If you’ve recently noticed a pool of liquid under your car after parking it for a while, there is a problem with one of the engine parts with oil. Engine oil is the main lubricant keeping your powertrain in perfect condition and ensuring optimum performance.
You’d be surprised when you learn how many engine parts come into contact with the oil and in how many areas, it can get leaked. Apart from the engine oil, there are other fluids as well, such as transmission oil, brake fluid, and hydraulic steering fluid.
If you’re concerned about your car leaking oil even when parked and want to know how to fix it, you’re at the right place. Let’s go through some of the common reasons behind your car leaking oil even when parked and how you can get them fixed easily.
Most Common Reasons Behind Your Car Leaking Oil Even When Parked
If you’re concerned about your car leaking oil, even when it is parked, you should think of the following possible problems;
Loose or Damaged Oil Pan Cover
One of the most common reasons behind your car leaking oil is a loose or broken oil pan cover. It is a big round cover that is located on the top of your engine and is used when an oil change is required.
If it’s not tightened properly or is damaged, the oil would spill out and get leaked. It is one of the most meagre issues and must be solved promptly.
Damaged Head Gasket
It is one of the most crucial parts of your engine, sandwiched between the cylinder head and the engine block. It prevents the engine oil and coolant from mixing and ensures optimal performance.
If your head gasket has gotten damaged or completely blown, due to wear and negligence in maintenance, the oil would leak and form a pool of dark fluid under your car. This is a serious issue and must be attended to immediately by an expert technician, as it is a complex job.
Leakage in the Oil Pan
Though it’s a sturdy part, the oil pan can get damaged due to rust, or debris on the road. If your oil pan gets damaged or its seals get weak, the oil would not be contained properly inside and it would leak.
This usually happens in older cars with a lot of rust in the undercarriage area. If your new car is leaking oil, some stone or debris might hit it from below while driving at high speeds.
Damaged Oil Pan Gasket
The oil pan gasket is located at the junction of the engine and the oil pan and prevents the oil from leaking when your car is switched off. As it is located underneath your engine, it is mostly exposed to all the harmful chemicals and debris on the road.
If the oil pan gasket is damaged, the oil will leak and get spilled on the road. It is a serious issue and must be addressed quickly before the damage becomes fatal.
Faulty Oil Pan Drain Plug
Needless to say, this comes out to be the most common culprit when oil leakage occurs. The oil drain plug is located underneath the oil pan and it is loosened to drain the oil during maintenance routines.
If it is not tightened properly or gets damaged due to wear or has damaged seals, the oil would drain imminently and form a pool of dark fluid under your car, after you park it for a while.
Problematic Oil Filter
Oil circulates through the engine after passing through the oil filter continuously. If the oil filter is not of proper size, has a damaged anti-reflux valve, or has weak seals, the engine oil would leak and get spilled. It is crucial that you get OEM filters while getting your car serviced, to avoid such problems.
Camshaft Seal Damage
A camshaft controls the intake and exhaust valves in the engine and works continuously in continuous harmony with the engine and timing chain. The camshaft gets lubricated by the engine oil and has a seal at the junction where it connects with the timing chain.
If these seals get damaged or wear off, the oil gets leaked from the lower part of the engine and spills when the car is left to sit.
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How to Really Fix an Oil Leak?
If your car is leaking oil even when parked, you need to address the problem promptly. It could be a loose oil pan cover, a faulty valve cover gasket, or a blown head gasket. Here’s what you should do to fix an oil leak;
1. Upon noticing the leak, do not start the car or keep driving it. Open the hood and try to spot the source of the leak.
2. If you’re at home or have a workshop nearby, try to drive down there and have it checked by a mechanic.
3. If you’re away from home or stranded somewhere, try to look for the source of the leak and fix it.
4. If it’s a loose plug or cover, simply tighten it and observe for a while. If it’s a leak in some gasket or valve, try to repair the leak with a cover and adhesive, and try to reach a nearby repair shop.
5. If nothing works, call the rescue and tow services and have your car taken to a workshop for repairs.
Q1- Can you drive with an oil leak?
It is not advisable to drive with an oil leak in your car. Though it could be simply a loose plug or cover, if the problem is severe and your engine runs dry, it could even seize or get damaged beyond repair.
Q2- Is it normal for an old car to leak oil?
Whether new or old, a car leaking oil is never normal. Older cars usually have worn-out seals, gaskets, and damaged oil pans due to rust and corrosion. If your old car is leaking oil, you need to get it checked and fixed immediately.
Q3- How much does it cost to repair an oil leak?
The cost of repairing an oil leak depends on the issue that’s causing it. Here’s how much an oil leak repair can cost you;
· Damaged drain plug: $25
· Blown head gasket: $400
· Broken valve cover gasket: $120
· Leaking oil pan: $50-300 (repairs/replacement)
Q4- How long can you drive with an oil leak?
Ideally, you shouldn’t drive with an oil leak but if you necessarily have to drive, it should not be more than a couple of miles. At max, you can drive 10-15 miles with an oil leak and this window is when you should take your car for repair.
Oil leakage is a fairly common yet not a fatal problem. There could be multiple reasons behind your car leaking oil even when parked, and you should not take this issue lightly. It could be either a loose cap, faulty plug, blown gasket or leaking valves. No matter what’s causing an oil leak, you should not drive your car with an oil leak, but drive down to a nearby workshop to get it checked and fixed.