Recognizing and Diagnosing Engine Oil Leaks

Have you ever seen the warning light come on indicating an engine oil problem? This warning light can be a bit intimidating. You know your vehicle is consuming oil, but you’d rather keep topping it off to avoid the underlying problem. You’re right; this could indicate a major repair. However, sometimes it doesn’t. The onset of this warning light can be a result of both internal and external leaks.

Recognizing the Difference
An external leak is considered to be the best case scenario. For example, you buy a new gasket, install it and bing bang boom, successful repair. Other external engine oil leaks can come from your oil filter and housing or the front and rear main oil seals. On older models, check your pan and fuel pump gaskets as well as timing covers.

Internal engine oil leaks come from worn piston rings, valve guides that have excess clearances or worn valve seals. These all allow oil to enter the combustion chamber. This will cause it to burn with the air fuel mixture. Your exhaust will be bluish in color especially when you first start up the car. This is an indication of a major auto repair that we all fear the most.

When diagnosing your engine oil problem, start with the best case scenario. With luck, you’ll find an external engine oil leak. When searching for an external leak, keep gravity in mind. If you spot drips on the oil pan, trace them back to their original source. They are more than likely coming from above the oil pan. Even the smallest engine oil leaks can cause excess consumption. If you replace a gasket and/or a seal and have repeat failure, you may have abnormal crankcase pressure. This is a repair for your favorite local mechanic.

If you’re experiencing engine oil leaks and cannot diagnose the problem, stop on by Courthouse Automotive. We’ll hopefully be able to give you the best case scenario. However, we will always give you our honest opinion.