As simple of a part it may seem, the oil pan is a crucial component of the engine's lubrication system. The oil pan is attached to the engine's bottom and houses the oil that will be cycled through the engine's parts to keep them lubricated and reduce friction, preventing damage and ensuring that everything runs smoothly. If the engine oil pan is damaged, your vehicle will lose oil quickly. If you run out of oil, the engine will be deprived of the lubricant it requires, and you'll soon be dealing with a severely damaged engine. So you must watch out for signs of a cracked oil pan to fix the issue before you will need to do more expensive repairs.
What is an Engine Oil Pan?
Before we discuss the signs of a cracked oil pan let us first get to know what an engine pan is. The engine oil pan is a huge reservoir attached to the engine via bolts. It's located just beneath the engine and may hold all of your car's motor oil. Motor oil is a fluid that should be replenished on a regular basis. It acts as a lubricant for the engine, preventing excessive friction from causing damage and overheating.
The oil pan's primary function is to hold the engine's oil. However, your engine oil pan has a few other components. It has a gasket that serves as a seal between the engine and the pan, preventing oil leakage. There's an oil drain cap that you remove temporarily when it's time to drain the old oil and replace it with new. There's also an oil pick-up that links to the oil pump, allowing the oil to circulate through the engine and perform its lubrication function.
An oil pan is a tough piece of equipment that won't break down or die on you. There's really just one method for your engine oil pan to crack, and that's if your automobile has been in an accident. Minor to serious leaks might occur as one of the signs of a cracked oil pan. This can happen when you run over road debris, large boulders while off-roading, or even accidently hit an animal while driving. Other causes we will discuss later. Any of these can damage the oil pan, causing the seal or oil drain stopper to fail.
How does your oil pan get cracked?
Let's talk about what might cause an oil pan to crack or leak before we get into the indicators of a broken oil pan. One common cause of an oil pan leak is a worn-out gasket, while another is collision damage. Damage to the oil drain stopper and/or its threads is a third reason for the oil pan to leak.
Damage from Impact
It's possible that the pan will leak if it sustains impact damage from an accident or road debris. This is far more likely if the oil pan is cast aluminum rather than pressed steel. The damage in this situation will almost certainly result in a hole or split in the oil pan.
Oil Pan Gasket that is worn or damaged
The oil pan gasket will often simply wear down and leak along the sides of the oil pan over time. When critiquing an oil pan, keep in mind that oil can leak from other places, collect around the gasket, and give the impression that the pan is leaking. The oil pan bolts can be torqued (gently) to prevent an oil pan leak on pans with cork gaskets.
The oil pan gasket is located between the engine block and the oil pan. The gasket acts as a seal between the two parts, preventing oil from escaping. Even if you buy the OEM gasket from the retailer, some oil pan gaskets are silicone and come as an RTV in a tube or cartridge of sealant. While oil can leak for a variety of reasons, it's possible that a damaged oil pan gasket is to blame. It leaks because of its rubber composition, which breaks down with age and repeated heat exposure.
What happens if you have a cracked oil pan?
A pan bolted beneath the engine's crankshaft catches oil that has been circulated through the engine. A pump moves oil from the pan to lubricate engine parts and avoid overheating when the engine is running. If the pan cracks and oil leaks, the engine may seize, requiring expensive repairs. Here's are the signs of a cracked oil pan:
Excessive oil consumption
Excessive oil consumption is one of the first indicators of a damaged oil pan. Between oil changes, no car should use more than a quart of oil. Any level higher than that indicates the presence of a problem. Oil can seep into combustion chambers in older engines due to damaged valve stems, piston rings, guides, and seals. A broken pan, on the other hand, could ooze oil.
Check the bottom of your engine
The engine's bottom should be quite clean, with a little dirt and dust from the road visible. If the engine's underside is soaked with oil, though, the pan is likely cracked. Furthermore, the spilling oil may not yet have reached the surface. Even if there isn't an oil stain on the pavement, make sure the engine bottom isn't coated in oil.
Examine the area around the oil drain cap for leaks. During an oil change, the oil drain plug holds the oil in place and releases it when it is removed. The oil drain cap will deteriorate over time and may begin to leak. A crush type gasket is also included in the drain plug, which can fail over time or if it isn't changed. It may take some time to notice a leak if the plug is torn out during an oil change. The only method to fix the stripped threads produced by the oil drain cap is to replace the pan. Leaving the threads stripped will just cause more problems in the future.
Examine the oil pan for any evident damage.
Visible damage is another obvious clue that the oil pan on a car needs to be changed. When passing over a low-lying section of the road, the oil pan can be damaged or dented. This impact damage can manifest itself as a quick leak or as a trickle that gradually worsens. If you find that the oil pan has been damaged, you should have it changed before it starts to leak. The cost of having it replaced will be justified given the potential for damage. YourMechanic makes oil pan repairs simple by coming to your home or workplace to diagnose and repair problems.
Inspect the surface underneath from where you park
Oil will eventually drip from a damaged oil pan onto the ground. Because oil naturally flows to the lowest point, which is the pan, this is the case. As a result, if you leave your automobile parked in the same spot for an extended period of time, you'll quickly notice a leak. If the fluid is light brown to black in color, it's engine oil, not transmission, brake, or power-steering fluid, and definitely not coolant. To look for a leak, get underneath your car and thoroughly inspect the pan using a flashlight.
Smoke coming from the engine
If your oil pan fractures and oil drips into the exhaust manifold, smoke will billow from the engine compartment. If you ignore this problem for too long, the seeping oil could harm the oxygen sensors or cause the gaskets to fail.
Warning Lights On
The oil light on your dashboard is a caution that you should not disregard. If the oil level or pressure is lower than normal, it will notify you. While this does not always mean there is a leak, it does necessitate additional investigation.
Engine oil is critical for maintaining the engine's temperature. It keeps the pistons lubricated and ensures that they slide smoothly within their housing. The pistons will grind against other elements of the engine without sufficient lubrication, producing a lot of heat and perhaps causing your engine to lock up and stall. The engine may overheat if there is an oil leak and the oil level falls too low.
Burning Oil Scent
If oil is leaking onto the hot metal parts of your engine, you'll likely smell burning oil and hear a sizzling, sizzle when it comes into contact with the hot engine. You may have an oil leak if you notice a foul odor that is thick and bitter, as well as the sound of bacon cooking beneath the hood.
How do you fix a cracked oil pan?
Fortunately, repairing a cracked oil pan is a simple procedure. Do this as soon as you see signs of a cracked oil pan and confirm that it was in fact a cracked oil pan. Drain the oil from the pan first. Second, thoroughly clean the pan with soap or degreaser, then roughen the surface with coarse sandpaper.
Third, carefully follow the instructions on the package when applying a two-part epoxy. To establish a durable bond, mix the two epoxy adhesive tubes in an even one-to-one ratio before applying it to the fracture. It can take up to 24 hours for the curing process to be completed. Epoxy can tolerate high heat and intense pressure when properly applied, resulting in a long-lasting solution.
Fourth, fill the engine with oil once you've determined that the bond has set. After that, check the dipstick to ensure the oil level is adequate before starting the automobile. Finally, check underneath the car to ensure the leak is no longer present. Fresh fluid should not be present on the ground beneath the vehicle.
It could be easier to repair the pan by removing it and then reattaching it once the epoxy has dried. A little oil pan crack can be repaired quickly, but ignoring it can result in the need for a new pan or, worse, engine damage.
Can You Use Flex Seal to stop oil pan leak?
The leak will not be stopped by the Flex seal. Use the stop leak repair in a bottle instead of the stop leak fix in a bottle because they don't work. The leak may be stopped for a while, but it will be back and worse. The rubber will swell if oil stops leaking.
How serious is an oil pan leak?
Any leaks like an oil pan leak can get on rubber hoses or seals and cause them to degrade prematurely if you leave it unchecked. Oil leaks can leave unsightly stains on your driveway and pose an environmental risk. Worst of all, engine oil leaks might cause a fire in your engine compartment, as well as catastrophic engine failure at the worst possible time (not that there is such a thing as a good time for catastrophic engine failure). As a result, repairing oil leaks should be your first concern as soon as you observe signs of a cracked oil pan.
Cars can burn oil due to engine oil leaks. Keep a tight eye on your oil dipstick to check for engine oil leaks. You're losing oil if the level drops over time. Check to see if there is any blue smoke coming from the tailpipe while driving. Blue smoke indicates that oil is leaking into the engine. Take a sniff after a drive to check for burning oil. This could indicate that oil is spilling onto hot engine components. Finally, look under the engine compartment for oil marks or a puddle, especially if it's been sitting overnight.
Although your car can be driven without the oil pan, it is not recommended. Not only would you be stressing your vehicle's engine, but you'd also be compromising its aerodynamics. In the belly tray, where the oil pan is located, there are air inlets. It also aids in keeping your car stable at high speeds. It also keeps the oil in the pan cool, preventing the engine from blowing up. So have that cracked oil pan fixed or replaced as soon as you see signs of a cracked oil pan.