Oil Pan Gasket Replacement

Leaking oil pan gasket (bottom of the graphic).
Leaking oil pan gasket (bottom of the graphic). | Source

An oil pan gasket replacement in many vehicle models is not a difficult repair. You can replace the gasket at home if you are willing to put a few hours of work on a Saturday morning, for example. This guide shows you the process and the key points you need to pay attention to.

You can expect to pay between $200.00 and $600.00 dollars in a repair shop—depending on your car make and model—for this repair. Using this guide, you'll spend anywhere from $30.00 to $60.00 dollars for a gasket and a few other items if needed.

And better to do it sooner than later. A damaged or worn-out oil pan gasket under your engine can lead to severe oil leaks, engine overheat and, sometimes, catastrophic failure if the oil level goes down significantly and you fail to notice.

Invest a few hours of your time and follow the systematic procedure presented here. It'll save your engine from self-destruction and your wallet from costly repairs.

Table of Content

Preparing to Remove the Oil Pan

Removing the Oil Pan

Tips and Recommendations

Some Important Notes on Gaskets and Seals

Oil Pan Gasket Installation

Sometimes it's necessary to remove part of the exhaust system to gain access to the engine oil pan.
Sometimes it's necessary to remove part of the exhaust system to gain access to the engine oil pan. | Source

Preparing to Remove the Oil Pan

As you prepare to remove the oil pan, make a note of those components you'll need to remove to gain access to the pan.

NOTE: In some models, replacing an oil pan gasket is a more involved task. For example, you may need to lift the engine off its mounts using an engine hoist to gain access to the oil pan. When you don't know how to access the oil pan in your car, the repair manual for you specific vehicle make and model is an excellent source of information. The manual shows you the location of every pan bolt and those components you may need to remove for easier access. You can buy an inexpensive service manual for your vehicle online or at most auto parts stores.

1. After lifting the front end of your car on a pair of jack stands or ramps, block the rear wheels and set the emergency brakes.

2. Place a large drain pan under the engine oil pan and unscrew the drain plug from the bottom of the pan.

3. Let the oil drain completely into the pan.

4. While under the car, locate the components and parts, if any, that will prevent you from dropping the pan or reaching the pan mounting bolts. The most common items you may need to deal with: Cross members, exhaust pipe components, or support brackets.

Engine block with the oil pan removed.
Engine block with the oil pan removed. | Source

Removing the Oil Pan

After gaining full access to the oil pan, you're ready to remove the pan.

1. When ready, loosen all the bolts located around the pan flange. Sometimes you need to use a swivel socket, a long ratchet extension and a ratchet tool to better reach some bolts.

2. Then finish removing all the bolts and pull the pan off the bottom of the engine block with your hands, if necessary. If the pan seems stuck, tap it lightly with a rubber mallet to break the oil pan seal.

* When the pan doesn't come loose, though, make sure that you've removed all the mounting bolts and no other component is holding the pan in place. Lightly tap the pan using a rubber mallet to free the pan.

* If that doesn't work, use a gasket cutter to cut the seal by driving the cutter with the rubber mallet between the flange and the engine block in several places around the pan. Don't use a screwdriver to pry the pan free or you may damage the pan or engine mating surface.

3. Once you've removed the pan, check the bottom surface of the pan for metal shavings. You can expect to find a few shavings, but a large amount may indicate excessive wear of some engine components. Consult a repair shop, if necessary.

4. Thoroughly clean the engine and oil pan mating surfaces. You need to scrap off old gasket material or silicon. A gasket scraper speeds up the task with no damage to the surface.

5. After removing any traces of gasket or silicon, use solvent to clean the mating surfaces, and wash the pan using cold soak cleaner, if necessary. For grease and gum difficult to remove, use carburetor cleaner or engine degreaser and a wire brush to clean the pan.

6. Then check the pan for damage like cracks, and double check the pan flange for bends. You can do this by placing the pan upside down on a flat surface. A glass surface works great for this.

* Carefully look around the pan where the flange and glass meet, specially around the bolt holes.

* You should see no gaps. Otherwise, straighten out the flange using light hammer blows on the crooked sections.

Tips and Recommendations

When replacing an engine oil pan gasket:
Don't damage gasket mating surfaces
Thoroughly clean gasket mating surfaces
Use sealer or adhesives only when needed
Use a crisscross pattern when tightening bolts
Torque bolts to specs to prevent damage and leaks

Some Important Notes on Gaskets and Seals

  • If you are installing an engine oil pan gasket (as opposed to a rubber seal or compound), you might need to use a special adhesive to hold the gasket in place during installation. If so, apply a light coat of adhesive or RTV to hold the gasket in place. Otherwise, when tightening the mounting bolt, the adhesive will squeeze out into the oil and clog narrow oil passages.
  • If no adhesive is recommended, you can use a bit of regular grease for this task as well. Another solution is to use small pieces of string (or thin strands from electrical wire) to hold the gasket in place. Then remove the string once you have a few mounting bolts started.
  • Also, keep in mind that a component at the bottom of the engine may create a junction with another engine component along some part of the oil pan flange, like a rear main bearing cap, timing cover or oil pump. Under this configuration, you'll need to apply RTV sealer where those sections meet to keep the area from leaking after installing the gasket. Consult your service manual, if necessary.
  • Some engine pans use rubber seals on each end along with side gaskets. You'll need to apply sealer where the rubber seal and gasket meet. Carefully follow the instructions that come with this kit to prevent oil leaks as well.
  • If you are going to use a sealer as a form-in-place gasket for your oil pan, place a continuous, 1/8-inch (3mm) thick bead all the way around the pan to create a good seal says James E. Duffy in "Modern Automotive Technology.”

Getting ready to install the new oil pan gasket.
Getting ready to install the new oil pan gasket. | Source

Oil Pan Gasket Installation

After inspecting and thoroughly cleaning the gasket mating surfaces:

1. Check your vehicle service manual and the instructions that come with your new pan gasket (when possible, use a name-brand gasket) to see what type of seal they recommend, if any.

2. Next, carefully position the pan under the engine block. Don't smear the sealer or let the gasket move. Take extra precautions during this step, especially if you have little space to work with.

3. With the pan in place, start the pan bolts by hand and tighten them lightly following a crisscross pattern.

NOTE: Some manufacturers recommend applying a bit of sealer to the bolts' threads before installation. Check your service manual, if necessary.

4. Finally, tighten the bolts with a torque wrench, following a crisscross pattern, to the torque listed in your vehicle service manual.

  • Don't skip the torque wrench! It doesn't take much force to overtighten oil-pan bolts, damage the pan flange or gasket and end up with oil leaks.

  • Also, torque the drain plug to specifications using the same wrench to prevent future oil leaks.

5. With the oil pan installed, replace all the components you had to remove to gain access to the oil pan.

6. Lower the engine and tighten the motor mounts, if necessary.

7. Lower the vehicle and refill the engine with the proper amount and recommended engine oil for your car.

8. Check for oil leaks after pouring in the oil and during the next few days to make sure you have done a successful repair job replacing the oil pan gasket.

Check the next video so you have a visual reference on replacing an oil pan gasket.

Of course, on some vehicle models it's just impossible to remove the engine oil pan without the proper equipment. Watch the next video.

An oil pan gasket replacement job is not exactly a simple task. But in many vehicle models, this task is within the reach of the average car owner. Still, you need to follow the safety precautions and proper procedure outlined in this guide to do a successful job and help you save some money in repairs. Your engine needs the proper amount of oil to function properly and prevent damage to internal components. Replace a failed oil pan gasket as soon as possible to prevent an expensive repair later.

How Much Do You Know of Oil Pan Gaskets?

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