Why is My Oil Leaking After an Oil Change?


Oil is one of the three important fluids—along with fuel and coolant—that allow an automobile to operate. Oil is also one of the easiest items in the vehicle to maintain. As long as it is periodically changed, along with the oil filter, it will help keep the engine running strong. If you notice your oil leaking after an oil change, it may be because of a few reasons:

  1. Double filter gaskets
  2. Bad filter installation
  3. Under or over-tightening the drain plug

What Does Motor Oil Do?

Imagine you’re a piston head pumping up and down inside its cylinder. A mixture of fuel and air is ignited by the spark plug at the base of the cylinder, exploding in your face. The expansion of air inside the airtight cylinder forces you down with extreme force. As you drop, you drag the connecting rod with you, which turns the crankshaft attached to the mechanisms that make the axle rotate, and with it the wheels. As, you (the piston) return to your original position, you pull the rod up and turn the crankshaft another rotation. This is a simplified version of a process converting chemical energy into mechanical motion that is repeated hundreds of times every minute.

Think about what a rough life you have. High pressure gas and fuel explode next to your metal parts, blasting you through a metal tube repeatedly. In order to maintain the tight seal inside the cylinder, your head almost exactly fills it, meaning that every time you move you are sliding along its walls. Pressure, heat and friction would cause you to burn up, break into pieces or carve a groove into the cylinder if it weren’t for one thing.


Motor oil creates a thin wall of lubrication between the piston head and cylinder walls that allows the piston to move without cracking the cylinder or getting stuck in it. By reducing friction, oil also cools the chamber and aids the engine’s performance. Oil then moves around the engine, cooling other parts and carrying away impurities to be deposited into the oil filter, which cleans the oil before sending it back on its way to the engine.

Life in the Vehicle Without Oil

Here is what life inside an engine would look like without oil: The piston would melt and warp, and either crack up or begin wearing away the cylinder walls, reducing compression in the chamber. Without compression, the explosion would be dissipated in the chamber and lose some of its effect on the piston, reducing its ability to move the vehicle. The heat, no longer moderated by oil, would build up to levels that couldn’t be tolerated by the metal parts and they would begin disintegrating. Without a flow of oil around the rest of the combustion chamber, other metal parts would begin warping as well. The whole engine would eventually seize up.

It wouldn’t be a pretty picture.

That is why it is so important to maintain oil levels and get new oil in the car at recommended intervals. The life of your vehicle literally depends on it.

Why Is There Oil Leaking in My Car?

Because oil is the life blood of a vehicle, experiencing an oil leak in a vehicle is a cause for immediate action.

There are a variety of reasons a vehicle might leak oil. The two most obvious are an oil filter that isn’t affixed correctly and an oil drain plug that isn’t sufficiently tightened – or tightened so tight that it cracks. Cracks, holes or corrosion in the oil pan can cause oil to drip down to the ground. If you have an oil leak, these are the options you hope for because they are simple to fix.

The oil leak might also be caused by worn rings, valve seals or gaskets at various positions under the hood. These items are designed to create airtight seals where needed—for example, next to the combustion chamber where fuel and air are ignited by a spark to propel the pistons. When oil leaks into the combustion chamber, it can interfere with the ignition process. Manufacturers provide specifications for the proper amount of torque to be applied when tightening gaskets to avoid slippage and cracking.

Why Is My Oil Leaking After an Oil Change?

The good news about oil leaks following an oil change is that the most common causes of this type of leak are easy to find and fix.

Double Filter Gaskets

The most common problem immediately following an oil change is that the oil filter gasket—a black rubber o-ring—remained stuck to the engine when the old filter was removed. When the new filter was mounted with the new gasket, the resulting double gasket created a poor seal and leaking resulted.

Before removing the oil filter, drain the oil from the oil pan. Once there is no oil in the system, simply removing the oil filter and peeling off the old gasket will resolve this problem. Have something to catch dripping oil when the filter is removed to avoid making a mess.

Bad Filter Installation

There are a variety of ways to install the new oil filter wrong, beginning with installing the wrong type of filter. Double-check that the filter is designated for the specific make and model of your vehicle.

If that isn’t the problem, the filter may be attached incorrectly, over- or under-tightened. Oil filters should be tightened by hand until they resist and then tightened one-quarter turn more to securely fasten them. Anything less creates a loose seal and anything more risks crushing the filter head. Never tighten an oil filter with a filter wrench. That tool is designed only to remove filters.

The oil filter is sturdy, but the screw threads that allow it to screw onto the engine are soft and prone to stripping. This can be tested by grasping the oil filter and determining whether it is a tight fit. If the threads are damaged, the oil filter must be replaced.

Under- or Over-Tightening the Drain Plug

Over-tightening the drain plug on the oil pan is a common issue because it is so easy to do. The drain plug should be hand tightened and then finished off with a wrench, but only until it is secure. Tightening it beyond that can crack the plug and even the drain pan itself.

It is also possible to under-tighten the drain plug. This is simply corrected by using a wrench to tighten it a bit more, again, just until it is secure.

If the plug is too tight, loosen it a bit and see if that fixes the problem. If it is beyond redemption, drain the oil and replace the plug and gasket. They cost a couple of bucks at an auto supply store.

How Do I Know I Have an Oil Leak?

There are a handful of clear indicators that oil is leaking. The one that can be seen from inside the car is the oil warning light on the dashboard, which reports that the oil level in the vehicle has dropped to the point where it may affect the functioning of the engine. Because this indicator only comes on when the oil level has dropped quite low, it is preferable to find the oil leak before the warning light flashes on your dash.

The best indication that oil is leaking is a greasy brown fluid on the ground beneath the vehicle. (If the liquid is pink, you have a transmission fluid leak and if it is green you have a coolant leak. Those are also serious and should be dealt with ASAP. Finding oil on the ground suggests not only an oil leak but its location. It is easy to trace a leak from the oil pan or oil filter as the puddle develops directly beneath them.

Oil leaking from a seal is more difficult to trace. Sometimes it is possible to smell the oil being burned under the hood as it sits on hot engine parts. Oil being burned as part of the combustion process will be emitted with the exhaust. It may be possible to smell that as well, or see abnormally thick or blue smoke emanating from the exhaust pipe.

A Permanent Fix for Some Oil Leaks

A short-term fix that buys time by addressing the symptom is to add oil to the crank case to replace the oil lost. For small, slow leaks this can work fine, except for the environmental damage of leaking oil onto the road or burning it and emitting it into the air.

If the problem is a bad seal or a hole in the oil pan, adding a bottle of BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak offers an inexpensive fix if you are unable to take your vehicle to a mechanic or fix the cause of the problem yourself. The non-clogging formula is kind to gasoline and diesel engines and seals small leaks permanently. It also serves to repair and recondition rubber seals and gaskets throughout the system.

To use BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak, just pour a bottle slowly into the crank case and run the engine for an hour or two until the leak stops. Oil Stop Leak can be used for pinion seals, gear cases, shock absorbers, gear boxes, axle seals and gear differentials as well. Just take care not to use it in brake systems or on painted surfaces.

If you had an oil change done on your car by a professional and it starts leaking, take your car back and have it fixed. Oil leaking after an oil change is not normal and needs to be addressed.

BlueDevil Products can be found at AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, O’Reilly Auto Parts, NAPA, Parts Authority, and other major auto parts retailers.

BlueDevil Products can be found on Amazon.com or at AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, O’Reilly Auto Parts, NAPA, and other major auto parts retailers.

15 responses to "Why is My Oil Leaking After an Oil Change?"


  1. Teddy on August 1, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    I just recently did a complete oil change, new sparkplugs, radiator flush and replaced thermostat for a friend because 4 cylinder 2005 Rav4 truck was overheating and cooling back to back spiradically so we would stop to let it cool before starting it but would always be a hard start and sometimes get a puff of white smoke at beginning of ignition. The truck was acting like it was the thermostat or warped head and also had oil tinged in radiator fluid, but oil reservoir cap looked normal. once all fluids were back in , smoke and oil were coming outta tailpipe so ran small bottle of Blue devil pour-n-go and let idle for a half hour as the smoke became less apparent as well as the oil stopped and no leaking of any of the fluids i had just refilled, then drove it to store and went to start it and was a whining hard start. Finally got it started after 30 minutes of letting it cool down. Parked over night, started up after the 4th try went to store and was smelling oil burning and dark smoke, checked all around spots that i had opened up or around filter but the leaking was coming out and pooling on opposite side of motor seemingly close to top or midway up from bottom, drove back from store and truck died 200 ft from driveway opened hood and almost burnt my hand when i opened oil cap with a rag even. Super hot! i am just not understanding why this would take place after an oil change and the once clean oiled dipstick has turned alot darker after only 3 runs 2 minutes down the road. Now will not start. I did ask the owner last time he had oil changed and he said personally 2 years ago but this is an old man who only leaves house once per week for only couple hours each and had engine replaced 6 months ago which the installment would require oil i would think. His oil that i discarded was super black ran it for 3-4 weeks then did another oil change and now this is happening. Please lemme know what sense this makes and if there’s any cheapest fix outside of a mechanic. Thank you!

    • BlueDevil Pro on August 2, 2021 at 9:38 am


      Thank you for asking about your Toyota Rav4. BlueDevil Stop Smoke & Engine Repair will reduce oil loss and stop exhaust smoke for leaks coming from the valve guide seals or o-rings. Unfortunately, if the leak is from worn/damaged piston rings or from the head gasket, the product would not be able to effect these components. A hard part repair may be your best option. Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 for further assistance.

      Thank you!


    • Joy Eastman on September 4, 2023 at 1:52 am

      My black stallion is ill (2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT). It is a beauty. Both sharp with an added level of tactical badassery, in appearance. I love it. Lately, I noticed some unusual drips without much color. A very pale dirty yellow substance that was oily to the touch. Informed my mechanic and he put it up and looked around. Nothing leaking, he said. It was some A/C drips that can take on an oily effect. I smiled, relieved (never noticed any drip like that before). A few weeks later, I drove from Northern MN to Phoenix AZ for a business trip. Just over 1800 miles, one-way. Checked oil dip stick the next day after arriving… it didn’t register oil after wiping and reinserting. I didn’t drive it for a few days. Once I did, I took it to a Valvoline. They checked it and it wasn’t ready to be changed. They added fluids for free and I went on my merry way! Relieved. Two weeks later, I’m heading back to MN.
      More oil was sitting on my garage floor. I took pics this time to show the mechanic. He denied an oil leak, changed it, and said to bring it back the next day to check it. I did and he gave me an okay signal. Then told me to bring it in next (this week) just to be sure.

      Well, tonight there’s a huge wet spot… more like a pond of oil underneath a large part of the length of my truck. (Sniffs!)

      My new job starts Tuesday. I can’t even get a rental car tomorrow because of the holiday. I missed work last week due to catching COVID on my training business trip recently. Now, my gorgeous black stallion is essentially bleeding to death in my garage.

      I was angry at the mechanic. Now, I’m just plain saddened. Every barrier that can occur for my brand new start is occurring. I just wanna lay down and give up. I’m fearful my truck is ruined at just being 3 years old.

      There were no weirdnesses driving it today. No leaking in my driveway or any oil on the concrete apron in front of the garage. It’s like my truck waited to get home before letting the oil loose everywhere inside the garage. (Glass half full it happened at home).

      But my heart is heavy. I’m hoping it looks worse than it is. I’m not mechanically inclined. Is my truck on its last leg? Fyi: no smells, smoke, shifting issues. It ran beautifully to and from town (60 miles, round-trip). No weird sounds. In fact, the only reason I noticed the massive leak was because my clumsy hindend dropped my keys. When I bent down to retrieve them… there it was.

      I’m tearing up now. Yeah, it’s a truck. But it’s my first brand new vehicle I bought back in 2020. It’s my baby. I take care of it religiously. For what? It’s falling apart anyways. Should’ve bought a rez bomb instead. (Bawling into my pillow).

      • BlueDevil Pro on September 5, 2023 at 1:25 pm


        Thank you for asking about your Chevy Silverado. In a situation like this, it may be best to bring the vehicle to a different mechanic for a second opinion. Obviously, if you are seeing a puddle of oil on the garage floor, it must be leaking from somewhere. It’s strange that the first mechanic couldn’t trace the source of the leak, however, it’s definitely not a situation where you should be giving up on the vehicle, especially something of that age.

        Thank you!


  2. Jen on June 28, 2022 at 5:21 pm

    Shortly after my oil change my oil coolant line started to leak, is this because they did something wrong?

    • BlueDevil Pro on June 29, 2022 at 8:18 am


      Changing the oil would not have caused the coolant line to leak, so more than likely, there was a small leak that became noticeable after the oil was changed. Replacing the coolant line would be your best option.

      Thank you!


  3. Alejandra on October 25, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    Could the leak after an oil change be caused by the oil pan itself?
    I just got a change and all of a sudden I’m having huge puddles of new oil under my car. New filter doesn’t look dirty with oil.

    • BlueDevil Pro on October 26, 2022 at 8:12 am


      It is possible that the oil pan itself is leaking. If that is the case, replacing the oil pan would be your only option.

      Thank you!


  4. PATRICE on November 22, 2022 at 7:20 pm

    We just had the oil changed at Quick Lube Plus. The next day, 2 quarts of oil had leaked somewhere, not on the ground, it was all over the engine & perhaps wherever he drove it that day. So we took the car back to Quick Lube & they cleaned all the oil off the engine & said it was leaking from the Valve Cover Gasket & the Timing Cover Gasket. They originally charged $100 for the oil change & charged to put more oil in the 2nd visit. So I called & asked why would they let my BF drive away with all those issues? I don’t think thats the issue. I think they did something else to it. So my BF left & bought some extra oil to stop & fill it because he was gonna drive 3 hours to visit his Mom but the engine died & he couldn’t get it started & had to pay $350 to get it towed home. I think the manager should’ve checked the employees work. He didn’t check the oil filter or any I f the other things you said it could be. But there was no puddle but 2 quarts were gone. And even after filling it back up & driving it, it died. Any thoughts on that? I’m gonna report it to the Atty General but want to have a separate mechanic check it out, looking at it from the perspective of what the oil change guy could’ve done wrong

    • BlueDevil Pro on November 23, 2022 at 8:32 am


      Typically, if you are getting the oil changed on your vehicle and are experiencing a leak, the shop/mechanic will point that out during your visit and recommend next steps. Losing 2 quarts of oil in one day would indicate a pretty substantial leak, which should have been noticeable during the oil change. Hope this helps.

      Thank you!


  5. Kayla Wilson on February 22, 2023 at 2:02 pm

    I just did my oil change 3 days ago and now all my oil is gone and missing. It’s not leaking on the ground. I’m not getting any smoke upon start up. I don’t smell anything burning. The shop can’t diagnose the problem. So I have no idea what that issue is why my oil keeps dissapearing.

    • BlueDevil Pro on February 23, 2023 at 8:30 am


      To confirm, you’re losing the entire oil capacity after a few days, and there is no evidence as to where the oil is going to or coming from? It would be very uncommon to have such a large loss of oil and not see anything on the ground or notice smoke from the oil burning off. We’d recommend bringing the vehicle to a certified ASE mechanic of a proper diagnosis. They would probably need to keep the vehicle a few days to thoroughly inspect the problem.

      Thank you!


  6. Brenda Allen-Blake on April 1, 2023 at 10:23 pm

    Changed the oil pan and put a new gasket on with gasket sealant, the next day we put a new oil filter on .. oil is still leaking.. no oil in the radiator nor is there smoke coming out of the tail end.. 97 dodge caravan 3.0 litler..

    • BlueDevil Pro on April 3, 2023 at 9:11 am


      Is the oil leak still coming from around the oil pan gasket? Unfortunately, the product we manufacture wouldn’t really have any influence on a new rubber. The job may need to be completed again.

      Thank you!


  7. Sara on June 28, 2023 at 9:49 pm


    I had my oil changed on 6/27/2023 and the next day the coolant light and smoke was coming from the hood. When I inspected underneath the hood I noticed there was no coolant in the car and there was puddle of coolant visible on the ground on the passenger side behind the wheel. Oil Lube claims they checked the coolant fluid and that it was full. Prior to this oil change the coolant light never came on. I also paid to have coolant service March of 2023 and advised by oil lube everything was good. I contacted oil lube and they advised that it was the censor on my car. When I contacted the dealership I was advised it was not censor because there was smoke coming from the engine.

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

Search Blog


Blog Categories