The truth is an engine can leak oil for many different reasons. Knowing why your engine is leaking can help you find the best solutions to stop your leaks. It can also help diagnose the underlying problems and help avoid major damage and costly repairs down the road. We’ve put together a list of possible causes of engine oil leaks to help you determine where your leak is coming from and how to treat it.
Different Leak Locations
Engine oil can leak from different parts of your engine. The most common leak locations include:
- Oil filter: One of the most common places for an engine oil leak is around the oil filter gasket. This occurs when the filter isn’t adequately tightened or if it loosens over time. Usually it’s simply a matter of tightening the filter to the manufacturers specifications — which is typically printed on the side of the filter. Be careful not to over-tighten, as this can damage the bolt or threads. When you change your oil filter, make sure the mating surface is clean, and the old gasket is completely removed.
- Oil pan gasket: Older cars feature a steel or aluminum oil pan, while some modern vehicles have a plastic oil pan. In all cases, a gasket is present between the pan and engine block to create a seal. Different stresses such as pressure, thermal expansion and vibrations can cause oil pan gaskets to leak. The bolts can also loosen over time, allowing oil to seep out. A quick check of the bolt torque on your oil pan can often be all it takes to stop an oil pan engine oil leak.
- Oil pump leak: Depending on the type of engine you have, you may have an external oil pump that’s attached to your engine block with bolts and a gasket. Like with your oil pan, this gasket can wear out over time and allow oil to leak. Additionally, insufficient oil in your oil pump can cause premature wear to the pump and oil starvation to your engine, leading to further — and possibly major — damage. Verify your oil pump bolts are adequately tightened — if you have access to them.
- Rocker cover leak: The valve train of your engine is covered with a rocker or valve cover — a single cover for an inline engine or two for a V-style engine. A gasket between the cover and cylinder head keeps the engine oil from leaking out. Engine oil leaks at this location are relatively common, especially in older vehicles. Different types of gaskets — rubber, cork, silicone or liquid sealants — are used as OEM and replacement solutions, but all are susceptible to leaks after years of use.
With so many possible locations for an engine oil leak, it can be tricky to determine where your leak is coming from. When possible, it is a good idea to find the leak and stop it at the source. If you can’t find exactly where your leak is coming from or if the cost of doing a physical repair is too great and you want to save time and money, a bottle of one of our Bar’s Leaks stop oil leak products stops your leak permanently in no time at all.