Top Symptoms of an Engine Oil Leak

  • Jan 26,2017
engine oil cap engine oil cap

Ugly, greasy stains on the driveway...a burning smell and smoke coming from your engine...and the oil light on your dashboard flicking on and off—yikes! This sounds like it could be an engine oil leak. Not only are these issues hard to ignore, but they're signs of a problem you can’t afford to ignore. Putting off repairs for an oil leak could lead to bigger headaches later on, from serious engine damage to overheating on the side of the road. Study up on the top symptoms of an engine oil leak so you can recognize one if you see it, and learn more about the important role oil plays in the health of your vehicle.

Five symptoms of an oil leak

1. Dark puddles under your car

When you back out from your driveway or parking space, check to see if there are dark brown or yellow puddles where your car was sitting. (Pro-Tip: If you don't have a dedicated parking space you can watch for spotting, lay down a piece of cardboard or a plastic plate underneath your vehicle when you park. That way you can confirm the leak is coming from your car, not someone else's.) If your oil pan has a leak, it will spill out directly onto the pavement and could cause issues with oil levels and pressure.

2. Smoke from the engine

If oil drips onto the exhaust manifold, it’s going to result in smoke coming from the engine area. Leave this problem unattended for too long and leaking oil could damage the oxygen sensors or cause gaskets to break down.

3. The dashboard oil light

Your oil light is a dashboard warning that you shouldn't ignore. It will alert you if the oil level or oil pressure is lower than normal. While it doesn’t automatically indicate a leak, it does require further inspection.

4. Engine overheating

Engine oil plays an essential role in regulating the engine's temperature. It lubricates the pistons and makes sure they glide smoothly within their housing. Without proper lubrication, the pistons will grind against other parts of the engine, produce great amounts of heat, and potentially cause your engine to seize-up and stall. If there's an oil leak and the oil level drops too low, the engine could overheat.

5. Smell of burning oil

If there’s oil leaking onto your engine's hot metal parts, you're likely to smell burning oil and hear a sizzle, sizzle when the oil comes into contact with the hot engine. If you notice an unpleasant smell that's thick and bitter paired with the sound of bacon frying under the hood, you could have an oil leak.

"I think I have an oil leak! Now what?"

If you believe you have an oil leak, don’t waste time getting it checked out. Oil lubricates the moving parts of your engine, reducing friction and regulating the temperature of your engine. Driving with a leak could mean extra wear and tear on your vehicle and unfortunate engine damage.

The easiest way to spot an oil leak as soon as it sprouts is by getting your oil changed at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. Your car’s manual will detail exactly how often this is. At Tires Plus, every oil change service comes with a courtesy vehicle inspection that can alert you to an evolving issue that may lead to an oil leak, or bring your attention to an existing leak.

Let our technicians solve your engine oil troubles

If you suspect something fishy is going on under your hood, visit your nearest Tires Plus and have our technicians take a look. They can help identify and repair leaks, but they can also take care of an important preventative service: your oil change. You can rely on them for excellent service and sound advice. And if your trusty vehicle has been loved for over 75,000 miles, talk to your technician about the benefits of high mileage oil too. This type of oil can help restore seals, prevent leaks, and enhance your overall engine performance. Schedule your appointment online or stop by your neighborhood Tires Plus today.

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