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Each cylinder head on your car’s engine has an aluminum or plastic valve cover bolted to it. Between this valve cover and the cylinder head, there is a gasket that keeps engine oil from leaking out. The valve cover bolts keep the gasket compressed, thus preventing leaks. Over time the gasket becomes brittle from the engine’s heat or the bolts loosen, creating an engine oil leak.
Look for these signs of oil leakage at the valve cover gasket:
Yes, as long as the amount of oil leaking is small, and there is no leak onto hot engine parts such as the exhaust manifold, it is safe to drive your car until you have an opportunity to fix it.
If you notice oil leaking on to the ground beneath your car after it is parked, you do not have a small leak, and it needs to be found and repaired as soon as possible. Any leak, of course, means your oil level is dropping as you drive the car. If you have a leak, be sure to check your oil more frequently than usual so you do not run low on oil and damage the engine.
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