Oil lubricates the engine, and is an essential part of your vehicle. Oil reduces corrosion, helps to cool the engine, and reduces the wear on moving parts. If you notice a black puddle under your vehicle, you may have an oil leak. This should not be ignored, and should be checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible.
Here are some things to know about the common signs and dangers of driving with an oil leak:
An oil leak that is left alone can cause seals or rubber hoses to wear prematurely. Furthermore, oil leaks are a fire hazard and can cause your vehicle to fail without warning. If the oil catches fire or the engine fails while you are driving, there is potential for injury to yourself and others.
One way to check for an oil leak is to look at your oil dip stick on a regular basis. If your oil drops over time, chances are you have an oil leak. Once you notice the oil is low, add some oil to your engine and contact a mechanic, so they can determine the cause of the oil leak. Do not just add oil and forget about the leak, because this is a potential fire hazard.
Another sign of an oil leak is the smell of burning oil. Oil leaking onto the hot parts of the engine gives off a distinct smell. If you notice a bad smell coming from the front of your vehicle, it is also time to get in touch with a mechanic.
If you are driving down the road and you notice blue smoke coming from the tail pipe of your vehicle, this is another sign that you may have an oil leak. Blue smoke is typically a sign of burning oil, which can be a sign of an oil leak. In addition, check beneath the vehicle and see if there are any puddles or stains that are black in color. These two signs combined indicate an oil leak.
Driving with an oil leak is potentially dangerous because it is a fire hazard. If the leak is not attended to in a timely manner, the engine can wear down prematurely causing larger problems. If your concerned that you have an oil leak, look at oil levels, be conscious of smells, and look at the color of the exhaust coming from your vehicle. For peace of mind, and to ensure safety while driving, contact a certified mechanic as soon possible to have the oil leak inspected.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Is it Safe to Drive With an Oil Leak? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.