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Lately, everyone knows where you’ve been because of the oil puddles and streaks you leave in the spots your car is parked. It’s so odd, too, because the leakage never seems to happen when you’re driving, just when you’re parked. What should you do?
To fix an oil leak that only occurs when your car is parked, do the following:
- Get your valve seals or rings replaced
- Let your mechanic double-check that the valve cover gasket and oil pan gasket were installed the right way
- Replace the pan gasket if it’s old
Yes, a trip to the mechanic is in your future, but you may have more questions still about your leaky vehicle. Is it oil that’s leaking or something else? Is it still safe to drive your car with a leak? Where can you get the car fixed? Keep reading, as we’ll answer all those questions and more in this article!
What Fluid Is Actually Leaking from My Car?
It’s easy to assume that if your car is leaking fluid, it must be gas, but that’s not always necessarily true. In another article on our blog about determining what’s leaking from your car, we discussed other fluids that can seep out.
If the liquid is red, it may be transmission fluid that’s been in the car for a while. Antifreeze can leak red in some instances, but it’s mostly orange or green. If the leak looks blue, then it’s windshield wiper fluid. Steering fluid leaks are often pinkish.
Your car’s fluid will be dark brown if it’s motor oil or brake fluid that’s older. Motor oil and gear lubricant fluid are both brown as well, but a lighter hue, not unlike coffee.
What about gas? What color is that? It depends. If it’s got additives in it, then the fluid will be brown, but typically a hue so dark you might think it’s black. Additive-free gas is translucent.
To confirm it’s gas then, you want to look for a very dark leak or one that’s clear. You can typically smell a gas leak, too, so that should help you confirm. Even if you’re still not entirely sure, your gas gauge can spell it out for you. If you’re losing gas all the time, it’s because it must be leaking.
Can You Drive a Car with an Oil Leak?
Alright, so per the information above, you’re reasonably sure your car has an oil leak. That’s not such a big deal, though, right? Since the leakage only happens when you’re in park, you can still drive your car, right? What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll schedule an appointment with your mechanic when you have a chance, but you’re not rushing.
You should be. Lots of bad things could be in your future if you ignore an oil leak, some of them not so horrible and others quite severe. On the less serious side of the spectrum, there’s the fact that your rubber hoses and seals will begin breaking down with all that excess oil puddling up. You’ll have to go back to your mechanic sooner than you’d expect to get these parts repaired or replaced because you let the oil leak go on for too long.
That’s a best-case scenario, by the way. If the oil leak persists, your engine could stop working one day since it’s not getting enough oil. Oh, and all that extra oil could catch on fire at any time, possibly leading to a car fire or explosion. You or anyone else in the vehicle with you would be at significant risk of life-threatening injuries or even death.
Any car leak is not good, be it coolant or oil. Be ready to go to a mechanic at the first sign of a leak. You’ll be glad you did.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix an Oil Leak in a Car?
Okay, so you’re heading to your mechanic’s today to get this little leak taken care of. How much should you expect to shell out for a car repair? According to car care brand BlueDevil Products, the price range is between $150 to $1,200.
That’s a considerable cost discrepancy, admittedly. The less damage is done to your vehicle by the gas leak, the less money you’d likely pay. That means getting your car to a shop as soon as you spot a leak. Not only can it save your car, but money as well.
Can Jiffy Lube Fix an Oil Leak?
If you have a Jiffy Lube in your neighborhood, can you go to them to get your vehicle patched up after a gas leak? You sure can. Once your vehicle is in running order again, you might continue to get it serviced and maintained at Jiffy Lube.
One of the services they offer, oil changes, is helpful if you want to keep an eye on your car’s oil levels going forward. During this change, the staff at Jiffy Lube will also clean all the floors and exterior windows.
They even check your exterior lights, the engine air filtration system, coolant and antifreeze levels, your serpentine belts, and your brake fluid. If you need more battery water, windshield washer fluid, power steering fluid, transfer case fluid, differential fluid, transmission fluid, or tire pressure, you can get topped off here.
Are Oil Leaks Common?
To answer the question of whether oil leaks are common, let’s revisit what causes oil leaks in the first place. As we covered in the intro, it could be that your valve seals or rings have gone bad. As tiny gaskets, valve seals do a big job, keeping the valve control mechanism lubricant from leaking. Car rings or piston rings control how much oil your engine gets while also maintaining oil pressure.
No car part lasts forever, rings and seals included. Since the breakdown of these parts can be a principle reason your gas leak happens, then yes, we’d say leaks from these parts are very common.
What about leaks caused by a bad installation? When assembling the car or getting it repaired later, the problem could be that your valve cover gasket or oil pan gasket was tightened too much. Even the oil filter could be an issue. If this isn’t screwed on tightly enough, the oil will leak as it travels to the engine.
It’s always good to go to a reputable mechanic to get any work done on your car. This way, you can ensure everything that’s reinstalled or installed for the first time is done right. Incorrect installation happens a little less rarely than parts breaking down and causing an oil leak.
How to Prevent an Oil Leak from Happening
You try to bring your car in for oil changes when you remember to, so you’re a little annoyed about the oil leak. How can you prevent it from happening again? Here are some tips to remember:
- Don’t ignore issues with your car, even if they’re not related to the oil. The parts of your vehicle are interconnected. If something goes wrong with one component, the strain this puts on other parts of your car can create new problems.
- Schedule an oil change regularly. This gives your mechanic a chance to check out the engine and any parts that use oil, ensuring these are in running condition.
- Get your car inspected when scheduled. Again, this is a preventative measure.
- Have a leak additive handy if the worst happens. Here’s one from Lucas Oil on Amazon. These products can treat smaller leaks, refreshing the gaskets and other parts through lubrication, so they work better.
- Every few years, get old parts of your vehicle repaired or replaced with fresh ones.
A car oil leak may not seem like such a serious matter to you, but the worst thing you can do is ignore it. These leaks can lead to engine failure and even vehicular fires. If your driveway or favorite parking spot is an oily mess, head to your mechanic’s right away. Most of the time, an oil leak is a simple, relatively inexpensive fix.
In the future, be more diligent about oil changes, car inspections, and getting old car parts replaced, and you should avoid future oil leaks. Best of luck!