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What Causes An Oil Pan Gasket Leak?

Maintenance Tips

Your car’s engine is a complex animal. It has dozens of components and it takes a long time to learn how each of them works. At the bottom section of the engine block, you will find a reservoir for motor oil covering the crankcase and bolted to the engine, it's called the oil pan. The oil pan gasket adheres to the oil pan at the underside of the engine block and stops the oil from spilling out as it travels from the engine to the pan and back.

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 Because oil flows constantly, all automobiles can experience oil leaks. Oil leaks often begin when the pan gasket is worn out. There are a few things you should know about oil pan gaskets.

What is a gasket?

Gaskets are basically sealants, placed between two surfaces, and attached by bolts. An oil pan gasket seals the space between the oil pan and the engine block. It stops oil leaks and generally ensures that the oily black stuff won't get where it shouldn't be. 

The sort of gasket that your car has will depend on of what the oil pan is comprised A pressed steel pan will have a formed rubber gasket and an aluminum pan will have a gasket made of liquid silicone. Whenever the engine is turned on, oil moves through oil ports and lubricates all of the components in the engine.

 The oil is contained in the oil pan which is connected to the block of the engine, the oil pan gasket is located between the two. The gasket makes a seal which allows heat in the engine to produce expansion and contraction. The gasket stops damage than an engine vibrating can cause by creating a cushion.

What is a gasket?

No matter where a gasket may sit inside of a car, it will be comprised of durable materials including steel or an aluminized seal with rubber coating. Because they are employed to prevent leaks and are often under a good deal of pressure, they have to be very strong.

Some gaskets oil pan gaskets are one-piece while others may come in multiple pieces that need to be assembled when you install them.

There are a few signs of a faulty oil pan gasket of which to be mindful. If you notice any of them, you should take your car to your mechanic right away.


There are Oil Puddles Under the Car

If you see puddles or drops of oil underneath your vehicle, there is a good chance that the oil pan gasket is worn out. The gasket is made of rubber and it is constantly exposed to extreme heat, so it will eventually deteriorate. The deterioration will cause leaks. If you do not take care of the problem,  the oil level will drop too low and will compromise the engine’s ability to function properly.

There is Smoke Coming Out of Your Engine

Any auto maintenance 101 class will tell you to check your oil levels on a regular basis. If your oil pan gasket is ready to be replaced, smoke may be coming out of the engine. This is because leaking oil has dribbled onto the exhaust manifold. If you ignore this, it may result in the oxygen sensors or other electrical components malfunctioning. other components of the engine and sensors in the car may get soaked with oil and stop functioning properly. Getting the gasket replaced when things first go awry will help you avoid additional costs.

Your Engine is Overheating

Both the coolants and the oil help the engine to stay cool. Oils in the engine are supposed to provide lubrication and reduce friction. If there were too much friction it would create an excess of heat that would damage the engine.

 If there is a leak in the oil pan, the oil level will drop severely and it will cause the engine to overheat. When the engine continually overheats. it will cause major damage to your car. Your repair bills will be sky-high and you may even end up having to replace the car.


The Oil Levels are Low

An oil leak in your car can be very subtle. Only a few drops may come out at a time and you simply won't notice it.  This is why it is so important to check your oil levels. If your oil level is low and you have recently replaced your oil, it is a good indicator that something is wrong.


 The Check Engine Light Comes On

If the check engine light or service engine soon light comes on there's a good chance you have an oil leak, and the gasket may need to be replaced. 

How much will repairs cost?

If your oil pan gasket is leaking and you need to replace it, it will cost you somewhere between $300 to $850.

You can expect to pay $110 to $150 for the gasket itself and the labor costs will be around $190 to $700. Some of the labor cost will depend on the difficulty of the job. There are certain makes and models of cars where it is more difficult to replace the oil pan gasket than others. 

There are some cases in which you might be able to apply a quick fix yourself. There are a few things you may want to try before taking your car to a mechanic.

Quick Fix for an Oil Pan Leak 

An engine oil drain plug threads into the oil pan. Whenever you change your oil, the plug is taken out and put back in. Because the plug is removed and replaced often, it may become the source of a leak.

You might be able to tighten the drain plug or install a new gasket behind it.

Oil Pan Gasket Leak Repair

You may be able to replace the oil pan gasket yourself. However, you should bear in mind that on some vehicles other components will have to be removed in order to get to the oil pan gasket. On some cars, the entire engine must be removed to get to the pan. Be sure to consult your owner's manual first so you know what you're getting yourself into.

There are some general guidelines that you can follow for replacing the pan.


1. Take Safety Precautions

Park your car on an even surface, set the parking brake, and put blocks on the back wheels. You should then raise and support the car with jack stands and jacks. As always you should disconnect the negative battery cable.

2. Drain the oil

Put a receptacle directly under the oil pan and drain the oil. It is very important to drain every drop if you are repairing an oil pan gasket leak.


3. Unbolt the Oil Pan From the Engine Block

Locate the bolts that attach the oil pan to the bottom of the engine block. 


It may be advisable to leave several bolts at one end of the pan in place until you are almost done. This will hold everything steady and help you avoid making a mess. 


4. Take Out the Oil Pan

If you have a hard time loosening it, tap on it lightly with a hammer or rubber mallet to get it off.


5. Take Out the Old Gasket

Take out the damaged gasket and scrape off the material from the engine. Use solvent to clean the mounting location. The area must be very clean so that the new gasket can form a solid seal.

6.Install the New Gasket and Oil Pan

Once you have cleaned everything, you will put in the new gasket and the oil pan. Simply place the gasket on top of the pan. Insert several of the bolts through the pan so that they hold the gasket in place.

You will then thread those bolts into the engine. When the pan is where it should be, you should thread the remaining bolts in. Use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts. Reinstall the drain plug and tighten it according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

7. Replenish Oil


Remove the jack stands and lower the car. Then refill the engine with the correct amount of new oil.

You are now ready to reconnect the negative battery cable, start your engine, and carefully check for leaks.


If you do decide to take your car to a mechanic, you will have a couple of options of where to take it.


Taking Your Car to an Auto Body Shop

Auto body shops are far and away the most popular way to get cars fixed in America. They cost less than going to the dealership and you can talk to the mechanics directly. Many chain auto body shops will offer special discounts for loyal customers.


Be sure to check the AAA website for a recommended mechanic in your area. Ask if your mechanic is certified in your particular brand of car and if they have references. Make sure to get an estimate in writing.


Taking Your Car to The Dealership

Although it is almost always a more expensive option, going to a dealership mechanic can have its advantages. All oil pan gaskets are different depending on the make and model of the car. Hence, it is helpful to have a mechanic who is certified in your make and model to do the repairs.


The dealership will also have the parts on hand so it won't take as long to get the repairs done. They can rent you a car so you won't have to go to an independent rental store to have a car to drive while you wait for the repair to be done.


Sometimes the car may be so old and damaged that it's just not worth fixing. If you need to get a new car, you will have several options for selling the old one. 


Trade-In Your Car

If you are going to purchase a new vehicle, the dealership will be authorized to give you a trade-in allowance for the old ride. Normally, they are likely to give you less money than your car is actually worth. 


In some cases, a dealership may give you what seems to be a good price for your junk car. If they do this, remember to read your paperwork carefully. Sometimes they will put the money that they gave you right back on to the final price of your new car.


Sell Your Car Online

When you Google, “sell my car online” many options will appear. These websites will charge you a monthly price to advertise your car online. You will have a lot of competition if you sell your car this way.


Once you do get a prospective buyer, you will have to make arrangements to show them the car. Most people who are in the market for junk cars are mechanics and may only be interested in individual parts of your car.


Selling your car online can be dangerous. Many criminals have found victims online using electronic billboards.

Sell Your Car to Us

Selling your car to us is easy. Simply fill out our online form Our form asks for your contact information. It also asks for the year, make, model, and VIN number of your car. We will also ask you to tell us your car's mileage.


Once we get your form, we will call you back and make you an offer. If you accept the offer, we will make an appointment to come to get your car. Our team member will, perform a brief inspection, pay you in cash, and tow the car away.

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