Oil All Over Engine: What Are the Causes and Solutions?

Oil all over the engine means that there’s a problem with the mechanics and requires immediate attention. Engine oil is restricted to certain parts of the engine because it lubricates the moving parts and helps the engine run at optimum temperature.

Oil All Over Engine

Thus, finding it all over the engine bay can be discomforting, and rightly so. Discover why this happens and how to solve it.

Why Is Oil All Over the Engine?

There’s oil all over the engine because of a wrongly placed oil dipstick, a loose oil cap, a leaking oil filter, a cracked gasket and excess engine oil. However, that’s not all. A high crankcase ventilation pressure and a cracked cylinder head can cause an oil spill.

  • A Wrong or Loose Oil Dipstick Allowing Oil Leakage

A loose dipstick is one common problem that causes oil leaking in the engine. The dipstick is the instrument you use to check the engine’s oil level. While the oil travels through the engine, it builds up pressure, which can flow out of the reservoir if the dipstick isn’t tight enough.

The same situation applies when you use the wrong dipstick. Dipsticks are not universal; each is designed for a specific car. A wrong dipstick might not go all the way in and would not properly close the reservoir, allowing the oil to spill. Sometimes, you may have the right dipstick but damage to the oil tube may prevent the dipstick from going all the way in.

  • A Slack Oil Filler Cap

The cap keeps the oil from flowing out and prevents contaminants from sneaking into the engine. Thus, it needs to fit the opening of the reservoir tightly. A loose or missing cap will allow the oil to flow out of the reservoir. Also, debris can make their way into the engine and cause havoc.

  • A Damaged Oil Filter

This usually occurs after an oil change, especially when you refuse to change your filter. Oil filters keep out debris that can compromise the engine’s integrity. Thus, they get clogged and eventually get damaged. Therefore, mechanics advise that we change oil filters after every oil change to eliminate damaged oil filters.

Causes of Oil All Over the Engine

A clogged oil filter can obstruct the smooth flow of the oil throughout the engine, leading to oil pressure buildup. Soon, the oil begins to spray out of the filter and mess up the engine. This problem can also crop up if the oil filter isn’t properly installed during the oil change. A gap anywhere around the filter can allow oil to seep through and soil other parts of the engine.

  • A Cracked Head Gasket

A cracked head gasket should be your lead suspect if you find oil leaks all over the engine. There are many gaskets in the engine that keeps serving as oil seals preventing oil from leaking onto unwanted parts. If the gaskets are not properly installed, the oil could easily seep through crevices along the devices.

Also, over-torquing certain parts, like the union bolts, could distort the gasket and create a space where the oil can escape. Aged gaskets can develop cracks which would allow an oil leak. Sometimes engine misfires, overheating and cooling system leaks can result in a damaged head gasket.

When you see white smoke from the tailpipe or experience rough idling, they could be signs of a valve cover gasket leaking. Thus, you must attend to the situation early to prevent oil from pouring into the engine.

  • An Engine Filled Past Its Capacity

Sometimes, it isn’t the case that the gasket is damaged or any other part is leaking. Rather, you may have poured too much oil into the reservoir, and the excess is simply spilling out. Engines have the maximum amount of oil they require to function efficiently. Filling them below their oil capacity could cause problems such as overheating and premature wear of certain parts.

However, overfilling them too can lead to situations such as decreased power and efficiency. Overfilling could also cause excess pressure in the crankshaft components, leading to engine oil leaks. The oil will then spray over the engine, get into the transmission, and compromise it. To solve this problem, just place a pan under the drain plug and unload the oil.

  • High Pressure in the Positive Crankcase Ventilation Valve

The positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve sends the blow-by gasses back to the combustion chamber for burning. It also regulates the blow-by gasses, ensuring they don’t overwhelm the crankcase. Thus, if the PCV fails, it can’t regulate these gasses, leading to high pressure in the crankcase. Eventually, the pressure forces the oil to erupt through the dipstick and flow into the engine.

  • A Leaking Pipe from the Oil Reservoir to Other Parts of the Engine

As revealed earlier, oil flows from the reservoir to other engine parts to enhance efficiency. The oil is transported by several pipes, like the return pipe that brings the oil back to the oil pan after traveling through the turbo system. These pipes/hoses carry hot oil, and though they are made to withstand it, they eventually get old and lose their qualities. Thus, they develop cracks or holes and leak the oil they carry.

  • A Broken Oil Cooler

The oil cooler is in front of the engine’s cooling system and keeps the oil from overheating. It cools down the oil to keep the engine running at optimum temperature. It also helps improve the transmission’s lifespan by ensuring it doesn’t get too hot. Since the cooler has a regular supply of oil, any crack or hole can result in the oil spraying into the engine.

How To Fix Oil Exploded All Over the Engine

One way to fix oil exploded all over engine is to clean it, which is tricky. Clean the engine wrongly, and you’ll have a huge problem on your hands. The safest way to clean oil is to use a degreaser with chemicals designed to cut through grease.

  • Cleaning the Engine Bay With a Degreaser

Prepare the bay by getting rid of all the dust and debris in the engine. Warm up the engine to soften any dried-up oil and to make the grease easier to wash away. Next, check all electrical wires to see if the oil has spilled on them and spray the degreaser on them. Wipe off the degreaser on the wires and cover them with plastic to protect them.

Remove the negative terminal of the battery to prevent any electrical shocks while you work on the engine. Now, spray the degreaser all over the engine, concentrating on the parts heavily soiled by the oil. Let the degreaser sit for approximately 10 minutes, then scrub the mixture with a synthetic brush to avoid scratching delicate components.

Rinse the engine bay with a low-pressure hose to remove the mixture and leave it to dry in the sun. However, if you can’t wait that long, you can dry the water with absorbent mats or use an air compressor. Ensure all the nooks and crannies of the dry to avoid damaging any component. Remove the covering from all the electrical wires and reconnect the battery’s negative terminal.

  • Fixing a Loose Oil Cap and Wrongly Placed Dipstick

Tighten a loose-fitting oil cap to prevent the oil from pouring out while the vehicle moves. If the cap is faulty and unable to close tightly, purchase a new one as a replacement. Ensure you buy the specific one for your car because a cap that is too big or too small could worsen the case. If the cap feels slippery, you can use a cloth or any material to increase friction between your fingers and the cap.

Fix Oil Exploded Engine

You can simply tighten a loose dipstick, and the oil will stop flowing out. However, if you misplace the dipstick, then you can purchase one. As explained earlier, ensure you get the right dipstick for your vehicle to avoid a recurring problem.

  • Replacing a Blown or Cracked Gasket

Locate the cracked head gasket and remove it. Use an industrial cleaner to eliminate any dust or rust that may have culminated on the surfaces. A dusty or corroded surface can interfere with the work of the gasket. Carefully install the new gasket, ensuring that it fits perfectly over the areas it has to cover.

Don’t force the gasket to fit into areas that it clearly won’t fit, or you may crack it. If a gasket is having trouble fitting, it’s likely you’re using the wrong one or placing it in the wrong area. Once you’ve installed the oil pan gasket correctly, screw in the bolts to ensure it doesn’t fall off. Don’t over-tighten the bolts to avoid cracking the oil seal.

  • Fixing a Broken Engine Oil Cooler

The only way to fix a broken motor oil cooler is to replace it with a new one. To do this, remove the oil filter and fix an oil filter sandwich plate in its place. The oil filter sandwich plate helps the smooth installation of the oil cooler without relocating the filter. Next, connect the oil lines to the sandwich plate and mock up the new cooler in any location around the engine.

Once you’ve found a secure place for the cooler, connect the oil lines. You can then install the oil filter, whether the old one or the new one. However, we’ll recommend you install a new one to be on the safer side.

Frequently Asked Question

– Can Excess Oil Cause Overheating?

Yes, excess oil can cause overheating. The oil can foam up and become slippery instead of viscous. Thus, the oil won’t be able to lubricate the engine’s moving parts, causing them to rub against each other. This leads to overheating and premature wear of those parts.

– What Are Some Symptoms of a Blown Head Gasket?

Some symptoms of a blown head gasket are rough idling, overheating, smoking from the tailpipe and a milky substance beneath the oil cap. Other common blown head gasket symptoms include polluted engine oil, low coolant levels and external oil leaks.

Cracked Head Gasket

What Are the Common Causes of Low Oil Pressure in an Engine?

Low oil pressure troubleshooting solutions include checking for a clogged oil filter, a faulty oil pump, or a worn-out oil pressure sending unit. Insufficient oil levels, thin oil viscosity, or engine blockage can also contribute to low oil pressure. Timely maintenance, regular oil changes, and addressing potential issues promptly can help prevent damage to the engine.


This article has discussed the various potential causes of car leaking oil when parked.

Here is a recap of all that we uncovered:

  • If you wrongly place a dipstick or fail to use the right one, the engine oil could escape via the tiny spaces around the stick, spraying oil in the engine.
  • A loose oil cap, a leaking oil pipe, or a leaking gasket could let the oil escape to undesired areas and endanger the engine’s life and efficiency.
  • You should also suspect a broken oil cooler and high pressure in the positive crankcase ventilation valve cover when you see oil in the car engine block.
  • Sometimes the spill can be caused by overfilling the oil pan, affecting the engine’s power, lifespan and efficiency.
  • Fixing the issue depends on what the problem is; all broken and leaking parts would’ve to be replaced or repaired, while loosely fit caps only need to tighten.

You have to drain excess engine oil because it can affect the efficiency of the engine. Also, ensure you purchase the right dipstick for your vehicle to stop oil from pouring in the engine.

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