How to Quickly and Accurately Find the Source of an Oil Leak | YourMechanic Advice

How to Quickly and Accurately Find the Source of an Oil Leak

Engine oil leaks are the most common of all automotive fluid leaks. With the number of seals and gaskets located around the engine bay, oil can leak from almost anywhere.

If the leak occurred some time before you notice it, the oil may have spread far from the real source. Air moving through the engine by driving or being pushed through the cooling fan can cause the leaking oil to cover areas far and wide. Also, if it isn’t a large and/or obvious leak, it will take some investigating to locate the source as it may also be caked with dirt and debris.

Part 1 of 2: Use a degreaser

It’s best not to start replacing seals, gaskets, or other components until you locate the exact source of the leak. If the leak is not obvious, the easiest way to start looking for the source is with a cool engine.

Materials Needed

Step 1: Use the degreaser. Spray a little all-purpose degreaser on the area you see oil. Allow it to penetrate for a few minutes and then wipe it off.

Step 2: Check for a leak. Start the engine and let it run for a few minutes. Check to see if you can spot a leak below the car.

If there is no evident leak, then it may be small enough that it may take days of driving to become evident.

Part 2 of 2: Use a U/V leak detector kit

The fastest way to spot a leak is to use a leak detector kit. These kits come with fluorescent dyes that are formulated for specific engine fluids and a UV light. When the oil starts coming out of the source of the leak, the fluorescent dye will leak out with it. Shining the UV light around the engine bay will make the dye glow, usually a fluorescent green that is easy to spot.

Materials Needed

Step 1: Put the dye into the engine. Pour the leak detector dye into the engine.

  • Tip: If your engine is low on oil, add a bottle of the correct dye for engine leaks to the oil you’re adding to the engine, then pour the oil / leak detector mixture into the engine. If the engine oil level is ok, simply pour the dye into the engine.

Step 2: Turn on the engine. Run the engine for 5-10 minutes or even take it for a short ride.

Step 3: Check for oil leaks. Let the engine cool down before you start shining the uv light into tight spaces. If your kit supplies yellow goggles, put them on and start checking around the engine compartment with the uv light. Once you spot the glowing green dye, you’ve found the source of your leak.

Once you identify the source of the oil leak in your car, have it inspected by a certified service professional, such as one from YourMechanic.


Next Step

Schedule Oil/Fluid Leak Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Oil/Fluid Leak Inspection. Once the problem has been diagnosed, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $20.00 off as a credit towards the repair. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

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John

26 years of experience
670 reviews
John
26 years of experience
Jeep Wrangler - Oil/Fluid Leak - La Marque, Texas
This is the 2nd appointment I’ve had with John. He is always professional and explains any/all the work done on the car. I continue to book future appointments with him!
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 - Oil/Fluid Leak - Houston, Texas
John was punctual, very professional and knowledgeable regarding the issues with my truck. Great experience. Thank you very much!

Jason

14 years of experience
273 reviews
Jason
14 years of experience
Toyota Highlander - Oil/Fluid Leak - Jamaica, New York
Jason was very professional and knowledgeable with the repair that I needed done. He diagnosed the problem immediately and gave me price for work to be completed. I found the price fair and reasonable and I have confidence that the repair will be made with no issues. Thanks again Jason i would recommend Jason to anyone that needs an honest and knowledgeable mechanic.
Saab 9-5 - Oil/Fluid Leak - Brooklyn, New York
Jason arrived at our arranged time. Very courteous and professional. Asked the right questions made very insightful suggestions and was very thorough with his inspection. Would highly recommend him to anyone

Walter

45 years of experience
161 reviews
Walter
45 years of experience
Chevrolet Equinox - Oil/Fluid Leak - Tulsa, Oklahoma
Walter is one of the best mechanics I have ever had work on my vehicle. He has many years of experience and was completely honest with me. He does not charge you for parts you do not need. He did a terrific job on diagnosing both of my vehicles and it works like new again. I will definitely be hiring him back in the future.

Fakhar

5 years of experience
8 reviews
Fakhar
5 years of experience
Dodge Nitro - Oil/Fluid Leak - Pinole, California
Excellent service, competent in knowledge and ability to, in depth, explain issue and its resolution to the customer. Overall, 5 stars.

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