Why is my Car Leaking Oil (And What Do I Do About It)? | Carter VW Automotive FAQs, Answered
Your engine works very hard to get you where you need to be every day. The engine oil helps to protect its moving parts, but over time, it could begin to leak from the engine. There are a wide variety of possible places the engine could leak from. In general, it's due to damage the engine sustained somehow, or because a gasket has worn down over time and needs to be replaced. Before you visit our service department for a fix, you can use the following three tips to get a better idea of what to expect.
Tip #1: Make Sure It's Engine Oil
Before embarking on your quest to find the source of your oil leak, be sure the leak really is engine oil.
There are a number of fluids that can be golden-brownish in color that could be leaking from your car, including engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid. You might assume any brown liquid dripping onto the ground beneath your car has to be engine oil, but that's not always the case. If you can, collect a sample of the dripping liquid. If you can't tell with your own senses of sight, feel and smell what's leaking from your car, an expert technician at Carter Volkswagen can!
Tip #2: Seeing is Believing
Tracing the path of an oil leak -- especially one that originates deep in the engine, or behind other components -- can be particularly tricky. You can use a UV dye kit to help you see the origin of the leak. Our factory-trained technicians use a similar kit in our very own service center to trace engine oil leaks!
You'll add the dye to the engine and let it run for a brief time, to circulate the dye. Then, using a UV light and special glasses, take a close look at the engine. Any traces of oil will shine brightly. You'll be able to see the oil much more clearly, and follow its path easily to the source of the leak.
Tip #3: The Usual Suspects
When looking for oil leaks, it's often helpful to know the most common sources of oil leaks, so you can check them first.
Start from the bottom and check the oil pan. The oil pan itself can suffer damage from scraping low-lying hazards like speed bumps, railroad tracks and curbs, or the oil pan gasket could spring a leak.
In fact, all the gaskets and seals are great places to check for leaks. Some of the gaskets worth looking at include the rear main seal, the timing case gasket, camshaft seals, the valve cover gasket and the head gasket.
If you don't know your head gasket from a hole in the ground, no problem! Finding and fixing an oil leak on your Volkswagen is a job for the factory-trained experts at the Carter VW service center. You car will still be safe to drive even with a small oil leak, so bring it to our service center as soon as you can -- but be sure not to operate the engine if you see an oil pressure or temperature warning light in the dash. If your car leaks enough oil, there won't be enough left in the engine to lubricate its many moving parts, and the engine could be destroyed! That's why we think it's smart to trust the experts in our service department for a quality, lasting repair.