Engine Maintenance

How to Change an Oil Pan


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With the low ground clearance of today's cars, oil pans are easily damaged and knowing how to change the oil pan of your car can help. The process is easy if followed closely.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Service manual
  • Pneumatic jack
  • Wrench socket
  • Oil pan changing kit (it will include new oil pan and gasket)
  • Clean rag
  • Sealant
  • Oil filter
  • Oil

Step 1. Jack the Car Up

Drain the oil from the oil sump (another name for the oil pan). To do this, either obtain a set of quality auto ramps that will raise your car or use a professional-grade pneumatic jack. Never rely on the jack that comes with your car. Jack up the car on a leveled surface.

Step 2: Place the Pan

Now place the oil pan under the car. Ensure that the pan in placed just below the tank from where the oil will flow.

Step 3: Remove Oil

Turn the screw-in oil pan plug about a quarter-turn left using the right-sized wrench socket (usually about half-an-inch) to begin to remove the oil. Once loosened, turn the rest of the way by hand to ensure that you don't lose the plug. Plugs usually have small magnets built into them. This is to catch any metal shards that the engine may generate.

Step 4. Loosen the Old Pan

Most of the time, you will find that you will need a 3/8s-inch socket (possibly 7/16s) to loosen the 16 to 18 bolts that hold the pan to your car's engine block, although sometimes you may need a Phillips or slotted screwdriver. Using the socket, loosen the old pan so that you can install the new one.

Step 5. Remove the Pan

Remove the existing oil pan. Just take it off and put it aside. Take a clean rag and wipe around the edge of the pan to remove any metal shards.

Step 6. Use Sealant

Run a bead of the sealant used to hold the fiber gasket to the new oil pan and install the gasket.

Step 7: Insert New Pan

Now mate the new pan with its housing and insert one or two screws to hold it up. Be sure to use screws or bolts that are on either end of the pan so it remains in place, and then install the other screws or bolts finger-tight. 

Step 8: Tighten Screws

Tighten the screws or bolts until they begin to feel snug. Over-tightening will damage the gasket and you will likely end up with a leak, so ensure that you are tightening it correctly.

Step 9. Replace the Engine Oil

Replace the old oil filter and add the proper amount of oil. Make sure to watch for leaks. It has been found that using a block of wood underneath the oil pan on removal and installation takes the strain off the housing lip and prevents warping.

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