Types of oil leaks in cars, their possible spots, reasons and their fixes.

Sometimes, when we plan to go out, we might find that there’s a pool of a dark, oily liquid below our car, out of nowhere, and we might panic. If that’s the case, then it’s most definitely an engine leak. Oil leaks in cars can be very messy and unsettling. There’s no need to panic though, in situations like this, as there’s always a simple fix for it. However, being the owners of the car, you would always like to understand why there’s a leakage in the first place.


Oil Leaks In Cars, And Their Possible Spots

Here are a few places engine oil leaks in cars can take place:

1. Oil Filter Gasket

Car oil or engine oil leaks occur when the oil filter loosens over time or if the oil gasket isn’t tightened properly. These are also known as oil filter leaks, and most of the time, tightening the filter gasket should do the trick, according to the specifications of the manufacturer. If the old oil filter needs to be changed, make sure the mating surface is clean, and that the old gasket is completely removed.

2. Oil Pump Gasket

An external oil pump is sometimes attached to the engine block, with bolts and a gasket, which can wear out and leak. Major damage can be caused if there is insufficient oil in the oil pump, which leads to premature wearing to the pump, and oil starvation to the engine.

3. Oil Pan Gasket

There is a gasket placed between the pan and the engine block, which is subjected to different stresses, including pressure, thermal expansion and vibrations, which can cause oil pan gaskets to leak. The engine oil can also seep out if the bolts are loosened over time. An oil pan engine oil leak can be avoided if the bolt torque on the oil pan is checked.

4. Rocker Cover Gasket

Oil leaks are relatively common in the area where a gasket is placed between the cover and the cylinder head, which keeps the engine oil from leaking out. The engine also has a valve train, which is covered with a rocker or valve cover, one cover for an inline engine, or two for a V-style engine. Always make sure that rocker cover bolts are adequately tightened here.

Sometimes, the gasket could be the main problem, if the above points do not stop the leak. There are several types of gaskets, including rubber, cork, silicone, oil cooler gasket or liquid sealants, which are used as OEM and replacement solutions, all of which are susceptible to leaks after years of use. It is often very easy to replace these seals, instead of replacing the gaskets as a whole, as it is highly time-consuming and expensive as well.

Different Types of Car Oil Leaks

There could be different types of leaks that your car could be susceptible to, and oil can leak even when your car is off, different types can include:

1. Brake Fluid Leak

This type of leak is one of the most dangerous types of leaks, which can be identified when your car has difficulty stopping or has less braking power than usual. This is usually caused by a faulty brake line or worn-out brake pads.

2. Coolant Leak

A coolant leak can be observed if your car takes longer than usual to warm up. A coolant is essential for your engine to function properly, but its leakage can cause trouble for the normal functioning of your car. Another way to notice a coolant leak is if you see steam coming from under your hood whilst or after driving.

3. Power Steering Fluid Leak

If there’s a hissing sound coming from under your hood, chances are that it’s a power steering fluid leak. This leak can also be a dangerous one, if not attended to immediately. The consequences of this leak are very similar to that of brake leaks, and these leaks are caused due a faulty hose or belt.

4. Engine Oil Leak

As stated earlier, engine oil leak can be easily identified by a pool of oil under your car, or by the smell of burning rubber from under the hood of your car.

5. Transmission Fluid Leaking

A transmission fluid leak is easily identifiable, as it smells like burnt oil and may contain a pink or red color. This leak could be caused by a faulty seal, hose, or head gasket leaking oil. This leak can result in the transmission slipping and affecting your vehicle’s performance.

6. Coolant (anti-freeze)

As opposing to the normal coolant leak, an anti-freeze coolant leak can lead to an overheated engine, which will result in serious damage. This is easily identifiable if your car has been running hot or overheating.

Common Reasons For Car Oil Leaks

There could be a number of engine oil leak causes, including the fact that it could be the oil pan gasket or a timing belt cover leak or an oil seal leak.

1. Oil Drain Plug

A damaged or worn-out drain plug can cause an oil leak. This type of leak is usually caused when the whole oil drain plug or the oil plug sealing is not replaced after every oil change. Make sure the oil plug is tightened properly to avoid leakage. The oil drain plug is located at the bottom of the oil sump and is accessible from the vehicle’s underside. These leaks are also called as oil sump leaks.

2. Oil Filler Cap

This is probably one of the least worrisome oil leaks, as this leak takes place when the oil filler cap becomes loose. Oil puddles can be observed under your car, and the leak can be fixed by simply tightening the cap or replace the cap if it’s broken.

3. Valve Gasket

A valve cover protects the components inside the cylinder head, as the gasket provides a seal between the cylinder head and valve cover. This leak can be observed if there is oil leaking from the top of the engine. When the leak is from the valve cover gasket, it means that it needs to be replaced, as a valve cover gasket wear down over time.

4. Too Much Oil

Sometimes, the reason for an oil leak, or a turbo oil leak, could be as simple as excessive oil filling. An easy way to notice this is if there’s an oil puddle under your car, but the dashboard engine oil light is not flashing.

5. Crankcase Ventilation

The crankcase is often ventilated through a valve and a hose going to the intake. This ventilation makes sure that the car’s compression will not cause an overpressure inside the crankcase. If this ventilation is clogged, the engine can be over-pressured which can lead to several different oil leaks as the oil would try to find a way out of the engine.

6. Damaged Head Gasket

The oil leaks into the combustion chamber of the coolant system, if the head gasket is damaged. If there is a leak from the oil pressure channels near the edge of the head gasket, it can lead to external oil leaks in the engine. While uncommon, it can happen, and if the oil seems to be coming from between the engine block and the cylinder head, then immediate action is to be taken.

It could also mean that the gasket is damaged, when oil is leaking from the right side of the engine.

7. Crankshaft or Camshaft Seals

The crankshaft and camshaft seals are always spinning, which can cause the sealings to wear out. These seals hold the engine oil inside the engine, and while the crankshaft has sealings both on the front of the engine, and behind the crankshaft pulley, the camshaft has sealings only on the front of the engine. Oil is leaking from the gearbox housing; it is definitely a crankshaft engine oil seal leak, which can also be called a gear oil leakage.

8. Leaking Oil Cooler

If there are any leaks from the front of the engine, it is probably coming from the engine oil cooler. This is a common oil leak, as the sealings are made of plastic, which can crack and can result in leaks. To stop this engine oil from leaking, replacing the plastic sealer should do the trick.

9. Oil Pressure Sensor

The oil pressure sensor is located in the cylinder head or at the engine block, which is often made of plastic, and with time, it can crack and lead to a leak. This is very easy to replace and also very affordable.

10. Cylinder Head or Engine Block

Oil can leak from the engine and even enter the colling system if the engine cylinder head or the engine block is cracked. This can happen when there’s not enough coolant in the cooling system, which causes the coolant to freeze. It is advisable to replace the whole engine if there is a cracked engine block or rust holes.

Apart from these leakages, sometimes oil can also leak out of your exhaust, which is commonly known as exhaust leaking oil, or oil leaking from your shock absorber. These could be the result of any of the above causes, and quick trip to the mechanic could prove highly useful in these cases.

How To Stop Car Engine Oil Leaks?

Here are a few ways to fix an oil leaking car:

1. Regularly Change Filter and Oil

One way to avoid oil leaks is to regularly change the filter and oil, which will avoid the usage of low-quality oil, and because the engine’s health and functioning is enhanced by fresh oil.

2. Using The Right Oil

Using the wrong type of oil can also adversely affect your engine health and can even result in constant oil leaks. As a result, it is always advised that the right type of oil is used, according to the information given in the owner’s manual.

3. Regular Inspections

Keep inspecting yourself or taking your car to the mechanic on a regular basis, so that you or they can check all the parts of the car can be checked and if there’s any leak, it can be fixed immediately.

4. Optimum Oil Filling

As stated earlier, it is always important to make sure that the oil is filled appropriately, with no excessive amount of oil being filled, which can lead to oil leaks.

5. Using Additives

Additives, like No Leak or Stop Leak are immediate fixes for your leakage problem. These additives work for most leaks, while they may not work for severe leaks. These additives soften and condition the old gaskets, causing them to swell again and prevent further leaking.

6. Consulting A Mechanic

In the case that you’re not that good at noticing if anything is wrong with your car, you can always go and consult a mechanic, who can identify if anything is wrong with your car or notice if there are any leaks.


On the whole, every leak has a solution, whether a simple one or not. Most of the time, there’s no reason to panic. Now that you know more about the types of leaks, and what you can do, you can easily jump to fix your problem.

This is where Warranty Direct comes into the picture for you, as we at Warranty Direct always strive to make the automobile experience the best for our customers. No matter what your problem could be, with your car, we will always be here to help you.

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