Oil Coming Out of Exhaust And 5 Ways to Troubleshoot

Fuel system issues comprise nearly 70,000 common car problems reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation for cars manufactured from 1996 to 2019, making it the 7th most common car problem area. One day you might find yourself confused about finding oil coming out of exhaust

Fearing this is a big deal, you jump right at checking your car’s exhaust pipe and find nothing. So what is the problem?

Don’t panic. The issue is quite common for used cars, and there are ways to troubleshoot this issue of oil leak in an exhaust pipe, even easily fixing it at home without a professional examination. 

Oil leakage from exhaust pipes poses possible problems somewhere else. Follow these 5 clearly explained steps to detect how oil can get into the exhaust system. 

How to Troubleshoot the Problem of Oil Coming Out of Exhaust

Don’t panic when you find oil coming out of exhaust. There are several ways to diagnose this problem and reach for a solution. And in this article, we will even give you 7 solutions! Let’s discuss some common ways to pinpoint the troubling component.

Examine The End of Exhaust Pipe

oil in tailpipe
Black soot can form an oil-like liquid. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Sometimes, the leaked oil coming from exhaust might not be oil at all! The exhaust pipe can usually be the main source of this problem. If you are a lazy car owner and haven’t cleaned it for years, besides our maintenance tips, we suggest checking the outside of the pipe. 

Since it usually collects soot and the layer could be pretty thick. Mixed with that soot, the condensation coming out of the car exhaust could form an oil-like liquid.

But worry not, drivers can fix this issue very easily. All you need to do is wear a glove and run a finger on the inside of the pipe to see if there’s soot.

Congested PVC Valve

oil in exhaust but no smoke
Driver should also notice the PVC Valve (Photo: porkercon/Youtube)

As we all know, internal engine gasses travel to the combustion chambers through the PVC valve. When it’s clogged, the growing amount of gas volume creates pressure on the engine. This will force the oil to pass several seals and into the exhaust pipe.

The warning signs for oil coming out of exhaust problems are bluish smoke and oil-smeared spark plugs. To fix this, car owners can replace the valve. This is an easy solution to address the problem.

Ruptured Head Gaskets

oil dripping out of exhaust
Head gaskets can also take responsibility for the oil coming out of exhaust. (Photo: Mechanic Base)

The head gasket can also take responsibility for the oil coming out of the exhaust. Being a part of the exhaust system, these act as a seal between the engine heads and the block. 

A blown gasket lets one or more fluids get past the seals and mixed into the exhaust stream. So if you find oil coming out of exhaust, this could be a place to take a look.

The symptoms are an overheated engine, reduced engine performance, and excessive fuel burning. You have to change the defective gasket to bring the system back to normal.

Faulty Valve Guides

why is oil coming out of my exhaust
The oil coming out of exhaust could be from exhausted gas (Photo: Mechanic)

The valve guides control of the gas flowing into and out of the engine. They have seals around their shafts that may wear out with time. 

In this case, the engine oil leaks and runs into the exhaust gasses. You will detect bluish smoke coming out of the tailpipe if this problem occurs.

Worn Valve Seals

The valve seals are one of the most common causes of oil dripping out of exhaust.

As the name indicates, valve seals are seals that seal the valves and prevent oil leakage into the cylinder. These seals are often composed of plastic. And as time passes, they begin to deteriorate, and the engine’s oil consumption increases.

When the valve seals fail, you will notice that there is less and less oil in the oil pan. This is a strong indicator that your engine is malfunctioning and needs to be checked.

The valve seals are not difficult to change, but this job must be done properly, and professional equipment is required. Furthermore, everything must be carefully realigned to avoid future leaks and engine misfires if the valves are not correctly set.

When you replace the valve seals, the problem with oil leaking out of the exhaust will be resolved, and your engine should be back in working condition. 

Watch Out The Smoke Colors

The colors of the tailpipe smoke are good signs to detect the type of oil coming out of the exhaust problem.

Black smoke refers to unburnt fuel, which means that the engine fails to burn one or two combustion catalysts. Gray or bluish smoke means the leaking of engine oil into the internal combustion chamber.

On the other hand, white smoke requires a thorough examination of the engine. The problem could lie in the combustion chamber or because of faulty piston oil rings.

oil in exhaust pip
Oil coming out of exhaust can also be noticed by the color of smoke. (Photo: Legoheads/Youtube)

Oil coming out of exhaust pipes is a fairly common issue for cars with a long usage history. 

As a vehicle’s mileage increases, more worn parts can be found, thus frequent maintenance or checking is vital to ensure safe and hassle-free driving.This is also a factor worthy of consideration when deciding to buy used cars.

Check the O-rings

Bad O-Rings, or oil rings as they are commonly called, can cause oil flowing out of exhaust troubles on your car and cause it to spill oil while you drive.

O-Rings are specific material rings that are put on your engine’s pistons. Their job is to ensure that no oil leaks into the combustion chamber from the oil galley. If oil leaks through them, the engine in your automobile will develop problems and begin to burn oil.

The oil-burning issue is one of the most frequent in internal combustion engines. This is because most of these oil rings are losing their capacity to hold the oil. The oil then passes through the oil rings and enters the combustion process.

And if you have an oil leaking out of the exhaust problem, it signifies that parts of your car’s oil rings are totally closed or damaged. These cracked oil rings do not contain the oil, and it passes through them.

Your engine is continually leaking oil and is not lubricated since the oil is burning. This oil loss will also cause engine problems. So, if your engine is burning oil, be sure to fill off the oil on a regular basis and prevent running your engine dry.

Broken oil rings can also scar your cylinders and even damage other engine components. They’ll very certainly end up in the oil pan.

oil dripping on exhaust pipe
The oil-burning issue is one of the most frequent in internal combustion engines. (Photo: RepairSmith)


For the repair, if you’re not sure what’s causing the problem, get the vehicle evaluated by a certified technician. They will be able to identify the issue and advise you on the best course of action. They may even be able to remedy the problem themselves in some circumstances.

However, if you’re familiar with working on your automobile and know what’s causing the problem, you might be able to fix it yourself. It is always best to consult a professional before making any repairs yourself.

What Can You Do To Avoid Oil Coming Out of Exhaust?

After fixing the issue for your car, there are several things you can keep in mind to avoid oily water coming out of exhaust again. 

Maybe these are not completely the most effective methods to keep your car out of trouble for the rest of its service life, take this as reference as they are all helpful to your car’s overall system at any moment. 

  • Check the oil level in the engine on a regular basis and keep it at the proper level.
  • Regular engine care, such as tune-ups and oil changes, keeps it operating smoothly and prevents build-up that may cause difficulties.
  • Overfilling your oil pan can cause pressure to build up, allowing oil to leak past seals and gaskets.
  • Have your automobile serviced on a regular basis by a competent mechanic who can examine all of the seals and gaskets in your engine for wear or damage.
  • If you find any leaks, have them fixed right away so that oil has no chance to enter the exhaust system.
how to fix oil leaking into exhaust
If you find any leaks, have them fixed right away so that oil does not enter the exhaust system. (Photo: DB Motors)

FAQs About Oil Coming Out of Exhaust

1. How much does it cost to fix the issue of oil coming out of exhaust?

Overall, the cost to fix car oil leaking from the exhaust pipe will depend on the severity of the problem and the value of your car. If you merely need to replace the valve cover gasket, the cost of repairing an oil leak may range from $200 to $600. 

Depending on the type and model of your automobile, replacing the complete valve cover unit, including the gasket, can cost up to $1,000 or more.

2. Can oil leak from an exhaust catch fire?

Yes, oil escaping from the exhaust system has the potential to catch fire. The heated exhaust pipes have the potential to ignite the oil, resulting in a deadly fire.

However, this is uncommon and typically occurs only when the oil leak is substantial. If you find any oil leaks in your car, you should have them repaired as quickly as possible to avoid a fire.

3. Is it safe to drive when oil coming out of exhaust?

No, you should not drive your car if the exhaust is leaking oil. If you see oil flowing from your car’s exhaust, you should get it diagnosed by a trained mechanic as soon as possible.

Driving with an oil leak can cause substantial engine damage, and may even result in engine failure. It may additionally raise engine noise, reduce fuel economy, and cause knocking noises. Oil leaks, if left unchecked, may ultimately lead the engine to seize.

Furthermore, oil seeping out of the exhaust might be a sign of a dangerous situation that could endanger you and other drivers.

oil leaking from exhaust
Oil seeping out of the exhaust might be a sign of a dangerous situation. (Photo: Adept Ape)

For these reasons, it is recommended to be on the side of caution and have any indicators of an oil leak checked thoroughly by an expert.

4. What is the difference between engine oil leaks and oil coming from the exhaust?

When oil seeps from the engine into the surrounding areas, this is referred to as an engine oil leak. This can be caused by a number of things, such as a damaged gasket or a fractured exhaust manifold.

When oil spills from the engine into the exhaust system, it is referred to as oil coming out of the exhaust. A variety of things can contribute to this, including a hole in the exhaust pipe.

If left unchecked and repaired on time, both engine oil leaks and oil pouring from the exhaust can cause catastrophic harm. As a result, any leaks should be fixed as quickly as possible by a competent mechanic.


Are you ready to take care of your car more seriously with oil coming out of exhaust symptoms and enjoy its well-running state?

Check out our comprehensive guide on car maintenance with easy-to-understand step-by-step instructions and illustrative images to become familiar with your vehicles, inside and out, and gain confidence in taking good care of them at your own home.