Amid the winter weather, it’s important to practice road safety. And one of the most important rules in road safety is to maintain your vehicle.
With proper vehicle maintenance, you’ll have everything you need to traverse the icy roads and keep your car in good condition. One of the most important parts of car maintenance, though, is oil change—and for a reason. Without an oil change, your car’s engines can become too hot, warped, and worn out.
Despite these consequences, an oil change is one car maintenance task that is often overlooked. So you can’t be surprised if one day, you back out of your garage or driveway and see oil leak stains from where your car was parked.
If you have a puddle of oil under your vehicle, there might be a few reasons for this. We explain them below.
1. Blown Head Gasket
If you’re driving an older car, the reason for the oil leak might be a blown head gasket. The head gasket is responsible for sealing combustion gases within their cylinders while also preventing the coolant or engine oil to leak into the cylinders. It is made from layered steel or machined copper, making it highly durable.
But if, for example, the head gasket in your Subaru hasn’t been replaced once, chances are it has warped from the heat. Once it warps, it will not be able to contain engine oil within its place anymore, causing the latter to leak.
2. Damaged Oil Filter or Pan
Oil pans contain your reservoir of oil, so when they get damaged, oil leaks. Oil pans can be dented and damaged when you drive through rocks or potholes since they’re attached to the bottom of the engine. This results in a leak that happens once you park your car.
Damaged or subpar oil filters can also result in an engine oil leak. Apart from poor quality, oil filters may be incorrectly installed, receive the wrong lubricants, or simply deteriorate over time. This results in the oil leaking from the filter before it even goes into the car’s engine.
3. Broken Valve Seals
Valve seals are essential because they have almost the same function as head gaskets, which is preventing oil seepage. However, valve seals may get damaged, thanks to the heat of your car.
When you’re driving, engine components including your valve seals heat up. This makes the metal components expand. Once you park, your vehicle starts to cool down, making the same components start to contract. This may leave gaps between the valve seals where oil can then leak.
4. Misaligned Oil Pan Plug
Oil pans, as mentioned earlier, carry a reserve of oil to circulate through your engine. It’s attached to the bottom of the engine with bolts. If these bolts are not tightened properly or have somehow come loose, an engine oil leak is most likely to occur.
Preventing Oil Leaks
Oil leaks not only cause unsightly stains on your garage floor or driveway, but they are also an environmental hazard. Worse, engine oil leaks that are left undetected can cause a fire in your engine compartment.
With that said, here are some ways you can prevent engine oil from leaking:
1. Check your oil levels
Rapidly decreasing engine oil levels signals that it’s leaking somewhere. So, when driving, always pay attention to your oil levels.
2. Use a stop leak additive
If you cannot find the source of the oil leak and the leak is still small enough, try a stop leak additive for your engine oil. These additives revitalize the seals and head gaskets so that they return to their original size and flexibility, minimizing the oil that may leak through.
3. Check oil pan regularly
The above solution isn’t applicable if your oil pan is the problem. If the leak you notice occurs right underneath where your oil pan is located, make sure to check if the leak is indeed coming from that part. Then, secure the screws firmly. Make it a part of your maintenance to check your oil pans so you can prevent oil leaks before they happen.
4. Bring your car to a repair shop
Having a professional eye to look over your vehicle is always a good move. This is especially true if your engine oil leaks and you don’t have the expertise to fix it. This way, car technicians can easily detect what’s wrong with your car and suggest ways to fix them.
No matter the reason your engine oil is leaking, don’t wait until it’s too late to fix it. Use our guide above so you can try to detect and solve oil leaks from your car.