Most vehicles will eventually develop oil leaks. If you're in the habit of buying new cars and replacing them before the warranty runs out, you may never experience these problems, but leaks are a routine part of life for many drivers. While losing a few drops of oil isn't catastrophic, leaving even minor oil leaks unaddressed can put your vehicle at risk for severe damage.

Below you will find three relatively minor oil leaks common on many different makes and models. While treating these problems as emergencies is unnecessary, you should consider scheduling a repair as soon as time and money allow.

1. Drain Plug Leaks 

Drain plug leaks are fairly common and typically not a major issue. The oil drain plug may develop a leak if it's not tightened securely or if you don't replace the crush washer when changing your oil. In nearly all cases, it's easy to address these leaks by replacing the washer and checking the tightness of the drain plug (although it's important never to overtighten).

However, you may need professional help if you have a persistent leak from this location. Drain plug leaks that don't go away may be signs of damage to the threads in the drain pan or an indication of some other problem preventing the plug from sealing. The fix may still be minor, but it's important to rely on an expert to avoid potentially causing more damage to your drain pan.

2. Spin-On Oil Filter Leaks

Spin-on oil filters are another common leak source that is (usually) relatively easy to fix. As with drain plug leaks, oil filters typically leak due to mistakes made during oil changes. Overtightening or under-tightening your filter may create a leak. It's also possible to damage the gasket on the filter during installation, preventing it from sealing properly.

Unfortunately, when oil filters leak, the leaks tend to be more substantial than with drain plugs. The position of the oil filter also increases the likelihood of oil splattering around the engine bay. As with a drain plug leak, you can try (carefully) retightening your oil filter if you're relatively handy. If not, or if the filter continues to leak, it's time to seek professional help.

3. Valve Cover Gasket Leaks

Valve cover gaskets are responsible for some of the smallest leaks with the scariest symptoms. Your valve cover seals in the top of your engine, and its gasket helps to keep oil from splattering everywhere while your car runs. Valve cover gaskets can become plasticized over time, allowing relatively small amounts of oil to seep out.

These leaks are typically so minor that you may not even notice any oil loss. However, the position of the valve cover gasket means that oil often drips directly onto the hot exhaust headers, creating a substantial amount of smoke and an acrid burning smell. While the loss of oil is usually not an issue, it's important to fix these leaks quickly to avoid the potential fire hazard.

For more info, contact a company like Gray's Tire & Auto.