Things to Know if Your Car is Leaking Oil - Service Information at Capitol Chevrolet

It's nearly impossible to overstate the importance of engine oil. It lubricates the moving parts of your engine, which prevents damage from heat and friction. Without oil, your engine would suffer massive damage. Because oil is such a vital part of your engine's functioning, it's wise to keep an eye out for signs of an oil leak. But these may not always be obvious, especially if you don't know what you're looking for. That's where we come in. Below, you'll find five possible signs that the oil in your Chevy is leaking. If you spot any of them in your vehicle, make an appointment right away.

Oil on pavement

5. Dark Brown or Black Puddles Under Your Car

When you think of an oil leak, this may be what first comes to mind. A dark puddle of fluid dripping from under your vehicle's engine is a common sign of an oil leak. Unfortunately, things get a bit more tricky when determining exactly where the oil is leaking from. It could be something as simple as an oil drain plug with a bad gasket or that hasn't been seated well. Other common places for oil to leak from your engine include the oil pan gasket, front and rear main seals, valve cover gaskets, or a variety of other places throughout the engine. Between the oil leak and road grime, it's not always easy to simply look things over and know where the oil is coming from. That's why it's typically best to trust a factory-trained technician like who you'll find in our Chevrolet dealership service center.

Person removing oil dipstick

4. A Burning Smell

If oil is leaking from somewhere in the engine, it may not leak onto the ground at all. Instead, it might drip onto another part of the engine. When the engine heats up, the oil may burn. As it does, it will release a strong, sharp burning smell. If you're bombarded by the stench of burning oil when your engine reaches operating temperature, we recommend pulling over as soon as it's safe to do so and checking your oil levels. Even if everything looks fine, a burning smell is worrying, and it's best to call for assistance.

3. Low Oil Levels

How often do you check your engine oil level? It's a good idea to check it regularly. It's a simple task that doesn't take much time, and it can save you a considerable amount of money if you catch a problem early. To check the oil level, find the oil dipstick and remove it. On most modern cars, this is a yellow loop with the oil icon that looks like a genie lamp. Once you remove the dipstick, wipe it down with a rag before putting it back in for an accurate reading. Pull it out again and see how far the oil comes up the dipstick. If it's below the minimum fill line, your engine doesn't have enough oil, and there might be a leak somewhere. Adding more oil can be a temporary fix that helps you avoid disaster, but it shouldn't be a long-term solution.

Oil warning light

2. Different-Looking Oil

When you're checking the oil, take a look at the color and consistency of the oil. It should be dark brown or black, somewhat translucent, and oily. If it's a paler, more opaque brown, and if the texture is more milky, foamy, or frothy, it may be the sign of a blown head gasket. When this happens, the oil and coolant leak into each other. If it's not remedied immediately, a blown head gasket can destroy the engine.

1. The Oil Pressure Light Turns On

Your dashboard has a number of lights that turn on when there's a problem. The oil pressure light looks like an old-fashioned oil can, or a genie's lamp. If this warning light comes on, it means that the oil pressure in your engine is too low. Though this could be due to other causes like a failed oil pump, it may also be that there's not enough oil in the system to maintain the proper pressure. Whatever the cause, it's a light that you shouldn't ignore. Instead, pull over when you can safely do so and turn off the engine. Topping off the oil might buy you a little time to get where you're going, but you should have experts look into why the oil pressure dropped before the engine is damaged. Whatever you do, don't drive your vehicle with the oil light on.