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How to Easily Repair an Oil Pan Drain Plug

Updated on March 26, 2016

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 possibly 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?

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 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 created a bit of a mess wherever he parked the car.

The Self Threading Metal Oil Pan Drain Plug

Source

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.

The Solution!

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.

J-B Weld, Cold Weld Epoxy
J-B Weld, Cold Weld Epoxy | Source

The Process

  1. Drain just about every drop of oil from the car. This can take awhile.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Mix the JB Weld. Squeeze equal parts of the steel and hardener onto a paper plate and mix thoroughly
  5. Remove the center part of the plug and set aside.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Piggyback Oil Drain Plug Secured In Place With J-B Weld
Piggyback Oil Drain Plug Secured In Place With J-B Weld | Source

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-Seizeto 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

Update

The oil leak has not returned as of 04/3/2015!

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    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 2 months ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      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 :-)

    • profile image

      Dan 2 months ago

      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.

      Thank you.

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 2 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      so nice of you to let me know it was helpful:) Thanks, Sandi

    • profile image

      Ricky 2 years ago

      Thanks for the write up! You save my life!

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 3 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      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.

      Sandi

    • profile image

      the parts man 3 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      Glen 4 years ago

      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!

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 4 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      Isn't that the truth!! Thanks for stopping by Frank.

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 5 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      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 profile image

      mythicalstorm273 5 years ago

      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!

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 5 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      They seem to automatically see $$$ signs. Sounds like your problem has been fixed for much cheaper!! Thanks for stopping by:)

    • profile image

      shartracy 5 years ago

      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.

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 5 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      Glad you found one, angie and hope you are able to fix the leak!!

    • profile image

      angie 5 years ago

      thanks y'all! finally found one this am after many calls locally!

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 5 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      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 profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Most auto parts stores have them.

    • profile image

      angie 5 years ago

      where can i find the piggyback plug? having a hell of a time locating one

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 5 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      Either way she pursued her degree and that's what it takes in today's world:)

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      A clarification: my wife is an RN-BSN.

      The "RNMSN" I spoke of is a HubPages member:

      http://hubpages.com/@rnmsn

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 5 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      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 profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      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.

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 5 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      I know nothing about cars, WillStarr. Thanks so much for your knowledge. Cars can be such a pain, right?

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      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.

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 5 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      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 profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      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!

    • pedrn44 profile image
      Author

      pedrn44 5 years ago from New Berlin Wisconsin

      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 profile image

      POWERS1205 5 years ago

      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.

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