Posted under Motor Oil

What’s something you look for but hope to never see? Sounds like a children’s riddle, but since the answer is “a car leaking oil,” this is most definitely not fun and games! Engine oil can leak while you’re driving, but a dark puddle of liquid under your car is more noticeable than fluid dripping on the road while moving. However, if you discover this issue, you are probably wondering, “Why is my car leaking oil?”

Car Leaking Oil: Possible Causes

Let’s look at a few common causes of leaking oil.

Gasket Troubles
Gaskets seal the surfaces between different components of the engine. The gaskets can degrade over time and can wear out and become brittle. When this happens, they can’t perform as they were designed to, and motor oil leaks can occur.

Damaged Oil Pan
An oil pan is a storage area for oil when your engine isn’t running. When rough road surfaces, debris, or corrosion damage the oil pan, it can cause oil leaks. 

Loose Drain Plug
The drain plug attached to the oil pan allows oil to drain from the engine. If the plug becomes loose or its seal is worn or damaged, the engine oil can leak.

Faulty Valve Seals or Piston Rings
Is blue smoke coming from the exhaust? This can be a sign of an internal engine oil leak, too. The problem is likely a faulty valve seal or piston ring. When working properly:

  • Valve seals help prevent oil from leaking uncontrolled through the valve guides
  • Piston oil control rings provide lubrication control between the pistons and cylinder walls

Blue smoke may indicate that the valve seals or piston rings are allowing oil to leak into the engine’s combustion chamber.

Oil Filter Issues
An oil filter filters contaminants and debris to help keep the engine oil clean. Over time, an oil filter can corrode and rupture, which can cause oil leaks. An oil filter that’s improperly installed, incompatible with your vehicle, or has a defective seal can also lead to leaks.

Oil Filler Cap Problems
If the oil filler cap on your engine is loose, damaged, or missing, oil can easily splash out, especially when driving.

Car Leaking Oil: Next Steps

You may have found the signs of a leak, and now you’re wondering if a car leaking oil is safe to drive. The answer is NO, and here’s why:

  • As the engine heats up, the oil temperature will heat up, lowering its flash point. It could catch fire if that heated oil leaks onto the hot exhaust.
  • When oil leaks, its level will drop reducing the lubrication system’s ability to provide adequate lubrication, thus, leading to your engine requiring expensive, extensive repairs.

No matter how the leaking oil started, taking your vehicle to an automotive professional for service is a safe bet.

Stop By Your Local Jiffy Lube for Oil Change Services

One of the best ways to avoid finding yourself with a car leaking oil is to follow your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Count on Jiffy Lube® for maintenance that follows your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations and considers your individual driving habits and conditions.

When it’s time for an oil change, choose the Jiffy Lube Signature Service® Oil Change, a comprehensive preventive maintenance check for your entire vehicle: 

1.    Change

  • Oil, with the type, weight, and volume recommended by the manufacturer
  • Oil filter

2.    Clean

  • Exterior windows and mirrors
  • Vacuum interior floors

3.    Inspect

  • Radiator fluid levels
  • Engine air filtration
  • Belts
  • Brake fluid level (in transparent reservoirs)
  • Wiper blades
  • Exterior lights
  • Chassis (lubricate where available)

4.    Check/Fill

  • Transmission fluid
  • Tire pressure
  • Differential/transfer case fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Battery water (excluding sealed battery)

After these four steps are completed, the technician can place a sticker on the upper left corner of your windshield to remind you when your next oil change is due. Or, if your vehicle has a dashboard message center that displays oil life, the technician will reset your monitor to reflect your new engine oil change.

NOTE: Not all services are offered at all Jiffy Lube service centers. Please call ahead or check to ensure the service is available at the Jiffy Lube location near you.