When you start seeing engine oil leaking under your hood, you know for sure that there is a problem. However, fixing a problem will be quite difficult if you don’t know why it’s there. If oil has been leaking under your hood, here’s why that may be happening.
If you notice brownish oil under your hood after parking for an extended period, you most probably have an oil leak. Faulty gaskets, excessive oil, and damaged filters are some of the common causes of an oil leak.
Whatever may be the cause, you should never ignore an oil leak under your hood. It’s usually indicative of a big problem that may lead to even bigger problems over time. If there’s oil under your hood, this article will explain why you should worry, and possible fixes.
What Does an Oil Leak Look Like Under the Hood?
Before deciding you have an oil leak, it helps to learn how an oil leak looks like to avoid raising a false alarm. There are many easy-to-spot warning signs of an oil leak, but that also makes it somewhat easier to confuse a perfectly healthy car for one leaking oil.
The most reliable way to catch an oil leak is by monitoring your oil level. If it gets suspiciously lower than it should, your car’s engine might be leaking oil, even if there are no signs of it.
The reason why you may not notice any signs of leakage is the shielding that’s typically built underneath new cars. Vehicles with this shielding won’t drop oil to the ground, even if there is a massive leak. While that has some advantages, the disadvantages are also pretty obvious.
An engine covered in oil is another common sign of an oil leak. If you’re greeted with oil over your engine upon opening your hood, it’s evident you have an oil leak. Sometimes, the oil will leave a burning smell, since it burns upon contact with very hot surfaces.
If you drive an older car, oil leaks will be pretty easy to spot. When you see greasy-looking brown liquid under your car, it’s most likely an oil leak. However, that only works with older vehicles; you must be actively looking to discover it on a newer ride.
Why Is There Oil Under My Hood?
If you’ve examined your vehicle and you can confirm an oil leak, you should also try to know why there is oil under the hood. If your car is leaking oil, here are some of the reasons why your car may be suffering an oil leak.
1. Excessive oil
Sometimes, the only reason why your oil leaks from your car’s hood are because you poured oil into the engine excessively. Naturally, when you use too much of something, part of it is destined to spill out.
Even if you didn’t pour in excessive oil, you may have simply spilled some of the oil while pouring the engine oil. The oil you spill will eventually make it down the hood and you’ll mistake it for a spill.
If it’s simply too much oil or a spill, you don’t need to worry. You can extract excess oil using a dipstick. If you’re not a fan of oil stains, you can use a rag to clean it and your car will be good as new.
2. Faulty valve cover gaskets
A faulty valve cover gasket can also cause an engine to leak. This is usually the case if the engine leaks from the top, and a replacement is the only feasible solution to this problem.
The valve cover gasket protects the cylinder head at the top of the engine. Over time, it gets less effective at protecting the engine and wears down. When this happens, it becomes unable to seal off the oil, causing an overflow that leads to an oil leak.
3. Incorrect installation of a component
There are many parts to an engine that helps seal off oil to prevent leaks and spills. There is the oil pan gasket, the valve cover gasket, the timing cover gasket, etc. If any of these gaskets malfunction, you’ll have to deal with an oiled leak.
To prevent these components from malfunctioning, they must be installed properly. Over tightening or under-tightening the screws, or attaching the oil filter improperly can all lead to a leak, and you should look out for those.
4. Damaged oil filter
An oil filter is one of the components that degrade but don’t get replaced regularly. While they’re made to remove contaminants from oil, and they do it well, until they start to show their age.
After many cycles of use, they start to work improperly. Instead of filtering the oil from particles, it starts to leak it, making it unusable. When this happens, you must repair or replace the oil filter before you continue to use your car.
But you don’t have to pay to fix a leaking oil under your hood. Most times, the fix is usually simple, and you can save a few dollars by repairing yourself.
How to Fix Your Engine Oil Leak at Home
While it may sound easier to have an auto mechanic check out your car each time there is a minor problem, it’s not very economical. You can save a few dollars by following DIY fixes to correct the oil leaking under your hood.
If you’re not very confident with handling vehicles, it’s probably best to take your car to an auto repair shop. You won’t be paying an arm and a leg to fix a simple engine oil leak.
However, you can save some money by trying to fix it yourself. There are hundreds of YouTube tutorials that will show you how to fix or replace a damaged oil filter or reinstall a faulty gasket.
While we don’t recommend using a leak stopper, you can use one as a temporary solution if there are no better alternatives momentarily. If you do this, however, you’ll be doing your car a great favor by seeing a specialist as soon as you can.