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Major oil leak... help!

2 days ago my 2015 equinox was making a rattling noise. I checked the oil immediately and there was literally no oil on the dipstick. It has been about 2,000 miles since last oil change, which was done at a quick lube place. The check engine light was not on, oil pressure light not on. Not over heating. Filled up the oil, started it and let it run for a few minutes, the rattle was gone and all seemed ok. Drove the car yesterday a few times, total of probably 50 miles, no funny noises. This morning it was cold, -3, so I started the car and let it warm up for about 5 minutes. Drove my daughter to school, about 15 miles. When I was backing out of the school parking spot, rattle noise starts up again. I put it drive and lightly accelerate, rattle gets much louder. I limped it 2 blocks to the gas station and turned it off. There’s a trail of oil splatter all the way up the street and the car is dumping oil on the ground. I put another quart in and start it again. When I start it, it starts pouring oil out again. Still no low oil pressure light or check engine light. Nothing is “smoking” although it does smell a bit like burnt oil. My parking spot at home shows no obvious sign of an oil leak. The oil puddle underneath it now seems to be closer to the drivers side and closer to the back of the engine. Looking under the hood doesn’t show any oil splatter, just the bottom side.

anyone have any ideas? The fact that my low oil pressure light has not come on is what really confuses me! I’ll be getting it towed this afternoon to a place where I can start looking for the source of the leak. No loud bangs or anything. Even when I started it back up after putting another quart in, it didn’t sound too bad, just a light rattle.

*I’m not a mechanic. I’ve got a basic knowledge and I can manage my way through most repairs with the help of Google and YouTube. Please keep that in mind when answering. Thank you

It needs to be towed to a shop before you destroy the engine. Only adding a quart with loud noises won’t do it. Once at the shop they can put it on a lift and look to see where the oil is coming from. Could be a missing oil plug, loose of bad filter, and you have blown an oil seal.


I’d suggest that maybe the oil filter gasket failed. Possibly because they left one stuck to the engine and now there are 2 gaskets. That is a recipe for a leak. The drain plug may also not be properly gasketed or stripped or loose. A look underneath in both areas should expose the problem. But do’t discount other areas as well because this IS and Equinox and we seem to get a LOT of those owners posting here with problems.

We normally strongly recommend against going to a quickie lube place, ever, because it raises your changes 10 fold of a problem occurring.


I only put a little oil in and ran it for about 15 seconds to try to see where it was coming from. I shut it down and got a ride home from a relative. Later they went and put it on a trailer to take to the family farm. The oil seems to be coming from in between the transmission and engine, so we are thinking rear main seal. It will be taken by trailer to a chevy dealer when I can get an appointment.
If it was rear main seal failure, are there any specific causes we should be looking for? Or something that tends to fail along with the seal? Thanks for the replies

You are out of warranty so an independent shop will be less expensive .

In my experience a rear main seal doesn’t usually leak this badly. Especially modern one-piece seals. Don’t assume it is a rear main seal, look around. Agree with @VOLVO_V70 no need to take it to a dealer unless you have a trustworthy one that doesn’t charge too much.

Checked oil pan plug and it was tight. My brother checked the filter and he said it wasn’t coming from there. I have an extended warranty and most things that it could be in this case are covered, so taking it to a dealership is really the best thing to do. First 15 minutes of diagnosis are free, and they should be able to find the leak in 15 minutes. Then they can deal with the warranty company.

Does your oil pressure light come on if you just turn on the key?

If the leak isn’t coming from the oil drain plug or the oil filter, other likely places an oil leak could sprout

  • rear crankshaft seal
  • front crankshaft seal
  • camshaft seals
  • valve cover
  • oil-filler cap
  • oil pan gasket or hole in oil pan

If any of the first three make sure the shop checks the pcv system, as if that fails it can cause major engine seal leaks. Good advice above to discontinue driving the vehicle or even starting the engine until a shop has a chance to take a look w/the vehicle on its lift. Best of luck. You could get lucky, maybe just the valve covers are leaking. My guess however is the oil pan has a hole in it, likely from accidentally running over a rock or something.

If what you just described was accurate you should steel yourself for what the next shop is about to tell you. None of what you described is good in any way shape or form… The last bit of info with the noise and subsequent large leak is also “not good” as far as an engine and lubrication damage goes.

I hope you called the lube place as soon as you saw no oil on the dipstick…my God is the drain plug even in existence or did they forget that item?

Like I mentioned, be prepared for some bad news and also documentation is going to become important here when you start to go after liability… None of this is good. Did I mention that before?

The vehicle went 2000 miles after the oil change so a call might be a waste of time. I also got the impression that the person had not checked the oil level on a regular basis.

4cyl motor or V6 motor? just curious

He said he checked the drain plug and filter and they were tight. Looked like the oil was coming from between the engine and trans.

Turning the key on illuminates all dash lights

It’s a 4 cyl

No, I did not check the oil as regularly as I should have. I relied too much on the “engine oil life” display (which still showed 40%). I usually check it once it gets under 50% oil life but hadn’t gotten to it.

Yes, oil pan plug and filter were both fine.

Saying “that’s not good” multiple times is not helpful. I know it’s not good, that’s why I shut it down right away and it’s sitting on a trailer 20 miles away. I am looking for “that happened to me once and it was the [insert part/problem here]”.

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Aside from the fact that the vehicle went 2000 miles after the oil change, this leak occurs ONLY when the engine is running. This is likely a rear main seal, camshaft seal, or possibly head gasket leaking oil, which will only leak while the engine is running. No “quick lube” place would have touched any of these things.

Yes, the leak is only when running. I park in the exact same spot every night at home and have not noticed any oil on the ground there.

LOL… No quick lube place would have touched these things? Indeed you are correct, but oil starvation definitely WOULD have touched these things. Take you’re eyes off the symptom and begin looking for the cause my friend.

Just for your information, your oil life monitor has nothing to do with how much oil is in your engine, it is not one of the things it monitors. Your oil light only come on when your oil is no longer being pumped by the oil pump because there is not enough oil to pump. There is usually about 2 quarts between the the dipstick and no oil at all, but you would think the oil light should be on if the engine is rattling.

I have wondered about the oil light myself. I wonder if the dash light illuminates when the key is turned to the run position before starting during the “bulb test”. That would be interesting to know.

Well the rattling could be lifter noise which could occur with being a couple quarts low but still not starved for oil at the pump for bearings. There are also other places that can push out huge quantities of oil in no time, such as the oil pressure sensor. Depending on where it is on this engine, but I’ve had a couple of them fail like this and even daily checking of the oil would still not mitigate the rapid oil loss. When they go, they go with no warning. So answer is the same though, it’s gotta get put on a lift for further inspection. No one on the internet can tell what the issue is since it could be several and just has to be inspected.

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