If you have a car that leaks oil, then you know it's an annoyance and an environmental hazard. Most of the time, these leaks are small and cause few problems other than a stained driveway. However, even these small leaks may be a sign that something bigger could be happening either now or further down the road.
Where are oil leaks likely to occur?
Oil leaks are most likely to occur around the valve cover and the oil pan, but may also occur around seals, such as those in the front of the engine near the timing belt or chain. If you have an external oil leak, you will see a thick, tan-to-dark colored liquid under your car, usually under the engine. Oil leaks can also happen inside the engine through the valve seals and piston rings. Internal engine leaks often go undetected until other problems start to happen such as having blue exhaust coming out of the tailpipe or poor engine performance.
What problems can oil leaks cause?
Internal leaks frequently get combusted and blown out through the tailpipe. They may also cause compression problems and frequently fouled spark plugs which often are fault as missing or rough idling. You car may also fail an inspection, if your area has one, due to the oil combustion. External leaks can coat other engine parts including belts, hoses and spark plugs. There is also a risk for fire if the leak is large and the oil falls on exhaust system components.
How can oil leaks be fixed?
External oil leaks are usually fixed by replacing the oil pan gasket, valve over gasket or external seals. If the oil has been leaking for a while and has coated other components, you may also need to have them cleaned and replaced as well. Internal oil leaks usually require more work to fix. If the leaks are coming from inside the engine block, chances are you may need a complete engine overhaul. Valve seals may be easy to replace on some models, but others may require the entire head to be removed.
Though an oil leak may seem like a small thing, ignoring it too long may mean a bigger problem in the future. The best time to fix an oil leak is as soon as it is noticed. Though some leaks can be fixed by the home mechanic, it is best to take it to a professional, especially if it is an internal leak. If you find that you are losing a lot of oil, or smell oil burning, then take your car to your mechanic, like Accurate Transmission & Auto Centre Ltd, to have it checked out before it gets worse.