Is your Car Leaking Oil? Here's what you need to look for...

There are certain signs that something has gone seriously awry with your automobile—and one of the most certain of all is the presence of a leak. An oil leak can be especially vexing; what it tells you is that you’ve neglected routine maintenance, and done significant damage to the vehicle. It’s possible to address the problem, of course, but much preferable to avoid it in the first place.

Recognizing the Problem

Is your car leaking oil? You need to tackle the problem head-on rather than pretending it doesn’t exist. You can spot a leak simply by taking a glance under the place your vehicle’s been parked; signs of leakage on your garage floor, for example, are usually pretty noticeable.

But how can you tell if the leaked fluid is oil or something else altogether? It all comes down to color. If the fluid leakage is a greasy-looking brown color, you’re probably dealing with oil. By contrast, transmission fluid will appear as pink, whereas coolant will be either green or orange.

Causes of Oil Leaks

A question worth asking: What causes oil leaks, exactly? Most often, it’s because something has eroded—engine gaskets or oil sealants, more likely than not. Now, in some instances, these components will erode over time, due to simple wear and tear—and there’s really nothing you can do about that.

This isn’t common, however, and more likely than not, if these components become degraded, it’s because they’ve come into contact with bad, dirty oil. When the oil is dirty, it usually means one thing: You haven’t had it changed recently enough!

Addressing the Oil Problem

In other words, leaky oil often signifies poor vehicle maintenance—but there may still be time to save your vehicle from further degradation. The trick is to take it into the shop for an oil change before the problem gets worse. Some symptoms that you’re headed down the wrong path include a burning odor and the presence of blue smoke. Ultimately, bad oil will cause the complete breakdown of your engine—an extremely serious matter that can be astronomically expensive to address.

Again, though, all of this can be avoided, and it’s as simple as getting your oil changed when you’re supposed to. If you’re not sure how often to get your oil changed, consult your owner’s manual for the mileage number. You can also contact the dealership or your service provider.

Oil changes are part of your vehicle’s routine maintenance, and you should be getting them at least a couple of times per year—maybe more, depending on how much you drive. Look into oil change coupons to help you save money here, but remember that you’re ultimately investing in the longevity of your vehicle—and avoiding costly repairs, like whole engine replacement!