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Oil Leak

5 Reasons Why Your Car Is Losing Oil: (and How to Fix it)


Daniel McDonald
Daniel McDonald10 min read
5 Reasons Why Your Car Is Losing Oil: (and How to Fix it)

The most prominent reason many people bring in their car for inspection is that their vehicle leaks oil. An engine oil leakage can have a devastating impact on your car's critical component.

You might see the oil leaking from a small pinhole in the gasket or a massive leak from a bad seal. Nonetheless, it is critical to find out where the car's oil is leaking and repair it as soon as possible.

Finding the leak is crucial, so the oil stays inside your engine. If your car is losing oil, you should take it to the closest repair shop to resolve the issue ASAP.

There are many reasons why the car might be losing oil. We will discuss the top five common reasons and how you can fix them. So, without further ado, let's get right into it.

Why Is There an Excessive Oil Consumption by my Car?

Excessive oil consumption doesn't necessarily mean an oil leak in your car. It is one of the common reasons, but there is a possibility that your engine is burning oil, resulting in excessive oil consumption.

Though there might be no visible signs of a leak, there is a chance that the oil leaks are taking place from a worn valve seal or leaky piston rings.

As the car ages, oil leaks can become a problem for many vehicle owners. The best way to ensure there is no issue with your car is by getting a full oil change service, and a complete inspection will help you find the possible external leaks.

If you add a quart of oil, the oil will start to drip from the possible area where it is leaking. However, if there is no leak found in the car when you add the quart of oil, then there is a possibility that the car is burning oil.

What Happens When The Car is Burning Oil?

The most prominent cause of the oil burning to take place is because of the faulty engine components. These components allow the oil to bleed into the combustion chamber. You might also notice a blue-tinted smoke coming from the exhaust.

This smoke is also an indication that your engine is burning oil. But it is unnecessary for you to see this sign since the issue only arises if the engine is burning oil in a large quantity.

While some cars have a higher rate of burning oil than others, you should get an oil change service. It is imperative if you notice the oil levels stay at a low level constantly.

Too much oil consumption by your car can inflict severe damage to your engine's vital components such as valve seal, piston rings, etc. You will end up with costly repairs since the increased oil consumption damages your engine's core elements.

Older cars with more than 90,000 miles or above on the odometer are more vulnerable to oil leaks. However, newer maintained vehicles can also be subject to possible oil leakage. Let's discuss them in more detail.

5 Reasons Why Your Car Is Losing Oil

These are the top five reasons your car is losing oil at a faster pace than other cars.

  • Improper installations

  • Cracked cylinder head or engine block

  • Holes

  • Burning oil

  • Damaged dipstick tube

Incorrect Installations of the Head Gasket

The top reason you will see an increase in oil consumption is after a shade-tree head gasket. Since you might try to do it by yourself, there is a chance you might install the head gasket improperly.

Even experts might make the mistake of not fixing the head gasket properly, which has the core function of keeping the oil inside the engine. If someone over-tightens the oil pan plug or a head gasket valve, it will likely result in this problem.

Even if you distribute the tightness unevenly in the complete gasket, it will likely result in leaking oil. There can be a small pinhole leak, causing the oil to leak slowly, or there could even be a sizeable gush. It will depend on how improperly you have tightened the gasket.

This problem can also happen when you replace your oil filter. You can over-tighten or install it improperly, causing the oil to drip. Improper installation of an oil filter is more common since you might fit it in the wrong manner.

However, you don't have to worry too much about it since fixing an oil leak due to a wrongly installed gasket is not tricky. However, you must be vigilant and ensure you don't make the same mistake of installing incorrectly again.

It will cause more frustration, and you will have to go through the hassle again. If you feel this is not your cup of tea, you might get professional help. You can head to the nearest auto shop, and they will handle this entire thing for you.

Cracked Cylinder Head

Although a cracked head of the cylinder or engine block is not a common reason, it could be the culprit behind the increased oil consumption. There is a chance you might not even see any signs of oil leaking on the ground or even on the engine.

The oil might be leaking into your coolant system instead of the external area, and therefore, there would be no visible sign of oil leakage. So, how do you know whether the oil is leaking into your coolant system or not?

The easy solution is to check your coolant cap and the oil filer cap. If either one or both of them have a muddy brown color with a strange smell similar to a syrup, then there is a leak in your coolant system.

Holes

There can be various factors that might create a hole and cause the oil to leak from your car. It can even happen with a brand new gasket with a well-maintained vehicle.

Holes can be frustrating for vehicle owners since you would have to do a thorough inspection to find the leak. It would consume a lot of your time and energy, and it is not usually to find the holes in a blown head gasket or the primary seal.

The blown head gasket will not operate its primary function, which keeps the oil leaking into the critical engine parts. It is also responsible for keeping the tranny fluid from mixing and coming in contact with your engine.

Unfortunately, the holes are not only limited to the gaskets since they are other parts that can also develop similar deformities. There is a chance that you mistakenly poke a hole in your oil pan lid when installing it. You might notice the oil filler cap has a loose fitting, which can be the reason for the leak.

In some extreme cases, the valve rod might cross through:

  • The base of your oil pan

  • The lid of your valve cover

  • The side of your engine block

If that happens, it will cause the oil to leak at a fast speed. These in-depth repairs can lead to heavy material and labor costs and might also lead to severe engine damage. Luckily, the majority of the times when there is a hole in a gasket is due to its age.

The old gasket is more likely to develop holes, and you can use a liquid gasket sealer for a temporary solution. It would help if you got it checked by a professional mechanic to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Burning Oil

Sometimes, there is no hole or any other visible sign of oil leakage. Yet your car might be consuming more oil than it should be. If that is the case with your car, you might have worn piston rings or faulty seals. These two parts are responsible for keeping the oil out of the combustion chamber.

However, if any of them gets damaged or worn out, the oil will slowly bleed into the combustion chamber. As a result, the combustion chamber will produce blue-gray smoke.

If your gaskets are not working correctly or there is any other hole, you might see some signs of the oil leaking on the ground or engine. However, if only the seals or piston rings are not working, you won't see any sign of oil leakage.

You won't see any oil because a small leak from a single piston or one seal valve will be burned during the engine combustion process. In case the issue starts to pop up with other rings or valves, and they all go bad, your car will come to a halt.

Since the oil will enter the combustion chambers and fill it up, the engine won't be able to process the fuel. Thus, your car will stop running.

If your car reaches this stage, you will have to pay high repair costs to get it back in the running. It will likely increase the repair costs if you get someone to tow the car to the mechanic.

However, if you have the technical knowledge and believe you can change the seals or rings, you can proceed with it. This way, you won't have to pay hefty charges, and it will ensure that your car gets up and running in no time.

However, you need to ensure you have the relevant expertise and complete knowledge to replace the seals, rings, gaskets, or any other bolts that are worn out. You also need to remember the entire process of dissecting and installing to ensure everything is put in order after you are complete.

If you are uncomfortable doing it or don't have the specialized tools to replace these parts, you can take your car to a professional mechanic.

Damaged Dipstick Tube

Increasing oil consumption is also due to damage to the dipstick tube. This issue can arise in various cars, and it might be challenging to replace it in a few of them.

You first have to find out the issue with the dipstick tube, then order and wait for the dealership to get the relevant parts.

Then you would have to get the parts fixed to resolve the issue. All of this can be hectic and challenging for you, so you can head to the nearest local mechanic to resolve this issue.

What Is an Internal Oil Leak?

Sometimes it is easy to tell that the engine oil is leaking since there is a visible hole and oil spills on the ground. However, you might see the oil continuing to disappear without any external leak. If that is the case, you are probably looking for an internal oil leak.

Unfortunately, it is not easy to notice your car's internal leaks, which can slowly cause engine damage. Ultimately, you would have to deal with hefty car repairs. Therefore, keeping a close eye on your oil levels is vital to identify any possible internal leak.

It is best to check the oil every 10 to 12 days. You don't have to look at the engine oil's color or whether it is dirty or not, but just the level. If it goes down as it usually does, then everything is fine. However, if it falls below the normal range with no external signs of a leak, there is an internal issue.

Usually, if there is an oil leak in your engine, you might anticipate the level would go down. However, if the level is low on your dipstick and there is no visible sign of a possible external leak, then the issue is internal.

You can also keep an eye on the oil alert. If it starts to show up on the monitoring system without any oil puddle, you can take it to the mechanic for an inspection for the internal leak.

Reasons For an Internal Engine Oil Leak

There can be various reasons that can cause an internal oil leak in the engine. Let's review a few of them to give you a better idea.

PCV Valve

The positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) is a common cause of the internal leaking due to the positive crankcase ventilation (PCV). The PCV valve will stop the gases generated throughout the engine combustion process. Upon leaking, the combustion gases go past the rings into the crankcase. From there, these combustion gases pass through the PCV valve before entering the combustion chamber, where it burns them.

If the PCV Valve is not working in proper condition, the oil will blowback. The oil will go into the engine via the air intake. As a result, the damaged PCV valve can lead to severe issues, such as:

  • Fall in the fuel economy

  • Engine misfire

  • Increasing oil consumption

  • Oil sludge

Worn Out Cylinder Walls

The rings press themselves against the cylinder walls to prevent combustion gases from escaping. But, if the cylinder wall or rings are worn out, they can leave gaps for the gases to leave through it. As a result, it can cause the oil to become a part of the combustion process. It will ultimately result in more oil burning and emitting a blue-tinted smoke from the exhaust.

Damaged Seals

If you see more oil consumption from your car without any possible external leaks, the possible reason for this is damaged seals. The value is responsible for letting the air/fuel mixture into the combustion change. Also, it manages when the exhaust gases can exit.

If the valve or the seal is not working correctly, the oil will drip into the engine cylinders and burn off. As a result, it will cause more oil consumption by the engine without any external links.

Takeaway

Oil is the lifeblood that keeps the entire car running and ensures it has an optimal performance. An engine oil ensures the vital components are lubricated to perform its duties. Therefore, if the oil is leaking, you must address the issue as soon as possible.

If you notice your car burns the oil more than it should, you can look for possible external leaks first. An oil puddle will help you understand where the oil might leak. If the oil level continues to go down without any external leak, the oil-burning can be a reason.

Also, poor maintenance can be a crucial factor that can cause the car to lose oil at a higher rate. Proper care and maintenance are vital to ensure enough oil for the engine and other parts to operate correctly.

Furthermore, oil changes from time to time will keep the engine in proper running condition. You can check your car owner's manual to know the timeframe for oil changes.