Engine Oil Leak Repair Cost: How Much To Fix?

Robert Herrera-COR-Wheels

By Robert Herrera

Last updated:

Oil leaks are a common phenomenon with most vehicles. You can panic for a moment thinking about the cost of fixing this problem, especially when it happens to the engine. 

However, ignoring symptoms is not a wise move since delay leads to more severe damage. So how much to fix an oil leak? Scroll down to learn!

How Much Does It Cost To Fix An Oil Leak?

The average oil leak repair cost is about $100 to $2,000, depending on the replacement parts that cause the leak, for example, $30-$70 for a filter or $100-$500 for an oil pan. Other influential factors are your type of vehicle, severity and location of the leak, etc.

Oil leak in the engine

You pay little if the leak requires little labor or material, for example, in damaged plugs or oil filters. However, gasket damage digs deeper into your wallet when it is worth over $2,000.

The technician can also recommend other fixes that add to the final cost of $150-$250. Trusted mechanics inspect many parts thoroughly and provide a detailed outline for needed services. 

For example, when we took our Ford F150 to fix an oil leak at Autozone, the mechanic told us that we had put things off too long that the oil found its way into the radiator. And we ended up paying an extra $130 to flush the part.

Of course, labor costs increase if the leak locations are more difficult to access than usual. In some cases, they have to disassemble the transmission or other key components when problems are found in the engine. Undoubtedly, it is a highly complex job requiring an extra amount of money.

Also, old vehicles with high mileage are more prone to leaks. Regardless of your maintenance efforts, they usually suffer from bad scenarios with a higher frequency than the rest, thus draining your budget more.

What Causes An Oil Leak?

The first to blame for the oil leak is the bad oil filter or the worn-out head gasket. Loose or missing screws on the seal or loose oil drain plug also trigger the leak. More severe causes include oil pan or crankshaft issues. 

Listed below are just some common reasons to look for; you are still advised to take it to the mechanic for a thorough check-up.

Excess Amount Of Oil

Remember that any small mistake can allow fluid to spill. The simplest cause is pouring too much fuel into the tank. If that’s the case, you do not struggle to find a solution – just remove the excess oil.

Missing /Loose Screws & Bolts Or Drain Plug

Loose Screws & Bolts

Another easy situation that does not require a hefty oil leak fix cost is the missing/loose bolts or drain plug due to careless maintenance. If you own an older vehicle, these parts can also fall off the car.

It is cheap to handle this problem, but the process requires understanding the torque specification defined by the manufacturer for your vehicle. It would help to tighten the bolts/plugs properly to ensure they fit snugly.

Degraded Oil Filter

Oil filters are responsible for the majority of leaks. Unfortunately, you have difficulty figuring out the real problem with this part due to several possibilities. The two most frequent situations are loose housing or improper installation.

The first one rarely happens but may come true by internal engine pressure or natural degradation. For instance, the filler cap or pan plug wears out over time and thus cannot seal the mouth of the reservoir. 

On the bright side, having new parts does not make you bankrupt. The filter cap is somewhere under $100, while the plug costs around $300 – $500.

However, the reason behind this situation is sometimes faulty operation, especially when you have invested in an aftermarket oil filter. Make sure its size and type fit into your vehicle. The mounting location, installation process, and filter and fluid compatibility should also be on point.

Most manufacturers recommend periodic filter replacement to avoid overuse. Depending on the actual condition, you can invest in an individual or a full set of engine components. A clogged element restricts the free flow of lubricant and leads to serious damage, and these risks cost you more than a simple oil leak repair.

Worn Gasket

Worn Gasket

Engine gaskets are designed to hold fluids in place and control flow as they move through the engine. Their lifespan is usually around 200,000 miles or even shorter due to cracks.

You may find gaskets on valve covers or oil pans, and they all are more likely to suffer from damage. Things get even worse if the entire component is on the verge of a breakdown.

Prepare around $300 – $500 to replace the valve cover gasket and $1,000 for the entire part. Material cost increases when it comes to an oil pan – worth from $100-$500 (not including labor cost), while the gasket costs around $750.

Crankshaft Failure

The crankshaft seals are located at the ends of the engine to prevent fluid leakage. If you still see oil puddles on the front of the engine, the front seal leaks. The problem occurs with the rear unit if the oil drips between the engine and the transmission.

How Do You Know Car Leaking Oil?

The easiest way is dark brown/black oil dripping on the ground, or you can also look at the oil level in the engine. Other more severe symptoms include car overheating, smoking, or knocking/rattling noises.

Oil Spots On The Ground

Oil leakage from old car.

One of the clearest symptoms of an oil leak is the dark puddles on the ground where you park for a while. Unfortunately, that meant serious internal damage because liquid had flowed through the engine covers and accumulated on the ground.

It is not easy to locate the leaky point because lubricant may escape from the upper parts of the engine and make its way down below. You need a professional service to track down and find the right spot.

Low Engine Oil Level

Internal combustion engines consume a certain amount of oil. That’s why drivers have to change the oil very often. If you have an aging machine, the interval between two refuelings is shortened.

When you realize that the engine consumes more oil than usual, chances are the leakage happens to your car. The flashing indicator light on the dashboard contributes to your diagnosis. It warns that the oil pressure in the engine is below the ideal level – 30 to 45 psi. Investigate as soon as possible!

White Smoke From The Exhaust

When the car is on, and you notice a strong burning smell, it is likely an oil leakage. Liquids have dripped onto a hot engine and given off a bluish smoke. It reminds you of the burnt bacon frying under the hood of a car. Of course, you also hear the sizzling sound as if a meal is on fire.

Engine Overheating

The engine oil acts as a lubricant to keep the parts functioning smoothly. When the lubricant is low, the pistons rub against each other or with other elements resulting in excessive pressure and heat. As a result, the engine overheats and stalls.

Unusual Noises

The knocking or rattling noises from the engine indicate the lack of lubrication for smooth operation. Check for the exact cause, such as low oil level, improper engine lubricant, or leaks.

Regardless of what goes on behind the scenes, the valves and tappets suffer the most. Metal parts can rub against each other, leading to annoying noises and excessive wear and tear.

How To Fix Oil Leak At Home

Figure Out The Cause

As you have seen above, many factors can cause an oil leak issue. Hence, you must determine what damages your car before applying the right treatment. 

Let’s start under the hood and trace the appearance of oil stains on the seals. If nothing serious, you should consider the plug and cover settings. It is not simple to handle for older cars with multi leaks at home.

Refer To Your Manual

Before doing any work with your vehicle, consult the service manual. You may find a specific guide to treating your problem or doing the right thing when working with a certain part.

Some auto repairs are simple to complete by a novice, while others are not. It is best to consider your situation and seek expert help if necessary.

Use An Additive

This product can save your engine from a minor leakage. With silicone ingredients, an oil leak additive softens rubber seals and reinforces their retention. One of its downsides is that it takes a while to activate. Hence, you cannot start your vehicle until this additive has done its job.

Get To Repair

Depending on the damaged part, your repair involve different equipment. However, most jobs usually require basic tools, including floor jacks and stands, torque wrenches, and (optional) replacement parts.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you attempt to disassemble a part for repair. In the final step, you should tighten the bolts according to the factory torque specifications.

Have A Test Drive

It is best to take a short test drive to see whether your problem is completely resolved. To ensure you’ve eliminated harmful elements, monitor the oil level closely over time and add fluids if necessary.

Tips To Prevent Oil Leak On Your Car

Remember that a proper maintenance routine minimizes the leak. Check out our tips for preventive measures:

  • Change the filter after a period of use, depending on your vehicle model. This allows professionals to remove dirt and inspect the engine’s overall health.
  • Stick to the recommended level each time you change your motor oil (ideally every 4,000-6,000 miles). It is also imperative to invest in the right type of engine oil. Consult your owner’s manual or an automotive professional before shopping.
  • Scheduling routine maintenance allows you to detect leaks and other damages early, if any.

FAQs

Is Oil Leak A Serious Issue?

Absolutely, YES. Oil leaks cause rapid engine performance deterioration and leave serious safety hazards. They can cause a fire or loss of control while you drive.

Is It Worth Fixing An Engine Oil Leak?

YES. Without prompt repair, you often pay a higher bill for significant damages.

How Long Can I Drive On My Car With An Oil Leak?

It depends on the oil level, but the safe distance is never more than 10 miles. If you have a minor leak, stopping and refilling regularly to reach your destination is fine.

Do Oil Leaks Go Away?

Unfortunately, NO. The fluid keeps flowing down until the tank is empty.

Conclusion

Depending on the severity, vehicle owners pay different prices, but the majority of oil leaks drain your wallet considerably. However, paying for an auto repair shop and saving your engine is always worth it. 

If you regularly perform the necessary maintenance, it is less likely that you will face these problems. In other words, spending a small amount of money on the up-keep is better than going through costly issues afterward.


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Robert Herrera

President & Automotive Expert at COR Wheels

Robert Herrera has been with COR Wheels for 17 years and has a great passion for the automotive industry. During his time at COR Wheels, he has driven and test-driven a variety of vehicles.


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