Engine Oil Leaks
Oh, crap. Thereâ€™s an oil stain on the ground where your car was parked last night. Which can only mean one thing: your carâ€™s sprung a leak.
How much is this going to cost? Can you ignore it and just hope it goes away? Is anyone going to notice that your car just left a mess in their driveway? What causes a car to start leaking oil, anyway?
Identifying Oil Leaks
Before you can even think about fixing the problem, you have to figure out which part of the car is leaking. The engine, transmission, and power steering system all use different kinds of oil, and any of them could spring a leak.
Occasionally, you can tell which part is leaking by catching it in the act, or based on the location of the oil stains. In most cases, though, things like skid plates, the frame, and other parts of the car get in the way, redirecting the drops and making it hard to see exactly where the oil is coming from.
So, the best way to identify an oil leak is to look at the oil itself.
- Leaking motor oil will be black or some shade of brown (unless you just had the oil changed, in which case it will be a lighter amber or yellow color).
- Transmission oil has a reddish color.
- Power steering fluid is relatively clear, at least when itâ€™s new.
Note that the radiator can also leak coolant, which these days can come in many different colors. However, coolant isnâ€™t oil. That means it wonâ€™t feel oily to the touch, and it will eventually evaporate and dry up.
Of course, you can also tell what is leaking by checking the fluid levels. If your transmission fluid is low, you know that your transmission is leaking. If your power steering fluid is low, youâ€™ll need to find and fix a power steering fluid leak.
If your motor oil is low, there are actually two potential problems: either the engine is leaking oil, or it is burning oil. How do you know which one? Well, if youâ€™re seeing signs of an oil leak, and your transmission and power steering fluid levels are both full, then you know the leak is coming from the engine. But if either your transmission or power steering fluid levels are low, then they are likely the source of the leak, and your low engine oil is being caused by an oil burning problem. In that case, youâ€™ll need to both fix the transmission/power steering leak, and stop your engine from burning oil.
What Causes Engine Oil Leaks?
Almost all engine oil leaks are caused by a faulty gasket or seal. It is very rare for a leak to develop in one of the metal parts of the engine, unless you hit something with enough force to punch a hole it in (like bottoming out the oil pan on a large rock). Itâ€™s very common, though, for the soft gaskets between the metal pieces to harden or shrink over time. Itâ€™s something you can almost expect to happen at some point as a car ages.
Can I just Ignore an Engine Oil Leak?
Ah, the old sweep-it-under-the-rug method. Should you ignore an oil leak, pretend it doesnâ€™t exist, or just hope it somehow goes away on its own?
Itâ€™s a bad idea because what seems like a minor problem (leaking oil) can soon cause a really major problem (like having to buy a new engine, or having your car literally catch fire on the freeway).
The problem with ignoring a motor oil leak is that your car really, really needs oil to function. Once enough oil leaks out, your engine will start breaking down in a major way. Parts will wear out, overheat, and eventually seize up completely.
What if you just add more oil to replace what leaks out? Though this might protect parts from wear, it wonâ€™t fix the problem. If anything, the leak will likely get worse over time. That means youâ€™ll have to continually buy more and more oil, while making more and more of a mess everywhere you go. Itâ€™s bad for your pocketbook, bad for the environment, and wonâ€™t help you make any friends.
Plus, some of that oil stays on your motor. If it gets too hot, or drips on the wrong part, the oil can catch fire. A grease fire under the hood, where it can be further fueled by rubber hoses, plastic covers, and fuel itself, can be a life-threatening problem.
How to Fix an Engine Oil Leak
Fixing even a small oil leak can be an expensive proposition. The cost of getting a mechanic to replace a leaky engine gasket commonly runs in the hundreds to even over a thousand dollars, with most of that (rightfully) going towards labor costs. Taking apart an engine and putting it back together again correctly is not a quick or easy task.
Thankfully, there is another option you can try instead. Motor Honey Engine Oil Leak Stopper is a simple, low-cost solution that will seal minor leaks caused by dry or hardened engine gaskets (in other words, most leaks youâ€™re likely to come across). All you have to do pour the bottle into the engine oil; no tools and no mechanic needed. Then just drive the car as normal for a few days, and the leak will seal itself.
The best part is, it only costs a few bucks â€“ about as much as just adding a quart of oil.
Will it always work? No, not 100% of the time. It wonâ€™t fix a really major leak, like the aforementioned hole-punched-in-the-oil-pan. But it will work on the vast majority of engine oil leaks. And, again, it only costs a few dollars and takes about one minute to pour it in. If it works, youâ€™ve saved hundreds of dollars in mechanicâ€™s fees and at least a day or two in the shop. On the off chance it doesnâ€™t completely stop the leak, well, youâ€™re only out a few bucks, and you can still take it to the mechanic. So itâ€™s definitely worth a try.
To find out what stores near you carry Motor Honey Engine Oil Leak Stopper, click here.