Oil Pan Gasket Buyer's Guide
- The oil pan, sometimes referred to as the oil sump, is a reservoir containing the engine oil that gets circulated to cool your engine.
- The oil pan gasket is a rubber sealant that seals the gap between the oil pan and the bottom of the engine block.
- Oil pan gaskets keep the oil tightly sealed to avoid leakage, especially when the oil thins out as it gets heated when it is least viscous.
- Oil pan gaskets are pretty straight forward both in function and in form. They are made to conform with the shape of the lower part of the engine and the oil sump.
- Too much engine heat can melt the rubber and cause small problems that often lead to bigger ones.
- Rubber can easily get damaged by numerous factors such as sudden changes in temperature, chemical reaction, and physical force.
- Bad oil pan gasket symptoms include consistently low oil levels, smoke from the engine bay, oil puddling under the car, and engine overheating.
- Oil pan gasket replacements on CarParts.com are priced anywhere between $4 and $160 depending on the brand and fit.
What is an oil pan gasket and what is it for?
To understand what the oil pan gasket for, you have to first know what an oil pan is. The oil pan, sometimes referred to as the oil sump, is a reservoir containing the engine oil that gets circulated to cool your engine. This container is located directly under the engine block, bolted by a set of hardware. Oil is pumped upwards by an oil pump.
In between the engine block and the sump is a tiny—sometimes hairline—gap that can allow the oil to leak. This is where the oil pan gasket enters the frame. The oil pan gasket is a rubber sealant that seals the gap between the oil pan and the bottom of the engine block. It keeps the oil inside the pan tightly sealed to avoid leakage, especially when the oil thins out as it gets heated when it is least viscous.
Oil pan gaskets are pretty straight forward both in function and in form. They are made to conform with the shape of the lower part of the engine and the oil sump. Most gaskets are molded rubber that features multiple attachment provisions for mounting installation. Too much engine heat can melt the rubber and cause small problems that often lead to bigger ones.
What causes the oil pan gasket to leak?
It is a common knowledge that rubber, despite its durability, can easily get damaged by numerous factors such as sudden changes in temperature, chemical reaction, and physical force. An engine oil leak is often due to a faulty oil pan gasket that may have worn out through time or was recently damaged as a result of an accident. Oil pan gasket leaks can deplete your oil level faster than you can imagine simply because most of your oil rests in the oil sump.
Symptoms of an oil pan gasket leak
It doesn’t take a skillful or trained eye to notice an oil pan gasket leak. A bad or failing oil pan gasket can easily be noticed, thanks to these symptoms:
Continuous oil level depletion
If you notice that your oil level won’t settle at any level despite topping it off recently or repetitively, chances are your oil is leaking. You can check this by visually inspecting the oil sump under the engine block. Check to see if there is leaking fluid along the gap between the two components. If there is, the oil pan gasket has to be replaced soon.
Keep in mind that there are numerous causes of oil depletion and leakage can occur in different areas. Check your components carefully to avoid buying unnecessary replacement parts.
Sticky dark puddle underneath your vehicle
Another easy way of knowing where a leak is coming from is observing for oil puddles under your car. If it’s right below the engine, there is a huge chance that the oil is seeping out from the sump, through the damaged gasket. You can further check this by visually examining the oil pan. The puddle often looks like a dark brown, sticky fluid, sometimes pitch black. The color also tells the condition of the oil inside your system.
Hissing sound and smoke coming from the engine bay
Smoke coming from the engine may warn you of two things: an oil leak and the much worse engine overheating. If the damage is not severe, it’s probably the latter. Smoke can sometimes come from the hot engine oil touching other components, which is likely to happen in a leakage. It can also come from a failing component that may have been caused by being soaked in oil.
One of the worst things that can happen is engine overheating due to lack of oil or failure to fix the low-oil issue. If you reach this phase, you are expected to spend more than twice the amount of replacing a bad oil pan gasket.
Can you drive with a damaged oil pan gasket?
Technically, a damaged oil pan gasket won’t hinder you from driving your car, especially at earlier stages. However, it comes with a long-term consequence that affects your vehicle’s performance. It can also damage the engine in the long ru
n. Simply put, don’t ignore a bad oil pan gasket if you want to avoid headaches. Besides, it’s relatively cheap to replace one so price shouldn’t be keeping you from addressing the issue right away.
Why choose an oil pan gasket set
Oil leak, no matter what the cause, should be acted upon immediately. If it’s now time to get a replacement gasket for your oil pan, it would be wise to go for an oil pan gasket set. Besides the gasket itself, a set also contains mounting bolts with washers as well as other hardware you may need in providing a good seal between the oil pan and the engine block.
There are gaskets that require liquid sealant or adhesive to ensure firm bond between the two mating surfaces. If you go for a gasket set, it usually includes the gasket adhesive that’s recommended by your manufacturer or one that will work best with the type of gasket you are purchasing.
What to look for in an oil pan gasket set
So you’ve decided to get a gasket set? Don’t make the mistake of choosing the first one you see online. Remember, not all gasket sets are the same. The contents of the set as well as the size and type of gasket included in it may vary. When making a choice, here are some of the factors you should consider:
Know whatever it is that’s included in the set and find out if you really need all of those. Go for one that contains exactly what you need. It’s okay to have one or two spare components or hardware just in case you lost one, but make sure you won’t be paying too much for a set that contains more than what you need.
Before you go and spend your hard-earned cash on a new oil pan gasket, it would be best to check the source of the glitch first. You see, there are several oil pan gaskets in your ride and you can find them in the following locations:
When buying a replacement for your old and faulty oil pan gasket, make sure you get an item that is made using high-quality and hard-wearing materials. Luckily, looking for a good gasket won't be hard because it's available in several options:
- Rubber - cost-effective and lightweight
- Cork - elastic, easy to install, and ideal for changing temperatures
- Rubber with steel core - ideal for stock replacement use
- Rubber-coated fiber - can handle movement and compression
- Paper - soft and lightweight; ideal for short-term use
- Fiber - inexpensive and effectively seals even when temperature is high
For long-term performance, we recommend the rubber gasket, which is the most common of all six types. This is because rubber survives extreme conditions better than other types of gasket materials.
How much is an OE oil pan gasket replacement?
Replacing your gasket with an OE replacement from CarParts.com shouldn’t cause you more than $200, excluding labor and other services such as an oil change. Oil pan gasket replacements on CarParts.com are priced anywhere between $4 and $160 depending on the brand and fit. You can buy yours as a single piece, in sets, or in kits, which are good if you need to secure an extra for future purposes.
To get a perfect fit, narrow down your search by indicating the year, make, and model of your vehicle in the filter tab under the search menu. You can further narrow it down by choosing from the categories listed on the left-hand side of the page. From there, you can select your preferred brand, series, price range, and location of installation.
DIY: How to Install a New Oil Pan Gasket
If you find that the culprit behind your engine leak is the oil pan gasket, don’t think twice in having it replaced. Even if there’s no leak, this gasket should be changed any time the oil pan is removed to ensure an efficient bond between the pan and the engine block.
If you now have a replacement oil pan gasket set, here are the steps on how to replace the gasket:
Difficulty level: Easy
What you’ll need:
- Car jack
- Shop rag
- Drain pan
- Jack stands
- Razor blade
- Ratchet set
- New oil pan gasket set
Step 1: With the vehicle parked in a flat, solid ground, lift its front end with the car jack. Place the jack stands under the vehicle’s frame and lower the vehicle’s front onto them to securely support your ride while you’re doing this DIY task.
Step 2: Position yourself beneath the oil pan. Put the drain pan under the drain plug and, using the ratchet set, remove the plug. Allow the oil to drain into the pan, and then put the plug back and tighten it.
Step 3: With the appropriate ratchet and socket set, remove the bolts that secure the pan to the engine. Place the bolts in a small bowl so as not to misplace them.
Step 4: Remove the oil pan by tapping its sides with your hand until it comes off. If it doesn’t come off, you can use a mallet to apply light pressure on the side of the pan or a screwdriver to break the seal that bonds the pan to the engine block.
Step 5: Remove the old gasket from the edge of the pan by scraping it with a razor blade. Make sure to scrape all the remaining gasket material and wipe off any dirt using a shop rag.
Step 6: Install the new oil pan gasket set, making sure the holes in the gasket are properly aligned with the bolt holes in the oil pan. Hold the gasket in place by threading the bolts in the pan.
Step 7: Reinstall the oil pan in the engine’s underside, making sure it’s properly aligned. Tighten the bolts just enough to make the pan fit snugly in place.
Step 8: Add factory-recommended amount and brand of engine oil. Put back the hydraulic jack, remove the jack stands, and lower the vehicle to the ground with the hydraulic jack.