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Why Does A BMW Oil Pan Gasket Replacement Cost So Much? 

Why Does A BMW Oil Pan Gasket Replacement Cost So Much

Every car with a combustion engine requires motor oil to keep it running smoothly and at the right temperature. Oil lubricates the parts and keeps it from overheating and without it you'll have some serious problems to deal with. The oil itself circulates through your engine and collects in an oil pan. The oil pan maintains its seal to prevent oil from leaking out onto the ground with the help of an oil pan gasket. This is a very simple device, like any gasket, but without it you'd be suffering serious oil leaks which could potentially lead to bigger problems like an overheating engine. When you need your oil pan gasket replaced in your BMW, you're looking at a cost of around $750 to $1000 or more.

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The gasket itself is a fairly cheap item. For a BMW it's slightly more expensive than it would be for a more standard automobile like a Toyota Camry or a Volkswagen Passat. If you head to AutoZone the cost for an oil pan gasket for a BMW ranges from about $10 up to $60. For BMW 328i the gasket prices start at $40. If you're looking to replace the gasket in an older model BMW however, maybe a BMW M3 which is no longer in production by BMW, and the price skyrockets to $876.


The average cost of replacing an oil pan gasket in any vehicle tends to hover around $375. The notable price difference between this average cost and the average cost of doing it for a BMW is very much related to the fact that BMW is a premium auto marque. As a result, not only are the parts for a BMW more expensive in general but the cost of performing even routine repairs on a BMW will be higher than it will be for the more run-of-the-mill vehicles.


The fact is, as a premium automobile, BMW commands a higher price across the board. From the sticker price when you need first buy it, to accessories and repairs it's just a standard fact that you'll have to accept. You're going to pay more for a BMW no matter what. But of course, you get the look and performance of a BMW as well, so for many drivers this is worth it.


If you take a look at prices right now, you'll see that a 2020 BMW X6 cost $64,000 brand new. Compare that to something like a Kia Rio which starts at $16,675. The price difference is pretty dramatic, but also, it's obvious where the money is going. Nobody expects a BMW to be an economy car. That's not why you want to buy one in the first place. Much like buying a Mercedes, a Corvette, or even a Ferrari, you expect the look, the performance, and even the prestige that comes with buying a BMW.


What Is an Oil Pan Gasket? 


An oil pan gasket is a very simple part that is cut to fit your specific oil pan and seals it airtight. Most parts in a car's engine have a gasket at some point that seals them to other parts to ensure that air, oil, fuel, coolant, or any other substances stay in the lines and parts that they're meant to stay in. Despite their simplicity, they are incredibly important and that's part of the reason why the part can cost so much.


BMW Oil Pan Gasket Repair Costs


Replacing the oil pan gasket in a BMW is going to set you back quite a bit more than it will in most other vehicles. Many independent auto shops that specialize in repairing BMW in German automobiles may end up charging you upwards of $1,000 to $1,400 to get this type of job done. Part of that reason is that a lot of mechanics who work on these kinds of cars add an extra step or two when it comes to doing any subframe work on a car. By that we mean any work that goes underneath the car, which is where you have to go to locate the oil pan to remove it and replace the gasket.


For many of these Independent repair shops, as opposed to authorized BMW dealers, when they conduct that sub framework beneath the car, they will recommend that you get alignment work done afterwards.


What is a Car Alignment?


A wheel alignment is what happens when a mechanic adjusts your vehicle's suspension. It's to keep your tires at the exact right angle with the road so they don't wear unevenly, and your car drives much more smoothly. Usually, when you go in to just get an alignment done on your car, you tend to get it done by the axle. That means a front-end alignment, or a rear end alignment and it will usually cost you between $75 and $150 per axle. So, the cost of a total alignment is $150 to $300. That said, when your mechanic is doing an oil pan gasket replacement on your BMW, they are likely only going to be concerned with the front-end alignment.


Usually when you get an alignment done on a BMW it, as we said, is a more expensive job than a similar job on any other automobile. You can expect to pay about double for an alignment under normal circumstances on a BMW. So that means you could be looking at upwards of $150 to $300 for the alignment. So that's a part of the total cost that these mechanics are lumping together when they repair a gasket and come up with a $1,000 to $1,400 fee.


 It's worth remembering that if you take your BMW to a mechanic to get the oil pan gasket replaced and they want to charge you over  $1,000, you're well within your rights to request a breakdown of the fees, and if you don't want an alignment done you can ask that they leave that off. Just because they're working under the card doesn't necessarily mean any kind of an alignment is actually necessary. You typically get alignment when something has happened that may throw it off, and there's no reason for them to have actually damaged your alignment when changing the oil pan gasket. But there is a reason for them tacking this job on.


BMW Oil Pan Gasket Replacement Labor Costs


If you're wondering why a mechanic would throw in an alignment along with the oil pan gasket repair, it's not necessarily to try to rip you off either. You don't have to have an alignment done of course, and many mechanics will happily quote you a fee that doesn't include that. But the reason many will include it is because of the process of getting to the BMW oil pan gasket in the first place


It's quite an involved process to get to your oil pan in a BMW. When your mechanic gets under your car, they are going to do the following: 


  • First, they are going to remove the subframe, 
  • Next, they have to remove the front differential,
  • The drive shaft will also have to be removed, although it doesn't need to be detached completely, and can be left sort of hanging just out of the way.
  • Now they can access the oil pan to drain it, remove it, and replace the gasket.


At a professional mechanic shop, you can expect that this job will take about 10 hours to get accomplished. That's a pretty involved process. That's also why making this a DIY job is not particularly easy at all. You can do this on your own, but be aware it's actually likely to cost a lot more time and effort because you're not going to be able to get under your car to do all this work easily. That’s if you can do it at all. BMW does not design their vehicles for easy home repair by any means


With these factors in mind, you can see why the cost of oil pan gasket repair that gets over $1,000 is not the rip-off that it may at first sound like it is.


As motorists we are constantly afraid that a mechanic might be doing work on necessarily or overcharging is for it. But the reason that BMW work costs so much money is because of how BMW designed their cars. As great as they look, they were not designed for easy access and a lot of mechanics don't like working on BMWs as a result. It's just harder to do a job on a BMW that it is to do on another job. In fact, doing the same job on your average car whether that's a Honda Civic, a Toyota Camry, or a Ford Focus should probably take less than 3 hours to get done by a skilled mechanic. 


BMW Oil Pan Gasket Replacement DIY


So now the question is, are you able to do this job on your own to save some of the labor cost. As we just said, replacing the oil pan gasket in your BMW at home is not a simple job. If you are new to DIY auto repairs, then we would strongly recommend not even trying this job. This is a highly advanced level repair for a home mechanic to try to do. 


Most auto repair jobs have a number of videos you can look at on the internet made by mechanics to help guide you through the process. It's actually funny when you look for DIY guides for replacing the oil pan gasket in a BMW. This video, for instance, shows a BMW owner, not a licensed mechanic, who actually spent months trying to figure out how to do this job on their own. The process involved actually putting a tow hook in the engine and hoisting the entire engine out of the car in the driveway, which is not really feasible for most at home mechanics in the first place. At some point, if you have to have all the same tools that a mechanic has, you're not really a DIY mechanic anymore. You're just a mechanic doing work on your own car at home. 


Even videos that are made by professional mechanics like this one are nearly an hour long and show the incredibly laborious and detailed job that you have to do to get this part out of your BMW.  You really have to be dedicated to wanting to get the job done on your own to put in the effort of going through this process. There's just so much to do, so many things that are in your way, and so many potential ways that something could go wrong and make your car not function properly afterwards that this is not worth it at all unless you are absolutely confident in your car repair abilities. If you haven't done extensive auto repair already in your life, then you absolutely should leave this job to a professional. The cost is unfortunate, but if you do it wrong, you'll still have to pay to get it repaired plus potentially fix a number of other problems in your vehicle as a result.


The Bottom Line


An oil pan gasket replacement sounds like it should be a very simple job at the end of the day. And it is a simple job and many vehicles, but for a BMW there are some added layers of complexity that make this not just a long, drawn-out process for a mechanic to get done but one that is going to be very expensive for you to deal with as well.


Unfortunately, the idea of getting this job done on your own to save yourself some money, and it would be a substantial savings of potentially up to $1,300 or more, it's just not feasible for most DIY mechanics. If you feel like you are up to the task then you'll definitely need to find a few walkthroughs for your specific make and model and ensure you have a lot of time, and a lot of space in which to get the job done. Good luck and drive safe. 




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