When an Oil Leak Gets Ugly: The Oil-Soaked Starter

One of the symptoms of a oil leak that almost nobody talks about is when oil saturates and damages a starter. This equals a (sometimes expensive) repair, and if left unchecked the leak can go on to cause other issues. Bad news all around. We know. We talk to tech line callers about it frequently.

Typically, when you notice an oil-covered starter, the oil leak is coming from the engine’s rear main seal, which unfortunately is common, especially in older cars. With today’s attention on keeping cars longer, it pays to take care of oil leaks before they rack up repair bills. What starts with a small oil drop on the driveway here and there can quickly escalate into a damaged starter and other problems.

Most haven’t seen what an oil-soaked starter looks like, so we’ve taken some pics in our lab to show exactly how an oil leak can spread and damage the starter:

Not a good problem to have. Rear main seal leaks can start at 60,000 to 80,000 miles. Many people won’t notice a rear main leak for a while as it is gradual. The oil leaks, gets covered with dirt and road grime, then more oil builds up on top of it, which is what this starter picture represents.

It’s a slow process that can one day present problems you never knew you had.

When we talk to customers on our tech lines, we tell them to use Bar’s Leaks Concentrated Rear Main Seal Repair (p/n 1040) for engine oil leaks. The formula is tried-and-true, with over 2.2 million bottles sold across the USA. It seals rear main, cam seal and timing cover leaks, and restores shrunk and hardened seals.


Most importantly, it’s safe and easy to use, even if you don’t know much about engines. In under three minutes, you can have Bar’s Leaks Rear Main Seal installed and working in your engine to stop your oil leak. We engineer our products to be safe and effective, no matter what. Guaranteed.

For more information about Bar’s Leaks Rear Main Seal Repair and how it can help your oil leak, click here. And if you want more technical detail, here is the official Tech Sheet.

Thanks, and if you have any questions, be sure to hit us up on Facebook or call our tech lines at 800–345–6572 (M-F 9am – 5 pm EST).

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