spilled oil on engine


Spilled Oil on the Engine? Here’s What You Should Do.

Learning to care for your car and perform minor maintenance is a great way to save money and empower yourself as a driver, whether replacing headlights and wiper blades or changing the oil and air filters. With some DIY knowledge, you can avoid the inconvenience of scheduling an appointment with your mechanic and living without your car for a few hours.

But sometimes mistakes happen, and you must fix a mishap to help avoid a more dangerous situation. For instance, say you decide to fill your engine’s oil. While adding it through the valve opening, the oil splashes. It gets on other parts outside the engine. Is it a big deal? Can you wipe it up with a rag and move on?

While you’d probably prefer doing something else, cleaning up spilled oil is necessary to prevent other issues and ensure your car remains in working condition.

What is the Purpose of Engine Oil?

People often refer to engine oil as motor oil or engine lubricant. Whatever term you use, its primary function is ensuring your car’s engine functions smoothly.

As a thick oil comprising many other additives, motor oil protects your engine from wear and tear, cools the motor, and promotes improved fuel economy. But unintentionally spilling oil on your engine or other components under your hood can have devastating effects on your car. Therefore, cleaning it up is critical.

4 Steps to Clean Spilled Oil on Your Engine

When you’re filling the engine and accidentally spill some of the oil, continue pouring it until it reaches the correct level shown on the dipstick’s hash marks. Since other spills can occur, completing the job before cleaning up is best, so you don’t waste your time by doing it twice. Once complete, you can take the following steps to clean the oil and prevent further problems. However, proceed with caution, especially if you are a novice at engine cleaning.

#1. Examine the spill area.

Closely look over the spots where the oil spilled, and use clean cotton rags or paper towels to soak up any lubricant you can reach. If you have any problems seeing the oil, shining a bright light near the location of the spill may be helpful. Be sure to pay special attention to the electrical components, belts, or moving pulleys that may have come into contact with the spill.

#2. Clean away any oil spills on the engine.

If oil spills on your car’s engine, you will want to use a spray can of degreaser designed to remove buildup from your engine. Some of the best products include:

  • Chemical Guys Signature Series Orange Degreaser
  • Meguiar’s D10801 Super Degreaser
  • Gunk Foamy Engine Cleaner

Before applying the product to the spill area, read the directions thoroughly and protect your hands with rubber gloves. Because of high concentration levels, some products require you to dilute them with a specific amount of water before use.

When ready, apply the product to the spill area and allow it to sit for a few minutes to help break up the lubricant unless otherwise noted in the instructions. Carefully rinse the area with water using a hose or a pressure washer set on low. However, do not spray water on sensitive electrical components like your ignition, distributor, alternator, or wiring. Doing so could damage them. When complete, pat the area dry with a towel.


#3. Brush away any dried oil.

Some oil spots may dry depending on how much time passes. To remove the dried oil and clean the area, gently loosen the grease with a stiff brush. You can suck up the loose particles using your vacuum’s hose attachment.

#4. Start your car.

After carefully looking for, cleansing, and drying the spill areas, you can turn on your vehicle. But be aware that oil or degreaser remnants may produce odor or white smoke as they heat and burn off. In addition, you may hear high-pitched noises, but they should go away quickly.

What Happens If You Ignore an Oil Spill?

Motor oil is flammable, which means it is a fire hazard. Therefore, it can ignite if someone spills it near a heat source. Without cleaning and washing away spilled oil on your engine, it can clog the fuel injectors or cause your engine to overheat or stop working. Also, the lubrication from the oil can cause a serpentine belt or pulley to come off, resulting in power steering failure.

Leaving the task to the professionals may be the wisest option if you are uncomfortable filling your engine’s oil or encounter a mishap. This is especially important if you spill oil but cannot reach all areas to absorb and remove it. Towing your vehicle to a repair shop and having a skilled mechanic clean it can help ensure it is clean properly and prevent additional damage.

Prepare for Emergencies with an Auto Warranty

An extended warranty can be a valuable asset when facing an unexpected repair. Instead of worrying about getting your car to the repair shop, you can take comfort in knowing help is just a phone call away. Investing in a service plan with a top-rated auto program provider ensures you’re always prepared and can access benefits like 24/7 roadside assistance and towing services.

Are you ready to check out providers and find the right plan? Start your search today by reading our in-depth reviews and requesting free quotes from the companies that fit your needs best.

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