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No one wants to have to experience an oil leak, but this is a very common problem for car owners. Oil is, after all, the lifeblood of your engine, so when it’s puddling underneath your car, burning within your engine, or smoking from your tailpipe, that’s a bad sign because no blood means no life, and replacing a dead engine can be very, very costly.
Why and where is your car leaking? There are a number of places to begin your search.
The oil filter – this should be changed every time you have your oil changed, but in between oil changes, it still can become misaligned, wear out, or leak. If this is your oil leak problem, congratulations. It’s simple and inexpensive to fix.
The valve cover gasket – Gaskets cover the valves on your engines and are common leak points. The valve cover is a metal cover on top of the engine, and the valve cover gasket is made of either rubber or cork and seals it. Due to temperature fluctuations within the engine – from very hot to very cold – the engine oil often degrades over time into sludge, pressure within the engine increases, and eventually it will leak. If this is your problem the top of the engine will be covered in oil.
The oil drain plug – The oil drain plug is located below the engine at the base of the oil pan, and to check for missing washers or gaskets, it must be removed. Your mechanic will be looking for cracked rubber, bent metal washers, or stripped threading on the oil drain plug itself. Fixing a problem with the oil drain plug should also incorporate an oil change since most of the same steps are necessary anyway.
The oil filler cap – If the cap to where oil is added to the engine is missing, loose, or broken, oil can spill out when the engine is running. Your technician will check this part as well to determine whether it’s in good working order.
The rear seal – At the rear of the engine near the transmission, there is a seal that could also be in need of replacement. Because this part is difficult to access, it’s an expensive repair and harder to diagnose, but one way of detecting it is if you can see blue smoke coming from underneath the car near the rear of the engine.
An oil leak in your engine doesn’t have to be terrible news. Many of these problems can be fixed relatively easily and inexpensively. However, letting an engine leak go unaddressed is a good way to make a simple problem more complex over time, so if you see this happening, call your auto garage and make an appointment to bring your car in before this can happen.