Why Is My Car Leaking Oil When Parked? 7 Facts All Car Owners Should Know
Out of all the car problems fathomable to mankind, leaking oil is perhaps the most alarming. Well, not the most alarming. Accidentally swerving off to the other lane or a dead battery in the middle of a speedway are still fuel for every car owner’s nightmare.
But you get the point. If you’ve gotten to a point where you’ve had to ask, “Why is my car leaking oil when parked?”
It’s a cause for worry.
As with all car problems, identifying the root cause of the situation should be your priority. An oil leak can mean several different things.
Further, your car runs on a variety of fluids. One of the most typical signs of oil leak is seeing a puddle of greasy-looking brown liquid under your car, after it has been parked for a while should not be so easily dismissed, not to mention that oil leaks can be difficult to identify.
So, if you spot an oil leak problem in your vehicle, it’s best to take immediate action. Bring it to a car servicing centre for a proper diagnosis.
But if you want to know what’s really happening behind the scenes, here’s a list of possible reasons why your car is leaking oil.
1. Why Does My Car Leak Oil When Parked?
Corroded engine gaskets or oil seals usually cause a car oil leak. These parts will wear over time.
However, the oil leak may also be due to using dirty oil. This is the likely culprit if you’ve missed your car’s oil change schedule.
There are several other possible causes of a car oil leak. We’ll discuss them below.
2. Damaged Oil Filter Housing Seal Or Oil Pan Seal
The oil filter seal is one of the essential parts of your vehicle. It helps filter or remove unwanted contaminants that may have gotten into your car’s engine.
These substances build up over time and can wear down the engine when the oil is left unfiltered.
But, a damaged oil filter can cause numerous problems, like an oil leak. The fluid can get clogged without an oil change, and a pressure buildup will happen. This will cause cracks and damage to the oil filter.
Sometimes, the problem may also be with the oil pan. It serves as the vehicle’s reservoir or container for engine oil.
With a damaged oil pan, puddles of oil can form below the undercarriage as you’re driving. The oil pan is more prone to damage if you frequently drive in low-lying areas or a low-suspension vehicle.
It could result in disastrous consequences, such as a fast or gradual oil leak that worsens over time.
3. Incorrect Positioning Of The Oil Pan Plug
Your car may also leak oil because of an improperly installed oil pan plug or worn out drain plug washer. Also known as the drain plug, this component allows engine fluid to drain. It usually comes as a plastic or metal screw plug.
A drain plug originally has stripped threads. This design allows one to attach it to the bottom of the oil pan.
However, poor insertion of the drain plug can also lead to an oil leak.
You may temporarily use a rubber plug, but permanent repairs are necessary. Consider having your drain plug replaced with sturdier materials, like hardened steel.
Also, make sure to pick the right thread pitch and size for your vehicle’s oil pan so it won’t loosen up.
4. Broken Valve Cover Gasket
The valve cover gasket is a rubber seal designed to seal the valve cover and the cylinder head.
If there’s significant damage to the valve cover gasket, compressed oil from the valve cover may leak into the different parts of the engine.
An oil leak due to a broken valve cover gasket can happen even when the engine is running. In this case, the excess oil may leak into the cylinder head, fuel intake, or even exhaust pipes.
Blown-out gasket covers in parked cars frequently happen in cold climates. Additionally, if there isn’t sufficient antifreeze in your vehicle, this component can crack and lead to spills.
Your vehicle may have multiple valve cover gaskets, depending on the engine type. For instance, a V8 engine will have two valve covers, while an inline 4 or straight-four engine will have only one.
Valve cover gaskets usually last between 32,000 to 80,000 km. After which, it’s best to consider replacing this part. Oil leaks can lead to dangerous fumes or fires due to the heat generated.
5. Damaged Engine Block Seals
Engine block sealers may be small components, but they are significant in the engine’s operation. Engine block seals are designed to prevent engine oil from leaking and ensure no contaminants enter the engine.
Damaged engine block seals are more common in older vehicles than in new ones. This is due to normal wear and tear, leading to an oil leak from the engine block.
Additionally, driving your car at low coolant levels can overheat the engine. This may cause the seals to warp and spill oil into the different parts of the engine.
6. How Do You Know If You Have An Engine Oil Leak?
As mentioned earlier, engine oil leaks can be difficult to identify. There are cases where oil leaks don’t show any symptoms at all.
However, there are some obvious symptoms of an oil leak:
- Oil puddle
- Overheated engine
- Burning oil smell
- Low Oil Level Indicator warning
- Smoke coming from the engine
Oil puddles or spills are tell-tale signs of an oil leak. Leaking oil will create a puddle under the car. Depending on the extent of the damage, the leaking may come in drops or streaks of oil.
The best action is to bring the vehicle to an auto repair shop in Singapore immediately.
Professional auto mechanics can run diagnostics on your vehicle and determine the best solution to your oil leak problem.
Engine oil has several functions. It’s a lubricant, filter, and coolant all in one. It’s responsible for lowering the engine temperature as it flows through its different components.
But in an oil leak, the engine oil level decreases. This significantly affects its cooling capabilities, causing the engine to overheat.
Burning Oil Smell Through Air Condition Vent
Leaking oil in the engine bay, if it drips onto hot components such as the vehicle’s exhaust manifold or pipe, evaporates, leaving a burning oil smell in the engine bay. This can cause the smell of burning oil to be easily passed to the cabin through the vehicle’s air con intake at the windshield base
Once again, this is a sign of an oil change. Take your car to the nearest auto repair shop to prevent further issues.
Low Oil Level Indicator Turned On
A lit low oil level indicator warning can only mean your oil pressure has dropped below acceptable levels. Low oil pressure means the engine isn’t able to lubricate itself and would be a sign of leakage.
And since continuous lubrication is necessary for it to run, this could lead to severe issues like a stalled vehicle.
Many vehicles today have shielding underneath, which will most likely catch the oil before it hits the ground. That can hide a potentially major oil leak. In this case, a low oil level indicator will be your sign of leakage.
Smoke Coming From The Engine
Smoke may be coming from your engine due to overheating. Several reasons explain overheating, such as defective wire casings, heated buildup on the engine block, and overheated oil.
For example, brake fluid, transmission fluid, or engine oil can cause smoke when they leak into hot engine parts.
7. How To Prevent Oil Leaks
As with all problems, prevention is always better than a cure. If you’re unsure of dealing with an oil leak problem once it happens, make it a habit to give your vehicle the proper TLC it needs.
Here are a few tips to prevent an oil leak:
Regular Oil Change
Getting regular oil changes allows your engine to operate correctly. Further, an oil change allows you also to spot other persisting problems in your vehicle.
During an oil change, the mechanic will inspect the oil filter and ensure no damage. They’ll also examine other parts, like the filler cap, oil pan, and drain plug during the vehicle health checks.
It’s recommended to bring your car for an oil change once every 15,000 kilometres or 1 year depending on the manufacturer recommendation.
However, it depends on the vehicle. Always refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for the correct specifications.
Use High-Quality Engine Oil
Not all engine oils are formulated the same. Some are designed for basic functions such as engine lubrication and cooling.
But, reliable oil brands always release newer and more advanced synthetic oils. These are laden with features and other ingredients that can help prevent leaks due to oil gaskets and valve covers.
For instance, some engine oils contain additives that prevent the oil from breaking down. These oils are popular in high-performance vehicles, tuned cars, or trucks.
Other engine oils contain additives that reduce the engine’s wear and tear while parked or in motion.
Shop around for the best brand in the market, or consult your car service centre in Singapore for more information.
Buy An Engine Oil Stop Leak Concentrate
Engine oil stop leak concentrates are designed exactly for stopping oil leaks. While it may be a temporary solution, it is effective in minimising your vehicle’s oil leak to fixable levels.
Different brands have varying instructions. But usually, you’ll need to pour an entire bottle of oil stop leak during or between oil changes.
The leaks may stop after 300 kilometres. But if the problem persists, the best course of action would be taking your car to a service centre, because properly identifying the underlying cause is crucial.
Conclusion About Car Leaking Oil When Parked
Wondered about why your vehicle is leaking oil? It may seem like a small problem, but it’s a cause for concern. An undiagnosed oil leak can lead to vehicle problems that can get costly to repair.
Also, we don’t recommend do-it-yourself fixes on your car. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with fixing oil leaks, you can do more harm than good.
Instead, we recommend visiting a professional auto shop in Singapore. Our Kee Yong Auto car workshop in Sin Ming can perform engine oil changes, repairs, inspections, and many more.
We’re a professional team of auto specialists ready to service your car. We also specialise in luxury and high-performance car brands like Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Porsche, Land Rover, Bentley, BMW, and many more.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CAR LEAKING OIL WHEN PARKED
Can You Drive Your Car Even With An Oil Leak?
It depends. There are some cases wherein driving your car with an oil leak won’t be a problem (i.e., travelling only short distances).
However, it’s advisable not to drive a car with an oil leak. Take it to a mechanic immediately to prevent the oil pressure from dropping to dangerously low levels which can cause engine failure.
How Much Does It Cost To Fix An Oil Leak?
It costs around $140 to $3500 in SGD to fix an oil leak.
Depends on whether it’s a major or minor oil leak, as different solutions are available for the fix. It also depends on the type of vehicle, the engine, and the location of the leak. You may contact us to request a quote for an oil leak in Singapore.
Are Car Oil Leaks A Common Problem?
Yes. Engine oil leaks are common car issues and are relatively easy to fix.
What Does An Oil Leak Look Like?
An oil leak can appear dark brown or black, depending on the age. Oil leaks usually happen right under the undercarriage, where the engine is located.
Why Is My Car Losing Oil Without Leaking?
If your engine oil pressure drops without any visible signs of leaks, it may be due to tiny cracks or holes.
This occurs when damage on an oil seal doesn’t allow enough pressure to exit, leading to often unnoticeable leaks.
How Much Oil Loss Is Considered Normal Between Oil Changes?
Normal levels of oil loss vary depending on the car manufacturer. They can range from 1 Litre per 1,500 kilometres to 1 Litre per 5,000 kilometres. Some modern engines also show excessive oil consumption.