Oil change is one of the most important car maintenance to maintain your engine’s life.
Over time of use, your engine’s oil gets contaminated with foreign particles and the oil filter gets clogged. That’s why, your vehicle’s owner’s manual requests that you change your oil once every 3,000 miles or so.
Changing your engine’s oil periodically doesn’t guarantee that you won’t deal with problems; many people suffer oil leak after oil change.
Despite the cause of your oil leak after oil change, you must have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic as soon as possible.
In this article, we provide you with the top causes for oil leak after oil change. Furthermore, we provide a list of best practices to follow to prevent future oil leaks. Finally, we highlight rough ranges of cost estimates for oil leak repairs.
Oil Leak After Oil Change
If you just finished your vehicle’s oil change and noticed there is an oil leak, then one of the following causes might be the culprit:
One of the first thing causing an oil leak is bad parts or degraded vehicle components around the engine. For instance, a bad head gasket or a bad connection might allow oil to leak.
What you can do to confirm is to slide under the vehicle and look for signs of oil leak and try to identify the problem root source. If something doesn’t look right to you, it is important to have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic as soon as possible.
Issues when fitting the oil filter
Usually, every oil change involves changing the oil filter as well. Your oil filter gets bad approximately by the time your engine’s oil gets bad.
Even if you’ve changed your engine’s oil before, there is still a chance that you did not install the oil filter properly.
As you change the oil filter, you must ensure tightening up the oil filter really well but, not over-tighten it. It takes time of practice to get the right level of tightening that doesn’t allow oil leak, and at the same time doesn’t break your oil filter cap in the next oil change.
A worn oil drain plug and oil cap
As part of changing your oil, you need to drain the old oil from the oil drain plug. Like any other component in your vehicle, the oil plug also wears out, and as you try to put it back, it doesn’t really close the oil drain, and thus, your new oil might also leak after closing it.
Similarly, the oil cap might also wear out resulting in oil leak after oil change.
If you were not the one who performed the oil change, you might not be familiar with the location of the oil drain plug and the oil cap.
The oil drain plug is usually located towards the bottom of the front end of your vehicle, while the oil cap is located under the hood around the engine. If can not locate them, you can always refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for a more detailed guidance.
If you don’t have a copy of your vehicle’s owner’s manual, you can either request a hard copy from your local mechanic or download a soft copy from the web.
While it easy to locate the oil cap, it is more tricky to locate the oil drain plug as it requires jacking up your vehicle. You need to have the proper level of experience to jack up the vehicle, otherwise, you must leave it to the professionals and have a mechanic help you identify the oil leak.
What should I do to prevent oil leak after oil change?
There are several preventative measures and best practices you can follow to prevent oil leak after oil change.
- Make sure to perform regular maintenance to your vehicle. This way, your professional mechanic keeps an eye on any signs of worn seals and bad parts. He will also detect early signs of potential oil leak in the near future.
- Never delay an oil change and when changing your engine’s oil, make sure to secure both the oil drain plug and the oil filter cap well to prevent any oil leaks.
- Do not over-tighten the oil filter cap or the oil drain plug. This way, you prevent breaking them in the next oil change and thus, causing significant oil leak.
How much does it cost to repair an oil leak?
Well, if you confirmed that your engine’s oil is leaking, unfortunately, you must take immediate action and get it fixed as soon as possible.
Usually, repairing the oil leak requires an oil diagnosis to determine the root source of the leak. This diagnosis costs between $65 and $115.
The final cost of repairing oil leaks depends on the main cause of the leak. For example, if your mechanic detected corroded oil cooler line, expect to pay between $90 and $400.
On the other hand, if the leak was due to damaged head gasket, the price can range from $75 to $200.
Repairing a damaged hose can cost you between $90 and $400, while repairing a damaged oil pan costs between $100 and $400.
Unfortunately, a bad piston is the last thing you would want to deal with because it might cost you at least $600 without including labor cost.
How can I save money on oil leak repairs?
As a rule of thumb, you must not wait for an oil leak despite the repair costs. However, it is good to keep an eye for any discounts and promotions available at certain repair shops.
In general, it is really hard to wait for getting a good deal for an oil leak repair because when the problem occurs, it is an emergency and you must deal with whatever price you need to pay; otherwise, you scarify replacing your vehicle’s engine.
Therefore, the best advice when it comes to saving money on oil leak repairs is to just stay updated with which repair shop provides what type of discounts and take advantage of something you are aware of.
How do I tell if it’s an oil leak?
Your vehicle runs on a lot of fluids including the coolant, the oil, brakes liquid, power steering oil, and others. Sometimes it might be hard to tell which fluid is leaking as they might look very similar.
Luckily, you can visually distinguish between your vehicle’s fluids. For instance, the engine’s oil is usually yellow, purple, or brown and it can get very dark as it gets older. On the other hand, the transmission oil is red and can get dark red as it gets old.
The best way to confirm its your oil leaking is by measuring the engine oil level. Simply, find the dipstick around your engine, wipe it off with a dry towel, and dip it inside the oil container to measure it. If you noticed a clear drop in the oil level, there is some oil leak in your vehicle.
How soon should I repair the oil leak?
While you can drive your vehicle with an oil leak as long as the oil did not drop below the minimum level, it is never recommended to drive with an oil leak. This is because of the following reasons:
- Even if the oil leak starts very small, it can get bigger in a short period of time. Thus, when your vehicle leaks while driving, you must pull over and get it fixed as soon as possible to avoid engine failure.
- Small oil leaks can make a slippery area which could result in safety issues for you or for the people using it.
- Some people top off their engine’s oil. While topping off your engine’s oil might resolve small leaks issues, it is still considered very costly and it creates a hassle in your mind making you worried all the time that your engine might fail any time.
If this is your first time seeing the oil, the issue might not be major. This doesn’t mean you can ignore it and live with it.
Changing your engine’s oil at the right time is very important to save your engine and maintain its lifetime.
In this article, we answered a question of “why is my car leaking oil after an oil change?”
The main reason for your oil leak after oil change could be due to worn parts like the head gasket, the oil drain plug, and the oil filter. Furthermore, improperly installing your oil filter cap can also result in oil leak after an oil change.
If you noticed any signs of oil leak after oil change, you must take immediate action and have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic. If the leak is significant, you might not even be able to drive your vehicle and you must have it towed to the closest repair shop.