Car Leaking Oil When Parked? (Causes and Fixes)

Identifying the liquid that is leaking from your vehicle is very crucial. There are a variety of possibilities and different fluids that might have created a puddle beneath your car, and every type of fluid leak indicates various problems and has a different solution.

If the fluid that has leaked from your car is reddish, it’s likely transmission fluid stored in the car for a long time. In certain instances, antifreeze leaks red, but typically it’s transmission fluid. If it’s blue, the windshield wiper fluid may be leaking.

If the fluid appears pinker, it’s usually the power steering fluid leaking. However, If the liquid that’s leaking from your car is dark brown, it’s usually motor oil.

If you notice a dark puddle beneath your vehicle, then you’ve had an oil leak, and you might be wondering, Why Is My Car Leaking Oil When Parked? and what can I do to fix it? We have the answers to your questions.

Why Is My Car Leaking Oil When Parked

Here are some of the reasons why your car is leaking oil when parked

1. Damaged Oil Filter Or Damaged Oil Pan

If your oil filter is damaged, the oil may leak as it passes through the filter before it flows into the engine, which can result in your Car Leaking Oil When Parked.

If it’s not the oil filter itself but the pan that holds it that is damaged, it can also cause your car to leak oil when parked.

If you are driving through lower elevation roads or areas filled with potholes, the oil pan may get damaged due to much hitting of the road surface with much force.

The result of this damage could be a rapid leak that happens while the vehicle is parked and can become worse as time passes.

2. Oil Pan Plug Not Positioned Correctly

If you have a car leaking oil When parked, it might be because the oil pan plug is not positioned correctly.

The oil pan’s plug could be damaged if threads are stripped or not installed correctly or fully tightened. A quick and cheap fix to temporarily solve this problem is replacing the oil pan plug with a rubber plug.

However, A permanent fix typically requires replacing the plug with a steel plug that is precisely the right size for your vehicle as it is going to last longer than a rubber plug.

3. Blown Head Gasket or Engine Block Seals

A blown head gasket or engine block seal may be why you have a car leaking oil When parked.

If you have an older vehicle with a blown head gasket, it is a possible reason why oil is leaking from your car when it is parked.

The rubber components designed to be used for sealing your engine block may have been decomposed over time. This could cause oil to leak out from the top of the engine block.

Also, If you’re driving around with a low amount of coolant, it can result in the engine overheating and an overheated engine could result in the cylinder head shifting and losing its shape, leading to an oil leak from the head gasket.

Additionally, if you are living in areas with very low temperatures, your engine can freeze and crack if there isn’t sufficient antifreeze in your vehicle to prevent the water in the system from freezing because of the colder temperatures. This can result in your car leaking oil when parked

4. Other Broken Gaskets or Seals

A broken oil gasket or seal is another reason you might be experiencing a car leaking oil When parked.

When you stop driving and have your vehicle parked in a garage, the engine block and cylinder head will get hot due to the heat generated while driving.

The metal components expand when heated, which results in pressure on seals and gaskets. The gaskets and seals of an engine are designed to stop oil leaks.

However, when the engine cools down, the metals contract and leave spaces between the seals and the metal components. These gaps can lead to an oil leak, as there isn’t enough pressure to stop the oil from spilling.

Going to an auto repair shop to consult a mechanic will help you determine if the problem is caused by a defective oil gasket, leaky seal, or a damaged valve seal that’s stretched over time which allows oil to leak out.

Also Read: How Much Oil Does My Car Need?

Can I Drive With An Oil Leak?

Can I Drive With An Oil Leak

There are varieties of factors that affect driving when you have a car leaking oil When parked. Several variables determine the safety of driving and the chance of it also.

The extent of the oil leak is determined by the leak’s size and location, as well as the distance or time you traveled that day, your engine’s capacity for oil, as well as the frequency with which you replace your engine oil.

Analyzing these variables will determine if the vehicle is safe for driving and reveal why your car is leaking oil when parked.

The most significant factors deciding whether you can drive or not when you have an oil leak is the location of the leak and the leak size. The size of the leak is vital since the larger the leak is, the greater chance that oil will get through and escape from your vehicle.

The larger size of the leak implies that oil will exit the vehicle through the leak more quickly, which will increase the amount of oil that will be lost. The leak’s location is crucial in determining whether you can drive your vehicle. If you’ve got a leak in the cover gasket, it may result in oil leakage into the exhaust manifold.

The exhaust’s heat could cause smoke and even trigger a fire if this occurs. If you discover leaks in the timing cover, oil could leak into the timing belt, causing it to be damaged and creating a mess inside the car.


The best kind of leak to have if you find a leak is a rear main seal leak since it’s not a problem for the engine and will not damage any other components of your vehicle.

The number of miles you drive each day is also a factor in the risk of driving around with an oil leak.

If you are only driving short distances, usually not more than 10 miles, there is less chance of dropping the oil level to the point of it being a risk.

If you drive more than 10 miles or you are stuck in traffic for long durations on your way to work, the oil level in your car will get very low due to the leak and it will become very unsafe to drive.

Also, oil leaks could become more dangerous when your engine gets warmer. The increase in temperature results in the oil increasing its flow rate, making oil leaks quicker.

If you travel over long distances or for extended durations, your engine is more likely to be hotter and create a severe leak.

The third element that can affect driving your car with an oil leak is the quantity of oil stored in your vehicle’s engine. If you own a vehicle that can accommodate a large amount of oil, one drop won’t impact the oil level in your car significantly.

If you drive a vehicle that has a smaller oil capacity and there are a couple of drops of oil leaking from your car, it will significantly affect your vehicle’s oil level.

The factors we’ve discussed greatly affect the probability of you driving around with a vehicle that has an oil leak.

An oil leak isn’t something to be ignored, and if you allow it to linger, it could cause further problems in the near future. If you find an oil leak, you’ll have to spend money to repair the leak so that while you park your vehicle, it won’t leak oil.

How Much Does an Oil Leak Repair Cost?

Oil Leak Repair Cost

On average, oil leak repair costs between $150 to $1200 depending on what is causing the leak, the damage the leak has caused, how long it will take to fix, and the make and model of your vehicle.

It is evident that this is a high cost, and you’ll need to talk to a mechanic to get an estimate of the cost you’ll have to pay. The lower the damage that’s been caused to your vehicle due to this leak, the lower you’ll have to pay.

If the issue causing the leak is a damaged filler cap or an oil filter that has been broken, the cost is about $100 to repair the part. However, If your oil pan is damaged, be prepared to pay up to $1,000 to replace it.

If you have a damaged or degraded head gasket, this would cost a lot of money and labor as well, and its cost price is estimated at $2,000 upwards to replace the gasket.

Sadly, the prices will only increase after this point. If your engine block is cracked, first, you need to determine whether the cracked engine block can be repaired.

The cost for repairing a cracked engine block is typically between $2,500 and $3,500. Following this, you will need to replace the engine. A replacement for a standard engine will cost between $4,000 and $5,000, and up to $10,000 for a performance-oriented engine.

How Can you Prevent an Oil Leak?

Here are some things you can do to prevent an oil leak in your vehicle.

1. Get Oil Changes Regularly

Changing your oil regularly ensures that your engine is operating properly and as an oil change is carried out, it is advisable to use the opportunity to inspect various parts

Ensure you inspect the oil filter, as this is vital for the oil’s quality and could cause leaks when it’s not aligned properly.

Be sure to also check the filler cap, the oil pan, and the drain plug to make sure they’re all in good shape and operating properly. You must adhere to the maintenance schedule set in the manual of your vehicle by the manufacturer or your specific mechanic.

Your owner’s manual will give you a mileage range for when to change the oil. However, it’s better to use actual miles driven for this recommendation instead of time, as driving conditions may cause you to drive more or less than usual in any given period of time.

As for the specific distance between oil changes, it depends on your car’s manufacturer. Older cars often have a standard of 3,500 miles, but for newer cars, it’s often 7,000 to 10,000 miles.

Again, the important thing is to check your owner’s manual and not let your engine run low on oil. The longer you wait to get your oil changed, the greater the risk of internal damage from lack of lubrication.

Also, You should always be sure to use the recommended grade of oil for your vehicle. If you are unsure, check with a mechanic or look at the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Here is a guide on how to change the oil in your vehicle if you want to do it yourself

2. Use Good Oil

Certain new oil brands include additional ingredients to prevent leaks that occur because of worn-out and old gaskets.

The elements that are included inside the oil can be referred to as seal conditioners, which ensure that the seal is flexible and functions correctly.

3. Use Leak Stopping Additives

It is possible to purchase oil with leak-stopping ingredients to make seals more flexible and stop minor leaks. Although this isn’t a solution for the long term, it’s great for preventing leaks of a small size within a short time.

Knowing the Exact Fluid Leaking From Your Car?

If you think that your car might be leaking oil, the first thing you should do is make sure it’s actually oil. There are many different lubricants in your car, so it can be easy to mix up one for oil. The simplest way to check is by looking at the color of the fluid.

  • If the fluid is Black or Light Brown, then you have an engine oil leak.
  • If the fluid is Clear, then it is just water leaking from your vehicle’s AC system and nothing to worry about.
  • If the fluid is Brown with a tint of red or Red, in most cases, it is a power steering fluid or transmission fluid lien from the car.
  • If the fluid is brown or Transparent Yellow, then you most likely have a brake fluid leak.
  • If the fluid is Blue, Orange, Bright Green, or Pink, then you have a coolant leak.

Also Read: Car won’t start? Causes and How To Fix

Frequently Asked Questions – Car Leaking Oil When Parked

Why is My Car Leaking Oil When Parked?

Gaskets and engine seals are designed to stop leakage of oil. But, when the engine starts cooling down, the metals contract and leaves spaces between the seals and the metal components.
These gaps could cause oil leaks since there isn’t enough pressure to stop oil leakage.

How much does it cost to fix an oil leak in a car?

Depending on the vehicle’s model in use and the location of the oil leak, fixing costs could vary from $150 to $1200. It is possible to find a second option to repair the leak in your engine.

Can you drive a car with a slight oil leak?

Driving a car that’s leaking oil can cause damage to the engine. This is why it is best to stop driving the vehicle when it leaks oil. See a professional mechanic promptly to address the leak and stop any further harm.

What is the most common cause of an oil leak?

The most common causes of leaks are improper or worn-out seals, degraded engine gaskets, and leaks from an oil pan. A leak in oil can also result from an inoperative or damaged drain plug for the oil pan or a damaged valve cover gasket.

How much does it cost to replace an oil gasket?

The typical range to replace an oil gasket is between $100 to $350; however, there are certain vehicles that are more expensive. It is possible to get your oil pan gasket replaced for between $40-$150. It’s not the costliest component of the repair; however, the work can be extremely labor-intensive.

Is it worth fixing the oil leak?

The low levels of oil due to leaks are among the fastest ways to cause serious engine damage and then lead to a greater repair cost.
Since oil leaks are so damaging and costly to repair, the expense of fixing the leak is usually worthwhile to ensure that your vehicle runs smoothly and doesn’t end up in the bind or even worse.

Why is my car leaking oil after an oil change?

One of the primary causes of an engine leaking oil following the oil change is due to damaged engine gaskets, broken oil seals, or poor connections.
If you go under the vehicle, make sure you inspect the oil pan seal and the oil pan drain plug. It’s also a good idea to inspect the seals on the timing cover and valve cover gaskets to determine what shape they’re in.

Why does my car only leak oil when parked?

Most often, it is caused by degraded gaskets for engines or oil seals. Sometimes, these parts can degrade over a short time.
However, more often than not, when there is this type of leak, it is because you are using old, dirty oil, perhaps because you’ve not had your oil changed recently.

How do I know if my oil pan gasket is leaking?

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Oil Pan Gasket include
1. Smoking problems. One of the most evidential indicators you’ll see when the gasket for the oil pan needs to be replaced is smoke coming from the engine.
2. Engine Overheating. The engine oil is a component of the cooling process that helps keep the engine running cool.
3. Puddles of oil appear under the car.
4. Lower than normal levels of oil.

How long can a car run with an oil leak?

It is always recommended not to drive if your car is leaking oil; however, short distance drives of less than 10 miles aren’t as dangerous when it comes to dropping the oil levels to the point that is dangerous.

Can I fix an oil leak myself?

One of the simplest methods to repair the leak yourself is to make use of an additive that stops leaks or High mileage blend of oil.
These additives can make your car’s rubber seals softer and condition the vehicle, which will stop further leaks. It can take 100 miles of driving before the leak is fully shut off.

Conclusion – Car Leaking Oil When Parked

There you have it; we have answered why you have a “car leaking oil when parked” and how to fix it.

Immediately you notice a considerable oil leak from your vehicle, take it to an auto service center to be inspected to know the cause of the oil leak and fix it.

Driving with an oil leak can pose severe problems to your vehicle and lead to more costly repairs. 

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