Oil Leaks and Other Car Leak Diagnosis

oil-leaks-and-car-leaks

When your car is new and covered by warranty, you don’t really pay much attention to the little issues that creep up. You might notice a funny smell or a strange-colored drip on your driveway. But the next time you go for an oil change, they’ll fix it right up, won’t they? Those first few years of car ownership are great - all your repairs are covered under the factory warranty!


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Engine Oil LeakAfter your warranty expires, problems seem much bigger. The problems that would’ve been covered by your car’s manufacturer under warranty are now your problem. Sometimes that means leaving the repairs until they get worse, or ignoring them indefinitely!

If that’s your approach, it’s going to come back to haunt you. Minor leaks turn into major repairs. Inconsequential issues result in major consequences. And for some of those leaks, you’d be better off getting rid of your car than tackling the repairs.

Oil Leaking from a Car

Car Leaks OilFar and away, the biggest complaint from car owners is of a car leaking oil. Those concerns range from extremely simple flaws like a leaking engine oil filter to a major engine repair. There’s also a variety of problems in between with oil leaking from a car. Since it's such a common symptom of so many different problems, you will have to diagnose your car by checking the most obvious ones. Taking a peek under your car is the first step and seeing if anything obvious stands out.

Did You Know?

Many oil leaks will be minor, quick repairs. However, major oil leaks can be a symptom of engine issues such as a cracked engine block. These kinds of repair can be more expensive than your car is worth.

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What Causes an Oil Leak?

Common causes are degraded engine gaskets, oil pan damage / leaks, oil seals becoming worn out or bad connections. You can check these by looking underneath the car and visibly inspecting the oil pan seals, and the oil pan drain plug. It's also a good idea to make sure your oil filter isn't loose or misaligned after many miles on the road. One last thing is make sure the timing cover seal and valve cover gaskets are in working order, and if anything stands out its time to move on to engine oil leak repair. 

Oil Leak Fixes

Most engine oil leaks are minor. Components like engine oil cooler hoses, oil pan gaskets, valve cover gaskets, and even front crankshaft oil seals are rather small repairs to perform. In just a couple of hours, the flawed seal, hose, or part can be replaced with a new one and you’re back in business. However, if the leak is caused by something more serious like a cracked engine block, you may have to do more in-depth repairs.

Engine Oil Leaks - Cracked Engine Block?

It’s the big leaks that can make you question the repair’s viability. A cylinder head gasket or rear main engine seal are lengthy, expensive repairs that only get worse over time. And these major leaks can cause other major problems too, including clutch replacement and cooling system contamination.

Another expensive repair that is often first noticed when oil leaks from the engine is a cracked engine block. You will have to seriously consider whether this repair will be worth it, since the price of repair or replacement will often be a significant portion of your car's value.

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Oil Leak Cost to Repair

An engine oil leak repair cost can easily stretch your credit card balance. Minor repairs could be $100 - $300 while the more expensive issues like cylinder head gasket replacement can range upwards of $3000, depending on your make and model. Left on its own, a simple engine oil leak can even develop into a seized or locked up motor. Fun stuff, right?

Transmission Leaking Fluid

Like your engine, your transmission has the potential to pillage your pocketbook. The first warning of an impending transmission leak repair is when you see little red droplets on the ground. It looks like a cherry-flavored popsicle has melted.

Your transmission fluid serves three purposes: it cools the moving metal parts inside your engine, lubricates moving components, and is the hydraulic fluid that controls your transmission’s functions. Transmission fluid leaks are one of the symptoms that your transmission may be failing or going bad. A car leaking transmission fluid will eventually have low fluid. The result is lack of lubrication, poor hydraulic control, and overheating inside the transmission.

Transmission Failure Signs

Failure can happen in several forms:

  • Your transmission can slip when you’re driving because of loss of hydraulic pressure.

  • Your clutches can burn, causing the transmission to slip when shifting gears.

  • Your transmission may not engage at all, leaving you stranded and going nowhere.

  • Catastrophic failure can happen with a hole getting blown in the transmission case.

Fixing a Transmission Leak

Inevitably, minor transmission leaks will eventually cause problems when left unattended. If you notice the symptoms before you find the leak, it’s already too late. You’ll need transmission repairs or replacement, often to the tune of $2,000 to $3,500 and up.

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Car Air Conditioning Blows Hot Air

Your car’s HVAC system keeps you warm when it’s cold outside and cool when it’s hot out. When your car AC leaks, it no longer keeps you cool. The pressure inside the AC system isn’t able to cycle the compressor, and the refrigerant in the AC lines dissipates into the environment.

Car AC Leaks

When your car ac leaks water, the biggest issue isn’t the leak itself. It’s usually just a cracked air conditioning hose or a blown seal. The biggest problem is that the compressor is starved of lubrication and can seize up. When this happens you’ve gone from a couple hundred dollars to well over a thousand.

Coolant Leak in a Car

You hear about water pumps, radiators, heater cores, and head gaskets. All of them are part of your cooling system in some way, and each one plays a role in preventing engine failures. Most of all, it’s a looped system, so if there’s a breach, your car leaks coolant out and air comes in. That’s bad news.

Coolant Leak Repair

If you have a car leaking coolant, catching it early is crucial. That way, you can stave off any major issues that result. Unfortunately, if you don’t see the leak first, it can be too late when the symptom shows up. Typically, you’ll see the temperature gauge spike. That means your engine is overheating. And suddenly, you’re replacing the head gasket or the whole engine AND dealing with the cooling system leak.

If you’ve had your car leaking antifreeze for a while, the damage is probably already done. Correcting the issues will involve days of downtime, hours of labor, and thousands of dollars by the time it’s said and done. So be wary of any coolant leaks, and get repairs done right away to avoid this.

Car Leaking Water

You don’t hear much about water leaks compared to the other mechanical system leaks. Just because it’s not as common doesn’t mean it’s not just as expensive to fix. Many water leaks come as a result of poor body repairs, like body seams that haven’t been completed properly or a sunroof that doesn’t seat fully.

When your car leaks water into the interior, it can cause damage beyond repair. The headliner can get saturated and sag, your seats and carpet can develop mold and mildew, and electrical systems can short. Your car turns into an ugly mess with functions that don’t work anymore.

If you find your car leaking water, finding the source of the leak can be as difficult as the repair. Often, people throw their hands up in frustration and give up on fixing the leak. They either live with it or ditch the car.

If your car has a leak that’s either too expensive, difficult, or frustrating to deal with, turn to CarBrain. Within just a few minutes, you can receive a guaranteed offer for your leaky car. Once you accept the offer, we’ll take your car away free of charge and put money in your hand. Whether your car is just off warranty, the victim of an accident, or an older model, CarBrain will take it off your hands. Get your offer now and see how much your car is worth.

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