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Three Ways to Deal With a Leaking Oil Pan Bolt or Stripped Threads

Eddie spent 35 years in the automotive business with Honda. He is an ASE Certified Master Technician and has bruised knuckles to prove it.

Every now and then, you will find a mechanic who thinks the oil drain bolt should be tightened with an impact gun. An oil pan is made from either stamped steel or aluminum, and either metal can be damaged if the oil drain bolt is over-tightened or cross-threaded. Stripping the threads in the pan can cause the oil to leak out around the bolt.

It's unfortunate when a customer comes in for a simple oil change and ends up walking out of the dealership with a bill for over $200. Usually a customer will never even know the oil pan or its bolt are damaged until the next visit to the garage, because if the mechanic who caused the problem tells you about it it makes him look like a bad mechanic.

Here are three options for dealing with a leaking oil drain bolt and damaged oil-pan threads.

Temporary rubber drain bolt

Temporary rubber drain bolt

Option 1: Use a Rubber Plug as a Temporary Repair

If you are in a tight spot and you don't have time to repair the threads in the oil pan, you could install an rubber drain plug for the oil pan. The rubber plug is used as a temporary fix, and it's not meant to be a permanent fix. There are several different styles; you just need to choose the correct one for your application. Once the rubber plug is installed, be sure to tug on it and push it to make sure it is installed correctly. Run the engine until it reaches normal operating temperature—that is, until the engine cooling fan cycles twice—and check for leaks.

Keep reading: options 2 and 3 give you peace of mind and they are permanent.

Option 2: Repairing the Oil Pan Threads With a Helicoil

Using a helicoil is one option for repairing threads. The helicoil is a hardened steel thread insert that comes in many different sizes and thread pitch. Repair with a helicoil is strong and permanent. I have used helicoils to repair head bolts without regret.

Option 3: Repairing the Oil Pan Threads With a TIME-SERT

The third and best option for repairing oil pan drain bolt threads is to use a drain bolt repair kit made by TIME-SERT. The kit comes with everything you need to produce a professional repair that will last for the life of the car—as long as nobody screws it up again.

A Time-Sert insert is similar to the helicoil, but is specially designed to repair damaged oil pans. The kit also comes with new oil drain bolts and sealing washers. This is a plus, and there is no need to try to match up the thread pitch or find the right diameter bolt to fit the pan after the repair.

How to Install the TIME-SERT Threads

Replacing Missing Threads on an Aluminum Oil Pan

If you are repairing aluminum oil pan drain bolt threads, no problem, TIME-SERT works extremely well during this application and the repair looks like it came from the factory. I have had to make at least 50 repairs on oil pans during my automotive career, and Time-Sert has been the best oil pan drain bolt repair kit on the market that I have used. The TIME-SERT kit is a bit expensive, but it doesn't compare to the cost of replacing the oil pan—or the cost of replacing the complete engine because you lost all the engine oil.

The cost of replacing an aluminum oil pan can easily exceed $500 for parts and labor. You need to remove the sub-frame on some vehicles to remove the oil pan and that alone can get costly. Using a Time-Sert repair kit will take about 30 minutes from start to finish with professional results.

If you have any questions leave them in the comment box below, and I will answer them as soon as possible. Thanks for stopping by.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can the Time-Settings be installed into the oil pan of a 2006 Odyssey easily?

Answer: Yes, you just need to make sure the tap goes in straight.

Question: Would TIME SERT work on a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport?

Answer: It will work on all aluminum oil pans. If the oil pan is steel, it's worth a shot. The also sell oil pan drain bolt replacement plugs that work pretty good.

Comments

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 09, 2020:

Hi Tony,

The Helicoil may not have been installed straight and is a little off-center causing the drain bolt to not sit flush. I recommend you try using a nylon or plastic washer between the drain bolt and the pan. Let me know if this helps.

Tony on August 06, 2020:

Had a stripped thread on the sump hellicoiled but it seems to be leaking

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on June 27, 2020:

You're welcome, Gary. Sometimes we need to improvise and the information you shared could definitely help someone in a pinch :)

Gary on June 25, 2020:

Thanks for your reply Eddie,

Was just having a nosey around and found this conversation....thought I would post my experience as some people simply don't have the cash for a major fix and if your careful most people can home do this.

Thanks again

Gary

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on June 23, 2020:

Hi Gary,

There are a lot of fixes, some temporary and others are permanent, it really boils down to if you want to deal with the same issue in the near future or if you don't want to deal with it for the remaining years you own the car lol. Thanks for taking the time to share your repair, I'm sure someone with this problem will find the information and give it a shot :)

Gary on June 23, 2020:

..further to my last post another similar fix we did on a Navara was a tapered bolt same method as previous post but this bolt had an attachment drain nut on the bolt end. Ensure sump hole is clean, thinly smear liquid metal on the new bolt thread screw in until tight ( don't over do it ) this main bolt is now fixed in place. This leaves the attached drain nut for future drains.

Gary

Gary on June 23, 2020:

Hi,

Very easy way to fix a leaking drain plug due to stripped thread is to screw a tapered bolt in with the smallest diameter being the same as the original and similar thread. Screw until tight, don't over do it.

Gary

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 03, 2020:

Hi Andrea,

Yes, you can drill and install a new plug if that is an option for your mechanic but if you plan on keeping the car and your mechanic says the only option is to remove the pan then I recommend you replace the pan so you won't have this problem again. Let me know if this helps, thanks.

Andrea McMillen on January 02, 2020:

The oil pan plug on my 2000 Toyota LandCruiser was stripped over 10 years ago. It was drilled out and a Helicoil possibly used to repair it. When I went to get oil changed today I was told the plug is just spinning and isn’t coming out; the pan is not leaking. Can the plug be drilled out and a TimeSert then be used to repair it? Only other option may be to remove the pan and attempt to remove the plug from the inside. If that’s the only option I might as well replace the lower pan since much of repair cost is extensive time/labor. I religiously change the oil ever 5000 miles so going a little longer till I find a viable solution is fine; my mechanic is also investigating.

Advice please.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 15, 2019:

Hi Linda,

Not wear and tear, abuse more likely. Yes, the Time-sert will work on any vehicle if you can find a mechanic willing to install it, it's like it's voodoo to mechanics.

Linda on December 10, 2019:

Would the time Sert threads work on a 2010 Honda Accord? The threads came out when I was having my oil change They said it was wear and tear that caused that to happen Want to charge me 600!!

Chalin Anton on October 18, 2019:

I have a 2014 Volvo XC90. This week the low oil light came one - I still had 1500 miles until I was due for an oil change. I took it to a Jiffy Lube near where I was instead of waiting until I was near my usual place. They said the threads were stripped, and that caused a leak. They put in a new plug, but said I should get my usual place to replace the whole oil pan. My usual place says no because the Jiffy Lube may have done the damage. So, do I need to replace the whole oil pan? It's around $1000.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on October 17, 2019:

Hi Peter,

You can actually buy expandable rubber plugs for a temporary fix that work well, but it's temporary.

Peter Camodew on October 16, 2019:

What about using plumbers tape combined with threadlocker blue? Could that work as a cheaper but still good option?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on September 17, 2019:

Good info Steve but these links may not get posted because of HubPages guidelines but we'll see.

RICHARD L RAKOW on September 11, 2019:

I have a 2002 PT cruiser 2.4L. The pan drain plug leaks and it appears someone used an oversized bolt and it is leaking. My shop is telling me that even a double oversized plug is to small for the hole. Now what?

steve b on September 10, 2019:

Eddie thanks for the quick reply, looks like a M12 x 1.50 x 16mm bolt is the match.

posting a few links that others may find useful:

https://www.pelicanparts.com/catalog/SuperCat/0160...

http://www.timesert.com/html/oilpan.pdf

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003SER3PA/ref=aag_m_pw_...

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on September 09, 2019:

Hi Steve,

You'll need to measure the original drain bolt to match it up or call the dealer and ask the parts department to give you the dimensions. The Time-Sert kit will have a drill bit, inserts, thread tap, and drain bolts. During the process, you will literally drill out the old threads and tap new treads to accept the insert. Let me know if this helps or if you have more questions.

steve b on September 09, 2019:

I have a 2000 bmw 323i and I need to repair the oil pan drain plug, its not clear to me which time-sert kit I should buy, what size, thread pitch, etc...? Can you provide a little guidance ?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 21, 2019:

Hi Deborah,

I recommend a second opinion :)

Deborah on August 18, 2019:

Hi .. I had a small leak in my sump oil pan .. guy at garage said it the threads inside the pan and not the threads on the new bolt bit I bought.. how could he tell it is inside just by looking at it .. anyway he just sealed it .. can the seal be taken of and can it be sealed again when I get my service/oil change .. I think he's taking the micky .. because a new one is £370 etc

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 29, 2019:

Hi Ej,

If the oil drain bolt was never over tightened or cross threaded, the drain bolt would never wear out. Your problem is most likely man-made and if you have your oil changed at the same shop consistently, they should fix your issue at no cost in my opinion.

Ej on May 29, 2019:

The is the question can the oil pan screw wear out on it’s own because Honda telling me because the car is old 2009 with all the oil changes that can happen I told him Honda mechanics mess up my car

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 15, 2019:

Hi Eleanor,

If you have always brought to the same dealer and you have all records, most likely one of their mechanics made the mistake of cross threading or over tightening the drain bolt so be sure to let the dealer know your maintenance history, they just might own up to their mistake. Keep me posted, thanks.

Eleanor on April 15, 2019:

Took my Lexus RX 350 for servicing to the dealer where I bought it and have had it regularly maintained and got the 'stripped bolt' story and an estimate for replacing the oil pan that is over $1K and will waste a full day of my time. I am going to talk to a local mechanic about the replacements you suggest as well as having a chat with the dealer. Thanks for the great advice. I'll keep you posted.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on February 07, 2019:

Hi Teresa,

I had the same thing happened to a friend of mine and I told him to present the repair orders for all his oil changes that were done there and argue the point that they were the only mechanics that worked on his car and that one of their mechanics was the cause of the damage. The shop ended installing a new oil pan at no charge.

I recommend you do the same and don't let them tell you that it's normal wear and tear, this is usually caused by either over tightening or cross threading the oil drain bolt. Keep me posted on what happens.

Teresa on February 07, 2019:

I have a Honda Accord that has been leaking since my last oil change . I went for scheduled oil change today and was informed I have a temporary plug

How could this have happened when they only service my car? And I am the only ever owner??? What should I do?

Frank on August 20, 2017:

Can you use this on a steel oil pan? That is what I have on my Lexus.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 10, 2017:

Hi Sabrina,

The first thing to do is find your receipt for the last oil change, plus they should have it in their records, but just let them know what NTB recommended, if you can get it in writing, it would be even better. Let me know if you have more questions, and keep me posted on what they say, thanks.

Sabrina on July 06, 2017:

Just found out when I took my car in for an oil change that the last place who did my oil change put in a temp plug without telling me. It has been draining oil. NTB would not change my oil and said to take it back to the place who changed my oil last. What should I say to them and how do I get them to pay for whatever I need to be done to correct this problem?

Hector Gonzalez on May 28, 2017:

Hi, I brought my 2007 Honda Accord to Jiffy Lube for an oil change years ago and then returned to another Jiffy Lube location for my following oil change and they refused to work on it because it had been sealed with silicone. They advised I take it back to the previous location, so I did but I was told that another location would fix the problem. Thus, I ended up at a third Jiffy Lube and they replaced the drain plug and they said all was fixed. When it came time for the following oil change, I brought it back to the same JL that "fixed" the problem. They said the drain plug that was put on was too small so they went ahead and rethreaded the oil pan. Now, all was really fixed supposedly, so when the next oil change came I decided to go to a closer JL and they said there is a small leak and they won't touch it because their records show a disclaimer that it had been rethreaded. So now I'm back at the location where the "repairs" were made. What should I demand from them? What do you recommend?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 03, 2017:

Hi Mark,

No, you don't have to remove the pan, and the debris is minimal and can be flushed out by spraying brake clean in the oil pan and rinse it out. Let me know if you have more questions.

Mark on May 02, 2017:

Can I do this without removing the oil pan? What about debris?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 19, 2017:

Hi Chuck,

If you call an auto parts store, they should be able to give you that spec.

Chuck on March 18, 2017:

Which Time-Sert metric thread repair kit would I need to repair a 2009 Mitsubishi Galant oil pan

Robert C on March 07, 2017:

Have you heard of Eco Plug and do you recommend it?

Katlin on January 30, 2017:

Thank you for this very helpful.

Happened to me in my Chevy Cruze. $600 to replace the oil pan. Way better solution

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 04, 2013:

Sure Mit, glad I could help :) If you have any question about installation, I'll be right here :)

Mit1 on April 04, 2013:

Appreciate it! Thank you so much!

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 02, 2013:

Hi Mit,

You would need the M14 x 1.50 metric, let me know if you have any other questions or if I can help in any other way, thanks.

Mit1 on April 02, 2013:

Which TIME-SERT Metric Thread Repair Kit would i need to

repair 2001 Mitsubitshi Montero sport oil pan?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 03, 2012:

We see a lot of mechanics over tighten drain bolts, they are either in a hurry or they will use an impact gun, cross thread the drain bolt or just stretch the treads beyond repair. The best way to re install the drain bolt is by hand, and then tighten it a 1/4 turn to crush the aluminum washer. Thanks for taking the time to comment natures47friends, I really appreciate it.

natures47friend from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand. on January 02, 2012:

I never knew anyone would be silly enough to over tighten an oil drain plug unless they were a first timer or a kid learning. Great hub...up and interesting.

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