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Thread: Oil leak in car, questions?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Oil leak in car, questions?

    I own a 2002 Saturn SL1. I had the oil changed at the dealer's last Saturday and leaving work tonight, the oil pressure light came on, intermittently. Looking under the car with a FLASHLIGHT (Streamlight polypro Lux), I noticed the whole right side bottom was covered in oil. Went to gas station about 1/2 mile away and bought oil and was flabergasted to find out, the car took over 3 quarts of oil and yet the oil pressure light was still coming on intermittently. Anyhow, I drove about 12 miles where I was down another 2 quarts, filled it back up and went the rest of the five miles or so home.

    I will check out the car tomorrow morning in the light to see if I can ascertain if it is leaking around the oil filter or drain plug (can anybody who owns a Saturn tell me if the drain plug is easily located?) but I want to give it a good once over before going to the dealer. Where should I check for big oil leaks like that? I want to do my best to try to figure out whether something went bad or they did something wrong in the oil change before they see it. As it is, I will have it towed there, I don't dare drive it no more. The car seems to run fine, hopefully no long term damage was done from running one less then a quart. Again, I'm flabbergasted to find out the light doesn't come on until it gets that low. I wanted to post in a Saturn forum but I lost my password and they haven't emailed it to me yet so hopefully some CPFers can give me some insight.
    I live in a van down by the river

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Drain plug is at or near the bottom of the engine.

    Right side oil leak is either: the oil filter was double-gasketed (the oil changer left the old filter's gasket on the pick-up, and the new oil filter gasket in combo. with the old gasket causes leaks) or defective filter.

    Oil lights usually come on when there's about 1.5qts or less of oil remaining.


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    CPF Member 13...

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    *Flashaholic* IsaacHayes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    If the engine was damaged, the place that changed the oil would be responsible for the repair bill since they failed to tighten the oil filter/plug. It's like Dano said or they didn't tighten it enough or at all.
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    I am hoping the light will be good enough so that when I look, I can take a picture. I am nervous they may try to cover up. They shouldn't but I always expect the worse and hope for the best.
    I live in a van down by the river

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    It sounds like it is their fault... You driving it with the oil light on (pass just long enough to get safely stopped) would cause more damage.

    You need to call the dealer and/or get a second person to witness that the filter was loose or improperly sealed/leaking. Tow, do not drive the car to a repair shop.

    This may be an expensive fix (possible engine rebuild) and the dealer may try anything to get out of paying to fix. Or, they may tell you nothing was damaged (and the damage may not be apparent for many thousands of miles of driving).

    -Bill

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    Flashaholic* Manzerick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    that just sucks!!!


    i feel for u man!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Like I said, the engine appears to run fine so hopefully no damage.
    I live in a van down by the river

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    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Just FYI, but the oil light doesn't directly monitor the oil level. It monitors pressure.

    When the level drops low enough that the pump is drawing air the pressure will drop and the light will come on.

    And actually... if it came on for just a second or so, you're probably ok. Think about this: every time you crank your car it runs for a second or two with NO oil pressure.

    And finally, most shops claim no responsibility for incidental damages. Shops around here have it specifically mentioned on legal notices on their walls. They will refund the cost of the oil change and no more.

    You _really_ should change your own oil.
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    *Flashaholic* IsaacHayes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    There can be two oil lights.

    Oil pressure, and Oil level. Depending on the vehicle, motor, and year, it may not have a low level light. (for instance my 94 car has the sensor , but the 04 motors that are the same as mine do not have a place in the oil pan for the sensor). You'll have oil pressure as long as the oil pump is working and can pick up oil. I have an oil pressure gauge and warning light. The oil level light will turn on when oil is VERY low. The oil level switch is in the bottom of the oil pan, and the oil pressure sending unit is typicaly on the side up higher on the pan.

    Either way, if it was the oil pressure light, or oil level light, the problem is the car is extremely low on oil, so that's the problem right there, it's leaking somewhere!!
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    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Oil level lights are sufficiently rare as to practically not exist.
    This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Quote Originally Posted by turbodog
    And finally, most shops claim no responsibility for incidental damages. Shops around here have it specifically mentioned on legal notices on their walls. They will refund the cost of the oil change and no more.

    You _really_ should change your own oil.
    If any shop that I went to had that kind of verbage posted I'd stop going there ASAP. I also would question how that would stand up in court.

    As to your situation I'd poke around a bit, but also contact the dealership immediately. If they're a good place they'll either send a tech over to you place to inspect it and save a tow bill, or offer to tow it to them after inspection. Sounds like an oil filter issue to me, ususally a double gasket will surface on first start, but not always. Could also be a bad filter or simply a dirty sealing surface on the filter.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Ok, let me re-word it a little.

    ALL shops have it posted.

    It's stood up already. My best friend got his engine filled with 90w gear oil instead of 10w-30.

    Countless times, same results.


    Quote Originally Posted by VWTim
    If any shop that I went to had that kind of verbage posted I'd stop going there ASAP. I also would question how that would stand up in court.

    As to your situation I'd poke around a bit, but also contact the dealership immediately. If they're a good place they'll either send a tech over to you place to inspect it and save a tow bill, or offer to tow it to them after inspection. Sounds like an oil filter issue to me, ususally a double gasket will surface on first start, but not always. Could also be a bad filter or simply a dirty sealing surface on the filter.
    This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
    Be prepared for the truth.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Had towed to Saturn dealer this morning. They said problem was cracked gasket in oil filter. He said it was a manufacturer's defect and would not have readily been seen while the oil was being changed. Two lessons to be learned from me is to check the oil level after the dealer changes it and to carry a couple spare quarts of oil in the trunk.
    I live in a van down by the river

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* Manzerick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    are they making good on it?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Was any permanent damage done?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Yes, they fixed the problem and paid the tow charge. Perhaps I should have been more pushy and asked for reimbursement of the oil I had to put in and/or perhaps ask for a free change the next time for the trouble it put me thru but I didn't.

    I don't think there is any permanent damage, the engine appears to be running fine.
    I live in a van down by the river

  17. #17
    Flashaholic Lucero's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    I was searching for something else when I found this thread.

    A similar thing happened to me once and the faulty part was the sending unit to the dashboard. So, the part that tells you on the dashboard that your car's oil pressure is low had a loose hose clamp and that was the source of the leak.

    I stopped several times to add oil on the night this occurred and was able to see that the oil added at the top of the engine was almost immediately trickling out of the bottom of the engine.

    $.02


  18. #18
    Flashaholic* Arkayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    If you change the oil yourself on a new car, does it void the factory drivetrain warranty?

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arkayne
    If you change the oil yourself on a new car, does it void the factory drivetrain warranty?
    Nope, as long as you can prove something about that service was being done. Usually an oil/filter purchase reciept is plenty.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Quote Originally Posted by turbodog
    Ok, let me re-word it a little.

    ALL shops have it posted.

    It's stood up already. My best friend got his engine filled with 90w gear oil instead of 10w-30.

    Countless times, same results.
    perhaps "ALL" shops in your area, but not around here. I know this for a fact as I worked a lube and repair shop for 8+ years out of HS and in that period of time we did replace 1 motor that was directly out fault. And speaking with a local insurance agent who oversaw the chain store down the road they replaced motors almost quarterly. Shops have insurance for things just like this.

  21. #21
    *Flashaholic* IsaacHayes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Your engine may be fine. It really depends on the motor. My dad had a 2.5l 4cyl "iron duke" and a 5 cent part in the oil pump failed. He lost oil pressure. He thought the sending unit was bad, and drove it 40 miles. Next morning he fired it up and it clacked. So he knew there was no pressure. Took out the oil pump, put a new pin in it I think, and the motor was fine. 40 miles with no oil pressure!!!!! He put like another 60,000 miles on after that no problem. My motor however, would eat a bearing in an instant if it lost pressure.

    But if you don't have any problems and it sounds fine then you are probably ok. Might of taken a few thousand off the life of the motor, but if you didn't beat on it while it was low you're probably ok. I'd just watch it to make sure it doesn't burn/eat oil faster, as that's a sign that the rings/bore is worn from lack of lubrication.

    Yeah, I don't trust anyone to work on my car. The one time I decided to let someone do something for me (assemble a strut, spring and mount) they did it wrong so the bearing didn't turn, and after I had it on my car and payed $50 for an alignment, I found out. It bent the struts, strut mounts, and wore my steering rack. Of course the shop changed owners and I didn't get any $$ or fix for it. I did it myself then and fixed it all. Ugh.

    Not saying everyone's bad, it's just good to know how it works and double check their work!!! I'm paranoid about somethings and usualy for a good reason, and it's saved me a bunch of times.
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  22. #22
    Flashaholic Lucero's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    BTW : Has everyone seen this TV news report where they hid cameras in several locations of a car and took it to Jiffy Lube in SoCal and then 5 out of 9 shops visited cheated them by not performing work that was charged to the customer?

    Lucero


  23. #23

    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    Yeah, I don't trust anyone to work on my car

    Bingo.. I stay away from these quick-lube type places. What happened to you is actually relatively mild. If you hang out at cool places like BobIsTheOilGuy dot com, you will hear far worse stories, like them forgetting to put *any* oil at all, or loosing the screw bolt, or whatever.

    I can do a far better job, and for about the same price, I get to use Mobil 1 Synth. oil.
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Oil leak in car, questions?

    I drove my Dad's old Suburban back from Texas 2 years ago, 1986 model. About 10 at night out in the boonies on I-10 running 70 about 300 miles from home I looked down to see the oil pressure sitting on 0. I immediately turned off the engine, cussed and coasted to a stop on the shoulder in VERY rural LA. No traffic for you that are thinking that sounds dangerous. I checked the oil and it was full. I restarted it and it still showed 0 but sounded normal. I called my Dad on the cell and asked if he had noticed the pressure going to 0. He said, "Oh yea, I meant to mention that, the sending unit it bad." I cussed again then started it and took off down the road. The pressure came back up to normal a few minutes later.

    Two week ago my daughter called me crying. Her car had died and she was worried about re-starting it because the oil pressure was near 0. Get it…the car was not running at the time. At least I have her trained to keep an eye on it.

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