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How to Fix an Oil Leak

How to Fix an Oil Leak

Knowing how to find and fix an oil leak in the car can be of great help during emergency situations, wherein you can fix the problem for the time being, and also when it comes to minor issues, which you can then fix on your own.
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: Feb 27, 2018
Automotive - Oil Check
The oil that leaks from your car makes it to the storm drain and flows into the sea. By fixing oil leaks in time, you don't just save your money, but also do your bit for the environment.
Normally, cars experience a wide range of leaks, ranging from automatic transmission fluid leak to that of windshield washer fluid. However, none of these leaks is as common as an engine oil leak. Engine oil plays the dual role of a coolant and lubricant, so it's obvious that its shortage will reflect badly on the overall functioning of the car. Thus, it is important to find and fix the leak before it leads to further complications.
How to Diagnose and Fix an Oil Leak?
A small pool of oil beneath your car is the most obvious sign of an oil leak. However, it is highly unlikely that you will check the ground just to see if there are any traces of oil. The simplest method of diagnosing this problem is to spread a newspaper beneath the car at night and check it for oil stains the next morning.

The next step is to find the source of leak beneath the hood. It will be difficult to trace the leak in an engine totally smeared with oil, and hence, you will have to degrease it to find the source. Check all the bolts in the engine, as loose bolts are most likely to cause oil leak. You can also use a dipstick to determine whether you are losing oil; this is yet another indicator of an underlying leak.
Issues With the Valve Cover and Oil Filter
In most of the cases, engine oil leak is traced to valve covers―loosening of bolts which fix the valve covers to be precise. If the leak is not very serious, you can simply tighten the cover bolts and the problem will be fixed. However, if the problem is major you may have to opt for new valve cover gasket to fix the same.

Besides this, you also need to note that oil leak is not just restricted to valve covers. Any damage to the oil filter or oil pan can also trigger this problem. Before you chalk out the repair plan, you will also have to check whether the oil filter is properly fixed or not (and do the needful.) If it is not fixed properly, the chances of oil leakage will just increase.
Issues With the Oil Plug
At times, people fail to fix the oil drain plug properly after changing the oil, which, in turn, causes oil seepage. In this case, you will have to check whether the oil drain plug has been fixed properly or not, and do the needful. There are cases wherein people forget to replace the washer while fixing the oil drain plug. The resultant pressure on the oil pan damages it, as a result of which oil starts trickling out. If this is the problem, you will have to plug the hole using an over-sized drain plug.
Issues With the Oil Pan
Damage―in the form of a hole―can also be caused to the oil pan as a result of running over a rock or bumping into raised ground. If the resultant hole is not very big, you will be able to fix it by plugging a bolt into it. On the other hand, if it is very big, you will have to resort to welding. You need to keep in mind that the bolt method is just a temporary arrangement. You will have to get it fixed at a car workshop, so as to ensure that it doesn't worsen with time.
Note: It goes without saying that you will have to drain all the oil when you are working on the oil pan.
Even problems with engine seal can trigger an oil leak. When the engine seal breaks down, the gap created in it allows the oil to seep out. In such a situation, you can resort to some stop leak product to fix this problem.
Cost incurred in repairing oil leaks depends on which part of the car has been damaged. You can fix some simple damages on your own, while others may require professional expertise. While there is no questioning the fact that oil leaks or any other car problem for that matter can be fixed, you need to understand that these problems can be avoided in the first place by giving priority to the basic maintenance of the car. Car maintenance won't just help you to continue with your smooth rides, but will also ensure that car repairs don't make a hole in your wallet.