Is your car leaking oil when parked, or do you THINK it is?
If your answer is “yes” or “not sure,” you’re reading the right guide to ascertain what’s going on exactly. Apart from that, we’ve also stated the possible reasons for car leaking oil when parked.
You’ll know what to do after verifying the leak and learn preventive measures that help avoid a future occurrence. Read further.
How to Know Your Car Leaking Oil When Parked?
Here, we’ve given five symptoms that can make you know if your car leaking oil when parked. We also took the time to explain each of them.
1. Liquid’s Color
You’d have to take a close look at the liquid to be sure about the color. It can be a few drops or a puddle on the ground under your car.
a. Brown or Black Liquid = Oil (greasy look)
b. Green or Orange Liquid = Coolant
c. Red liquid = Transmission Fluid
Your car may have shielding underneath if it’s one of the newer models (depending on the manufacturer). Such a feature could prevent oil from reaching the ground. You’ll need to make do with monitoring your low oil level indicator regularly for signs of car leaking oil when parked in such cases.
2. Blue Smoke
Quickly pull over, switch off the car’s engine, and carefully check for leakage when the exhaust pipe lets out blue-colored smoke. This sign could mean that your vehicle could catch fire at any time, so it would be best to follow the instructions above. Still, keep calm.
3. Overheated Engine
Normally, oil is supposed to serve as a lubricant for the engine while it’s working. So when the engine is low on such a vital lubricant, there could be problems if you refuse to perform a refill. Overheating is one of the issues that could arise. If you feel signs of engine overheat or your diagnostic scanner shows P0217 code, there’s a possibility that your car leaking oil when parked.
4. The Smell of Burning Oil
Watch out for this whenever you use your car and come out of it. The smell could indicate that oil is seeping onto the engine and car leaking oil when parked.
5. Car Leaking Oil When Parked After An Oil Change
If you notice that car leaking when parked after a recent oil change, there’s a possibility that something is off. Check for the following:
- Whether the filler cap is damaged or loose
- To see if the filter is well-set or that it hasn’t been perforated
- If the drain plugs or gaskets were left loose or over-tightened
Top Reasons Why Your Car Leaking Oil When Parked
Below are the common reasons for oil leaks when your vehicle is in a parked position.
1. Damaged Seals or Gasket
Something happens when you stop your car—the temperature of the engine block and the head increase due to the heat produced from driving. This stretches inner metal components, thereby putting pressure on the gaskets and seals. However, when the engine’s temperature starts reducing, the metals will contract, forming space between the metal parts and seals.
It’s a fact that the gaskets and seals are supposed to prevent leakages. Now imagine the above scenario happening. It means that there’ll be inadequate pressure causing oil to start leaking.
A mechanic will help you ascertain if it’s a faulty valve seal, oil gasket, or other possible defects causing the leakage. The problem of car leaking oil when parked might have been building up for a while till the present moment.
2. Broken Oil Filter or Oil Pan
Defective filters can make oil leak because it goes into the engine of the car. A faulty oil pan can also bring about a situation where car leaking oil when parked.
Oil pans can be damaged when they’re hit with adequate force by objects or elevated parts of the ground—probably while driving. Such incidents can lead to leakages that get more serious when the car is in a stationary position. The leak can be fast or slow, depending on the damage and speed of the vehicle.
3. Wrongly Placed Oil Pan Plug
Your car leaking oil when parked can be caused by the displacement of your oil pan plug. This can be due to threads that have been stripped or because of the plug not being well-set. A way to fix this problem quickly (temporarily) is by using a rubber plug as a substitute.
However, it’s necessary to replace the mechanism fully with long-lasting components as soon as possible in. Do this before car leaking oil when parked gets worse.
A hardened steel thread insert is what’s needed for the repair. It should have the appropriate specs for your car in terms of size and thread pitch. The new components will be instrumental in rectifying the car leaking oil when parked situation.
4. A Blown Head Gasket or Engine Block Seals
If your car is old, it’s possible that the leak started due to decomposed engine block seals or damage to the head gasket. The former will cause oil to leak from the engine block’s top.
Inadequate coolant in the vehicle can cause it to overheat while driving and when it’s parked. A leakage will occur due to the cylinder head’s bending caused by overheating.
Car owners living in colder locations should use antifreeze for their car engines to stop the water tank from freezing. The engine block will become frozen if the system water freezes.
The ultimate consequence of such a ripple effect will be the need for a complete engine replacement. You’ll be spending a significant amount of money on something that could have been easily avoided. Your car leaking oil when parked would be the least of your worries.
The seriousness of a leak is dependent on several factors such as its size and location. It’s obvious that the gravity of the situation will determine how much quantity will be wasting away as your car leaking oil when parked. An oil leak may just be due to improper attachment of the oil filter. It could also be a simple indicator that your engine is going through much wear and tear.
Minor leaks that take place from the timing cover or the front crank seal will reduce the lifespan of the engine drive belts or timing belts. Recall that we mentioned blue smoke as a possible symptom. Well, a leak from the valve cover gasket will make oil touch the hot exhaust manifold—leading to smoking or fire.
Some vehicles only leak oil when they’re in motion and if the engine is hot. It’s not easy to detect leaks in such cases. You’d have to visit an auto repair shop regularly to inspect the seals and gaskets just to be on the safe side. It’s a lot easier to notice your car leaking oil when parked.
What To Do While Your Car Leaking Oil When Parked?
Are you tired of the embarrassing liquid spots you see on the ground below while your car leaking oil when parked in a public place? Are you tired of having to scrub the ground in your garage to get rid of the stains caused by car leaking oil when parked? If so, then read the tips given in this section.
You’d need to do the following if you notice your car leaking oil when parked (not while the car is in motion):
- Hire an expert to inspect how oil pan and valve cover gasket are installed to ensure that they’re well-set.
- Get the pan gasket replaced if necessary.
- Substitute the valve seals or rings with new ones.
You’ll find a great number of products online that claim to help with car leaking oil when parked fixes. They can be appealing to you if you’re a DIY mechanic.
However, it’s advisable to take the vehicle to an auto repair shop for proper examination and identification of every possible fault. This is necessary so that the expert can carry out all the required repairs—with none being overlooked only to cause problems of car leaking oil when parked later.
Can You Drive After Discovering That Your Car Leaking Oil When Parked?
The safety of driving after you discover that your car leaking oil when parked depends on how severe the problem is. For instance, you can still drive the vehicle if it’s a minor oil valve cover or pan gasket leak. Just make sure to keep checking your oil level while in motion.
It would be wise to top off the oil tank before driving, of course. Do the same if it’s a case of slow-leaking. Driving should only be done for short distances (less than 10 miles).
Towing is the best thing to do after discovering that your car leaking oil when parked due to the following:
- Major engine fault
- Perforated oil pan
The same will go for cases where you see a large puddle on the ground instead of a few drops. That means it’s a fast leak. Park your car and turn it off ASAP if the oil light comes on to avoid disastrous engine damage.
It’s better to be safe than sorry: Remember we mentioned the danger of seeing blue smoke coming out of your car’s exhaust pipe. This means that you shouldn’t attempt to drive at all. Tow the vehicle to an auto repair shop once it’s considered safe to do so.
Tips to Prevent Future Oil Leaks
The tips below are preventive measures that you can implement.
1. Frequent Oil Changes
This is necessary so that your engine can work fine and significant damage can be avoided. You should do this regularly while also ensuring that the filter is in good condition. Leaks can occur if the filter is damaged or if it isn’t correctly positioned.
Filters help to keep the oil going into your engine contaminant-free so that it can perform optimally. Contaminants can accumulate in the engine after a long period and then start causing various issues, including car leaking oil when parked.
Among the possible problems is the formation of tiny, solid particles that are corrosive enough to damage engine surfaces. It’s clear that you should never leave motor oil unfiltered.
2. Pay Attention to Oil Type In Your Car
Buy a product that contains leak-stopping properties (seal conditioners) for the sake of your worn-out seals and gaskets. Such products help to maintain seal flexibility and keep them functioning as well as they should.
3. Use Engine Oil Stop Leak Additives
You can get this product if your oil doesn’t contain stop leak properties. Pouring such solutions into the oil tank can help while your car leaking oil when parked. The additives soften seals and proof minor leaks, but they don’t do much for major leaks. This can only work as a short-term solution.
Don’t ignore any sign of car leaking oil when parked. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it could actually be something very critical. You should always confirm your suspicions and calling your mechanic would be the best step to take.