How To Check Car Engine For Oil Leaks

You want to know how to check your car engine for oil leaks. Checking for oil leaks can be dirty work. Knowing the art of checking for oil leaks can save you a lot of hardship when buying a used car. Finding oil leaks early can stop a problem before it gets too big. Nobody wants oil stains in the middle of their driveway.

What You Will Need

  • Flashlight
  • Floor jack
  • Leather work gloves
  • Jack stands
  • Foot powder


  1. Take your car and park it on a flat surface. Let the car cool down. Open the hood and secure it with the safety arm. When your car is cool, take the oil cap off the engine of your car. Take your flashlight and flash it into the engine. Look at the condition of your oil. This will not show an oil leak, but will show you what your engine oil looks like.
  2. Take the flashlight and shine it on your valve cover gasket. You may or may not see an oil leak. Check for cracks or bubbles in the gasket. Cracks and bubbles are signs of a future leak. A bad leak in your valve cover gasket will run down the entire engine and drip out on to your driveway. Change the leaky valve cover gasket.
  3. Jack your car up and place jack stands under the two front tires. Grab your flashlight and crawl under the car. Flash your flashlight around the oil pan of your car. Flash your flashlight around the oil pan gasket. You will see beads of oil if your oil pan gasket is leaking. Flash your flashlight on the oil plug. A faulty oil plug will leak and make a mess on your driveway. Flash your flashlight on the oil filter. Oil filters leak when they are not installed correctly.
  4. If you do not find a leak with your flashlight, there most likely is not an oil leak on your car. However, if there is oil on your driveway, you may have a leak that you cannot find with a flashlight.
  5. Take a can of foot powder and spray it in the vicinity where the oil is leaking. Coat the area with the white foot powder spray. Take your car for a test drive. Jack your car back up and look in the area where you sprayed the foot powder. If you have a leak, you will see a bead of oil leaking through the white foot powder spray. Follow the leak to the place is began. You have found your leak.
  6. If you cannot find the oil leak, take it to a shop and have them send a dye through the system. The dye will tell them where the oil leak is coming from. They will tell you what is wrong with your car. You will then decide who will fix the oil leak on your car. If you can do it, take it home and do it yourself.


Tips: Use a flashlight to check for oil leaks. Spray foot powder can act like a dye. Use jack stands when working under your car. If you can fix the leak, fix it.

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