What Causes Oil Dripping After Oil Change?

Discover the causes and solutions for oil dripping after oil change. Learn about drain plug leaks, filter issues, and how to prevent future drips.

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Imagine getting an oil change for your car, expecting it to run smoothly, only to discover oil dripping in your driveway shortly after. How frustrating, right? “Oil dripping after oil change” is a common issue that can lead to more severe problems if left unaddressed. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we’ll explore the main causes of oil leaks after an oil change and how to prevent and fix them, ensuring a well-maintained vehicle and peace of mind.

We’ll dive into the intricacies of drain plug leakage, oil filter problems, additives and sludge formation, and more. You’ll learn how to identify and prevent oil leaks, as well as when to seek professional help. By the end of this post, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of oil dripping after oil change and how to keep your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently.

Key Takeaways

  • Oil leaks after an oil change can be caused by drain plug leakage, worn or dirty gaskets, improper tightening and filter problems.

  • Professional help is essential for the diagnosis and repair of oil leaks to prevent major engine damage.

  • Oil additives such as SealLube, STP High Mileage Oil Treatment etc., can help extend engine life and reduce chances of leaking.

Drain Plug Leakage

Oil leaking from a car engine oil pan

Drain plug leakage is often the culprit behind oil leaks after an oil change. This type of leakage can occur due to a worn or dirty gasket, or if the drain plug is not tightened properly. Such leaks can result in decreased oil levels, engine complications, repairable damage, and pose a fire and safety risk. Familiarizing yourself with drain plug leakage causes and prevention methods will ensure the smooth operation of your vehicle and help you evade expensive repairs.

Identifying drain plug leakage involves inspecting for oil drips and checking for a worn or dirty gasket. Ensuring that the oil plug is tightened securely and replacing the oil drain plug or its sealing after each oil change can help prevent such leakage.

Worn or Dirty Gasket

A worn or dirty oil pan gasket on the drain plug can cause a car leaking oil after an oil change. Gaskets can deteriorate over time due to wear and tear, temperature fluctuations, and exposure to road debris. If the gasket that sits between the damaged oil pan and engine block becomes degraded or dirty, it can lead to oil leaks.

Preventing engine oil leaks after an oil change involves replacing any worn or damaged gaskets, using the correct amount of oil, and making sure the drain plug is securely tightened. By taking these preventive measures, you can avoid the hassles and expenses of dealing with oil leaks caused by worn or dirty gaskets.

Improper Tightening

Another cause of oil leakage from the drain plug is improper tightening. Inadequate tightening can result in oil leakage, posing risks for your engine’s performance and overall vehicle safety. Knowing the correct procedure for securing a drain plug is crucial in preventing such leaks.

For a secure fit without over-tightening, you should hand-tighten the oil pan plug, also known as the drain plug, until it sits snugly with the pan. Then, using a wrench, tighten the plug an additional 1/4 turn. By following this procedure, you can prevent major oil leaks and keep your engine running at its best.

Oil Filter Problems

Oil filter being replaced on a car engine

Aside from drain plug leakage, oil filter problems can also contribute to oil leaks after an oil change. Issues such as misaligned or damaged filters and contamination can compromise the integrity of your engine oil, leading to leakage and potential engine damage. Understanding and tackling oil filter problems will help maintain your vehicle’s proper functioning and prevent oil leaks.

Preventing oil filter leaks requires a properly fitted oil filter to the engine, ensuring no gaps. Additionally, replacing the oil filter with each oil change is recommended to maintain peak engine performance.

Misaligned or Damaged Filters

Misaligned or damaged oil filters can lead to oil leaks if not properly installed. Incorrect installation or use of the incorrect type of filter can cause filters to become misaligned or damaged, resulting in oil leakage. Inadequate attachment of the oil filter may also lead to leaks.

Preventing oil leaks from misaligned or damaged filters necessitates correct installation of the oil filter and usage of a filter suitable for your vehicle. Remember not to use a filter wrench to secure the oil filter, as this can lead to over-tightening and damage.


Contaminated oil filters can degrade seals and gaskets, resulting in oil leaks. Addressing oil leaks from contaminated filters involves identifying the contamination source and taking the necessary steps. Regularly changing the oil filter and using high-quality oil can help prevent contamination and subsequent oil leaks.

Additives and Sludge Formation

Oil additives being added to a car engine

Additives in oil can cause sludge buildup, which can block oil flow and result in a slow leak. While additives are designed to improve engine performance and protect components, they can sometimes lead to issues like sludge formation. Understanding the interplay between additives, sludge, and oil leaks enables you to make informed decisions on your vehicle’s maintenance and stave off further leakage.

Leak sealing solutions, such as:

  • tapes

  • putty

  • sealing kits

  • resin injection products

  • leak repair gaskets

can help fix oil leaks caused by sludge buildup. These solutions can restore the flow of oil and prevent further deterioration of the engine.

Sludge Buildup

Sludge buildup from additives in oil can cause oil leaks. Sludge is a black, gelatinous substance that can accumulate in the engine oil due to oxidation and contamination or prolonged exposure to high temperatures. If not addressed, sludge can obstruct vital oil passages and cause harm to the engine, potentially leading to a situation where engines leak oil or even experience oil leaking.

Frequent oil changes and utilizing premium oil can assist in avoiding sludge accumulation. Adopting these preventive measures will ensure smooth engine operation and save you from the troubles and expenses related to oil leaks from sludge buildup.

Leak Sealing Solutions

Leak sealing solutions can help fix oil leaks caused by sludge buildup. These products are designed to seal oil leaks and restore the flow of oil, preventing further engine damage. Examples of effective leak sealing solutions include:

  • SealLube

  • STP High Mileage Oil Treatment

  • BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak

  • Lucas Oil 10278

  • ATP Automotive Re-Seal Stops Leaks

  • Bar’s Leaks

For effective use of oil additives against oil dripping, you must first pinpoint the leak’s source. Subsequently, the appropriate leak-sealing solution should be added to the engine oil. Keep in mind that it’s unlikely that additives will be effective for severe oil leaks.

Identifying Oil Leaks

A mechanic inspecting a car engine for oil leaks

Identifying oil leaks is an important step in addressing and preventing any potential engine damage. Common signs of oil leaks include:

  • Brown spots

  • Low oil levels

  • Oily engine components

  • A burning oil smell

Attending to these indicators allows early detection of oil leaks and enables you to take appropriate measures to rectify them.

Regular inspections and early detection of oil leaks are crucial to avoid extensive engine damage. By staying vigilant and addressing leaks promptly, especially in the oil pan, you can ensure the longevity and performance of your vehicle.

Preventing Oil Leaks

A mechanic tightening a car engine oil pan plug

Preventing oil leaks requires regular maintenance, including motor oil and filter changes, driving carefully, and using rejuvenating engine oils. Adhering to these steps will safeguard your engine and help you dodge oil leaks that could result in expensive repairs and potential safety hazards.

In addition to these preventive measures, it’s essential to:

  • Inspect and replace any damaged gaskets or seals, including the valve cover gasket

  • Ensure that engine bolts are properly tightened

  • Replace any worn or damaged hydraulic lines and fittings

By staying on top of your vehicle’s maintenance and addressing any potential issues, you can keep your engine running smoothly and prevent oil leaks.

Best oil additives against oil dripping

A mechanic adding oil additives to a car engine

The best oil additives against oil dripping can help seal small leaks and prevent further leakage. These additives are specifically formulated to address minor oil leaks and impede further leakage, protecting your engine and extending its life. It’s essential to check your oil filler cap as well, ensuring it’s properly sealed to avoid any oil leaks.

Effective oil additives for preventing oil dripping include:

  • SealLube

  • STP High Mileage Oil Treatment

  • BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak

  • Lucas Oil 10278

  • ATP Automotive Re-Seal Stops Leaks

  • Bar’s Leaks

Utilizing these additives significantly lowers the risk of oil leaks, ensuring efficient engine operation.

Professional Help for Oil Leaks

A mechanic replacing a car engine oil filter

Seeking professional help for oil leaks is essential to prevent major engine damage and ensure proper diagnosis and repair. While some minor oil leaks can be addressed with DIY solutions, it’s crucial to consult a professional for more severe leaks or when you’re unsure of the cause.

A professional mechanic can accurately diagnose the source of the leak, recommend the appropriate repairs, and ensure your engine is functioning at its best. Seeking professional help when needed will help protect your vehicle’s engine, ensuring its performance and longevity.

An image showing oil dripping from a car's oil pan after an oil change, which may be caused by oil dripping after oil change issue.


In summary, oil dripping after an oil change is a common issue that can be addressed by understanding the main causes, such as drain plug leakage, oil filter problems, and additives and sludge formation. By identifying and preventing these issues, you can maintain your vehicle’s performance and prevent costly repairs.

Take charge of your vehicle’s maintenance and be proactive in addressing oil leaks. Remember, a well-maintained vehicle is a reliable and safe vehicle. Keep your engine running smoothly and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with proper care and maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my oil keep dripping?

Oil leaks are often caused by degraded engine gaskets and seals, an improperly fitted or loose oil pan drain plug, or worn-out valve cover gaskets. Over time, these components can erode due to friction, pressure, and high temperatures, leading to an oil leak.

Is an oil drip serious?

An oil drip is serious because it can damage your engine, radiator and HVAC system, lead to low oil pressure, and create a safety hazard if the oil catches fire. It can also cause unnecessary wear and tear and degrade rubber hoses and seals.

How do I know if my oil drain plug is leaking?

If you find oil streaks or puddles on a piece of cardboard placed underneath the vehicle after it sits overnight, or if there are signs of oil when you jack up the car or drive it onto ramps, then these are signs of a leaking oil drain plug.

What 3 things can cause an oil leak?

Oil leaks can be caused by a leaking oil filter, bad gasket, worn seal, loose drain plug, or damaged oil pan.

Is it normal to have oil leak after oil change?

It is normal to have a few oil drips post an oil change, but if there’s more than that, you’ll need to look into where the leak is coming from. Check if the drain plug and gasket parts are in good condition.

How can I determine the cost of fixing an oil leak?

The cost of fixing an oil leak depends on several factors, including the severity of the leak, the type of vehicle, the engine, and the location of the leak.

What should I do if my car is leaking oil after an oil change?

If your car is leaking oil after an oil change, it’s recommended to schedule service with a professional mechanic, such as those at Ira Subaru.

Are oil additives effective in preventing oil dripping?

Oil additives can be effective in preventing oil dripping by helping to seal minor leaks and impeding further leakage. However, they may not be effective for severe oil leaks.

What are the potential causes of oil leaks in cars?

Oil leaks are typically caused by the erosion of engine gaskets or oil seals over time, as well as old, dirty oil.

How often should I change my oil filter to prevent oil leaks?

It’s recommended to change your oil filter with each oil change to maintain peak engine performance and prevent oil leaks.

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