Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Oil Leak after Oil Change at local Car Wash


I have a Mitsubishi Mirage 2000. A month and a half ago I paid for an oil change at a local car wash. About a month ago while driving my oil lamp turned on, at which time I immediately pulled over and checked the oil. I had to add 2 quarts to bring it to the “almost full” level. The engine has now a ringing noise that appears for a while and then dissapears. Could this mean that the engine has been damaged. Also I looked underneath the car and drops of oil seem to be leaking from the oil pan. I cleaned them up to see if they would come back and by the next morning they re-apeared. Now I have to to add a quart of oil every week. What should I do??? I know that if I go to the car wash they will deny it. Can you reccomend a mechanic where I could go and get a professional opinion. I live in the south park slope area.


The “drive-through” oil change places are notorious for messing things up through simple carelessness and sometime just ignorance. One of the most common screw-ups in cross-threading of the oil pan drain plug. My first guess is that this is what happened at the “car wash,” and that now the plug isn’t seated properly and is leaking oil.

Unfortunately the engine may have seen some damage from running it so low on oil and you probably will have some trouble getting them to address it b/c the first thing they’ll tell you is that you should be checking the oil every 500 miles or so (which you should). You might have success getting them to fix the drain plug - but why trust them now?

In any case, I would find a good local mechanic (can’t help w/ specifics - ask around w/ people you know, try the mechanics files on this website), explain it to them and ask them to check out the pan and engine condition. If you can verify the “story” go back to the “car wash” with your receipt and all - I’m sure you won’t be the first - and see what you can do.

I have a hard time accepting that 2 quarts low will turn on the light or damage the engine.

I agree, but the OP said the oil pressure warning light came on, and that’s not a good sign.

I have to ask: Oil change at a car wash?

Oil always gravitates to the lowest spot on the engine to drip from. The most likely places that oil would leak from after an oil change would be the drain plug or the oil filter.

The drain plug could be cross threaded (worse case), loose or simply missing the gasket. The oil filter could be the wrong one, double gasketed or screwed on dry or screwed on so tight that the gasket ripped. Could also be a defective seal in the oil filter itself.

Its also remotely possible that something else sprung a leak and the oil change was just a coincidence. They should have the first crack at checking though, its only fair. They may see something very simple and fix it themselves, they may find the true cause of the leak that is not their fault or they may find the true cause is their fault , but may or may not decide to do the right thing, but they should get first shot at finding the problem.

If you’ve got a noise that wasn’t there before this happened, I think you’ve got permanent engine damage, especially if you couldn’t shut the engine down INSTANTLY when you saw the light.

Thanks for the help guys.
I estimate that about a quart and a half of oil was in the engine when the oil light came on. And I was literally 100 ft away from a gas station, which was very lucky considering that it was in Brooklyn.
So do you guys agree that the OIl/Car Wash place should get the first look at the problem???

You can have them look at it, but whatever you do, don’t allow them to attempt to fix the problem. Their expertise is lacking, and you want a REAL mechanic to fix the cross-threaded drain plug or whatever the problem turns out to be.