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You may have noticed some oil drops staining your driveway or garage floor at some point indicating that your car is leaking. And while it’s easy to dismiss the oil leak — since the check engine light isn’t on anyway – it could lead to other problems down the road. But does that mean it’s bad to drive a car that’s leaking oil?

Can you drive your car with an oil leak?

 Car oil stains a parking lot.
Car oil stains a parking lot. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Technically, yes, you can drive a car that’s leaking oil. However, it’s not a good idea considering the oil is what keeps the engine lubricated and running in top shape. Without it, your car’s engine will seize and leave you with a hefty repair bill for a new engine. That being said, it’s ideal to have your car checked out by a qualified mechanic at the first signs of an oil leak.

An oil leak can cause excess wear and tear on your car’s engine over time, so it’s important to get it checked out as soon as you can. If you can’t get it inspected and repaired straightaway, or can’t afford to, then there are some budget-friendly remedies at your local auto parts store. Some chemical additives – like Bars Leaks Oil Seal –  can aid in temporarily stopping the leak, but the additive should not be trusted on its own.

What causes most oil leaks?

Most oil leaks can occur due to a few different reasons. According to Auto Guru, some common causes are:

  • Worn engine gaskets – Valve cover, oil pan, and head gaskets tend to wear over time and lead to some of the more common oil leaks.
  • Worn oil drain plug – Your car’s drain plug can get worn out due to road debris and years of use.
  • Broken oil filler cap – An old or faulty oil filler cap can become loose, causing oil to spill out.
  • A leaky oil filter

Regardless of the issue, if you find that your car is leaking oil, then you should monitor the engine’s oil level until you can get the issue(s) repaired. Chances are, your car’s engine might not be leaking oil too quickly that it will starve the engine any time soon. But keeping the engine oil at an optimal is still important regardless.

How much does it cost to fix an oil leak?

 Automotive service technician Steve Loverme works on a vehicle at Bredemann Chevrolet.
Automotive service technician Steve Loverme works on a vehicle at Bredemann Chevrolet. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The cost to fix an oil can vary greatly depending on where the oil leak is coming from. According to Repair Pal, the labor costs to fix an oil leak can cost anywhere from $88 to $111, but that doesn’t include the cost of the gaskets. However, it should be noted that some common oil leaks can spawn from an engine’s rear main seal, which is tough to get to on most cars. That said, leaks like those can cost a few hundred dollars to repair.

The bottom line is that if you notice your car leaking oil, then it’s a good idea to get it fixed as soon as possible. If not, then at least check your car’s oil level at least once a week to ensure that it’s safe. Lastly, try to keep driving to a minimum, if possible, but it’s still safe to drive the car regardless of the oil leak.


Why Do Cars Leak Oil and What Should You Do About It?