to protect the components inside the cylinder head.

But for the valve cover to perform this mission in the best possible way, the existence and involvement of a gasket are necessary.

It must be located between the valve cover and the cylinder head to be able to seal them and allow the valve cover to fulfill its mission.

This gasket also plays a vital role in the optimal operation of the engine.

Its mission is to stop any leakage between the two parts it seals.

Unfortunately, the gasket is exposed to wear and tear over time.

This degree of wear can eventually have its say.

It can lead to a drastic decrease in the gasket’s ability to seal the two components.

Because of this, a leak can occur.

The first sign that the gasket is too worn to perform its role and should be replaced as soon as possible with a new one is the surrounding of its area with oil.

If the area around the valve cover gasket is full of oil, it needs to be replaced with a new one.

3. Front and rear crankshaft seals

Inside the engine is a component called “crankshaft.”

In its location, it protrudes slightly from the outline of the engine at both ends.

With this minimum protrusion of the crankshaft outside the outline of the engine, it acts as a mounting point for the following components:

  • External harmonic balancer.
  • Flywheel.

Due to the two ends of the crankshaft protruding from the outline of the engine, there is a risk of leakage from the engine in these two areas.

A seal is placed in each area to prevent this from happening.

Due to their location, they also bear the following names:

  • Front main seal.
  • Rear main seal.

Over time, these two seals can go through a degree of wear and tear that can eventually prevent them from performing optimally.

Several malfunctions may also be another cause of their misperformance.

Whatever is the reason that is preventing them from carrying out their mission, you should replace these seals with new ones as soon as signs of failure are observed.

Suppose the faulty seal leaks only a tiny amount of oil from the engine.

In that case, it will eventually build-up at the bottom of the engine.

But if the problem is significant, things will be completely different in this case.

In this event, a large amount of fluid will accumulate in the front of the engine.

The amount accumulated will be visible to the naked eye.

4. Oil filter and drain plug

Every car often goes through an oil change process.

In this process, the following components are removed from the engine structure and reinstalled after its completion:

  • Drain plug.
  • Filter.

Any part handled so often by someone is at an increased risk of developing certain defects in the future.

It is also the case with the parts mentioned above.

The more often the oil change process is performed, the more often the two parts are handled.

And the more often these two pieces are handled, the more likely they will fail in the future.

Any defect in the structure of these parts can eventually lead to a leakage.

In the event of their failure, you must replace them as soon as possible with new ones.

5. Timing cover gasket

Older car models used to have a timing belt in their structure.

But over time, it has been replaced by a new component.

Newer car models have a timing chain in their structure.

This part must be lubricated with oil to function optimally and smoothly.

It also needs to be protected by a timing cover while it works.

This timing cover also features a gasket that plays a vital role in the optimal operation of the timing chain.

Its role is to stop the oil from spreading everywhere and keep it where it needs to be, inside the timing cover.

But we know very well that all car parts are subject to a certain degree of wear and tear over time.

And the timing cover gasket is no exception to this rule.

In time, it will wear out and not be able to fulfill its role as well as it used to.

As a result of this wear, the oil may start to escape from inside the timing cover while the timing chain is running.

But a used gasket may not be the only part that can cause leakage.

The timing cover can be severely damaged over time due to wear and tear.

A worn and defective timing cover can also eventually lead to a leakage.

If it occurs from the center of the engine and close to the front, this is a clear sign that the timing cover is to blame for its creation.

But you can’t be sure which of these two components is to blame for creating it until a mechanic carefully checks your engine.

Only a mechanic can determine exactly which of the two components is to blame.

6. Camshaft seals

Leaks involving the camshaft seal are common in cars that contain a timing belt in their structure.

The primary role of the timing belt is to keep the following parts in sync while they work:

  • Camshaft
  • Crankshaft

The camshaft is located inside the engine.

Most car engines today have one or more camshafts in their structure.

They are located inside the engine, but a small portion of their structure protrudes beyond the outline of the engine.

This is necessary to provide a mounting point for the timing gears.

But this protrusion outside the engine contour of the camshafts can also be accompanied by the leakage of a significant amount of oil.

The only component that can prevent this is the camshaft seal.

It is located around each component of the camshaft that protrudes beyond the contour of the engine and plays a key role.

That of preventing the oil from leaking out of the engine.

There exists an obvious sign that a camshaft seal is defective and can no longer stop the oil from leaking.

This sign is represented by the oil accumulation in the engine’s rear.

It can be easily located under the valve cover.

If the issue caused by a camshaft seal is abundant, then this may result in a large amount of smoke emitted by the engine.

It can come out of the engine compartment in a considerable amount.

This is an obvious sign that your engine is having issues due to a damaged camshaft seal.

7. Cylinder head gasket

A malfunction of this component can often lead to internal leakage.

As a result, the following may occur:

  • Coolant consumption.
  • Coolant-oil intermix.

But internal leaks are not the only ones caused by a worn or defective head gasket.

A malfunction of this part may also result in external leakage of the following liquids:

  • Engine oil.
  • Coolant.

Of all the types of engines, only one is the most often affected by this failure.

And that one is represented by the flat engine.

8. Oil filter adapter housing gasket

In the structure of each engine, the oil filter is connected to the housing of an adapter.

And each adapter housing has a gasket on its back.

Unfortunately, every gasket can eventually wear out or malfunction and can be the leading cause of a leak.

And the gasket on the back of an adapter case is no exception.

Over time, it can wear out or malfunction.

This could lead to leaks.

Oil leaking from the front

Many components in a car can be the source of a leak.

But depending on its location, the circle of components responsible for it can be drastically reduced.

If your car has leakage from its front, its engine is most likely to blame.

The next step is to closely examine the components under the car and see if they show any malfunction.

You need to pay attention to two parts, as most leaks from the front of the car are caused by them.

These are:

  • Pan plug.
  • Filter.

Try to see if they are in position and showing excessive wear or damage.

There is a chance that neither of these two components is the culprit that led to the birth of the unwanted leakage.

In this case, it is recommended that you take your car to a professional car repair shop so that an experienced mechanic can inspect it.

He will look closely at the oil pan inside the car, as this may also be a common cause of leaks.

Any crack in its structure can cause failure and lead to a leak in the front of the car.

It will also take a closer look at the engine valves.

They can often fail for various reasons and cause serious problems that can lead to these problems.

It is leaking oil from the front.

If your car has a leak in the front of it, then the following parts may be to blame:

  • Its engine.
  • Pan plug.
  • Filter.
  • Pan.
  • Engine valves.

To determine exactly which part is to blame, you must go to a professional mechanic.

He will carefully inspect your car and determine which one is to blame.

But before you jump to conclusions, you need to ensure that the liquid leaking from the front of your car is oil.

This check is necessary because not every liquid leaking from your car can be immediately classified as an oil.

Many other types of liquids can come out of a car, such as:

  • Antifreeze
  • Fluid transmission.
  • Power steering fluid.
  • Brake fluid.
  • Gasoline.
  • Windshield wiper fluid.

Various defective parts may be responsible for leaking each type of liquid.

That is why it is necessary first to ensure that the fluid that leaks from your car is oil.

This will drastically narrow the circle of possible culprits.

To perform this check, insert your fingers into the drained liquid on the ground.

If it is oil, then it will give a smooth touch.

After that, try to notice its color.

It is usually brown or black.

The last check is its smell.

If it emits a burning odor, then it is oil.

It is leaking oil when parked

If your car suffers from leaks when parked somewhere for a long time, this may suggest a malfunction.

This phenomenon often manifests itself immediately after the car has had an oil change at a workshop.

Suppose this phenomenon started immediately after an oil change at a repair shop.

In that case, the following causes might be responsible for it:

  • The mechanic failed to return the oil filter to its position.
  • The filter suffered damage during the process.
  • The filler cap was not tightened enough or was broken during the process.
  • Drain plugs or gaskets were not tightened enough or were tightened too much.

Oil leak on the right side of the engine

If you notice a leak on the right side of your car’s engine, then the head gasket may be to blame.

If the head gasket has a high degree of wear or damage, this can lead to a leak.

It will leak into the combustion chamber of the cooling system.

But there is a possibility that it will leak out of the engine and to the right of it if it occurs at the level of the oil pressure channels.

They are located near the edge of the head gasket.

If the gasket is too worn or has a malfunction, this will lead to a leak on the right side of the engine.

The engine blew oil everywhere.

It can happen quite often that the engine blows oil all around it.

But this should not panic you because a specific cause can lead to this accident.

And this cause can be easily identified and repaired by an experienced mechanic.

All you have to do is take your car to a repair shop to have it checked.

Most likely, one of the following causes will be identified as the one that caused this problem:

  • The engine rings are too worn to operate optimally.
  • A filler cap that is missing or has some cracked areas.
  • A valve seal that has a massive leakage.

What causes the oil pan gasket to leak?

This type occurs when the gasket between the engine and the oil pan can no longer function properly.

Its primary function is to stop the oil from leaking between these two components.

Several causes can lead to a leakage from the oil pan gasket.

Some of the most common are:

  • The gasket suffered too much wear and tear to operate at optimum capacity.
  • The gasket has some screws that are not tightened enough.
  • The surfaces of the gasket were not sufficiently cleaned when it was installed.
  • The gasket was installed using a low-quality sealant.

It is leaking oil from the front passenger side

Several causes can lead to leaks from the passenger side in the front of the car.

Some of the most common ones are:

  • A valve cover gasket that is defective.
  • The appearance of cracks in the turbocharger.
  • An oil filter that is defective or too worn to function optimally.
  • A worn timing cover.

Any mechanic can repair an oil leak from a car without any problems.

The only downside is the cost it will incur in return for the repairs it will make.

It can be considered relatively high sometimes for some people.

But what if your car has a leakage and you want to repair it but don’t want to spend vast sums of money on it?

Is there a cheaper and just as effective alternative that you can use to help you?

Fortunately for you, there is one.

This is the repair of the leakage right by you at home, without the involvement of a workshop that would require large sums of money.

Anyone can fix such a malfunction if they know the steps they need to take.

And if you think you could never fix one because you don’t know the steps, don’t worry.

We’re here to help, so we’ve put together a list of all the steps you need to take to fix any problems.

They are represented by the following:

How to fix an oil leak

  1. Inspect the car.

    The first step is to look for and find the defective part.
    This step is essential, as different defective parts may require a different repair approach.
    Also, you can’t fix something if you don’t know where the problem started.
    It is essential to inspect the following parts, as they are often the leading causes of leaks:
    – Pan seals.
    – Pan plug.
    – Timing cover seal.
    – Valve cover gaskets.
    – Filter.
    – Oil cap.

  2. Lift the car with a jack.

    Once you’ve located the cause, it’s time to lift the car so you can get to it safely and fix it.
    You can easily do this with the help of a car jack.

  3. Check the bolts.

    The main reason most leaks occur is the existence of screws that have not been tightened properly.
    Once you have noticed which component is the cause, try inspecting its bolts.

  4. Tighten the screws.

    If you notice that the screws on a part are not appropriately tightened, try to tighten them yourself.
    This should be enough to stop a leak caused by loose screws.

    But you have to be careful.
    The screws must be tightened in a certain way and only up to a certain degree.

    All these specific details about your car should be included in its service manual.
    In this, you should find all the information you need to be able to tighten the screws optimally.

  5. Test the results.

    After tightening all the loose screws, it’s time to test the results.
    First, you need to refuel your car with engine oil.

    After that, you will have to start the engine and observe it with the hood open.
    If it does not emit any smoke or smell of burnt oil, there is no other source of leaks.

    After leaving the engine running for about 5 minutes, move the car from where it is now.
    It is unnecessary to move it very much; only a few feet away should be enough.

    If you can find no oil puddle in the old place where your car was parked, all leaks have been appropriately resolved.


engine oil
Can you drive a car with an oil leak?

Yes, driving a car suffering from leakage is possible.
But just because this is possible doesn’t mean you should do it.

Engine oil plays a vital role.
It lubricates all the components inside the engine, keeping them functional and in optimal condition.

If you drive the car while constantly losing oil, its engine may suffer significant damage.
And the cost of repairing it can be pretty high.

How much does it cost to fix an oil leak?

Repairing an oil leakage can range from $ 250 to $ 1,000.
But this is not a fixed price.

The cost of repairs can increase if their complexity is high.

How do you stop a car from leaking oil?

The easiest way to stop a leak from a car is to use an additive.
Such a substance is intended to soften and condition the rubber seals under the hood.

By doing this, the gaskets can stop the oil from leaking more efficiently.
Thus, any current issue will be stopped.

How to tell if your car is leaking oil?

The presence of the following signs suggests a leak in a car:
– The presence of black puddles that form under your car when parked for a long time.
– The engine frequently emits smoke.
– The engine overheats very quickly.
– The smell of burnt oil can be felt coming out from under the hood.

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