Engine Bay Covered In Oil: 5 Reasons and Solutions

Did you find your engine bay covered in oil? What could be the reason of the oil spill, and how can you clean it up? Let’s find out.

Sometimes, when you are driving out of the garage, you may notice a tiny pool of oil just beneath the car’s engine. This is a common occurrence in a lot of cars, and it can be really scary to find that there is a leak in your vehicle suddenly. Although there are several reasons that this problem can arise, knowing a few of them can come in handy.

Today, let us tell you about why an oil spill occurs in your car and what you can do about it as some damage control. Read on to find out.

What Happens If Your Engine Bay Is Covered In Oil?

When you are putting oil in your car, it can happen that some of the oil gets spilled out into the engine bay. It could be due to a sudden jerk of your hand or a leaking valve, or just a sudden oil splash. No matter what the case is when there is engine oil on the outside, it is most likely to spill out of the vehicle.

If there is a tiny spillage, it can be cleared with a small washcloth. But when there is a lot of oil spilled in the bay, it could result in an oil leak and spill down below the vehicle. Having a pool of engine oil below your car is not safe, and you have to be on the lookout.


Engine Bay Covered In Oil


Reasons For The Oil To Spill

When there is an oil spill in your car, the first thing you have to do is look for the main reason that is causing trouble. Moreover, the problem depends on the car model you are using, where you are driving it, and how well you are maintaining the car. But overall, there are a few main reasons that can cause an oil spill from your car.

Here is a list of conditions under which your oil spill can occur in the car:

Valve cover gasket is damaged

A common reason for oil leaks is damaged parts of the engine or its surrounding areas. A broken valve cover causes the oil spill to occur from the top of the engine. The valve cover is essential for protecting the important parts of the cylinder head and gasket. V-style engines have two valve gaskets, and Inline engines have one.

When the car starts aging and with it, all the components and the valve gasket also start wearing out. This will not be able to seal the oil as efficiently and starts spilling when filled to the brim. If you notice the spills more frequently, you should consider changing the cover as soon as possible.

Oil pan gasket leak

A leak in the oil pan gasket is another common reason for oil spills around the engine. This gasket creates a seal between the engine block and the oil pan. You have to consider replacing the oil pan gasket if any part of the gasket has oil residues.


You may like reading if it is a good idea to have a magnet in the oil pan to collect magenteic waste


The oil filter and drain plug are wearing out

When changing the oil in your car, the drain plug and filter are removed every time. Since installed and removed repeatedly, they wear out very easily and become a source of oil leaks. So these need to be checked once in a while to see the condition.


Engine Bay Covered In Oil


Crankshaft seals

A crankshaft seal is the internal component of the engine that can be seen jutting out of both sides of the engine. The main function of the seal is to work as a balance for the external flexplate and flywheels.

The seals that prevent oil leakage are located at both ends of the crankshaft, called the front and rear main seals. A small leak may cause the underside of the engine, but visible oil leaks can be seen in front of the engine.

Camshaft seals

Car engines that use a timing belt have a camshaft seal, the link between the camshaft and the crankshaft. This seal is also located inside, which can be two or more in number.

These stick out of the engine for timing gears and work in the same manner as the crankshaft engine to stop leakage. The oil spill, in this case, can be seen in the rear of the engine.

If you cannot trace the problem back to any of these problems, you might be looking at something other than an engine oil leak. Damage in the timing cover gasket or housing gasket can signal an oil spill in the car. A professional will be the right one to pinpoint the problem.

Ways To Fix The Oil Spill

Usually, if there is an oil spill in your car, the best idea is to contact a mechanic as soon as possible. It might just be a simple case of a dirty engine, but there are times when an entire engine compartment may be affected. Serious oil spills can risk damage to the car and should not be ignored in any situation.

So, here are a few things you can do if you want to tackle the oil spill problem at home.

Fill the engine completely

If you have spilled oil in the engine bay, do not suddenly try to remove the funnel and clean up the spill. Finish whatever you do and fill the engine up to the required mark. Use a dipstick to check the oil levels and then rub off the oil spilled outside.


Engine Bay Covered In Oil


Wipe up excess oil properly

When you are refueling a car, there is some oil spilled outside that is outside. Use a clean cloth, cotton rag, or paper towel to rub off the soil from the surface. Take extra care if oil spills on electrical components or moving parts around the engine. If not cleaned up properly, the oils spilled can settle and result in debris.

The rubber on moving parts can be damaged by excess oil and needs to be removed as quickly as possible. Make sure to rub off any oil on the oil slick if your car has one.

Wash your car’s engine

One of the best things you can do about cleaning up a car’s spilling is to clean up the engine. Use a degreaser spray on the spillage to soak up the oil, leaving it for a few minutes. After the grease is dissolved, use a pressure washer or garden hose to clean up the spot.

You need to be extremely careful when cleaning the electrical parts of the car. Do not spray chemicals or water on the engine block, wiring, connectors, and alternator. After the whole cleanup process, let the area dry up.

Start up the engine

Once the engine is cleaned and washed, you must start the engine to see if everything is working. You have to be alert for any kind of smells, rough noises, or obstruction when you are trying to start the ignition.

Sometimes, the oil residue from the degreaser can cause a foul smell. Make sure you are keeping your engine in a ventilated area to get rid of the smells. Keep the engine fired up for some time, then turn it off.

Is It Safe To Drive With An Oil Leak?

Oil spills in the engine bay or below the car can be a tough mess to clean up. But it is not limited to the mess if left ignored for a long time. This is why you should not take any chances driving the car if you notice an oil leak.

Before anything else, you must consider that oil spilled on the ground can be a major fire hazard. Engine oil leaks often create a pool or string of flammable liquid when the car is moving. If an accidental matchstick or spark of fire hits this liquid, there is a chance of a very dangerous accident occurring.

If you drive a car with an oil spill, the serpentine belt can suddenly come off when in motion. This can let you lose control of the car’s steering if you drive at a certain speed. Apart from this, if you hear or smell something strange from your car, you should consider this a warning signal.

The best solution for any oil spill from your car is to visit the mechanic. Automobile professionals can pinpoint the problem of your car and figure out why your car is leaking oil. It will be easier for them to clean up the spill and sort out the problem.


Engine Bay Covered In Oil


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I clean an oily engine bay?

Degreasing the engine bay is one of the best options for cleaning an oily bay. Use a degreaser spray on the oily parts, keep it for some time to remove the grease, and then wash it off with a strong spray of water. You need to be careful when degreasing the electrical components.

Can I drive my car with oil all over the engine?

If you have oil all over your engine bay, it is recommended that you do not drive. The oil can cause you to lose control of the steering on the road. It also increases the engine’s temperature, which, in the worst-case scenario, can start a fire.

Is it worth cleaning your engine bay?

Cleaning your engine bay is an essential part of car maintenance. A clean engine bay makes sure that there is no debris created by oil spills or broken parts from surrounding components. It also makes it easier to figure out if there is any kind of damage to the car’s engine.

Can I wipe down my engine bay?

Yes, it is suggested that the engine bay should be wiped down once in a while. It helps to avoid the build-up of dirt and rust debris around the car’s engine, which is important for running smoothly.


Engine Bay Covered In Oil



Oil spills are not to be ignored in any situation as they can become a danger to the car and passengers at the same time. If you smell something weird or see any liquid seeping out from your car, you should rush to your nearest mechanic to get the situation under control.

Thank you for reading, and make sure you check for oil spills!

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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