What are the Symptoms of bad Oil Pan Gasket? | Oil Pan Gasket Replacement Cost

A car engine consists of several parts, including engine blocks, cylinder heads, spark plugs, and other parts. The engine oil is used to maintain the normal temperature and ensure the efficient working of the engine’s rotating parts. The vehicle contains an oil pan. It acts as a reservoir for the oil that circulates in the engine to lubricate and cool the rotating parts. A gasket is installed between the engine block and the oil pan to prevent oil leakage. This article explains the oil pan gasket leak symptoms, its causes, and replacement cost.

What is an Oil Pan Gasket?

The oil pan gasket prevents the oil from escaping when the oil flows from the oil pan into the engine and back.

In simple words, the main function of the oil pan gasket is to seal the area between the engine block and the oil pan to prevent oil from leaking out where it shouldn’t.

The engine oil flows throughout the engine. Therefore, the engine oil may leak through the damaged oil pan or oil pan gasket.

Oil Pan Gasket

A gasket is most commonly used as a seal and buffer between two surfaces that are connected by bolts. The main function of the gasket is to prevent leakage. As mentioned above, the oil pan gasket seals the area between the oil pan and the engine block to prevent oil from leaking out.

The type of gasket varies according to the vehicle model. You can determine your vehicle’s gasket type by its material.

When your vehicle engine runs or idles, oil flows through the engine’s oil passages and lubricates all parts of the engine. A seal-type gasket accommodates contraction and expansion due to heat generated by the engine. The cushion gasket generates a fight against engine damage.

Oil Pan Gasket Leak Symptoms

A leaky oil pan gasket produces one or more of the below-given symptoms:

  • Check engine light illumination
  • Engine overheating
  • Oil puddles under your car
  • Low oil level
  • Smoking issues
  • Higher consumption of oil
  • Burning oil smell

1) Check Engine Light

The check engine light illumination is one of the first symptoms of the oil pan gasket leak. When the engine oil goes down than a specified limit, your check engine light starts illuminating.

check engine light

The check engine light is installed on your vehicle dashboard. The vehicle contains an oil sensor. This sensor measures the oil level and sends data to the powertrain control module (PCM). When PCM detects that your engine has low oil than a fixed limit, it triggers the check engine light to alert the driver.   

However, there are many other causes of check engine light illumination. When your vehicle’s check engine light illuminates, you should immediately stop your vehicle and find the main root cause of the problem.

Read More: Causes of Check Engine Light Flashing

2) Engine Overheating

A sufficient supply of oil is very important for the efficient working of the engine. The engine oil prevents the engine parts from overheating. It ensures the engine parts work at normal temperatures.

engine overheating

Engine oil, along with engine coolant, reduces extreme heat and friction in the engine. Engine overheating is one of the clear symptoms of a bad oil pan gasket.

When your gasket leaks, your engine oil becomes lower than the minimum limit due to that, your car’s engine overheats. If you don’t fix the oil leak as soon as possible, the overheated engine can seriously damage other engine parts.

Read More: Engine Overheating Causes and Symptoms

3) Oil Puddles under the car

The oil under the car while parked is a common symptom of a bad engine oil pan gasket. The rubber material is used to manufacture the gasket. This rubber starts to degrade with time due to the high temperatures the seal is subjected to.

Oil Puddles under car

Due to the high temperature, the gasket will be damaged or weakened due to that you may observe oil droplets under your vehicle. If the problem is found and not fixed in time, it may badly damage your vehicle engine and oil. The oil leaky also seriously affects the smooth running of the car.

4) Low Oil Level

The low oil level is one of the clear signs of oil pan gasket leakage. The oil pan uses to hold the oil, and the oil pan gasket uses to seal the oil in the oil pan. If your vehicle gasket is leaking, the oil will leak out when it shouldn’t, and your overall oil level will go down.

Low Oil Level, causes of oil pan gasket leak

You should immediately address the issue when you pull the dipstick to check the engine oil level and realize your engine oil is less than a specific limit. Your engine must have sufficient oil to prevent engine overheating and maintain the normal operating temperature.

5) Smoking Issues

The engine smoking is one of the clear symptoms of the oil pan gasket leak. The function of the oil pan gasket is to prevent oil leakage from the area between the oil pan and the engine block. When it leaks, the oil starts dripping onto the exhaust manifold or pipe, which may produce smoke.

Smoking issues due to bad oil pan gasket

If you don’t fix this issue on time, it can lead to many other issues, such as a bad oxygen sensor and other vehicle parts from prolonged immersion in oil.

6) Higher Consumption of Oil

When your engine oil is leaked from the damaged oil pan, your engine will consume more fuel than usual. When you notice a poor oil economy, you should immediately inspect the oil pan and replace it if needed.

7) Burning Oil Smell

A burning oil smell is one of the common signs of a faulty oil pan gasket. Contrasted with the smell of an engine that is actively consuming and burning oil, a damaged oil pan gasket has a strong odor as it gives off the smell of new oil that has been heated to the engine’s operating temperature.

Oil Smell

When the oil leaks from the oil pan, it falls on the exhaust pipe, where it burns and generates a smell.

Read More: What is the function of the Engine Block?

Causes of a bad Oil Pan Gasket

The following are the major causes of a bad engine oil pan gasket:

  • Age of the oil pan gasket
  • Impact damage
  • Wear and tear

1) Age of the Oil Pan Gasket

The rubber material is used to manufacture the gasket. During the working of the engine, the oil pan gasket goes through an unlimited number of cooling and heating cycles. Over time, this can cause the gasket to become brittle, which eventually damages it.  

2) Impact Damage

If your oil pan is damaged in an accident or hit by road contaminations, it may leak itself. Most likely, your oil pan will be damaged if it is made of cast aluminum rather than a stamped steel sump. In this case, the damage usually leads to holes or cracks in the pan.

3) Wear and Tear

Your oil pan gasket may often wear out with the passage of time and eventually may start to leak at the edges of your oil pan. Beware when removing the oil pan as oil can come from elsewhere and pool around the gasket making the oil pan look like it is leaking. To reduce oil pan leaks, you can (carefully) tighten the oil pan bolts with cork gaskets in the oil pan.

Oil Pan Gasket Location

The engine oil pan gasket is usually mounted directly on the oil pan top. The oil pan is located on the underside of the vehicle engine. The oil pan is a rectangular metal plate that is bolted to the bottom of the engine.

The gasket is installed on top of the oil pan. If you want to replace your oil pan gasket, first, you will need to eradicate the oil pan.

How to fix the Oil Pan Gasket Leak

To replace or fix the oil pan gasket leak, you need the following tools:

  • Socket sets
  • Hammer
  • Torque wrench
  • Gasket scraper or sandpaper
  • A clean rag
  • Flat giant Screwdriver
  • Instant Silicone
  • New gasket

Follow the below-given steps to replace a leaky oil pan gasket:

  1. Take Safety Measures: First of all, park the car on a flat hard surface, set the parking brake and stop the rear wheels from rotating. Use a jack and jack stand to raise your car. Disconnect the negative terminal of the battery before starting the process.
  2. Drain Oil: Put the oil catcher directly below the oil pan. Completely remove the oil before removing the oil pan.
  3. Loose the oil pan bolts: Locate the bolts that hold the engine block to the oil pan. Remove all the bolts and leave just one or two screws at the oil pan edge’s end to keep the oil pan tight and prevent oil leaks.
  4. Remove Oil Pan: In maximum cases, it is difficult to remove the oil pan when the bolts are loose. Insert a flathead screwdriver between the engine block and oil pan and tap lightly with a hammer to remove the oil pan.
  5. Remove old gasket: Take away the damaged gasket and remove the debris accumulated on the engine block surface.
  6. Clean the Mounting Surface: Clean the mounting surface with a parts cleaner. The cover must be very clean and dry for the new gasket to provide a reliable, trouble-free seal.
  7. Install a new gasket in the oil pan: After cleaning, attach the new gasket and apply a small amount of instant sealant to the surface to properly connect the gasket.
  8. Reinstall the Oil Pan: Reinstall the oil pan in the same way you removed it and properly connect it to the engine block using bolts on both ends.
  9. Tighten the Oil Pan Bolts: Tight the bolts using your hand to avoid stripping the threads. Use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts. Install the oil drain valve back in its original place and tighten it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  10. Fill the engine with oil: Remove the jack and jack stands and lower the vehicle. Add new oil to your engine according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  11. Start the car and check for leaks: When the work is complete, start your car and check for leaks before hitting the road.

Oil Pan Gasket Replacement Cost

The replacement cost of the oil pan gasket varies according to your vehicle model, labor cost, and type of brand.

The average replacement cost of the oil pan gasket is from $90 to $360. In this cost, the oil pan gasket cost is from $30 to $100 while the rest is labor costs.

FAQ Section

What is the function of the oil pan gasket?

The main function of the oil pan gasket is to seal the area between the engine block and the oil pan to prevent oil from leaking out where it shouldn’t.

What are the symptoms of a bad oil pan gasket?

  • Check engine light illumination
  • Burning oil smell
  • Engine overheating
  • Higher consumption of oil
  • Oil puddles under your car
  • Smoking issues
  • Low oil level

Can I drive with a leaking oil pan gasket?

You can drive with an oil leak from the oil pan gasket. However, driving with a leaking oil pan gasket is not recommended. Once this type of leak is found, your must check your engine oil level before driving to avoid serious damage.

In any case, the oil leak should be fixed by adding a sufficient amount of oil as needed.

Therefore, a leaking oil pan gasket should be addressed as soon as possible.

How hard is it to replace the oil pan gasket?

The oil pan gasket replacement method depends on the vehicle models, makes, and years of construction. In simple cars, you can replace the gasket yourself without getting help from a mechanic. But the gasket of some vehicle models is very hard to replace and requires the attention of a mechanic.

How do you stop an oil pan gasket from leaking?

Follow the below-given steps to stop an oil pan gasket from leaking:

  • Take safety measures
  • Drain oil
  • Loose the oil pan bolts
  • Remove the oil pan
  • Remove old gasket
  • Clean the mounting surface
  • Install a new gasket in the oil pan
  • Reinstall the oil pan
  • Tighten the oil pan bolts
  • Fill the engine with oil
  • Start the car and check for leaks

What are the causes of a bad oil pan gasket?

  • Age of the oil pan gasket
  • Impact damage
  • Wear and tear

What are the symptoms of oil pan leaks?

  • Check engine light illumination
  • Burning oil smell
  • Engine overheating
  • Higher consumption of oil
  • Oil puddles under the car
  • Smoking issues
  • A quick reduction in the oil level
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