What is an oil pan?

An oil pan is a reservoir that holds all the oil your car needs to stay lubricated and running.
Usually one of the most durable parts of your car, oil pans can last the entire life of your car. They also can be damaged by sharp impact with hard surfaces at high speeds. When this kind of damage occurs, it can deteriorate with time.
If this happens to you, an oil pan replacement can be pricey—running anywhere from $500 to $1000—but your car can’t run without an oil pan, so it is necessary to get it fixed as soon as possible.

What causes the oil pan to need replacing?

There are several possible reasons an oil pan may need to be replaced:
  • Damage caused by impact
  • A puncture caused by driving over a sharp object
  • The oil pan gasket can disintegrate because of your car’s heating and cooling cycles
  • The oil pan gasket can give out as a result of direct impact with the pavement if the suspension bottoms out
Any of these hidden hazards can make even the most experienced driver a bit twitchy, but there are usually some tell-tale signs that there is a problem.

How do I know if I need to replace my oil pan?

Anytime your car is jarred after cresting a bump, or a hard object collides with the underside of your car have your mechanic check for damage to the oil pan immediately. Oil pans have been known to dislodge on the road after severe jolts.
Other signs you need to replace your oil pan could include new oil leaks puddling under your car or streaks of oil left under your car. Additionally, ask your mechanic to make sure the oil pan plug fits properly and hasn’t been stripped.

How is an oil pan replaced?

Because the oil pan is a simple reservoir and plug, many home mechanics think an oil pan replacement is quick and easy. Most times it isn’t. In many models, many components have to be moved or disassembled to gain access to the oil pan.
Here’s what a mechanic will do for an oil pan replacement:
  • The vehicle is raised on jack stands
  • The remaining oil is drained
  • The damaged oil pan is removed
  • The new oil pan is installed, along with a new oil filter
  • The engine is started and examined for oil leaks
  • The jack stands are lowered and the car removed

How important is an oil pan replacement

Neglecting a leaky oil pan can quickly turn into a much bigger headache. An unresolved oil pan replacement becomes an engine replacement next, and the cost skyrockets from hundreds of dollars to thousands. In some cases, the engine may not require replacing, but the cost of repairs is more than the value of the car.
In the long run, small fixes lead to substantial savings. If you notice new blotches or puddles of oil under your car, it is well worth a trip to the mechanic.

How to find cheap car insurance

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