How to Fix an Oil Leak

December 5, 2014

An oil Leak from your car’s engine causes a mess wherever you go, and over time will cost a lot of money in unneeded oil purchases. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to fix an oil leak in your vehicle.

What You Will Need:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrenches or Ratchet Socket Set
  • Oil Pan Gasket – Optional
  • Oil Filter – Optional
  • Car Jack
  • Jack Stands

Step 1 – Jack Up the Vehicle

Use the car jack to jack up your vehicle high enough so that you can place the jack stands underneath. Make sure that the jack stands are placed in an area that's strong enough to support the weight of the vehicle while it's in the air.

Step 2 – Find the Source of the Oil Leak

Check the engine area of your vehicle for any obvious leaks. Crawl underneath the vehicle and check the oil pan or drain plug for leaks. If the drain plug appears to be leaking, you may be able to stop the leak by simply tightening the plug. Spray WD-40 or another lubricant around the plug to help check if there are any tiny cracks that are causing the leak. If you see bubbles in the lubricant, there's a chance that the drain plug itself is cracked and will need to be replaced.

Step 3 –Check the Oil Filer

Check your car engine's oil filter and make sure that it's tightened securely and is not leaking. If the filter is leaking, try tightening it with a dry towel and your hands. If the oil filter still leaks, you may need to change the oil in your vehicle, replace the oil filter and add new oil. Spraying lubricant around the base of the oil filter may help you tell whether there any tiny leaks in the seal.

Step 4 – Check the Oil Pan Gasket

If you check the drain plug and oil filter of your vehicle, and there appear to be no leaks there, you should remove the oil pan and check the gasket. A cracked or damaged gasket is a common reason for many oil leaks. You will need to drain the oil from your vehicle in order to remove the gasket. Check the gasket to make sure there are no tears, cracks or other damage apparent in it.

Step 5 – Repair the Oil Leaks

Use your wrenches or ratchet set to tighten the nuts and bolts in your oil pan, tighten the oil filter or repair any other oil leaks in your vehicle.

Step 6 – Verify All Leaks Are Gone

Inspect the vehicle again for oil leaks. If you don't see any leaks, start the engine and visually inspect the area that was previously leaking for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure the leaks have stopped.

Step 7 – Lower the Vehicle

After you're satisfied that you've stopped the oil leaks, raise the vehicle slightly with your car jack and remove the jack stands, and lower the vehicle to ground level.

Related Questions and Answers

What is the Most Common Cause of an Oil Leak?

You’ve got an oil leak, the cause of which you’re uncertain about. All you know for sure is that your engine appears to be leaking oil. There’s a puddle under your car when you don’t move it for a day or so. You know that you need to fix it, but you can’t fix it until you locate the issue. There are actually two locations that are the usual culprits when your car begins to leak oil externally. If you’re seeing drops under your car, where the engine is, most likely your oil plug is leaking. The last person to replace it after an oil change may have tightened it too much and warped the gasket. The other main place to look when searching for an oil leak is the valve cover gasket(s).

How Quickly should You Fix Your Car's Oil Leak?

How quickly it’s imperative to fix an oil leak depends mostly on how bad the oil leak is, and how often you can discipline yourself to check and add oil when necessary. Since most people can’t remember to check their engine’s oil level at least once a day, a good rule of thumb is if the engine is leaking a quart or more a day, you should drop everything and fix the oil leak now. If, however the leak is slower, like a quart a week, you can wait a week or two. Since being one or two quarts low for a week won’t burn up your engine.