A car's engine depends on the precision of the balance between the mechanical components and the lubrication. Engine oil is an essential part of that balance, and it protects the engine components from damage caused by friction and heat buildup. It's important to monitor your car's oil levels regularly because the oil levels will drop if the car is burning oil or there's a leak. If the oil level has dropped since your last check, you'll have to narrow down the source of the problem. Here are some tips to help.
Check the Exhaust
Turn on the engine and then get out and watch the exhaust for a few minutes. If you see white smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, that's a sign that the engine is burning some oil. There are several things that can cause your engine to burn oil.
- Faulty PCV Valve When the PCV valve in the engine is clogged, it can result in blowback, or oil being drawn into the air intake and engine. If your engine seems to be underpowered, take a look at the air filter. If the air filter has oil stains, the combination of symptoms typically indicates that you need a new PCV valve.
- Lack of Compression If your engine is lacking compression, that's a serious problem. It may be caused by a leak around the piston rings or possibly a bad head gasket. If you're losing oil and your engine is releasing white smoke in the exhaust, these are common causes. Do a compression test to determine if this is the reason for the problem. To conduct a compression test, pull the fuses to the fuel pump and fuel injection. Then, disconnect all of the spark plug wires from the plugs. Pull the spark plugs, then thread a compression tool into one of the open plug inlets. Have someone start the engine and open up the throttle while you monitor the compression tool. The reading on the gauge should stay stable. If it doesn't, that cylinder is losing compression. Do the same test with every cylinder by threading the tool into each of the spark plug inlets. If the test reveals compression loss in any cylinders, you should take the car to your local oil change and auto repair center.
- Failed Head Gasket In addition to the white exhaust smoke, if your engine has lost some of its power and is running warmer on the temperature gauge than normal, that's a sure sign that the head gasket may be blown. If the head gasket is blown, one common symptom you're likely to see is a cloudy color to your engine oil. This happens because the antifreeze of the cooling system mixes with the oil when the head gasket isn't maintaining its seal. If your oil is cloudy, make an appointment to have the head gasket replaced.
For professional repair services, contact a company such as Lakeland Automotive automotive service.