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The oil pan gasket seals the oil pan to the bottom of your engine. It prevents an oil leak as the oil circulates from the oil pan to the engine and back, and is subject to enormous pressure, heat, and vibrations.
An oil pan gasket leak could result in insufficient oil levels in the pan, causing your engine to overheat.
Since the oil pan gasket is located at the bottom of the engine, it’s advisable to have it checked during every oil change.
Having said that, here are five signs of a faulty oil pan gasket:
Oil stains beneath your car are clear indicators of an oil leak. You can assess the severity of the leak based on the size of the stains. The larger the stain, the more serious the leak.
These stains can indicate many things, including a leaking oil pan gasket or another engine gasket leak. If left undiagnosed, you could suffer severe engine damage and huge repair costs.
The smell of burning oil is another possible sign of a leaking oil pan gasket.
This happens when motor oil leaks through the oil pan gasket onto the hot exhaust pipe, releasing an unpleasant burning oil smell.
In some cases, oil leaks on the exhaust pipe might produce blueish smoke.
So, if you notice either of these signs while driving, have your engine checked at a repair shop. While the oil leak could be due to a faulty oil pan gasket, a burning smell could signify other vehicle issues.
A severe leak in your oil pan gasket can cause engine oil to smear onto your vehicle’s undercarriage.
As your vehicle moves and the oil circulates, an oil leak from a faulty oil pan gasket may travel rearwards due to blowback, creating the smear.
So, if a quick check of your vehicle’s underside reveals such stains, you could have a faulty oil pan gasket.
The engine oil acts as a coolant, keeping the metal part of engine components well lubricated.
However, a faulty oil pan gasket could reduce oil flow, causing friction between the engine’s parts and increasing the engine temperature.
Your vehicle’s temperature gauge will indicate engine overheating in a situation like this. If you see this, you should stop your car, let it cool down, and get your mechanic to take a look.
A severely compromised oil pan gasket can result in insufficient oil. This can critically damage your engine as the oil pump doesn’t have enough oil to pump to the rest of your vehicle (a leaking motor mount or other serious problems could also cause this).
Fortunately, most modern vehicles have an oil level sensor installed to detect low motor oil levels. So, if your car has a severe oil leak, you’ll see the low oil light illuminated.
If the oil level sensor triggers the low oil light on your dashboard, you should get your vehicle checked for an oil leak and perhaps replace the old gasket.
Note: You can use the dipstick to check if you have a low oil level.
The estimated cost for an oil pan gasket replacement ranges between $11-$440.
This breaks down to:
The cost of labor and parts can increase depending on your vehicle model, manufacturer, and location.
Driving with a faulty oil pan gasket can quickly escalate from a mildly-serious issue to a complete engine failure if left undetected.
Therefore, if you notice an abnormal change in oil level or any of the other symptoms mentioned earlier, you should get a new gasket and an engine service done at the earliest.
Here are the answers to some oil pan gasket FAQs:
The oil pan gasket is a critical component of the engine’s lubrication system that sits between the oil pan (or sump) and the engine block at the bottom of the crankcase.
The gasket prevents an oil leak as the oil pump pushes oil to the rest of the engine’s parts. So, if you notice oil dripping, you may have a faulty engine oil pan gasket.
Let’s look at some common oil pan gasket types:
Let’s look at two common reasons for an oil pan gasket failure:
Replacing an oil pan gasket can be a relatively messy affair and often requires an oil change and a new oil filter. So, if you’re uncertain, you should get a professional mechanic to deal with it.
That said, let’s look at the steps involved in replacing an oil pan gasket:
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