I am a registered nurse currently studying Reiki. I am interested in energy healing, health, and nutrition.
Stripped Oil Pan Drain Plug Threads
Have you ever gone for an oil change and been told the threads on your oil pan drain have been stripped? The very next thing you are told is you need a new one. This is quite an expensive repair and one that you can avoid.
After a few hit and miss attempts at solving the problem, it seems that the leak has been stopped! I say this with fingers, toes, and all that can be crossed, of course, because only time will tell if the solution is a permanent fix. The self-threading piggyback oil pan drain plug, cold welded in place is the answer! Read on to learn more.
Does a Rubber Oil Pan Drain Plug Work?
Sadly, the answer to this question is: Not very well.
My son has a '99 Dodge Intrepid. When he got his oil changed, they said the plug was rusted so badly that they had to forcefully remove it. They replaced it with a rubber oil pan drain plug and advised that the only real solution would be a replacement of the oil pan to the tune of $650.00! Very costly, especially for a college student.
There was a small but steady leak with this rubber plug. He drove to the Wisconsin Dells and left his car parked for two days. When he was ready to return to Madison, he saw a huge puddle of oil had leaked under his car. The rubber plug practically fell out with just a touch!
After a quick trip to the store for 5 quarts of oil and a funnel and a final "tightening" of the rubber plug (a rubber plug does not have threads, so it is basically shoved into the oil pan drain) he was on his way, filled with fear that the plug would simply fall out, drain all the oil, ruin the engine and leave him stranded on the side of the road.
Until we could come up with another solution, he had to tighten the rubber plug on a daily basis, check the oil, and perhaps add some more if the level was low. This was stressful, to say the least, and it created a bit of a mess wherever he parked the car.
The Self Threading Metal Oil Pan Drain Plug
An auto mechanic friend suggested a Self Threading Oil Pan Drain Plug. We discovered that the Dodge Intrepid does not have a standard oil pan plug size. Even knowing the year, make, and model does not clear that up.
So, we bought a few different sizes of the self tapping metal plugs. It took a little experimentation to find the right size. We finally ended up inserting an Over-sized (OS)14.0 mm/1.5 in. self tapping oil pan drain plug. The leak slowed down considerably but did not stop completely. The nagging thought of installing a new one was looming.
It was then suggested we get a Self Threading Tapered Piggyback Oil Pan Drain Plug and some JB Weld to cold weld it in place. This turned out to be a great idea, an easy process and hopefully a final solution to the problem.
- Drain just about every drop of oil from the car. This can take awhile.
- Jack the car up in the front, so it tilts away from where the oil pan drain is located. Any remaining oil will pool in the back of the pan, well away from the oil pan drain
- Clean the drain plug opening thoroughly with brake cleaner or acetone and let the car sit in that position until the oil pan drain opening is perfectly dry
- Mix the JB Weld. Squeeze equal parts of the steel and hardener onto a paper plate and mix thoroughly
- Remove the center part of the plug and set aside.
- Apply JB Weld to the threads of the oil pan drain plug, both sides of the attached gasket, and the drain plug opening in the oil pan.
- Screw the oil pan drain plug into place. We used an artist's paintbrush to apply the JB Weld to the plug, gasket, and oil pan drain opening and we applied some JB Weld around the plug once it was inserted, for added security.
Important Notes and Afterward
- It is very important to thread the oil pan drain plug straight in. Make sure it is not on an angle before you start threading it in. Tighten it with a wrench.
- Let the JB Weld dry overnight (approx.15 hours)
- Apply Anti-Seize to the center part (the Piggyback) and thread it into place. The Anti-Seize will keep the metal from rusting or locking so tightly that it can't be removed for an oil change.
- When you go for an oil change, make sure they are familiar with the oil drain plug you have inserted. They need to know that only the Piggyback Center Bolt is removed for an oil change. If they attempt to remove the whole plug you will, with certainty, need a new oil pan!
- Anti-Seize should be applied to the Piggyback Center Bolt after every oil change before it is threaded back into the drain plug
The oil leak has not returned as of 04/3/2015!
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: where do you find the piggy-back drain plug?
Answer: I believe we went to AutoZone. They can be found at most auto parts stores, or they can order it for you.
Question: Did you get any metal shavings in the oil pan using this method?
Answer: No I did not!
Question: How much would a mechanic (not a dealer) charge for fixing this, because I know to replace the full pan would be too expensive?
Answer: We did it by ourselves so I'm not sure. Cheaper than replacing the pan though!!
Question: In the solution described in this article, what is "the center part of the drain plug"? I have never seen a drain plug that wasn't just a bolt which did not have parts.
Answer: The center part is the piggy back that is removed for an oil change. It does look like a bolt.
Question: What size for the Self Threading Tapered Piggyback Oil Pan Drain Plug, 14.0 mm/1.5 in.?
Answer: It was an oversized piggyback plug.
© 2011 Sandi
Howard on February 29, 2020:
I went to get my oil changed on my 2013 Volkswagen Jetta 2.04 cylinder they informed me that the oil plug would just go round and round. I guess the last person to change my oil tighten it too tight these Volkswagen have a nut welded on the inside of the oil pan in the oil plug screws into it evidently when they tightene it too tight they broke the well loose now I just spins round and round. So now they tell me they need to drop the pan. And see if they can repair it may be it can be re-welded if not we'll have to buy a new pan. Anybody got any suggestions $40 oil changes turned into a nightmare estimates abou $350 with parts and labor.
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on February 27, 2017:
Hi Dan and thanks for stopping by. It was an oversized tapered piggy back plug. No leak for the whole time my son had his car he sold it about a year ago. Good luck to you :-)
Dan on February 27, 2017:
When you installed the piggyback plug, did you use an oversized one? Or is it alright to use the same size as the original bolt and let the JBWeld fill the gaps?
I am interested in using an oil drain valve instead of a piggyback plug, but I am having issues finding them oversized and was curious if I could use a standard size oil drain valve instead.
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on October 23, 2014:
so nice of you to let me know it was helpful:) Thanks, Sandi
Ricky on August 30, 2014:
Thanks for the write up! You save my life!
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on February 03, 2014:
Hi Gary, That rubber plug was temporary an did not work. Sounds like what you suggested is just what we did and the self threading piggy back plug has been in place for about three years now and has worked like a charm! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
the parts man on February 02, 2014:
You probably will see leaks with this rubber plug idea, after a period of time. If you have the ability, it is better to tap the hole to a larger size (IE 12mm to 14mm, etc). You can easily buy standard drain plugs, so just move up one or two sizes. The ability level is medium and easy if you are a mechanic. To start just drain oil completely then put a small oily rag or cotton ball or sponge inside the hole with a needle nose pliers (to catch loose aluminum chips. Next find a reamer or even a drill bit that is slightly larger than the original threads, then hand turn to take out worn threads so you create a relatively solid hole. Finally locate a specific thread tap of the correct size (I.E. 14mm x 1.50) for the new plug and then hand cut new threads into the cleaned hole. This is the best way to do, so figure out if it is for you. There are some self taping drain plugs available for some sizes, that may be easier if you don't have access to a tap, etc. You can see what plugs are available at this site... oildrainplug. com Hope this helps... Gary
Glen on October 09, 2012:
Stumbled upon this while looking for cheaper/less involved solution for my Subaru. I couldn't find a piggyback plug in the size but was able to find a very nice valve online that fit the bill (Hint: not the ones found at the chain auto parts stores). Been driving with it for a week and so far, so good. Thanks!
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on July 18, 2012:
Isn't that the truth!! Thanks for stopping by Frank.
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on May 15, 2012:
Thanks, mythicalstorm:)I understand why you would leave it to your Dad and I agree the simplest solutions are not easy to find. As of toady all is well and no leak!! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a nice comment.
mythicalstorm273 on May 15, 2012:
Well I would never do this to my car because I would leave it up to my dad or something :-) but it is still very useful. I hate how it seems as if the easiest solutions sometimes can be the hardest to find! Great hub and very informational!
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on February 01, 2012:
They seem to automatically see $$$ signs. Sounds like your problem has been fixed for much cheaper!! Thanks for stopping by:)
shartracy on January 31, 2012:
I beleave will I had my oil change and they told me strip an oil pan plug on my car they said hey next time I have it change I would have to have a new oil pan . they put in a over size plug this time it works fine. why do I have to by a new oil pan when that works.
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on December 28, 2011:
Glad you found one, angie and hope you are able to fix the leak!!
angie on December 28, 2011:
thanks y'all! finally found one this am after many calls locally!
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on December 27, 2011:
hello, angie. Will is right. I do believe they are at most auto parts store. Found mine at Napa. They can also be purchased on line. Hope you find one!
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on December 27, 2011:
Most auto parts stores have them.
angie on December 27, 2011:
where can i find the piggyback plug? having a hell of a time locating one
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on September 24, 2011:
Either way she pursued her degree and that's what it takes in today's world:)
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on September 23, 2011:
A clarification: my wife is an RN-BSN.
The "RNMSN" I spoke of is a HubPages member:
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on September 23, 2011:
Thank you so much Will and kudos to your wife for furthering her education to MSN!There is a lot to know and that is why I am thankful for specialized caregivers who make excellent references for those disease processes I am not familiar with.
So far so good with the oil leak. It saved him a lot of money...and eliminated one mechanic from my list for sure.
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on September 22, 2011:
My wife is an RN, like you, and RNMSN, and I am in awe of all of you. How can you all know so much about taking care of people?
But yes, I do know that it's almost impossible to strip an oil pan plug by taking it out. If they told you that, they are almost certainly lying. They simply used too much force putting it back in, and stripped it.
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on September 22, 2011:
I know nothing about cars, WillStarr. Thanks so much for your knowledge. Cars can be such a pain, right?
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on September 22, 2011:
They always claim it stripped when they took it out, something that's nearly impossible.
BTW, rusted bolts either come loose or break. They don't strip.
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on September 22, 2011:
I was suspicious Will Starr and did call the place to see what happened. Deny, deny, deny, right? I'm sure you are correct. Your initial comment about the 'OIL' pan made me smile. Thank you for that:) and thanks for stopping by.
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on September 21, 2011:
I really doubt the original oil change claim that the drain plug was rusted, because those threads are constantly covered in oil (it's an 'OIL' pan!)
I've had two different fast lube idiots strip the plug on my trucks, not when they took it off, but when they tried to put it back in, and that's almost certainly what happened to your son's car. They don't like to use torque wrenches!
They almost certainly lied to you, and owe you a new oil pan, installed!
Sandi (author) from Greenfield, Wisconsin on September 21, 2011:
Thanks POWERS1205. From what I understand the plug rusting (or whatever made it impossible to get out)on an Intrepid is pretty common but once it is removed the threads are stripped. It was quite a dilemma but this repair seems to have worked out well so far. Thank God for people that know about car repair (like you:)!
POWERS1205 on September 21, 2011:
That's pretty neat! I haven't seen one of those set-ups yet. In our shop, we have a kit that allows you to oversize the hole slightly. Then a special tool is used to tap the hole and then install a new drain plug that is oversized. It works great as long as the original threads are part of the pan wall. Some vehicles have a nut welded on the inside of the pan. Those would definitely be good candidates for that repair you wrote about.