Answers to Common Oil Leak Questions
What are some things I can do to determine how bad my engine oil leak is?
First get into the habit of checking your engine oil regularly and getting routine oil changes. Most vehicles have a dipstick that will indicate your oil level manually. Your oil level should be in between the two notches or lines on your dipstick. If you have a low engine oil level, the oil will only mark toward the tip of the dipstick. Sometimes if your engine oil is really low, you won’t even have an indication of oil on your dipstick. If that is ever the case, you can add a quart or a liter of the recommended oil for your vehicle. Start by adding half of the bottle and checking the level with the dipstick. Add more as needed. Some vehicles are not equipped with a dipstick and have an electronic sensor that detects the engine oil level. The process is the same, just check your owner’s manual on how to check the engine oil level through your vehicle’s onboard computer system.
My Car has an oil leak. Is it safe to drive?
The long answer is that it depends on several factors. The short answer is yes! We highly recommend consulting with a professional automotive repair shop before you do any extensive driving. Unless your vehicle has an excessive oil leak from the engine, you should be able to drive the vehicle short distances. If you see a large pool of oil underneath your car that is more than the palm of your hand after letting the car sit overnight or you hear ticking or knocking coming from the engine you should consider having your vehicle towed to a professional automotive repair shop for them to perform an engine oil leak inspection to determine the severity.
I hear some noise coming from my engine…
Prolonged low engine oil level conditions may result in some unusual ticking, tapping or knocking sounds coming from the engine bay. This may be a result from prolonged engine oil starvation. A ticking or tapping sound may be coming from the cylinder head of your engine. Many vehicles have sensitive engine components that are driven hydraulically with engine oil. When the engine oil is low they may start making tapping sounds. Other parts of the engine such as timing components may also be sensitive to engine oil level resulting in a tapping sound. Finally you may get a knocking sound. This is potential “rod knock” which comes from bearings in your engine that are also becoming worn due to a low engine oil situation. If you hear any noise coming from your engine, we highly suggest that you stop driving and get the vehicle to us.
I have had an engine oil leak for some time now but I keep driving and everything seems fine, what’s the harm?
When you have an engine oil leak, it hardly ever means imminent failure of your engine. This will lull you into a false sense of security that everything is fine and you’ll fix the oil leak at a later date. There are some dangers to this line of thinking. As stated earlier, driving your vehicle prolonged with an engine oil leak issue can result in internal failure of components that will produce a noisy engine (ticking, tapping, or knocking) and end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs. Another consequence of a prolonged oil leak issue is that oil can get all over your engine bay and onto electrical and other rubber components such as coolant and power steering hoses. Over time they can damage these components which will cost even more in subsequent repairs.
I still have questions, what do I do?
Hopefully some of this information will answer some of your questions. If you have any further questions, our team at Essential Auto Care is more than happy to help answer them. Give us a call or email us anytime. If you are near the Queens area, we also invite you to stop on by. We perform courtesy visual inspections for our clients with oil leak issues regularly and would love the opportunity to help you with any issues you might have with your car.