1998 Volkswagon Beetle Spewing Oil

So my sister’s 1998 Volkswagon Beetle is spewing oil, but only when it is running.

Any ideas as to what could be the cause and the fix?

Can she drive it to the mechanic about 2 miles away?

It could be as simple as a loose oil filter that needs tightening. Is is safe to drive 2 miles? That depends on how much oil it’s losing. Check the dipstick and add the recommended type of oil 1/2 quart at a time until you reach the “full” mark. With the engine cold, try to locate the oil filter and try to tighten it by hand in case it’s loose.

If it’s been spraying oil for a while and the red “oil” light hasn’t come on yet, it’ll probably be OK to drive 2 miles to the mechanic after refilling with oil. But if the red “oil” light comes on, pull over immediately and turn the engine off. The engine can seize and be ruined almost immediately after the “oil” light comes on.

It just started this morning… the oil is almost gone… basically what your saying is as long as the low oil pressure light/low oil light doesnt come on its fine, but as soon as the oil light is on shut it off right away?

I think I would have the car towed to the mechanic. The tow is relatively inexpensive compared to what a new engine would cost. I had a colleague that said he had a tapping noise in his engine and asked me if it would be safe to drive it to the garage. I told him that I would have it towed, because I had no idea what kind of tapping noise the engine was making. My colleague didn’t take my advice and decided to drive it to the repair shop. The engine blew on the way.

I’m asking because i told her not to drive it ANYWHERE, but my mom is telling her it will be fine to drive that far, and i’m looking for a second opinion… thanks

You are exactly correct. Don’t drive it. Since the oil s almost gone, there is a large leak. You may not be able to get off the road and shut it down in time if the oil light comes on as you drive to the mechanic.

Well, definitely don’t drive it if the oil is almost gone. At least refill it with oil first.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s better to be safe and have it towed for $75, versus a possible hit of $2000+ to replace a seized engine if it runs out of oil.

Yes, if the “oil” light comes on, pull over immediately and turn the engine off, and get a tow.

What do you say to putting 5 quarts (or 4 i cant remember what it takes) of oil in and driving it there? (oil only leaks when engine is running) Is there a possibility that a line has came off and none of that oil will even make it to the engine before leaking?

Yes, fill it with oil, start the engine, and then (briefly) look for the leak. If it’s “pouring” out, shut off the engine and call for a tow. If it’s only “dripping”, you should be able to drive the 2 miles/10 minutes to the mechanic. But take 5 more quarts of oil with you in the car, to add in case the red “oil” light comes on.

okay, thanks I’ll relay that information on to her

Is it a gas engine, or a diesel engine?

What was the last work done to the car?
If it was an oil and filter change, then I bet that the people who worked on the car screwed up the oil filter o-ring.


Is the oil spewing out the fill hole? Maybe the cap is missing…

Given that the penalty for running out of oil is multi-thousands of dollars in repairs, get it towed.

No idea… She is there hours away and her boyfriend is helping her get it there… The shop they talked to thinks it could be some seal that goes bad on these cars

Even more reason to have it towed - if you can’t see it, no way to really know what’s going on.

It is very evident from posts on this forum that attempting to drive the last few miles home or to the shop are often the last miles the car ever sees. I would guess that the cost of an engine would be greater than the value of the car. But much less than the cost of a wrecker.