Oil Leak Woes
It’s a fact of life: regardless of what make and model of car or truck you own, oil leaks will eventually happen. Rubber seals degrade from a wide range of stressors placed on them in an operating engine; and, will also lose their sealing ability if an engine is left sitting too long unused.
For most well-maintained vehicles, oil leaks that do develop are a relatively minor inconvenience of which the cost of repairing the leak may well be prohibitively high depending on how old the car is when leaks begin and the car’s resale value.
But when oil leakage is so great that it is damaging your (or your friends’) driveway and runs the risk of starving your engine from inadequate oil pressure, it’s time to do something about the problem.
A Questionable Solution
One common band aid solution to the problem is to choose any one of a large number of oil additives that claim to work not just one but several miracles on a car’s leaking, aging rubber oil seals. But is this a good idea or at least an acceptable solution? I’m going out on a limb here, but the short answer is “No---not if you value the car.” The longer answer is a bit more complicated and really depends on what your long or short-term plans are for your particular vehicle.
The attractiveness of a simple mechanic-in-a-bottle solution is a slippery slope and one usually best avoided when there is a correct repair solution to a problem. In other words, physically repair the leak with a new seal or seals.
That said, and I leave others’ personal preferences and experiences with these type of oil additives their own business and right to choose.
The Takeaway from the Tests
The motivation of this article is from a recent Project Farm YouTube channel episode where the host tests and compares 13 different brands of oil stop leak products. The end result was that one product---AT-205---appears to be the best choice overall. However, at the end the host indicates that he would not recommend using any of the products on a relatively modern car you value, but “good enough for government work” as the saying goes on an older model that is on its way to the junkyard soon.
Issues can be argued in that his tests were more of a 1:1 ratio of product to oil rather than manufacturer’s recommendation of something closer to 1:4. Plus, I think there is some question of what it means when some products are oil-insoluble and separate rather quickly from the oil and what this means to an engine lubrication-wise.
I suspect, however, that the host chose a 1:1 ratio to give a product a better chance of showing some benefit.
One takeaway that appears to support not ever using an oil stop leak product on a car you value is that the video indicates many of these products may actually hasten engine wear at the cost of only the possibility of slowing down some of the leaking.
In short, you will be better off by having the proper repair done rather than resort to a solution-in-a-bottle maintenance or questionable repair.
The Value of This Video
The value of this video is that for the uninitiated to the use of oil stop leak products, the video will provide some food for thought of whether or not you will want to try this kind of solution.
Another point of value is that it is not unheard-of suspecting that rather than perform a seal repair you were billed for, you were scammed with a temporary mechanic-in-a-bottle solution rather than an actual repair. Caveat emptor and all that.
That said and done, here is an enjoyable video to watch and judge for yourself:
Do Stop Leak Products Work? Do They Damage Engine Seals? Will They Destroy an Engine? Let's Find Out
For additional related topic articles, here are a few for your consideration:
Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.
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