The service life of a vehicle engine depends on the engine oil. With so many iron parts moving in the combustion system, it is the oil that provides the lubrication of the gaps in between, and the smooth meshing of the gears inside the engine.
It can be said that oil is the blood of an engine, and without oil, the engine would not last very long and fall into total destruction.
What is an Oil Pan Gasket?
Engine oil acts not only as a protective fluid against the moving parts inside the engine but also as a coolant for the interior, as the parts inside tend to become extremely hot during engine operation. Too much heat would cause the internal parts to expand and eventually the engine would simply seize up, ultimately leading to the complete rebuild of the engine. A car has an oil pan that holds all the oil for the engine. The oil pan is installed under the engine, with the camshaft rotating directly above it. The rotary motion of the camshaft repeatedly dips into the oil in the oil pan, which causes the piston arms to be endlessly lubricated and cooled.
Since the oil pan contains oil, which is a liquid, it is held firmly together with a rubber or silicone seal, or gasket, between the edges of the pan and the engine housing to prevent oil leakage. Over time, these gaskets will wear, and damage for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the seal can be damaged by excessive heat, while the seal can become loose if the car is subjected to frequent impacts. Heat can cause holes in the gasket through which the oil can leak from the oil pan.
There are a number of symptoms that can indicate a leaking oil pan. A leaking oil pan is one of the easiest problems to detect.
Bad Oil Pan Gasket Symptoms
There are a few relatively simple things that you can look for to determine if the oil pan of your engine is leaking oil:
You can see puddles of oil under the engine of your car
This is the easiest and most basic thing to look for to know if your car is leaking oil at all. If you see large or small puddles of oil under the engine area of your car, your car is losing oil. The leak may not always be at the oil pan, but in most cases it is. Often the oil can leak out of the air filter box due to recompression, but it is unlikely that the oil will find its way from there to the floor, as there are numerous pipes and parts that can absorb the dripping oil.
Your engine overheats or temperature stays high
Since oil helps to cool the engine, a low-oil engine will heat up faster than it would with plenty of oil. If your radiator is full and there is no leakage, this could mean that your car’s engine does not contain enough oil, which could cause it to overheat.
Your dashboard shows constant oil light
Normally the oil light on the dashboard of the car goes out after a few seconds after the ignition is turned on. If it does not go out and stays there, it means there is a problem. The oil light is a clear indication that the engine is leaking oil. The oil light should never be ignored and you should investigate when it lights up and stays lit.
Replacement of Oil Pan Gasket
Working in the oil pan can be quite messy, but if you have basic knowledge of gaskets and how to install them, you can replace the oil pan gasket yourself if you have the right tools. Here you will learn how to replace the gasket yourself.
Stop driving the car
Driving the car with little oil can permanently damage the engine. The damage may be so great that you will end up having to rebuild the whole engine, which can cost you a fortune. It is therefore better to stop driving your car as soon as you are confronted with one of these symptoms to avoid further damage and to call a mechanic to your location.
Park your car on a level surface and drain the oil
After parking your car on a level surface, unscrew the oil drain nut under the pan and drain all oil into a separate pan so that you can remove the pan without spilling oil all over the area.
Remove all the nuts using a torque wrench
You will need a torque wrench to remove the pan. Once you have loosened all the screws, the oil pan should come loose.
Clean the pan for the remaining oil inside
There will still be some oil in the pan. You must clean it thoroughly before installing the new gasket.
Install the new gasket
After you have cleaned the gasket, you can install the new one. You will need the correct gasket for the oil pan of your car. It must be exactly right, otherwise your oil pan may not seal properly and the leakage may remain after the new seal has been fitted. An alternative for this can be silicone hoses. You can buy silicone hoses especially for sealing and gluing and let the liquid silicone cure at the edges, but be quick because the silicone tends to cure quickly. Even if silicone also works, it is better to install a rubber gasket specified for your car.
Replace the screws on the oil pan
After replacing the screws, allow the silicone to dry to ensure a good seal. Then you can pour in new oil. Start your car and let it run for a few minutes. Then switch it off and check for leaks. If there is still a leak, you may not have installed the gasket properly or not adjusted the silicone properly and you will need to repeat the procedure.
If you are uncomfortable with all this, you can go to a mechanic who will do it for you. The parts and gasket should cost you about $50 and the labor cost should be between $100 and $150, but that depends on the make and model of the car.