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4 Signs You Need An Engine Oil Pan Replacement
The engine oil pan is extremely sturdy. However, general wear and tear or accidental damage can give you a cracked oil pan, resulting in oil leakage. And since the engine oil pan is located at the bottom of the vehicle, it becomes tricky to check it for oil leaks.
Luckily, some telltale signs can help you spot the need for an engine oil pan replacement.
Let’s find out what they are:
1. Oil Spots Under Your Vehicle
Oil puddles under your vehicle could be a sign of leaking oil due to a cracked oil pan, seal, or gasket.
Oil leakage can result in friction between your engine components, causing severe engine damage.
So, if your vehicle is leaking oil, you should take it to an automotive repair shop and have your engine oil pan and the gasket checked out.
2. Sudden Drop Of Oil Level
A rapid drop in the oil level could be due to a faulty engine oil pan, oil pan gasket leak, or a leaking rear main seal.
When there’s an oil pan gasket leak, your vehicle will have insufficient oil, causing several serious problems, including increased engine temperatures, whirring sounds, and even a smoking engine.
Usually, if there’s an abnormal change in oil level, you’ll see the oil light illuminated on your dashboard. This can indicate the need for an engine oil pan or oil pan gasket replacement.
3. An Overheated Engine
An oil leak in the engine oil pan can result in an overheated engine, leading to severe engine damage and huge repair costs.
When your oil levels are extremely low, it prevents the metal part of your engine’s components from being properly lubricated. The metal part of these components then rubs against each other, causing excess heat in the engine.
Should you allow your engine to get too hot consistently, it can lead to catastrophic engine failure. So, if you’ve noticed your engine overheating recently, you should take your vehicle to the auto repair shop at the earliest.
4. Black Smoke Venting Out Of The Engine
A smoking engine is an extremely serious issue. The smell of burning oil and smoke usually occurs from an oil leak — even more if the escaped oil from a leaking oil pan gasket is deposited on the hot exhaust.
If you have a smoking engine or if you can smell burning oil, you should immediately stop driving and consult a mechanic.
How Much Does An Engine Oil Pan Replacement Cost?
The overall cost for an engine oil pan replacement ranges between $100 to $400. This varies based on your location, manufacturer, and vehicle model.
Depending on the severity of the damage, you may also have to replace the dipstick, drain plug, or windage tray, along with the engine oil pan, which can increase the repair costs. In some cases, you may also require an oil change, a new gasket, and an oil filter.
Moreover, the oil pan comes stashed in inaccessible locations in some vehicles, resulting in increased labor costs.
Therefore, to help avoid an unnecessarily high replacement cost, it’s always best to have your engine regularly serviced.
How Critical Is An Engine Oil Pan Replacement?
The key function of the engine oil pan is to store and pump oil to various engine parts to keep them cool and adequately lubricated.
So if you have insufficient oil or a leaking oil pan, the resulting lack of lubrication could severely damage your engine components. A faulty engine oil pan could also lead to a complete engine failure, resulting in substantial repair costs.
If you suspect you have oil pan issues, it’s best to get it checked out by a professional.
3 Engine Oil Pan Replacement FAQs
Here are the most common questions about an engine oil pan replacement:
1. What Is An Engine Oil Pan?
The engine oil pan or oil sump is a reservoir attached to the bottom of the vehicle. Apart from storing oil, the oil pan is the point from which motor oil circulates through the rest of the engine.
Here’s how it functions:
When you start your vehicle, the oil pump picks up oil from the oil pan with the help of a pickup inlet.
The oil pump then pumps oil throughout the engine, lubricating, cleaning, and cooling the engine’s parts.
Then, the oil circulates back into the engine oil pan through its dedicated channels.
The engine oil pan comprises five essential parts in keeping a smooth-running engine.
Here they are:
Dipstick: The dipstick extends into the oil pan and measures the oil level.
Drain Plug: The drain plug is located under the oil pan at the bottom of the engine. Its sole function is to allow you to drain out the old oil.
Oil pan gasket: The gasket acts as a protective layer between the oil pan and the crankcase. It’s a fluid-tight seal, preventing an oil leak.
Baffles: This part is more commonly found in sports vehicles than regular vehicles. Its primary purpose is to prevent an oil pan leak, even in high-speed situations.
Windage tray: The windage tray is a metal plate that forms a barrier between the crankshaft and the oil pan. It prevents the crankshaft from getting over-lubricated.
2. What Causes The Engine Oil Pan To Leak?
Here are the two common reasons for an engine oil pan leak:
Damage by impact: Since the engine oil pan is located at the bottom of your vehicle, it is prone to accidental damage while driving, resulting in an oil leak. These damages usually occur when you hit a rock or a pothole at a bad angle.
Worn out oil pan gasket: The oil pan gasket has a limited lifespan. Therefore, the gasket shrinks or loses elasticity over time or gets damaged. A leaky oil pan gasket will cause your oil levels to drop rapidly, potentially causing severe engine damage.
3. How To Execute An Engine Oil Pan Replacement?
Installing a new oil pan requires tools and experience. Moreover, replacing an old pan or a leaky oil pan gasket can be messy. So, if you feel uncertain, it’s best to consult a professional for the repairs.
If you opt to do it yourself, here are the steps to installing a new oil pan:
Start by undoing the oil drain plug, completely letting the old oil drain out.
Now, refer to the user manual and identify all the engine oil pan bolt locations on the motor mount (make sure you double-check the bolt count.)
After undoing the oil pan bolt on the motor mount, gently remove the old pan.
Now, thoroughly clean all the debris from the engine block surface. You may need to use a chisel, ensuring you don’t damage the engine block components.
Next, you’ll need to scrape off the debris and residual matter on the old oil gasket and then use a manufacturer-recommended new oil pan gasket or seal.
After fixing the new oil pan gasket, make sure you align the new engine oil pan correctly and tighten each bolt according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Finally, you’ll need to change the oil filter, pour new motor oil into the engine, and start the vehicle (ensuring no oil leaks).