JL Motorworks’ Oil Leak FAQs

By July 10, 2017Engine

We get a lot of questions. Fortunately, we love sharing our knowledge and expertise about cars. All our mechanics are highly trained and super friendly to boot! Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are a great way to answer the questions we are most often asked, all in one place. Oil leaks are one of our most common repairs, so we’d like to take a few minutes to answer your questions about oil leaks.

So, without further ado…

Here are some of the most common JL Motorworks Oil Leak FAQs:

1. Why does my car need motor oil?

Your car needs motor oil. Oil is a lubricant. It lubricates your car’s engine, minimizes corrosion, helps prevent the engine from overheating, and reduces wear on moving parts. It is absolutely a critical component of your car, and without it, you are sure to face some serious consequences.

2. How can I tell if I have an oil leak?

JL Motorworks' Oil Leak FAQs

(source: Thirteen of Clubs, flickr.com)

If your car is leaking oil, you’ll see a puddle of dark brown (older motor oil) or yellowish-light brown (for newer motor oil) goo (not a technical term) underneath your car. Oil leaks can also have a rainbow sheen, as seen in the picture.

Side note: You might want to put down some newspaper or cardboard to avoid damaging your driveway or garage floor.

You may also smell a burnt odor and see blue smoke coming from your tailpipe.

Another way to check for an oil leak is to perform routine oil checks. Find your motor oil reservoir (under the hood — consult your owner’s manual to see where this is located). Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a dry cloth. Put the dipstick back into the reservoir and pull it out to see where it measures on the dipstick. Do this once a week and it will help you determine how quickly (and how much) your car is losing oil.

3. What causes oil leaks?

Oil leaks can be caused by any of the following issues:

  • degraded engine gaskets
  • oil pan leaks
  • faulty oil seals
  • improperly installed oil filter
  • corroded oil cooler line
  • bad connections

These can happen over time due to wear and tear, or they can be the result of poorly made or faulty components.

4. Is it safe to drive with an oil leak?

According to Blue Devil, how long you should drive with an oil leak depends on a few factors:

First, it depends on the size and location of the oil leak. Some leaks will drip while the engine is running, while others will leak whether the car is running or just sitting parked.

It also depends on how much you drive. For some leaks this will mean more oil lost, but for all leaks, the more you drive, the sooner you will have the oil supply in your engine replenished to the proper level during an oil change.

Lastly, it depends on how much oil your car engine holds. If you have a 100 series Land Cruiser with the giant straight 6 motor that holds almost 9 quarts of oil, a small drip will not affect the oil level much. On the other hand, if you have a Saturn sedan with a 4 cylinder motor, a few days of dripping may significantly affect oil level.

Driving with an oil leak can become a fire hazard and can ultimately cause your engine to fail completely — which, while driving, is very unsafe. Not to mention the longer you wait, the more expensive your repairs may be. As soon as you detect (or suspect) an oil leak, contact your mechanic and get your car checked right away.

5. What should I do if I detect an oil leak?

If you detect an oil leak in your car, add some motor oil to the oil reservoir and call your trusted mechanic. Your mechanic will need to run some diagnostics to determine the root cause of the leak.

Be sure to only use the oil recommended for your car in your owner’s manual.

6. How can I prevent an oil leak?

Depending on you car and how often you drive it, you may not be able to prevent an oil leak forever, but the best thing you can do is stay on top of all maintenance. Regular oil changes, oil filter changes, using the proper motor oil, regular inspections and tune-ups and washes — all these things will help keep your car in tip-top shape. And when something seems off, get your car into the mechanic right away to get it diagnosed and fixed — and prevent more costly repairs down the road.