So your car leaks a little bit of oil. How big of a deal is that? If you drive into the nearest apartment complex you will see oil stains in just about every parking spot. If everyone’s car leaks oil, it must not be a big deal … right? Maybe, but the cost of driving with a low oil level and ruining your motor is astronomical compared to the cost of repairing most oil leaks. In this article, we’ll talk through some things that might make your oil leak a problem worth addressing and also discuss how to fix an oil leak.
The severity of your oil leak depends on a few different factors:
- Leak size and location
- Time or miles driven per day
- Engine oil capacity
- How often you change your oil
Why is My Car Leaking Oil? Determine Leak Size and Location
This biggest factor that determines how risky it is to drive with the oil leak you have is the leak size and location. The leak size obviously matters as larger leaks can lower your oil level faster which can lead to problems before you have a chance to catch them. Leak location also matters even for some slow leaks. For example, a leak in your valve cover gasket can allow oil to leak onto your exhaust manifold which is so hot it can cause smoke or even a fire making it a very dangerous leak. Similarly, a leak from the timing cover or from your front crank seal will allow oil to get on your timing belt or engine drive belts shortening their life not to mention making a mess. A leak, like a rear main seal leak, that is low on your engine will make a mess but won’t put any other components at risk. For more information about rear main seal leaks, try reading our article rear main seal stop leak.
Can I Drive With an Oil Leak?
The answer to this question depends on the time of day that you drive. The amount you drive per day also plays into how dangerous it is to drive with your oil leak. Short commutes, less than 10 miles, have less of a chance to lower your oil level to a dangerous point before you check your oil again. If you sit in stop and go traffic for 2 hours every morning, your oil level might be dangerously low in just a few days. Also, many oil leaks will increase their flow rate as your engine gets warm and heat soaked so longer commutes can increase oil loss. Lastly, those of us that drive shorter distances in stop and go traffic should get our oil changed more often due to the severe driving conditions so the level is being topped off more often.
Engine Oil Capacity
Lastly, it depends on how much oil your car engine holds. If you have a 100 series Land Cruiser with the giant straight 6 motor that holds almost 9 quarts of oil, a small drip will not affect the oil level much. On the other hand, if you have a Saturn sedan with a 4 cylinder motor, a few days of dripping may significantly affect oil level due to the smaller capacity.
How Often you Change your Oil
As we mentioned earlier, an oil change will leave your engine topped off with fresh oil. If you still get your oil changed every 3000 miles with conventional oil, you probably will get your oil changed before the level gets low. If you use longer-lasting synthetic oils or have long oil change intervals in your car, even a small leak can cause a dangerously low oil level before your next oil change.
The goal, in the end, is to maintain a safe oil level in your vehicle’s engine. A proper oil level will ensure the oil pump can draw oil up from the oil pan, and push it through the oil filter so it can be distributed to the important moving parts in the engine. A proper oil level will also ensure proper lubrication of the crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons and piston rings. Lastly, especially in performance motors or heavy duty trucks, engine oil can reach high temperatures during heavy loading and a proper oil level can ensure the oil does overheat and break down.
Given that the severity of your oil leak depends on so many factors that cannot be determined by looking at the size of the puddle left or the number of drips you see, it is important to regularly check your engine oil level on your dipstick. A good interval to start checking your oil at is once per week. Set a specific time of day or location to help you remember. If you check your oil for 4 consecutive weeks without seeing a significant change, you can consider checking it every other week, or once per month. At a minimum, check your oil once per month and before any long trips.
If you notice your oil level steadily dropping during your regular checks look for oil stains on the ground after it has been parked for more than an hour. Also, you can look at the bottom of the engine to see if there are any oil spots or drips. If you notice a significant drop (more than ¼ of the dipstick) in a week’s time, check carefully for new leaks or other problems.
How to Fix an Oil Leak
If you’ve identified a leak, add BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak to your engine oil. One bottle treats up to 6 quarts of engine oil and will seal the oil leak as you drive. BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak repairs and reconditions the rubber seals in your engine as you drive to seal the leaks saving your oil and keeping your engine safe.
You can also find BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak at local auto parts stores like:
- Advance Auto Parts
- Bennett Auto Supply
- CarQuest Auto Parts
- NAPA Auto Parts
- O’Reilly Auto Parts
- Pep Boys
- Fast Track
- Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Specialists
- S&E Quick Lube Distributor
- DYK Automotive
- Fisher Auto Parts stores
- Auto Plus Auto Parts stores
- Hovis Auto & Truck Supply stores
- Salvo Auto Parts
- Advantage Auto Stores
- Genuine Auto Parts stores
- Bond Auto Parts stores
- Tidewater Fleet Supply
- Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts
- Any Part Auto Parts
- Consumer Auto Parts
Pictures Provided By:
oil_leak.jpg – By LoveTheWind – Licensed by Getty Images – Original Link