Expert Advice

Is a little oil dripping from my vehicle a big deal?

While it might seem easy to ignore a few drops of oil on your driveway, it’s always a bad idea. Left unaddressed, a small oil leak can grow into a larger, much more expensive repair. Plus, if the leak worsens while a vehicle is in operation, it can cause the engine to seize. This can create a dangerous and hazardous situation for passengers in your vehicle and other motorists on the road. By getting regular oil change services, you can get ahead of oil leak issues before they worsen.

Common Causes & Signs of Oil Leaks

Common causes of oil leaks include degraded engine gaskets, leaks from the oil pan, or improper or worn out seals. An oil leak also can be caused by a loose or missing oil pan drain plug or deteriorated valve cover gaskets.

One of the easiest ways to determine if you have an oil leak is by using a dipstick to measure the oil level in your engine’s vehicle. Levels outside the minimum mark on the dipstick, indicated by an L, MIN, crosshatching or the lower pin hole, indicate that your oil level is low. Low oil levels can be a sign of an oil leak. Blue smoke coming from your vehicle’s hood or exhaust or a strong burning smell while the engine is running are other common signs of an oil leak.

Damages and Dangers from Oil Leaks

Oil stains on a driveway or garage floor are unsightly – and an environmental hazard. Used motor oil contains a cocktail of toxic substances, and sometimes even pieces of lead, zinc and arsenic that have flaked or been shaved off metal engine components. If used engine oil is washed away by rain or irrigation water, these substances can seep into water or sewage systems. These contaminants eventually make their way into other waterways in the form of runoff, and can be toxic to plants and animals.

In addition to their environmental impacts, oil leaks can lead to major damage to your vehicle’s engine, as well as to its radiator and HVAC system. Accumulated oil can degrade the rubber hoses and seals used in these components and cause them to wear out prematurely.

Oil leaks are also a fire and safety hazard. If oil from a leak catches fire, or the engine seizes and fails while you’re driving, you or others could be injured. At best, a seized engine results in repairable damage. In other cases, the damage is so severe that the engine must be replaced.

Routine Oil Change Service Wilmington NC

Your vehicle is an important investment. If you notice even small drops of oil on your driveway or parking space, do not ignore it. If you think you may have an oil leak, O’Leary’s Automotive Repair is your go-to oil change service provider.

We are committed to matching drivers with the right oil for their vehicle and driving conditions. We offer oil change service in four convenient locations in Wilmington, Leland and Hampstead. Be sure to download our oil change coupons to take advantage of our winter special: an oil change and tire rotation starting at $39.99. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about our oil change packages.