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Engine Oil Stop Leak -- Types of Oil Leaks

Engine Oil Stop Leak

A good automotive tip for older engines is to try some engine oil stop leak. This is especially true in certain states. States like California, where I live, have very strict emissions laws, and oil leaking into the fuel mixture for combustion can definitely cause a car to fail a smog test. Stop leak for engines isn't really similar to stop leak for things like tires and radiators, as you'll see if you keep reading. In all cars, over time, there is natural wear and tear to the seals that keep the liquids and gasses in place. As the components of a car age and break, most of them get replaced. Like when a radiator gets a hole in it, often times its just easier to replace the radiator than to mess with goopy liquids to seal the leak. With engines, however, changing the components that leak isn't a very simple task. That's where engine oil stop leak is very effective.

Leaky Seals

An oil leak can cause excess smog.  Use engine oil stop leak to correct this nuisance.

An oil leak can cause excess smog. Use engine oil stop leak to correct this nuisance.

How Does Engine Oil Stop Leak Work?

Inside your engine, there are moving metal parts, such as pistons. When these metal parts move against one another, they cause friction, grinding, and heat. That's where motor oil comes in. Motor oil provides lubrication for these metal parts to move against one another without causing excess heat or damage to the interior of the motor. There are seals within the motor and gaskets that keep the oil confined to where it's supposed to be. The problem is, these seals wear out over time, and oil begins to seep into places it's not supposed to be. If you're experiencing this, make sure you read my article on Black Smoke From the Exhaust

When this happens, it usually doesn't cause any major problems, but generally causes a slow oil leak, and very smokey combustion. If you've ever driven behind an old car that has dark smoke coming out of its tail pipe, it most likely has leaky oil seals that are letting oil into the fuel mixture which is then burned and pushed out of the exhaust. Engine oil stop leak works by treating the seals that keep the oil in place. They soften the rubber and cause it to expand, closing up tiny cracks and spaces where the oil can sneak through. My favorite stop leak is Lucas stop leak. It's safe, cheap, and effective. I've left you a link below.

Types of Oil Leaks

There are multiple kinds of oil leaks. Some are simple, and some are complex. Engine oil stop leak will only work for one of them, the last one, #5.

1. Valve Cover Gasket Leaks

  • Engine oil stop leak won't fix these. Most every car with higher mileage will have one of these, though it usually only amounts to a slow seep, and never an actual leak that will leave oil puddles behind on the ground. These, you don't especially need to worry about, unless they get worse. If you're noticing a slight burnt oil fume and can't identify where it's coming from, this is most likely your answer. You can sometimes repair these seeps and leaks by carefully tightening your bolts, but you shouldn't do it yourself. Ask your mechanic the next time you have an oil change to take a look.

2. Drain Plug Leak

  • Engine oil stop leak won't fix this, but that's okay because it's easy to fix otherwise. In your oil pan, on the underside of the car, is a screw in plug. It exists so that when you need your oil changed, the plug can be unscrewed and all the old oil will flow out. Then the plug can be screwed in again and new oil put in. If this screw is leaky, you can buy a new one and have it replaced the next time you get your oil changed.

3. Oil Sender Leaks

  • This type of leak can't be fixed with engine oil stop leak either. You have to replace the sender.

4. Oil Filter Leaks

  • If the oil filter isn't tight enough, or the surface wasn't cleaned on both sides before the oil filter was screwed in, it can leak. The oil filter is a round cylinder about 6 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. Look up a picture if you've never seen one before. If you have an oil leak, you can go out to your car and see if the filter is leaking.

5. Seal Leaks

  • This kind of leak can definitely be treated with engine oil stop leak, in fact, this is what engine oil stop leak was basically built for. Engine oil stop leak is designed to treat the rubber oil seals by softening them and causing them to expand. It's not a gummy solution that just gets in there and goops everything up. That's why it works well, because it doesn't really have any adverse side effects. If you have a seal leak, you're most likely burning oil in your combustion. Engine oil stop leak should help rectify this problem within 100 miles of use. If this really is the case, and the engine oil stop leak works, you may have to continue to use it every oil change to keep the seals in proper working order.

How to Know if You Need Engine Oil Stop Leak

It's pretty easy to tell if you need engine oil stop leak. If you have a puddle of oil beneath your car but don't have any smoke or odors of burnt oil, then you probably don't need stop leak. What you probably have is either a ding in your oil pan, a loose oil filter, or a bad drain plug. Even so, engine oil stop leak won't hurt your engine at all, and may in fact keep your seals alive longer. So just in case, it's not a bad idea to use. As cars age, mechanics generally recommend a stickier form of motor oil anyway, something more viscous. New cars generally get 5w-30, or 10w-30 oil with their oil changes, either fully synthetic or partially synthetic. In colder climates, sometimes cars operate on 10w-30 oil that still flows well in cold conditions. Once cars start to age, the viscosity of the oil generally goes up. In older cars, the oil viscosity starts to go up. Sometimes single weight oil is used, such as single weight 20, 30, 40, even 50, but these are no longer used in today's engines.

Why is this important? If your car's engine is getting high in miles, you may want to first switch to a higher viscosity oil. If you've been using 5w-30 oil in your oil changes, switch to 10w-30, and so forth. The next time you go for an oil change, tell your mechanic that you're worried about a potential oil leak and were wanting to switch to a slightly heavier oil. Even if you aren't yet experiencing an oil leak, it's good to be proactive. If you have well over 100,000 miles on your car, think about going up to the next higher viscosity of oil.

Dangers of Engine Oil Stop Leak

Are there any dangers associated with engine oil stop leak?  Not really.  Putting stop leak into your oil won't gum up any other systems or cause your oil to fail or anything like that.  However, it really is only a temporary fix.  The only real way to repair an oil leak is to replace the seals and gaskets, or whatever component is leaking.  Sometimes an oil leak is as simple as a leaky drain plug at the bottom of your oil pan.  The mechanic takes it off every time you go in for an oil change.  It's not a bad idea to buy a new one online or at your local automotive store and ask the mechanic to use the new one after they're done changing the oil.


Nolan on January 15, 2017:

I bought and poured some oil stop leak in my 05 Tahoe and now a day later the oil pressure dropped. It stays between the 1/4 and 1/2 mark hen idoling. It use to set on the 1/2 mark. I don't know what to do next. I rely on this vehicle to get me and my family around

john on October 11, 2015:

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I accidentally pour lucas leak stop into the dipstick hole in my bmw x5. Is there any damage. Eine done

shawn on March 15, 2015:

I just had my val covers replaced on my 02 Altima now my car has the funny burning smell coming through the vents an like it steaming my uncle said its doing that because the oil us burning off how long does it take for the oil to burn off an will my vehicle catch fire wat should I do the smell stinks

Steven on April 02, 2013:

Have an 2003 Ford Escape with 180k miles. Use Mobil 1 - 5w30. Have smelled burning oil for the last year. When I changed oil yesterday 4/1/13. no foolin, noticed oil leakage/spot on front of engine,presumably from oil seal or front cover gasket. Aside from using a heavier weight oil, should I try Bar's Leaks engine oil stop leak?

Ian on August 08, 2012:


I have a Peugeot Partner 1.9 D Van and recently after not using my van for a week due to a holiday I noticed a small drip of oil on my driveway. A local mecahnic told me that the oil sump was the problem and I recently had that replaced. However I still have an occassional drip when parked which seems to be coming from the area around the sump. Can anyone advise. Thanks

Daniel on June 05, 2012:

Dave depending on how many miles your engine has its mostly a bad idea to switch to synthetic after putting a lot of miles on because your seals get used to the reg and the synthetic will start eating away the seals. ben quick question. my 1991 s10 has a rear main leak and im not sure if stop leak will work because my oil pressure has decreased by almost half as soon as it blew out. im just trying to find a way to bring back the pressure so i can drive my vehicle safely.

dannyallit on May 19, 2012:

anyway, oil that i used to top up was 15w-40.. and now because oil very low, still put 15w-40.. since last monday, notice oil going down again, about 3mm down from high level... thanks

dannyallit on May 19, 2012:

just bought mazda 5 2007 last january 25 2012.. after about 6 weeks, notice oil only up to low level, top up til high level. but last sunday(13th may), oil level was below low level and i cant hardly see if theres oil.. notice oil on top of engine, mechanic thinks that coming from gasket seal on top of engine as cant see any problem anywhere, engine sound very good.. advice me to put oil stop leak,, good advice please.. thanks..

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on May 03, 2012:

Dave -- That's pretty strange. I haven't heard of that happening before. Was the oil the same weight? Like did you switch from 10w30 regular oil to 10w30 synthetic? It's possible that whatever oil you were using was just a little bit heavier than the synthetic. If I were to take a guess, I'd say that either the oil change guys didn't tighten your oil plug down completely and that it's oozing from below your car, or that the oil is managing to seep out of the valve gasket. If there's a little bit more pressure in the system than usual, it can cause oil to seep out of the valve gasket.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on May 03, 2012:

Hey guys, sorry it took so long to get back to you.

Pontiac -- Sorry, stop leak definitely won't fix a leak like this. You really have to take it into a mechanic. Hopefully it's something simple like a dent in your oil pan that can be fixed without too much effort.

Dave on May 01, 2012:

I have 2001 Nissan Altima. Recently I switched to Full syn oil and have noticed some oil seepage on the floor. What do you think is the reason? What should I do?

Pontiac on April 29, 2012:

I have a 99 grand am. Recently the oil light came on and I added oil to proper amount. The next time I drove the car and parked it in my garage I noticed a large puddle and drip. All of the measurable oil (dip stick) has drained from the car and I notice oil along the bottom of the car to the gas tank. It has s severe leak...and I have not started the car since noticing this. Is this a total failure of the engine to retain oil? Will a stop leak product work?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 16, 2012:

Hey Yessi. If your oil pan is leaking it won't really cause a burning smell, because the oil will drip onto the ground instead of the motor. You probably have an oil leak from somewhere else as well. But you might also have something else going wrong. As you mentioned, your coolant could be leaking out and burning, or some other fluid. I'd get it checked out right away if I were you.

Yessi on April 13, 2012:

Hub i have a burning smell coming from under the hood of my car i have a 2005 nissan altima i am aware of a slow leak from the oil pan and i check my oil often to make sure i have enough but yesterday i began to smell a burning kind of rubber but more like burnt smell, that smell is even coming through the air vents inside my car what do you think it is i think i also have antefreeze i see it full

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 12, 2012:

Yeah, you're very welcome. Best of luck!

Nancy on April 11, 2012:

Thanks again. I will have them check the valve cover as well.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 10, 2012:

Helen, it really depends on where the leak/leaks are coming from. Sometimes, fixing a leak is just a matter of switching to a heavier oil that's made for aging vehicles. Other times, a gasket needs to be replaced or oil lines. It really just depends. Most older vehicles leak oil, which is why thicker oils exist that don't flow as easily and won't leak through small openings as quickly. You might want to ask the people that do your oil changes about switching to a thicker oil. That might be the easiest way to solve your problem.

helen1961 on April 10, 2012:

Ford laser 90 model. Leaks oil from underneath,my question is how does one know how to trust any advice when I feel I have been taken on a very long winded ride? I wish I never bought this car two years ago as all its done is leak oil, and all I do is fork out $200 every time to stop it. What do I do now?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 10, 2012:

Nancy, that's pretty typical for an external leak to get worse during the summer heat. Oil flows easier when warm obviously, and will start to leak out of places it doesn't usually in colder weather. There are a couple of things that could be going wrong. What's probably happening is that your oil is seeping out a bit through the valve cover and then dripping down and burning on the hot engine. The valve cover has a gasket, which is just like a spacer between two parts, and it wears out over time. Once that happens, oil begins to seep out and then it gets burned when it drips onto the hot motor. That's usually where a burning oil smell comes from. And since the leak corresponded with your change into a warmer climate, I would think that the valve cover gasket is the culprit.

But there are a couple of other issues though that can cause an oil leak to turn into a burning oil smell. It's possible that the oil lines might need to get changed, like you said, or sometimes a little mechanism called an oil pressure sender can either be loose or broken and can start to drip oil onto the engine.

Nancy on April 10, 2012:

Hi. Thank you for your page BTW I have read a lot of good facts. Before I take my 97'Chev. Blazer to the shop next week I would like to know a little bit about my problem so I can sound like a female that won't be taken for a ride, pun intended. I have had a bit of an oil leak for about 3 years. It has never been more than the size of a dime or nickel and I always keep the level checked and clean. I have lived in a very cold climate, snow, every since I owned the car, but now I live in an area where it hits over 115 for the whole summer. I have not had a problem until now. So my first summer here my car start smoking on the right side of the car on my 15 minute ride home and I smell oil. I stop the car, let it cool then drive on. In the winter here, again no problem but I don't want the smoking problem to happen since summer is on the way and I finally have enough money to have it looked at. I was told I probably need to replace all the oil lines. About $500 worth of work and parts. What do you think? Thanks in advance.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 02, 2012:

Hardwire -- Thanks very much for your expertise. And thanks for responding so quickly to Tiffany.

Tiffany -- If it were me, I'd take the car back to the oil change place. Since you just got the oil change done, the light coming on is almost definitely due to something that happened during the oil change. If you start trying to fix it yourself and something bad happens, they may claim deniablility and not fix what they broke. It's hard to say what's going on.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on April 02, 2012:

Hey guys. Jacob, that's a lot of leakage. Stop leak won't really do anything for external leaks like that. It only works really for engines that are burning oil. It sounds like you probably have multiple small leaks. My first guess would be that your valve cover gasket is letting oil seep out from multiple locations. The gasket is pretty big, especially for a Land Rover, and I would think that it's probably just failing in multiple locations. If it were me, that's what I would ask them to check the next time I went in for some work. But since you're experiencing multiple leaks, it might be worthwhile to have them steam clean the engine compartment and then see where the oil starts leaking from. That might be the only way to make sure you're fixing all of them.

Hardwire from United States on April 02, 2012:

Tiffany, please read the owners manual before adding any transmission oil! It is not unusual to see a transmission a quart low depending on what the state of the car is at the time you check it. Usually with automatic transmissions it is best to check them when the engine is at full operating temperature, the engine running and the car in park or neutral.

Also if adding the trans fluid didn't turn off the light and the engine oil is full, then it is possible there maybe a bad oil pressure sending unit or (switch) on the engine sending false information to the cars computer. It may be a very good idea to take the car back to the place that just changed the oil to have them check things out. Good luck with your endeavor. :D

Tiffany on April 02, 2012:

2006 Chevy Impala LT with a 3.9 engine.

I keep getting the ENGINE OIL LOW: STOP ENGINE NOW indicator but there is no oil on the ground. I just got a fresh oil change (138,500 miles; 10w-30 oil) this morning and was on I-75South to FL when the alert appeared. I pulled off the next exit to see if I could find anything but found nothing. Can you possibly tell me the issue? I checked the engine oil and it has it's proper amount. I checked the transmission fluid and it was right at the 'add 1 quart' line. I'm going to add a quart just to be safe. Pls help!

Jacob on April 01, 2012:

Hi I have a 2000 Land Rover Discovery that seems to leave upwards of 10 different spots over a 2.5 sq ft area after being parked. It's almost impossible to locate the source with this many different spots. I put stop leak in about 100mi ago but haven't seen any improvement. The only exsaust smoke so far came immediately after adding the stop leak which I summed up to be normal. Ever heard of this? Should I be concerned? If so, what should I check first? Thanks in advance!

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 26, 2012:

Well if the oil was a quart low when you noticed the leak, then it would seem that the leak isn't being caused by too much oil in the system. If I were to take a guess without seeing the leak in person, I would think that the gaskets are probably to blame. That being said however, it's possible that if too much oil was put into the system, the excess pressure could have caused one of the gaskets to slowly leak. That very well could be what happened.

kelly101 on March 26, 2012:

I have a 07 chrysler aspen, and I took in about 4 months ago for an oil change. The oil change place put to much oil in and it was leaking, the oil leak stopped once the correct amount was put in. But know the leak is back! When I noticed the leak the first time I took it to the chrysler dealer they said it looked like all the gaskets were bad but then I took it to another mechanic and he told me that the oil change place put to much oil in and caused it to leak. Just wondering if you could give me any advice on what could have made the leak come back months later. Also the oil is a quart low when I checked I noticed it was leaking again.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 06, 2012:

Wow, that's a pretty heavy oil leak. If there's that much oil leaking into the system, then you should definitely see black/blue smoke coming out of the tail pipe. The best thing you can do in that situation is to check out heavier oils. She's probably using something like 10w30 right now. Depending on the area of the country you live in, you should talk to your mechanic/oil change person about switching to 10w40 or SAE 30 or even SAE 40 to get a thicker oil that won't leak as quickly into the combustion chamber. It's common for aging engines to begin burning oil, which is why they make heavier oils, to try and counteract the problem.

colleen on March 05, 2012:

my friend has a 1999 suv over 100,000 miles. she went to leave town checked oil. bone dry put oil in. week later checked again low 2 quarts. not showing on gauges. no oil under truck

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 02, 2012:

Thanks! As long as the oil consumption is minimal, there shouldn't be a problem. None of the other parts should be in danger. But if you start burning more than a quart per oil change, I'd start thinking about switching to a heavier oil. Ultimately, all engines will wear out and need to be rebuilt. But if you keep on top of the oil consumption and switch to a heavier oil at the right time, you should be able to prolong your engine's life for a long time. Best of luck man.

Shadi on March 02, 2012:

you really don't know how much you helped me by your words you are a great expert... i'll do just as you said and will live with it..but the last question if you please want you to give me an answer on, if i forgot about all of that (and kept adding oil regularly) does it (worn stems) harm the rest of the engine parts at long run and does it reduce the engine life in any way???

i know that i took so much time of you but i'll appreciate it if you answered this last question

thanks a lot man

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 02, 2012:

That's not really all that bad of a leak. It's really not enough to foul your spark plugs and if you can live with it, then I would. Stop leak won't help for valve stems because they're metal. It only works on the rubber seals. If it were me, I'd just forget about it honestly. It's not too much money in extra oil, and it shouldn't hurt anything. My car right now is burning about the same amount of oil. I just add in a half quart every 1500 miles or so.

Shadi on March 02, 2012:

thanks a lot for your response... the leak is not that bad there is a very small amount of blue smoke only and only on the beginning of driving after that nothing is noticeable... the oil level decreases by half quart every 3000 miles is that bad???? and what should i do? does the stop leak help in this case?? and what are the other solutions you recommend?? i'm living in an area where the temperatures are between -3 up to 35 C help me i really feel that you are the one who has the answers for me

thanks a lot man

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on March 01, 2012:

Hey there. Thanks for the compliment! Yeah valve stems are super expensive to replace. If you're having problems even with 10w40 oil then you'll probably have to go up to an even heavier oil. If you're living in a warmer climate, you could try an SAE 30 or SAE 40 or even a 20w50, which should slow oil from seeping into the combustion chamber. But you've got to be careful with some of the heavier oils. If you use them in the wrong climates or on the wrong engine, they can cause damage. Is the leak bad?

Shadi on March 01, 2012:

i've just red what you have written and all of the questions and answers ...i think you are a great guy with great experience thank god i knew about problem is that my cars oil level decreases slowly between oil changes (every 3000 miles)and i didn't notice any kind of oil spots under the car even for prolonged period of stop some mechanic told me that its due to a bad valve stems my car is a kia sedona 2002 and i think it will be very costly for changing them(valve stems)...i'm using 10W-40 oil now can you help me solve my problem easily... i really appreciate your response if you wanted to..

thanks a lot man

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on February 27, 2012:

Yeah, you're right about the tighter precision of the machining. Thicker oil can definitely ruin some engines. I wouldn't recommend that a person switch to a heavier oil without consulting their mechanic first. But a lot of people aren't even aware that thicker oil exists in the first place. So it's nice to at least know what your options are to be able to talk to a mechanic about.

Hardwire from United States on February 27, 2012:

Although I have used these products in my own cars I feel it would be a good idea to be careful about which vehicles you’re adding it to. In most cases thicker does not mean better and can do more damage than good, especially in Japanese cars and many of the German cars like BMW who use much tighter tolerances in their engines. I guess imo it is what it is. Cars are not cheap and this would only be a very temporary solution for a mechanical problem. Just my two cents.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on February 13, 2012:

Hey there, it depends on what oil is available to you in your area. Some oils are harder to find than others. Since you live in a hot climate, 10w40 would probably be a good jump because it will have the same viscosity when cold as 10w30, but will escape more slowly through leaks when hot. That's what I would try if it were me. But you may not be able to find it in your area. It's not as common as other oils.

Rizwan on February 13, 2012:

Hi, I am really happy to see your reply.

Thanks for your kind concern.

I checked the area and found no such strain which could depict possible leakage of engine oil.

Would you plz enlighten me, how much wt of the oil should I use...Currently, I am using 10/30Wt....The area I belong to, mostly remains hot (8 months hot weather)...

Thanks again in advance..

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on February 13, 2012:

Hey there. The first thing I would check is the area where you park the car at night. Is there an oil spot forming from where the oil might be dripping from the car? Either way, I think that your friend's suggestion is probably a good one. Going to a thicker oil usually stops slow leaks, both internal leaks into the combustion chamber, as well as external leaks of oil dripping onto the ground.

riz4pk on February 11, 2012:

I just scanned your post regarding changing of radiator cap of the car. I am afraid that I have been late in learning about the marvellous tip that you had posted.

I own a Suzuki Cultus 2007 Model 1000cc (Three cylinders) without EFI.

The problem that i face now a days is reduction in the engine oil level. The car is running smoothly, neither any weird engine sound nor any smoke is found from silencer that could indicate the deteriorating condition of the engine. I am really worried on the issue, last time I got it changed around a month before but the level of engine oil is present at most 75 %, means 25 % of the oil just gone. I got the car checked for any imminent leakage too, but found nothing there.

I am not a very well off person, therefore can't afford a detail examination of the car or replace the engine. A friend of mine suggested me to use thinker engine oil, to solve the problem but I am really not sure, if it could serve my purpose.

I would be extremely grateful to you, if you extend your kind advice to me on the issue, keeping in view my financial constraints.

Waiting eagerly for you expert opinion, please.


Rizwan Ahmed.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on February 11, 2012:

Matthew, it should as long as you keep on top of it. A lot of people live with minor oil leaks without ever getting them fixed because of how expensive they can be. It just depends on how bad the leak is.

Jenn, that sounds pretty serious. Oil spraying from an area is nothing to mess around with. What kind of work did they do at the garage and why in the world did they give it back to you in that condition? I wouldn't think that oil would pool up there like that because of your valve cover leak. And if you're saying that the oil is leaking from several spots under the truck, then you definitely are going to need to get them eliminated. If it were me, I'd send the truck back right away.

jenn on February 10, 2012:

hi, i have a 99 chevy blazer. today, oddly enough after returnig from a 3 day stay at the local garage, my car is leaking oil pretty badly from somewhere that i believe is close to the drivers side of the car under the hood. it is now sprayed onto my left front tire and dripping from several parts under the truc. is it possible that because i have a valve cover leak, it pooled up and now that the car is being driven after 3 days, its leakign from the pooled up amount?

Matthew on February 10, 2012:

i have a 97' civiv. im pretty sure that the front and rear seals are leaking,badly. my mechanic told me it would cost around 1000$ partly b/c they also replace the timing belt, which mine is practicaly new.I'm planning on taking a 600 mile trip soon Will the car make it as lon as keep adding oil?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on February 08, 2012:

Unfortunately, stop leak probably won't help at all for a leak like that. Stop leak is more designed for internal leaks that are letting oil into the combustion chamber. You'll probably either need to live with the leak for now or buckle down and have them fix it. Sorry.

yovin on February 08, 2012:

hello!i have a toyota townace..there is an oil leak just before the transmission and the mechanic says its an oil seal which need to be change and it might cost a bit because the transmission has to be removed to change the oil seal!if i use a stop leak,will it help me ? is there any other way around to fix it beside changin the oil seal ?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on February 06, 2012:

Hey man. Sorry it took me awhile to get back to you. I've been out of town for awhile. Stop leak should be safe for any engine. I'd use it during the Spring, when you start driving it again. It needs to circulate through the oil to be most effective.

Adriean Koleric from Edmonton, Alberta on January 31, 2012:

I've got a '66 Rambler American that I now have parked for the winter. I ran it a month ago on a cold day and noticed a bit after that there is a tiny oil drip underneath the engine. I'm not too concerned as it's quite small, but want to get it sorted before the summer. Is stop leak alright for an older vehicle and when should I put it in? When I start it up in the spring? Thanks.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on January 26, 2012:

I'd definitely try a heavier oil, especially on an 89. I'm already starting to burn oil on my 2000. I just switched to a heavier oil to try and slow it down. That's the reason they make heavier oil weights, because the problem is so common. You'll have to wait until the next time you go in for an oil change probably, but you should tell them that you'd like to try something a little bit heavier. Best of luck man.

sean on January 26, 2012:

Should I go to a thicker oil and I think its a valve. Its not a lot of oil on the plug

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on January 26, 2012:

It just depends on they type of oil leak you're having. 10w30 is pretty standard. I need more info on the nature of your leak.

sean on January 26, 2012:

I'm using 10w30. Will fix a leak help with this problem?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on January 24, 2012:

Well, most likely, there's just a little bit of oil getting into your combustion chamber. Older engines naturally start burning oil a bit, because the metal precision parts begin to wear down from years and years of moving against one another. That's why older engines use heavier weights of oils, so that less oil leaks into the combustion chamber. It's pretty common and isn't really cause for alarm. There's really no way to fix it, so most people accept it as a matter of course. If it were me, I'd go to an even heavier oil to try and mitigate the problem. Do you know what you're using now?

sean on January 24, 2012:

I have an 89 taurus 3.0 and was changing the spark plugs and noticed one of them had oil on it, I'm curious what's causing this and how do I fix it. Also is it imminent to get fixed right away to avoid further damage

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on January 09, 2012:

You're very welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

kuku on January 08, 2012:

I so appreciate this article, very helpful! Thanks so much!

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on December 27, 2011:

It's generally recommended, but that doesn't mean that you have to do it. I prefer partial synthetic, which is cheaper than full synthetic and lasts just about as long.

June on December 25, 2011:

Is it recommend the old model car 2000 below, advisable to change with fully sentetic oil?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on December 20, 2011:

I hate ghost leaks like that that are impossible to find. The stop leak definitely won't hurt, and hopefully it'll fix the problem. If it doesn't, there's really nothing you can do but steam clean the engine compartment and try and find the leak once all the interior parts are clean.

Jesper on December 19, 2011:

I have a ghost-like phenomena in my -78 PRV 6 in my Volvo 264. It seems impossible to locate the leakage. I will now try an Engine Oil Stop Leak. I now use 10W/40 oil. I should definitely change to a thicker oil also. What do you recommend? I live in Stockholm Sweden. Thanks for very good hub contents! Regards /Jeper

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on December 09, 2011:

Well, if you have a valve leak, then that's what stop leak was created for, to help recondition the valve seals. I'd try that. And going to a different oil is good to. You can keep moving to a heavier oil as your engine ages, which helps slow leaks down.

SSPate on December 09, 2011:

Hi, you seems to a great guy for leaking issue. My 1998, Toyota Corolla,, valve is leaking minutely( My mechanic told me & suggested to better live with it, its not a big issue with 128k already done car, he suggested me to go for 5W-10W even in winter). I useed 10-20 W oil,, it vanished in 2 months. What do you suggest me?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on November 18, 2011:

Yeah, I would definitely do all I could before dropping 6k in repairs on a fairly new vehicle. I'm confused though. I don't know how leaking valve guides can cause oil to leak outside the car. If the valve guides are leaking then oil should be getting inside the combustion chamber and burnt. If the oil is leaking outside the car, I think you probably have some other type of leak, hopefully one much cheaper to fix. I'm glad you have a friend with a shop because it sounds like there's something fishy going on. I hope you can get to the bottom of it.

ygm0701 on November 17, 2011:

I went to bmw service to change oil as usual and they just told me there were no oil at all in the tank. Then they said what I wrote above...

After I noticed it, I've checked the ground where my car was parked, and I found lots of oil leaking. That was just too much. I don't think it leaks into cylinder and burned since I don't see the blue smoke from exhaust and don't smell something burning.

hm... I just can't believe what the service manager said...

I'm gonna lift my car at my friend's shop next week, so if i find something, I'll post here what I see.

Thank you so much for the response.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on November 17, 2011:

Hey there, man that's rough. I've never heard that happening to such a new vehicle. How did you notice that you were leaking oil internally by the way? Is there a lot of smoke coming out the tail pipe? Do they tell you how many valves are leaking?

The reason I ask because the thing about an internal oil leak is that, if it's not that bad, then it's not that big of a deal. You'll just burn oil, which isn't especially good for the environment, but won't cause excessive amounts of problems either. I just can't believe that an 05 can be leaking that badly from the valves. If I were you, I'd definitely try the stop leak to see if it helps anything before doing anything else. But if it were me, I wouldn't spend that kind of money on a car that new. And in my opinion, they're asking a lot for the kind of work they're doing. Engine problems on such a new car is probably just indicative of more problems that will surely arise down the road.

ygm0701 on November 17, 2011:

Thank you for posting this greatly helpful artice.

I'd like to ask about my situation. I have 05 BMW 645ci and I was struggling with these kind of problems. BMW service says that "Leaking internally at valve guides, would need to replace valve guide seals and all pertaining parts". The thing is labor fee. They estimated $6250 + tax.... is this reasonable? I can't believe this... are there any other options to me? Service advisor recommended me to trade-in the vehicle and get new one...

SJF91 on November 09, 2011:

Thanks Ben

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on November 08, 2011:

I'd say it's probably your valve cover gasket that's worn out and leaking. That's pretty common in cars with a lot of miles like that. Those are pretty cheap to replace.

SJF91 on November 08, 2011:

Well the car has over 190 thousand miles on it only leak it drips onto the exhaust manifold when its running. and this is Spencer F

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on November 07, 2011:

I'm a bit confused. Do you have 2 separate leaks or just one? If there's oil seeping out from around the spark plugs, then you might just have a valve cover gasket leak. A lot of cars develop these over time, slow seepage leaks that emit from areas around the spark plugs. Is the oil on the exhaust manifold coming from the exhaust manifold itself or leaking onto it from somewhere above?

Spencer F on November 07, 2011:

What if the oil was Slowly leaking above the spark plugs and the exhaust manifold ? What do u think is causing it?

On a 02 montecarlo

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on November 03, 2011:

Yeah man, good luck. I hope you get it figured out.

tapos on November 02, 2011:

Its firing good, i am agree with you its valve or rings either one of that.I guess now i should start working on them,wish me a good luck,and thank you very much for the tips.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 31, 2011:

It's hard to say without seeing what they look like. Are they not firing properly? A certain amount of residue and color is to be expected since spark plugs are constantly in contact with fuel that's combusting. It definitely could be related to leaking though. If your valve stem seals or rings are leaking, it can get oil into the combustion chamber where the tip of the spark plug is situated.

tapos on October 30, 2011:

About a month ago i changed my all six plugs of my blazer,now they look like oily and burned a little bit on know why its happened,is it related any kind of leaking

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 22, 2011:

As long as it's a slow leak you should be just fine. The only thing is that you'll leave drops of oil wherever you park, which can get annoying after awhile.

Steve on October 22, 2011:

Got an oil leak on my 2003 Town Car. Looks like the oil pan gasket (has 165K mi.). Need to drive it a bit before I can get it fixed. Is it OK to drive if I check the oil constantly and top it when needed? Thanks.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 15, 2011:

It's difficult to say whether its leaking based on your description. Just one drop of dirty liquid on the tip of the exhaust pipe doesn't tell you a whole lot. If there's no visible exhaust when revving, then it's probably not leaking oil too badly or excess emissions. It's really your call about buying it.

karen fadera on October 15, 2011:

hi can anyone help i am thinking of bying a citreon piccaso on a w reg 2000 i noticed what i thought was oil from the end of the exhaust or is it just carbon and condensation the vendor tells me he had to put in fressh oil as there was no oil in the engine no black smoke coming from the back when reving DO I BUY IT

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 09, 2011:

Hmm, without being able to take a look at it, it would be really tough for me to help figure out what's going on. There are a lot of places that can start leaking. I'm a bit confused though. Are you saying that the oil is leaking into the fuel/air mix and you're smelling it burned up in the exhaust? Or are you saying that the oil is leaking externally onto the exhaust manifold and burning up because of the heat?

My first thought would have been the head gasket as well, but if you've ruled that out then it would be tough to say. The car's too new to be leaking badly from most places. The only thing I'm thinking you could try is to go to a heavier oil, but I'm sure you already thought of that, and that wouldn't solve the problem anyway. How much oil would you say is leaking? How long does it take to burn up a quart, roughly?

If you've got yourself an external leak, you could take the car down to a car detailer, pay them 75$ to detail the inside, and then ask them to steam clean the engine compartment as well. That way, when you drive it again, you should have a much clearer view of what might be leaking.

chriselliott309 on October 08, 2011:

question for you. my father-in-law and myself has been trying to fix my car that suddenly started leaking oil really badly about 3 weeks ago. We changed the oil about 2 months ago and never had a problem with it. Its a '04 saturn ion 3. We've taken the engine almost all the way apart to repair it and stopped after we got to the drive train and still cannot find the leak. I am smelling burning oil on the exhaust that is under the hood attached to the engine. With your expertise, what do you think might be the problem? My father in law is also a mechanic and cannot figure it out either. We thought it might be the head gasket but its dripping out from somewhere above it. Thank you for you time.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on October 04, 2011:

Sunny, that's too bad. What probably happened was that a rock or something hit your oil pan, and you started losing oil quickly. When you kept driving it, your engine didn't have enough oil and internal parts got damaged. As for the $4000, that's a lot of money. You could easily get a whole new engine for $3000, so I'd definitely try and work that price down if you can. Unfortunately though, problems like this often cause a car to be totaled. Once the engine components start getting damaged, you almost have to scrap the car and just buy another vehicle. You should be able to get the insurance to pay for it though, since road debris was to blame for your damage. I'd call them and tell them that there was a big rock on the freeway that destroyed your oil pan and quickly caused your engine to fail before you could make it to the mechanic.

sunny on October 04, 2011:

I was driving Nissan Altima (2005) over a freeway.. I heard a sudden noise.. like something hit my car.. and after 3 to 5 miles I took exit and stopped the vehicle..later when I started the car I saw "Low Engine Oil" alert near the odometer. I tried to refill it and unfortunately it got drained out... started leaking.. and I hear some rattling noise from the engine if I start the vehicle.. after that.. I did not drive any far than 1 mile.. after the noise started from engine... and now the service center guy says that he has to replace engine parts and it costs close to 4000... is this reasonable?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 26, 2011:

If they hooked things up improperly, then I suppose they could've dinged your oil pan. Hopefully that's not the case, but I'm sure it happens. I would think they'd be pretty careful when hooking up the van for a tow.

A quick question though. Where is the alternator located? Did they have to take anything out of the engine compartment in order to install it? It's possible that if they had to take things out in order to access the alternator, then they might not have tightened things back down completely when they put everything back together.

monica on September 26, 2011:

is it possible for a tow due to an alternator going bad to cause your oil to push out?? Suddenly there is oil in my garage...just got van back and never had a leak before.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 24, 2011:

Good luck man. Hope the types of oil leaks section helped.

ilitek on September 24, 2011:

my mechanics can't fix my oil leak,i have to do study myself.i found this great article.thank you

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 18, 2011:

Wow, really? Where was the leak? I suppose if it's inside your engine and they have to rebuild the engine to fix it then maybe. But otherwise, no I don't think that's reasonable at all. Could you give me a little bit more information please.

Marcy Raykowski on September 17, 2011:

I got an estimate of $3000 to fix an oil leak. Is this reasonable?

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 15, 2011:

Excellent. I hope it works out for you.

bee on September 15, 2011:

sweet article bouta slap some in my engine

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 13, 2011:

Man, that's too bad that a 2002 might already need an engine rebuild. You never know whether stop leak will help a situation like that. You could always give it a try since it's cheap and can't hurt anything. But it sounds like you have something a little more major going on.

If they've already replaced the valves and gaskets and you're still experiencing problems, then there's not a whole lot else they can do really except for some major engine work unfortunately. on September 13, 2011:

Info very helpful. I have Mazda 2002 626 - oil gaskets & valves replaced. Have to add oil about every 1 or 2 mos. Not on ground, but black/gray smoke from exhaust. Dealership put dye in 9/10/11 & says to return 500 miles. Possible engine rebuild/replacement??? Other suggestions welcome. Thank you :)

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on September 08, 2011:

Haha, thanks henry. That's probably true.

henry on September 07, 2011:

Don't mind Alex comment, he is a mechanic and doesn't want to lose some customers so he doesn't want Oil Stop Leak to ruin his job LOL

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on August 24, 2011:

It would be nice if you could provide some factual basis for that claim.

Alex on August 23, 2011:

This write up sounds like complete BS, I have seen that oil stop leak ruin engines.

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on June 08, 2011:


rorshak sobchak on June 07, 2011:

Nice write up! Very detailed.

rorshak sobchack

Benji Mester (author) from San Diego, California on May 06, 2011:

Tri, thanks! Glad the article was informative. I hope you find a good solution.

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