Monday, September 5, 2016

Diagnosing Oil Leaks for Free or Nearly Free.

For most of us, oil leaks are a fact of life in any ride and this writer has seen this in cars with less than ten thousand miles on the clock. For the most part, cars today have less issues with these IF you change the oil regularly. This is because contaminants left in can damage seals and cause leaks. Wear in a high mileage engine can also cause seal journals on some parts to stop touching the seal and leak. Even improperly installed seals can cause an issue, and spill oil over your driveway and make your engine a mess.

If the leak is minor and not getting things messy, my suggestion is to leave it alone. However if it's dotting your driveway with oil, here's how to find the leak or leaks. Fixing these can involve replacing the oil filter and or oil plug, resealing the oil pan, or adding one of those sealers until you can yank the engine or trade off the vehicle. You'll need a garden hose, some engine degreaser and a good flashlight as well as some time for the vehicle to sit and drive. Spray the degreaser carefully around the area of the suspected leak wait a few minutes, then use a garden hose to remove the mess from the engine.

I wouldn't recommend spraying water on any electrical components, or on any areas not needed to diagnose the leak. This could cause the engine to misfire or trouble codes to develop. Just clean the area you need and use the least amount of water to get the job done. Then drive the car enough to warm the engine (and dry up the water if you didn't follow my advice) then park and look for fresh oil on the engine. Because I was overzealous with the water, the engine ran a bit rough. On the return trip, it smoothed out and I was able to see that it was residual oil from the last person who changed the oil. It had dipped from the filter and gotten embedded in the dirt on the bottom of the engine, which was slowly releasing it on my driveway.

If there was a leak, there would be fresh oil coming from a seal, gasket, problem with the block, head or intake, even an oil filter or sender. In my case, there was no such problems, just poor housekeeping. When I change the oil on my cars, I like to make sure the area is wiped up, or at least sprayed with degreaser and a garden hose to stop from boogering up the driveway or causing smells when you're driving. Glad it wasn't anything major. Maranatha!

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