Car Oil Leak - Oil Seal Failure

Why does my car leak oil from an oil seal?

Oil Seal

Oil seals are made from various materials that are resistant to being damaged by oil, gas and heat that would be found in a vehicle engine.

What causes a Vehicle's Oil Seal to fail?

1 - Age

Over time vehicle oil seals lose their flexibility due to age and the exposure to heat and chemicals from the engine. Dirt and grime can build up further attacking the flexibility of the vehicle's oil seal. Flexibility is what keeps the vehicle's oil seal tight against the moving part of the Vehicle. When the vehicle's oil seal can no longer stay tight against the part of the engine that it rubs against then oil seeps out. Crankshaft and Camshaft oil seals are very common issue with this as Timing Belts and Serpentine belts require that a pulley be attached outside of the oil area and so the Crankshaft and Camshaft must run against oil seals.

2 - Heat

Heat can dry out a vehicle's oil seal until it becomes like a hard plastic and absolutely useless. Even worse is if you have a small engine fire because that can burn the oil seals in a matter of seconds. Say goodnight to your engine if that happens at least until you get it too the shop for repair.

3 - Not driving your car, truck or van

Believe it or not but oil happens to help to keep your vehicle oil seals soft and flexible. In the trade we call it keeping the oil seals conditioned - kind of like what some people do with their hair. When your vehicle sits idle the oil does not circulate and the oil seals don't get their conditioning. The vehicle oil seals can even get out of shape since the engine part rests against the vehicle oil seal in the same position making the oil seal assume the shape of the part which over time may no longer be round.

4 - Corrosion

Vehicle Oil Seals like to rub against smooth surfaces. Over time metal can get pitted and scratched due to water and other chemicals coming into contact with the metal. So what you end up with is a very rough surface rubbing against a smooth oil seal and eventually the oil will find its way out.

5 - Wear and Tear

So you love driving your beach buggy in the sand! We all know what sandpaper is and a beach is just a larger version. The little pieces of sand act like grit tearing at the vehicle oil seals until the oil seals fail. So all you off roaders  be aware.

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