Oil pan replacement: symptoms and best prices [2023]

The name 'oil pan' is a part of your car that houses all the oil your car uses in its lifetime. This function shows that the oil pan is a necessary part of any car and car owners/drivers should pay attention to it. Attention and care should include oil pan replacement too.

Apart from the fuel that gives a car its power, car engines also depend on motor oils to perform. If ignored over time, a damaged oil pan will damage your car exhaust and then damage the car's engine, knocking the car dead.

Once a leak is noticed in the oil pan, the next best thing to do is get it fixed or get a professional to do the needful. An oil pan replacement cost price varies, and it is largely dependent on the model and make of your car.

What is an oil pan, and how is it used?

Oil pan

The oil pan is responsible for reserving all the motor oil that always helps the car engine stay lubricated. It is a part of the car that needs to be in its best condition all the time. However, if a hard surface should damage the oil pan when the car is at high speed on the road, this can cause the oil pan to start leaking due to wear until it can no longer hold oil.

The oil pan contains the oil that goes into the engine to keep it well lubricated at all times. The oil pan sits at the bottom of the car's engine, and a pump takes the oil around and then back into the engine to keep the car running smoothly and effectively.

Once you start noticing puddles of oil in your engine compartment instead of small drops of oil, the oil pan is in its dying stage. Apart from the oil pan getting worn out, the oil pan gasket that keeps the oil pan sealed in place can get affected when it is hit on a hard surface, causing the hold to shift.

For an in-depth explanation of the oil pan and its functions, check out this well-written article on the oil pan.

Symptoms of a damaged oil pan

oil pan replacement - oil leak

Ignoring a damaged oil pan in your car can lead to many other recurring problems in the car engine. It can also cost you thousands to get a new engine or other parts damaged in the process.

Therefore, attach importance to knowing or noticing little signs of a damaged oil pan immediately to avoid extra auto-related issues. To have your car running effectively for a long time, it is best to always attend to any symptoms developing in your car on time.

The oil pan is located under the car, and it is exposed to the harshness of the ground most times. Because of its location, it is not easily spotted as soon as possible when it has been exposed to any damages. And unless you take your car for regular checkups, you may not know that there is any problem with the oil pan.

You might find it hard to spot a faulty oil pan, especially because it is pumped from the fan and circulates through the car engine. The oil can be leaking from anywhere. To check if the oil pan is producing the leak, you need to wipe the area under the car clean to check if any leaks are coming from the area.

But some symptoms will be listed below that will help give you a heads-up when your oil pan is leaking and needs an immediate replacement.


Engine smoke

Smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe or from the engine of your car is never a good sign, and it is a symptom of many engine-related issues. Suppose the oil pan in your car is faulty, oil leaks into the exhaust manifold as a result. When oil gets into the exhaust, it burns and produces a lot of smoke as a result. The thicker the smoke, the more the burn and the more the oil pan leakage.

Bad oil economy

Once you notice that the car's oil is finishing faster than normal, you should suspect a problem. A constant drop in the oil level is due to oil leakage, and the first place to be checked when there is any oil leakage in the car is the oil pan. The oil pan holds all the oil, which is where the oil is going to rather than the engine.


Car overheating

An overheating engine is never a good symptom in a car. The oil's primary function in a car's engine is to maintain its temperature as the car is in motion. The oil keeps the engine cool and prevents it from overheating. Without the oil pan functioning properly or without the oil pan gasket, the oil level will reduce drastically, and the oil needed to keep the engine cool will be absent.

This absence can cause many damages to other integral parts in the car, and an overheating engine can knock a car dead in the long run.

Oil puddles

The oil pan is located below the car, and when it can no longer hold oil as it should, it begins to leak. A faulty oil pan's major symptom is the accumulation of oil puddles under the spot where your ca has been. Whenever you notice oil spills or puddles when you park your car, check your oil pan immediately.

To understand this symptom better, I have written on something I once took note of the last time I experienced oil puddles. The oil pan gasket was leaking, after making some researches, I understood it better and decided to write about it.

Warning light

A warning light on your dashboard shows a problem in the engine compartment. These warning lights always convey different indications, and they should never be ignored for a long period.

Causes of an oil pan leakage

oil pan leakage

The oil pan is located under the car and is easily exposed to the road's harsh conditions. These harsh conditions expose the oil pan to wears and tear of various degrees. There are two main causes of an oil pan leakage, and they are:


Potholes affect oil pans in many ways, a reason why they should be avoided when driving. Unfortunately, a damaged oil pan is not noticeable immediately until major symptoms start to show. It is important always to drive carefully while on the road, so you don't damage your car or end up in an accident. Debris on the road can also cause major damages to the oil pan or the oil pan gasket.

A faulty gasket

The gasket holds the oil pan in place under the car, and it is because the gasket is tightly in place that the oil pan can hold oil. Exposure to heat from the engine to the car will wear out the gasket over time. The heat causes it to lose its hold on the oil pan. Gaskets can easily wear or tear because of the materials used in making them which includes rubber or cork. The gaskets made out of corks wear out easier than the gaskets made out of rubber. However, they become worn out easily overtime from heat.

Why do you need to replace a damaged oil pan?

The oil pan's main function is to hold oil to help lubricate and cool the engine down. A damaged oil pan can no longer hold oil, and in turn, the engine becomes unlubricated, overheats, and shuts down eventually. To replace an engine is more expensive than easily going through with an oil pan replacement.

The oil is provided to lubricate the engine, and without it, the moving parts in the engine become hard and immovable. The oil helps the pistons pump smoothly, and combustion can work better. A symptom of a damaged oil pan is the drastic reduction of the car's oil level, and when the oil becomes too low, the car engine produces loud noises. These noises are a sign that the oil pan is beyond salvaging and should be replaced immediately.

Therefore, it is important always to pay close attention to your car to easily notice any changes that arise.  It is better to fix a developing problem immediately before waiting for it to cause several damages.

How to repair a damaged oil pan by yourself

oil pan replacement

If you have the right tools, you can change the oil pan in your car without professional help. But if you don't have the right tools or don't want to fix it by yourself, you need to engage an auto professional's services to help.

If you repair the oil pan by yourself, you should know that the car will be coming off the ground, so you need to have an auto-jack handy to help. If you have a good auto-jack, replacing the oil pan is the easier step. To replace it, you need a list of tools to help. The tools are:

  • Socket wrench
  • New oil pan changing kit
  • Oil filter
  • New motor oil
  • Sealant
  • Rag

The steps involved

You need to watch a manual or a YouTube video that will guide you on the step-by-step process of replacing the damaged oil pan. If you don't have access to any of the following, don't worry. Simply follow the steps listed below, and you will have a new oil pan in place in no time.

  1. Jack the car up using an auto-jack. When the car is off the ground, secure the tires tightly to prevent it from moving mistakenly.
  2. Position yourself under the car comfortably. You need to be on a flat surface under the car.
  3. Place a pan under the engine, check for the screw plug, and drain the oil from the damaged oil pan.
  4. Use a half-inch socket to remove the plug until it comes loose. Keep the plug carefully.
  5. Drain out the oil completely and loosen the old oil pan till it comes off completely.
  6. Use a rag to wipe the place where the old oil pan was clean. Clean it till the area is shining.
  7. Use a sealant around the new gasket to attach it to the new oil pan.
  8. Put the new oil pan in the cleaned place and tighten the screws to hold it carefully. Don't make the screws too tight, but tight enough to hold down the pan.
  9. Replace the oil filter and fill it with new motor oil. Clean the area again, and check for any leaks.

If you cannot change the oil pan by yourself, please consult a professional before anything.

In conclusion

The oil pan is an integral part that contributes to the efficient functioning of a car's engine and exhaust. To avoid having issues with either of the two parts, it is important to always look out for symptoms that signify a damaged oil pan or gasket.

You can easily spot these symptoms by considering the signs highlighted above in this article. Also, you can get your car serviced regularly to get notified in case of any faults in your car.

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