Engine oil leak

Tiny
ROB 817
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 BUICK LESABRE
  • 183,274 MILES
My car is leaking oil bad. When the car is idling it leaks and when the car is off. I came out the next morning engine was bone dry. I pour oil in and it came right out in a steady stream from the passenger side. Pours out when I put oil in it every time I want to drive the car I have to put oil in it and like ten minutes later all the oil is on the ground or in a steady stream from me driving. What can be the problem?
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 6:00 AM

9 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You know we cannot see it over a computer, but if the engine has to be running for the leak to occur, the most common causes are a leaking oil pressure sending unit, double gasket on the oil filter or it is loose, or, depending on which engine you have, a leaking camshaft seal. There are lots of other things that can leak oil but typically they do not leak that fast. Have someone take a peek at it.
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 6:13 AM
Tiny
CADIEMAN
  • MEMBER
Clean your engine than put a little bottle of engine dye in. Then drive approximately five hundred miles. Then put a black light on it you see where it coming out.
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 6:20 AM
Tiny
ROB 817
  • MEMBER
Wen the car is off I pour one quart in it and it leaks right out. Passenger side right.
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 6:23 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If it leaks out without the engine running, there is a hole in the oil pan. That is not serious, yet. However, it can become expensive if internal damage occurs. Engines will run without oil about as long as a body will run without blood.
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 7:34 AM
Tiny
ROB 817
  • MEMBER
Well in my case the car would start smoking and stall on me when I run out of oil.
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 10:24 AM
Tiny
ROB 817
  • MEMBER
Okay, so I went outside this morning started the car up look under it and oil was pouring out in a steady stream while the engine was running. It is coming from beside the oil filter, but when I shut off the car it drips steady then slows to a crawl. Is this a major fix?
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 1:02 PM
Tiny
CADIEMAN
  • MEMBER
Your filter is bad or the filter adapter or lines are leaking. Clean the area. Have some one start the car so you can get under the car and see where it is coming from. Then come back.
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 4:56 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You are getting conflicting advice because you are providing confusing details. It only leaks with the engine running. It leaks while pouring in oil and the engine is not running. This should have been handled by a professional a long time ago. Loss of oil is not something to fiddle around with. It will turn serious real quickly, and it sounds like you have already done some engine damage if it is stalling.

These are the kinds of leaks mechanics love because they are real easy to find. Dye is for extremely slow leaks that take hours or days to show up, and the residue spreads around making the source of the leak nearly impossible to find. That is not the case here. Cadieman is right about the oil filter. The gasket from the last one could have stuck in place when the new filter was installed. That is called "double-gasketing" and it happens to all of us sooner or later. The new gasket is held in place by a ridge on the filter. Nothing holds the old gasket in place so it blows out from the oil pressure. The oil will only leak when the engine is running because that is when the oil pump is pushing oil, under pressure, to the filter. There are a lot of passages taking that oil to critical places in the engine. It is the oil running out of those passages that makes it continue running out after you stop the engine. You will lose up to another half quart after the engine is stopped, and it will continue to drip for hours after that.

The only thing you can do is to try turning the oil filter clockwise to see if it is loose. If it is, turn it as tight as you can get it by hand. If it already seems tight, unscrew it counter-clockwise to remove it, then look on the unpainted mounting surface to see if the large square rubber o-ring gasket is in place. If it is, look for a second one sticking to the engine. If you see one on the engine, remove it and throw it away, then put the filter back on.

If the gasket and tightness is not the issue, examine the crimp in the filter housing to see if part of it has separated creating a hole. If it has, you have a problem with the oil pump's pressure relief valve and too much pressure has exploded the filter. You can try a new filter first but chances are the same thing will happen. Even cheap filters are made with enough integrity that this only happens when there is an engine problem, not from being cheap.

If you still have not identified the cause of the leak, tow the car to a mechanic because at this point it is likely to be beyond the scope of most do-it-yourselfers. The filter "adapter" was mentioned and is a possibility. It is really a "fixture" to allow the filter to be attached to the engine. It is rare for them to crack, but it is not unheard of. There could also be a leaking plug at the end of an oil passage. They cap off access holes the manufacturer used to drill passages inside the engine. Usually those are threaded and have sealant on the threads, but in some applications they are pressed-in soft metal plugs. Plugs are typically used where something else will be bolted on over it so it cannot work its way out. One of those plugs could have rusted out.

Look for the highest point you see oil running down the side of the engine. Oil does not run up so if you see it up high, there could be a valve cover gasket leaking or a camshaft seal, but both of those will leak relatively small amounts of oil and there will not be very much leaking after the engine is stopped. That does not match with the ten minutes you originally stated to lose all the oil. Unless a valve cover has a chunk missing or a camshaft seal has blown out, the oil will take over a hundred miles to leak out. The clue is to figure out the highest point you see oil running down and follow that to the source.
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 6:20 PM
Tiny
ROB 817
  • MEMBER
Okay.
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Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 6:35 PM

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