Every human has their weak points, and so does every vehicle. In the case of the affordable and stylish Volkswagen, it has a name: oil leaks. Volkswagen are dependable cars famous for their movie appearances (such as Herbie) and their family-friendly appeal. Most of the time, they are desirable vehicles able to withstand a fair amount of wear and tear. However, their lubrication systems are prone to leaks from various locations, including the oil pan, filters, and internally.
What’s the Big Deal?
Beyond the annoyance of having to top off your oil and unsightly oil stains in your driveway, an oil leak can actually cause serious problems if left unattended.
For instance, because your engine is running low on oil, the most important facet of its lubrication system, it is more prone to overheating, which can cause other mechanical problems and even shut your engine down for good. This is especially likely if you run your engine on empty, which can happen in sudden or unnoticed oil leaks.
Oil leaks within your engine can damage other parts of your engine, most notably the rubberized components that seal your engine. An oil leak is also a potential fire hazard, as leaking oil can wander into other parts of your engine and cause combustion beyond what your engine is meant to handle.
Causes of Oil Leak
Oil leaks have dozens of potential causes that boil down into a few common categories:
Wear and tear on the engine
Over time, as your engine is used in its daily function, it will experience everyday wear and tear that will lead to some parts cracking, breaking, or getting holes. This is especially true of plastic and rubber components. Some of the components most prone to wear and damage include:
- The valve gasket: This seal is most likely to break or crack if you neglect to have your oil changed on time, as old oil accumulates dust that builds up as sludge.
- The oil pan: If you have a worn drain plug in the bottom of your oil pan, oil can leak around the edges. Your mechanic can spot a plug that needs replacement by the misaligned or worn threads.
- The oil filter: You’re most likely to spring an oil leak around your filter if you have sludge buildup in your engine or if the filter is installed incorrectly. The latter is most common with home installations.
Sudden or chronic damage
Sudden damage is most often due to factors such as driving over potholes too quickly or hitting debris in the road. These can crack or puncture the bottom of the oil pan.
In addition, poor driving habits such as driving too roughly, going too fast in less-than-ideal road conditions, or running your engine hot can lead to accelerated wear and tear. Poor driving habits can also cause physical damage from blunt force impact (collision) that can result in an oil leak.
Symptoms of an Oil Leak
Even if it seems minor, it’s best to address oil leaks as soon as you spot them to minimize damage. Some potential symptoms of oil leak include:
If you notice blue smoke coming from your rear pipe, this is a sign that oil is combusting somewhere in your engine or exhaust system. If this is the case, stop the car immediately and call a mechanic, as your vehicle may no longer be safe to drive.
Oil puddles beneath your vehicle
You may notice these after a couple of hours, which indicates a fast oil leak, or after several hours of inactivity, which may indicate a slower leak, depending on the size of the puddle.
Poor oil economy
If you find yourself adding oil once a week or every couple of weeks, you are losing oil too fast, a sure sign of an oil leak.
How Germany’s Best, Inc Can Help
If you suspect that you have an oil leak in your Volkswagen, bring your car into Germany’s Best Inc, of Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, and Oakland, CA. We have over 25 years of experience servicing German imports, exceeding at lower prices and exemplary service that dealerships simply can’t match. We are BOSCH-certified, fully equipped with the latest factory gadgets, and hire only ASE-certified master technicians for all maintenance and replacement needs. Call or come by today!