How to Fix an Oil LeakPosted by
How to Fix an Oil Leak
That streak of oil you see on the road when you drive is not something ordinary; it can be a potentially dangerous oil leak. Not only do oil leaks cost you big money in refilling your car with oil, but they can also cause serious damage to your engine because of the lack of lubrication. Oil is also highly flammable, and can go ablaze when exposed to an ignition source. Here’s how you can check and fix oil leaks on your car’s oil line.
- Jack, elevated ramp, or platform
- Socket wrench or adjustable wrench
- Silicone sealant
- New valve cover gasket
- New oil pan gasket
Checking for Leaks
- Park the car on a level surface and turn the engine off. Wait for the engine to cool completely before popping open the hood.
- Prop the car up on a jack, or on a ramp or an elevated surface.
- Pop open the hood, and inspect the engine block and oil pipelines for any signs of leaks. You can easily spot a leak if the area has a smattering of wet oil around it. Leaks are most likely to be spotted on the valve cover.
- If the oil leak is in the pipelines, then you can temporarily fix it with some heat-resistant silicone. If the oil leak is in the engine block itself, then you need to have the entire engine block replaced.
- Check underneath the car to see if there are leaks or cracks on the oil pan or the oil pan gasket.
- Drain all the oil from the car if you need to make repairs.
Replacing the Valve Cover Gasket
Most oil leaks occur on the valve cover gasket. Heat damage and mechanical stress from a running engine can shorten the lifespan of the factory-installed gasket. To repair the oil leak, you need to replace the gasket with a new one:
- Remove the spark plugs and breather hoses from the valve cover.
- Loosen the bolts holding the valve cover in place. Do not lose the nuts and bolts.
- Carefully pry off the valve cover from the engine block. Make sure that pieces of the gasket material don’t get stuck on the engine block. It takes a while to remove the gasket pieces with a razor blade.
- Clean the rim of the valve cover completely to allow the new gasket to stick.
- Before sticking in the new gasket, prime the rim with a layer of high-temperature silicone sealant, and apply the new gasket to the rim.
- Secure the valve cover to the engine block. Remove oil and grease from the engine block with an engine degreaser.
Replacing the Oil Pan Gasket
Oil leaks also happen from under the car as the oil drains. The seal between the oil pan and the oil line can break down from heat stress and age. Here’s how you can replace the existing oil pan gasket with a new one:
- Check the oil pan for any holes or cracks. It’s best to replace the oil pan with a new one if it is seriously damaged, but you can repair minor leaks with silicone.
- Loosen the bolts holding the oil pan and gently pry it straight down. Do not tilt the pan, as you don’t want the oil to go into your eyes.
- Clean the oil pan by removing all the gasket material stuck to the rim with a razor blade or a non-serrated knife.
- Prime the rim of the oil pan by applying a thin layer of heat-resistant silicone on the inside surface, and apply the new gasket. Prop the oil pan back into the chassis.
Now it’s all a matter of refilling your car with oil, and taking a test drive to check for leaks. With these tips to help you fix an oil leak, you don’t have to pay big money for a repair job ever again.