Hello, my Lexus ES300 had what appeared to be a sudden, significant oil leak today. Mileage on car - 37,500, not due for oil change until 2,000 more miles( I think oil filter was changed during last oil change few months ago as well as oil). I only drive my car short distances, 10-15 miles per day max. Low engine oil light flickered on this afternoon, but went off and stayed off. thought I smelled oil. Checked under hood, noticed a little amount of smoke near driver's side windshield. Weather in TX today was over 100 degrees, wasn't sure if car was overheating? Checked tonight and a pool of dark amber colored oil had accumulated near front of car, passenger side. My questions are:1) Likely causes of sudden leaks?2) safe to drive 15 min to service center tomorrow?3) Could the excessive Texas heat have been factor in the cause of oil leak?4) My car is no longer under warranty! How much should I expect to pay for some of the most common causes of this problem?5) How can I avoid being overcharged since I have very little knowledge of this subject? I would greatly appreciate your answers to these questions and any suggestions. Thank you!!Hillery
Country: United StatesMake: LexusModel: es300Year: 2007
Hello Hillery, and thank you for letting us help you with your automotive question. There are a number of various spots on this engine that can leak oil. It is very rare for this engine to suddenly spring a large leak though. If it is leaking that bad then chances are that the leak is in one of the areas related to having an oil changed. It may be a loose drain plug or a loose oil filter. Either of these are common mistakes that can occur and leak long after an oil change. These are the most likely causes. Now it can come from the valve covers or an oil pressure sensor also. If you want to refrain from getting ripped off by a shop when you take it in then have them diagnose it and ask them to show you the leak. Any honest shop would be more than happy to show you the leak. As for driving the vehicle it is hard to say. I would simply recommend checking the oil level and filling it up before driving it. if the oil leaks right back out on the ground then you should not drive it. Please let me know if you need more help.
Thank you so much for the informative response! I do have a shop I found run by several men who used to work for Lexus. They came highly recommended by friends and have given my excellent service in the past at a decent price. Could you please tell me what to expect when they show me the leak? I hate that I am lacking in knowledge on this. I wouldn't know what I was looking at, in terms of parts. Also, should I be concerned with the sudden onset of this leak? And what about the small amount of smoke I saw? (it wasn't visible until I opened the hood). It was102 degrees.
Can I damage the engine if I drive it, even if it holds a little oil? Possibly dangerous for me to drive even if shop says it should be OK? Thanks again for your help and great info!
You would be looking for moist areas. The sides and bottom of the engine should be dry so if there is moisture this is a sign of a leak. As for being concerned, typically an oil leak is not a huge problem. This is not typically the first sign of engine failure if that is what you are worried about. The smoke is coming from the leaking oil burning on the engine. As for driving it, if there is oil in the engine and it does not make any noise when running then you are fine to drive it. Pleat let me know if you need more help.
Great, I appreciate the details. I have one more question if you have a moment. Someone told me that a common cause is a blown head gasket that can cost up to $3000 including labor. Pardon my lack of knowledge on this.Is this a possible /common cause of a sudden, significant oil leak? Thanks!
I noticed no noise either when I drove it for the short time today.
Typically when a head gasket fails it will leak coolant and the engine will start to overheat. An oil leak is not a typical symptom of a bad head gasket so I would not worry about that.
I see... Makes sense. I'm assuming it is oil, as the pool under front passenger side of car is thick, oily, slick and a very dark, amber/almost black color, right? Before I sign off, can you think of anything else I need to tell the shop? :)
Sorry for the delay in getting back with you. I had some technical issues. It is possible that the leak is something else like power steering fluid or transmission fluid but they typically do not look too brown. What I would tell the shop is that you have what appears to be an oil leak. It just started and you would like them to inspect it. When they come back and tell you what it is ask them to see it. If you have any questions about what they tell you come back here and ask me and I will let you know if I think they are being honest.
No problem, thank you for getting back with me. It does appear to be oil. The dipstick was almost completely dry this A.M. when I checked, so I am not going to risk driving my car. It is being towed tomorrow A.M. The owner of the Lexus/Toyota repair shop (independently owned) said could be numerous things, as you mentioned. He also said he has seen some Lexus cars have a rupture hose that can cause sudden oil leak. I was wondering if you thought that sounded plausible?
I will let you know what he says - hopefully by end of day tomorrow. Again, I truly appreciate your detailed information and all of your help. Will keep you posted! Have a great day!
Hello again, here is what the shop said: it was a ruptured oil hose. The owner of shop said they there was a recall on this hose. I don't think Lexus sent me a recall notice, not sure why? The owner said Lexus would likely repair it at no cost. I am aware that the dealership often finds numerous issues that they want to "fix" and often a hefty price. The owner said if he does the repair, total cost w. tax/etc. $185 and he can have if it complete by tomorrow. He also checked over the car for other possible issues and said all else appears fine. He will not charge me for diagnosis either way. I like the owner, and have used him before based on high recommendations from other Lexus owners. He also has checked out other things on my car free of charge in the past. The car has already been towed by my insurance to the shop. I really don't feel like towing the car to Lexus, waiting on the dealership, having them do the diagnosis, etc. The shop said they also perform the routine :"maintenance" checks (I'm over due for 35,000 mi check) for much lower price.I believe Lexus quoted me at around $550 at least just for this service alone.
What do you think about the likelihood of a ruptured oil hose on an almost 6 yr ES350, only 37,500 miles? Do you think it is wise to just let the shop handle this? Owner said it was relatively simple repair. Thank you!
Hello again Hillery, the leak that this shop is mentioning does not have an actual recall. Lexus had issued what is know as a technical bulletin for it since it turned up to be a common issue. They extended the warranty on this part for 72 months or 70,000 miles. Taking the vehicle to the dealer can be a hassle and can take some time but it would be free. It really depends on the hassle that you want to go through. It sounds like this shop is very trustworthy and if you are fine with paying this fee for it then I would have it done. That is a good deal.
I agree. For me it's better in the long run not to deal w/ dealership, even if it turns out to be no charge. Since the cost isn't too great and they will give me a much cheaper maintenance check as well (for the 35,000 miles maintenance), I think I will stick with the shop.
Thank you for explaining about the technical bulletin vs. recall, I was not aware of this. I appreciate all of your ongoing help. You made everything simple to understand. Hope to be able to ask you questions about car issues in future if the need arises. Excellent service, couldn't be more pleased. Thanks again!
Not a problem. One more thing to keep in mind. I was informed by another expert that the dealer might even cover a free tow to their facility because of this problem. Either way just be sure to have it taken care of so that you can refrain from causing any serious engine damage.
OK,another thing to consider. Good point. Thanks for helping me through this. :)
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