Why is my Car Leaking Oil When Parked?

Published on

March 4, 2024

car leaking oil while parked

Are you noticing a black or brown liquid forming underneath your vehicle no matter where you park? Are you smelling oil before you go to start your vehicle? Are your oil levels low, and your engine temperature running high?

If you're nodding along to any of these questions, then chances are you likely have an oil leak. Not only does this leave unsightly stains whenever you park, but unresolved oil leaks can lead to bigger issues. So let's dive into the usual suspects behind oil leaks, how to properly identify a leak, when to call the pros, and more. Here's a look at what you need to know:

Common Causes of Oil Leaks

If you notice your car is leaking oil, your best bet is to first find the underlying issue that's causing the leak. 

Heads up: This might be trickier than it looks, but if you’re still having trouble, here's some of the more common causes:

  • Bad engine gasket or oil pan: Anything under the hood or under your vehicle is susceptible to wear and tear, road debris, and other deteriorating factors. The oil pan is one such component located at the very bottom of the engine. This pan and the gasket are prone to wear and tear from regular driving simply based on their location within the vehicle. Punctures and other types of damage to these parts can cause oil to leak.
  • Bad rinks or seals: These components are specifically designed to prevent oil from leaking out of your vehicle as it travels throughout its various components. However, when they become worn, they can do anything but this.
  • Filter issues: If you're going too long between oil changes, the oil filter can wear out from excess contaminants. This contaminated oil can then wreak havoc on seals and gaskets, causing them to leak. Ensure you're getting your car's oil and filter changed per manufacturer recommendations to avoid filter issues.
  • Poor installation: Last but not least, installation errors are another common culprit behind an installation leak. This may occur when oil pan gaskets or valves are over-tightened or when tightness is not distributed properly.

Signs and Symptoms

While it can be challenging to find the underlying issue that's causing an oil leak, knowing when you have one is fairly easy to diagnose. The most obvious sign of an oil leak is a brown or black liquid forming underneath the vehicle when it's parked for a period of time. Keep in mind that anything other than a brown or black liquid is likely a different type of leak. For instance, blue liquid indicates a coolant leak, while red liquid indicates transmission fluid.

Some other signs and symptoms of an oil leak include:

  • Blue smoke coming from the exhaust: This may signify oil getting into the exhaust manifold.
  • An overheating engine: If the engine temperature gauge is going up, it could be indicative that your oil levels are low, thereby causing your engine to overheat.
  • Scent of burning oil: This is indicative that oil has leaked into your engine and burned.
  • Low oil levels: Some oil leaks are difficult to detect and may not result in puddling under the vehicle. In this case, it may make sense to get into the habit of regularly checking your car's oil levels. If the levels are regularly low, then it could indicate a problem.

Diagnosing and Fixing the Issue

Identifying and resolving an oil leak can be a bit tricky, but some signs, like puddling oil or a distinct oil smell after driving, can give you a good idea of the issue. While you might be able to spot the problem, getting a mechanic's professional diagnosis and repair expertise is crucial for more complex oil leaks. 

At GreatWater 360 Auto Care, our skilled team specializes in precisely that—accurately identifying the issue and providing effective solutions to get you back on the road with confidence.

How to Prevent Future Oil Leaks

Preventing oil leaks is easier than you might think! The best way to avoid oil leaks is to have your vehicle's oil changed per the manufacturer's recommendations and to ensure it's up-to-date on all of its other recommended maintenance. Here at GreatWater, we conduct a multi-point inspection of your vehicle to identify any parts or components that need to be addressed or may need to be addressed in the future.

"Preventative maintenance” isn't just a fancy term – investing time and effort in keeping your vehicle well-maintained has been proven to reduce unexpected issues and the need for repairs over time. And with GreatWater as your trusted partner in automotive care, you can count on us to help you avoid any potential problems, keeping your car running smoothly for years to come.

When to Seek Professional Help

While it's okay to drive a car with an oil leak problem for short distances until you can have the vehicle professionally serviced, if is not something that you want to put off. Like anything, what may seem like a small issue could turn into a bigger issue over time if it's not properly addressed. That's why we suggest making a service appointment to have the issue properly diagnosed and repaired at the first sign of an oil leak. If the leak is not addressed, it could lead to issues such as an overheated engine, engine damage, extensive staining to your garage or driveway pavement, and in some cases even a vehicle fire. If the leak becomes too significant, it could also become an environmental hazard, with any runoff being washed into sewers or bodies of water.

Contact Us Today

Dealing with an oil leak can be a real headache; however, with GreatWater 360 Auto Care at your side, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your car is in expert hands. So, kick the pavement stains and that unpleasant oil smell and contact us today to schedule an appointment to get to the root of the problem. Whether it's a simple fix or a more complex issue, we're just a phone call away, ready to get you cruising again in no time.