It is normal for your engine to use a bit of oil between oil changes. Remember that oil travels all throughout your engine and goes through the oil filter before heading back to its starting point.
Here are some common oil leak symptoms:
Issue: I am using oil, and there is smoke in the exhaust.
What to do:
If the oil is being burned and there is smoke in the exhaust, you may notice a drop in engine performance.
- The PCV system may be clogged, which makes it inoperable. This causes the oil to blowback into the engine. The oil is going back into the engine through the air intake system. You need to replace the PCV valve.
- There can be a compression issue within your engine that is causing it to burn oil. This can be due to a leaking gasket or a faulty seal. Should the engine have poor compression, you may need to have a trained Jetta mechanic look at it to give you a proper diagnosis.
- Worn piston rings can cause smoke in the exhaust as the oil seeps over the rings instead of staying under them it should. You may need to replace the piston rings. It may also be caused by a grooved cylinder wall, which means you may need to take to a trained mechanic for repairs.
- Smoke in the exhaust can also be the result of a worn valve seals. Like the piston rings, the valve seals may not be something you can do at home, so you should see a trained mechanic for repairs.
Issue: I am using too much oil, and there is no smoke in the exhaust.
What to do:
- Even though you are not seeing smoke in the exhaust, the oil consumption as well as poor engine performance may be the result of the same types of problems as listed above. See above for the common problems related to this issue.
Issue: I am using too much oil, and I see brown, foaming water in my radiator.
What to do:
If you checked your oil levels and could not find a leak, check your radiator for brown, foamy water. This is an indication of oil that is leaking from the engine and getting into the cooling system.
- A blown head gasket can cause oil to leak into the cooling system. You need to replace the head gasket to fix the problem. If you are going to change the head gasket in your Jetta, you need to have a place and the skills to remove half the engine. Otherwise, you will want to take it to a trained professional.
- A cracked cylinder head may allow oil to leak into the radiator. You need to replace the cylinder head. This is a fix you can do yourself as long as you have the space and tools to take the engine apart. If not, you will need to consult a trained mechanic.
- Oil is leaking into the water by way of the oil cooler. This can be due to a leak in the oil line, so you will need to check the line and replace it if you find it has a leak. The oil cooler may be bad and need replacement.
Issue: I see oil puddles and spots under my Jetta.
What to do:
The placement and amount of oil that you are seeing on the ground will be an indication as to which part is leaking.
- The easiest fix is a loose oil filter that can be easily tightened to stop the leaking.
- The PCV valve may also be the culprit. The system may be clogged up causing oil to blow back into the engine. Replace the PCV valve.
- Gaskets and seals can become worn and break with age. It is best to see where the leak is in relation to the vehicle in order to determine which part is directly above it. Park your Jetta for a few days over a clean piece of cardboard to protect your driveway. Once you determine the location of the leak, you can either take your hand to find the source or do a visual inspection. Replace any gasket or seal in the area of the leak.
Remember to change your oil as directed by your Jetta owner’s manual. If you see signs of excessive oil use, prompt action may prevent it from becoming an expensive fix.