Has your oil level dropped significantly and do you think that if you have an oil gasket leak on your car? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.
Having a problem like this can be really frustrating to deal with. Why I’m saying this? Well, because it is true, locating oil leaks can be a true pain to do. Oil can leak from basically everywhere around the engine and finding these leaks, especially on a greasy engine can be extremely difficult.
This is why you need to learn more about the places from where you can expect these leaks. Knowing this not only will save you a ton of time. But it will also help you fix the problem in a DIY fashion with an oil pan gasket sealer. But you shouldn’t worry about this because we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to tackling this issue.
First, we are going to learn what is oil gasket and oil gasket leak. Then we will cover the types of oil gaskets that are on your engine and then we will focus primarily on the oil pan gasket leak symptoms since this gasket leaks the most. Then we will learn how to diagnose and sort out these leaks. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is An Oil Gasket?
Now before we dive into more complex topics such as the oil gasket leak, let’s first take a look at what is an oil gasket in general. Knowing what this component is will make your diagnosing process a lot simpler because you will understand things better. So, if you want to learn more on the basics follow along, if not, you can jump right to the symptoms.
Nevertheless, an oil gasket is a special gasket that is designed to prevent oil leaks from developing. This gasket is basically bonding two metal components.
As you probably know, you cant screw two metal components and expect a perfect seal. There will be leaks if there is nothing between them.
This is why gaskets were invented and for a good purpose. These gaskets are one of the most crucial components that are out there.
They are there to prevent leaks from the engine. The materials from which these gaskets are made can depend from manufacturer to manufacturer. But when it comes to oil gaskets, the most common types of materials used are rubber, cork, or paper.
These gaskets are somewhat thick and this allows them to compress when you torque them with the torque wrench. Once compressed, there will be no leaks. Each of these gaskets has a specific torque sequence in order for leaks to be prevented in the future.
This is why you need to torque them not by feel. But by the recommended specs if you want to avoid oil gasket leaks in the near future.
But what are the different types of oil gaskets out there? Well, more on that we are going to cover later on in the article. Before we cover the symptoms that are produced while leaking.
Types Of Oil Gaskets
Now let’s learn more about the types of oil gaskets before we dive into the oil gasket leak. Knowing the types of gaskets that are out there will help you immensely when it comes to locating an oil leak on your engine.
In fact, there are three gaskets that you should be wary of. The first is the valve cover gasket. This gasket is basically at the top of the engine. And also one of the most common reasons for oil gasket leaks.
This valve cover gasket is usually made out of rubber and over time, it can harden and oil will start to leak in from the gasket. So, if this component is leaking on your vehicle, you will notice how there is oil sludge right in the place where the valve cover and the engine head come into contact.
The second type of gasket is the head gasket. The head gasket can also cause leaks to develop inside of the engine and also on the outside. The coolant and oil could mix and you can end up with a big sludgy mess in your system.
Also, as we mentioned, this oil can leak from the sides in some cases. So, if your block is all oily and you don’t know where this leak is coming from, inspecting this gasket might be a good idea.
And the last type of gasket that can cause an oil gasket leak is the oil pan gasket. This is one of the most notorious reasons why you have leaks on your car. This is basically the seal that seals the oil pan and the engine block.
What can happen is that it could start leaking and cause a ton of headaches. This is why we focus primarily on this gasket.
Oil Pan Gasket Leak Symptoms
As we mentioned in the previous chapter, when it comes to the symptoms, we are going to focus primarily on the oil gasket leak that comes from the pan.
This is the most common place where you get leaks and when this happens, there will be a lot of symptoms that will be associated with this problem. This is why we will cover all of these symptoms in detail in the following chapters, so you don’t have a problem diagnosing them.
After we finish with the symptoms we will also cover the diagnostic process and learn how to find these leaks, so if you want to learn more, follow along.
1. Low Oil Level
The first and most common symptom when you have an oil gasket leak is the low oil level. Whenever this is the case, the level of the oil will be really low all the time.
You could use more than a quart every 1,000 miles or so. And here people do a big mistake. They instantly think that their engine is burning this oil and they assume that this is normal.
But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes this problem can be caused by gasket leaks as well. So, when you are losing oil on your car, you should always check the car for oil leaks from the bottom.
Check the pan and see if it’s oily, also check the parking spot where you park. If you have a leak, you will clearly have a ton of drippings on the ground.
So, whenever the oil level is low, check for leaks first before you jump to conclusions, and also, always top off the oil in your car. If not you will face the next symptom that we are going to cover.
2. Low Oil Light On
The next symptom in our list that is often common when you have an oil gasket leak is the warning light that you will receive on the cluster. This light is also known as oil light.
What this light does is inform you when you have a low or high oil pressure in your system. This light communicates with the oil pressure switch and then it shares the information with you.
When this light turns on you probably have oil leaks or a different problem that causes your oil pressure to drop or increase.
What is important when it comes to this light is to understand that things are really serious. This means that you need to tackle this problem as soon as possible if you want to avoid engine damage.
Whenever you get the light, you need immediately to stop the car and check the oil level and check if you have some serious leaks. If the oil level is low then top off the oil and continue driving until you reach a gas station. Don’t drive like this for too long.
Or if the oil light is on and the oil level is good, then you could have a bad oil pressure sensor. Sometimes this component can fail and cause you problems like these. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an oil gasket leak.
3. Engine Overheating
The next symptom that we are going to cover which is associated with an oil gasket leak is the situation when the engine overheats.
The engine will tend to overheat whenever you are running low on oil and you have big leaks. But why is this the case?
Well, this is the case because the oil lubricates the engine and causes the internals to friction far less. When you run low on oil, there will be increased friction inside of the engine and this increased friction will create a ton of heat inside of the engine.
So, consequently, the engine will like to overheat. And when the engine overheats, engine damage will be imminent. This is why you need to be aware of these symptoms and detect the oil gasket leak on time before the problem becomes too serious and causes a ton of damage inside of the engine.
4. Visible Oil Leaks On The Ground
The next in our list of oil gasket leak symptoms is the situation when you have visible leaks on the ground.
Let’s say that you park your car all the time at the same spot, if you have leaks on your oil pan, you will definitely spot them.
There will be drippings of oil all over the place if the engine is leaking oil. So, whenever it comes to this problem, it is often advised to perform a close inspection of the spot where you park the vehicle.
If there are leaks on the ground that are green or red in color and the solution smells sweet, then this is definitely coolant.
If the drops are red in color and when you touch the solution and feel sludgy, then this definitely is some sort of hydraulic fluid. Either coming from the power steering, shocks, or the transmission. This is why you need to study the pattern of leaks.
If the leaks are on the sides, more precisely where the wheels go, then you have a strut or a shock leaking, if the stains are under the engine, it could be the power steering, or if this leak comes from the middle where the transmission lies, then this for sure is a transmission fluid leak.
On the other hand, if this stain is black in color and smells like burnt oil, then you have an oil gasket leak.
5. Oil Leaks On The Oil Pan
The next in our list of oil gasket leak symptoms is the situation with the visible leaks on the oil pan. Let’s say that you performed a close inspection of the oil pan and you found out that there is oil sludge.
This symptom honestly, is a tell-tell sign that you have leaks coming from the oil pan. A little bit of leakage on older vehicles is completely normal.
But if you notice big leaks coming from the gasket and there is a ton of sludge accumulated on the pan. Then things are getting really serious.
In this case, you shouldn’t wait for long and try to tackle this problem as soon as possible before things get much worse and possibly end up damaging your engine. How this is done we are going to explain later on in the article, now first, let’s cover all of the symptoms that are associated with the oil gasket leak on your car.
6. Smoke From The Engine Compartment
The next very common symptom of an oil gasket leak is the smoke coming from the engine compartment. But why is this the case?
Well, before we explain this, it is worth noting that this symptom is also common not only when you have an oil pan gasket leak but also when you have leaks from other places. Namely, the valve cover gasket, head gasket, etc.
This is why you need to take this symptom with a pinch of salt since without proper diagnosing you cannot definitely tell that your oil pan gasket is leaking.
The answer to the question of why this smoke appears is because when the oil starts dripping it comes in contact with hot surfaces. And then the oil starts to burn and this causes smoke to develop inside the engine bay. So, whenever you notice this symptom on your car, it is worth checking where this leak comes from.
What could happen sometimes if you have a leak on the valve cover, is that the oil can drop on the alternator and possibly ruin this component on some engines. Now let’s cover the next oil gasket leak symptom.
7. Oil Burning Smell Inside The Cabin
And the last symptom of an oil gasket leak that we are going to cover is the situation when you smell burnt oil inside of the cabin.
And trust me, whenever you have oil leaks in your car, there will be a strong odor of burnt oil inside of the cabin.
Similar to the previous symptom, when you experience a burnt oil odor inside of the cabin, you cannot really tell right off the bat from where this smell comes from.
In order to locate the cause of this smell, you need to dive deeper and diagnose these leaks. And in the following chapter, we are going to explain how you can diagnose these leaks quickly and effectively. Later on, we will also cover how you can fix the oil gasket leak on a budget without removing the pan and doing expensive work on your car. So, follow along till the end.
Diagnosing An Oil Pan Gasket Leak
Now let’s dive into the diagnostics process. How you can tell that you have an oil gasket leak. More precisely an oil pan leak? Let’s elaborate.
The first and most obvious symptom of this leak is the situation with the oil drippings on the ground. Whenever you have serious leaks there will be dripping.
So, it is up to you to determine the type of leaks. If the fluid is colored and smells sweet, this is probably coolant. If the fluid is red and greasy this fluid is ATF. Or if the fluid is dark, greasy, and smells burnt, this is a clear sign that you have oil leaks.
The next thing in this situation will be performing a close-up inspection. And for this, you will need a flashlight.
Also, you will need to lift the car in the air and get close access to the pan in order to spot if you have leaks. Checking a pan from the top is close to impossible since the space is really tight and the pan is designed in a way that it is not visible from above.
After you get access to the pan, you will be able to see if you have oil leakage from the sides. If there are leaks, then you have a bad oil pan gasket and you will need to perform a repair. How this is done we will cover next.
Oil Pan Gasket Leak Quick Fix
When it comes to a quick fix for this oil gasket leak, finding a solution can be tricky to do. So, why is this the case?
This is the case because locating the leak can be really tricky and the pan is really big. So, let’s say that you want to use JB Weld cement or some other RTV oil pan gasket sealer without removing the pan. Fixing the problem like this is not feasible. You will need at least to remove the pan and then fix the gasket.
Oil Pan Gasket Replacement
Now let’s discuss more about the oil pan gasket replacement. How you can replace the gasket on your vehicle?
For this purpose, you will need to get a new gasket. A package of RTV and you will be good to go.
First, drain the oil and then remove the pan. Clean off the surfaces of the pan and the engine, apply the new gasket with a generous dose of RTV and then torque everything up to spec.
Oil Pan Gasket Replacement Cost
The replacement of the oil pan gasket and fixing the oil gasket leak can vary from car to car. Prices on the average go from $200 to $500. Why is this so?
Well, not every car is easy to work on. Some vehicles can be really tricky to work on and will require more time in order so the gasket is replaced. Thus, the price rises.
Preventing Oil Leaks: Facts You Need to Know
- Motor oil is crucial for keeping your vehicle’s engine running smoothly, and gaskets and seals are the last lines of defense for preventing oil leaks.
- Exposure to high temperatures, high pressures, vibrations, and contact with hot fluids over time can cause gaskets and seals to develop leaks.
- Even small oil leaks should not be ignored as they can lead to big expenses down the road.
- Driving with low or no oil can cause high engine temperatures that lead to damage to pistons, piston rings, valve lifters, and engine bearings.
- The valve cover gasket is one of the most common sources of engine oil leaks, and warping or compression set can cause it to fail.
- Overtightening the valve cover’s fasteners can make the leak worse, and many covers today have load stops built into them, so tightening the cover will not help.
- Other gaskets and seals that may be the source of oil leaks include the oil drain plug seal, oil pan gasket, front and rear crankshaft seals, camshaft seals, timing cover gasket, intake manifold end seals, cylinder head gasket, and oil filter adapter/oil cooler base gaskets.
- Consult a professional technician if you are experiencing an oil leak to diagnose the problem and complete the necessary repairs.
- If left unaddressed, oil leaks can cause unsightly stains in your parking spot and eventually lead to engine damage and costly repairs.
- Regular maintenance and inspections can help prevent oil leaks and prolong the life of your vehicle’s engine.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the oil gasket leak. First, we learned what is an oil gasket and the different types of gaskets.
Then we covered the symptoms of a bad oil pan gasket and listed all the possible scenarios. After that we covered how this problem is tackled and how much can you expect to pay to do so.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Is A Gasket
A gasket is a special material that is designed to make a proper bond between two different components. The gasket basically fills up all the unevenness and guarantees a proper seal so oil, coolant, or another type of fluid does not leak out.
Why Is My Car Leaking Oil
This is mostly caused by a bad gasket. There are a number of gaskets around the car that prevent oil from leaking. And once one of them fails, the oil will start to drip. Examples are the valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, and head gasket. The oil drain bolt can also leak and allow oil to escape from the pan causing leaks in the process.
What Causes Oil Pan Gasket To Leak
In most cases, this is caused by the age of the gasket. Gaskets are made out of cork, rubber, or paper. Over long years of use and abuse, these materials fail and the oil will find its way outside of the engine. Also, high oil pressure can make them fail prematurely.
How To Fix Oil Pan Gasket Leak
A proper fix for this problem is only possible by replacing the gasket on the car. There is no way around it. The pan needs to be removed and the old gasket scraped out. Then new gasket is to be applied along with RTV to guarantee a proper seal.
Cost To Fix Oil Leak
The cost to fix an oil leak can depend on what is causing this leak. Prices can vary from $50 up to $600 in some cases. This is why you need to locate the leakage spot and fix it accordingly.