An oil leak, if not checked on time, can drain substantial oil that was essential for the smooth functioning of the car engine. In fact, it could cause internal damage to the engine. If you've been noticing successively a puddle of oil where you park your car, it's time you get your vehicle checked, or check it yourself for leakage. So what exactly causes an oil leak in a car? There could be two reasons behind this. One could be that the oil pan is broken or damaged, and here, replacing it is what that resolves the problem, while the other reason could be an oil pan gasket leak, due to a damaged or broken gasket.
An oil pan is that part of an engine, which pools or holds the oil running through the engine to help it function correctly. It is located under the engine and depending on the size of the engine, the capacity of the pan can range between 3-10 quarts of oil. Gasket is something that seals the pan at the lower section of the engine block. Mostly, when leakage is detected in a car, it requires replacement of the pan or it could be resolved by replacing the old gasket, depending on the source and cause of the leak.
Many a time, repair involves replacing the entire unit altogether, as in most cases, the gaskets are either broken or are cracked causing the leak. Replacement may seem to be an elaborate job but carrying it out correctly and carefully would ensure that you don't have to pay a hundred dollars or so, as the replacement cost, to an auto mechanic.
Although oil pan replacement procedures may vary slightly depending on the type of the car or vehicle, the basic principle remains the same and so the following procedure may be of a considerable help if you don't wish to go to a mechanic who could quote an unreasonable amount for the same. To start with, you'd need a jack, jack stands, new gasket, sockets, new oil, ratchet, flat head screwdriver, and some rags.
- Park the car on a flat surface, for car safety you may want to place a piece of wood or a brick behind the rear tires. Firstly, jack the front of the car and then lower it onto the stands. Before you crawl into the made up space under the car, ensure that the space is sufficient enough to carry out the process easily. It is also important to let the car cool off, if it was running a while ago.
- Once you've fixed and positioned the car to carry out the remaining procedure safely, start draining the oil into a drain pan. Now depending on the type of the car, the pan may be attached with different parts or accessories, such as the air-conditioning bracket, the exhaust nuts or bolts, and other brackets. All these will need to be removed to reach it. If the exhaust nuts or bolts are rusted (most likely they will be), then it is advisable to spray some penetrating oil on them, and then let it soak in it for about five to ten minutes.
- The next step is the removal of the exhaust pipe that is placed under the pan. Also remove the hoses attached to it, in order to get access to the pan. Once that is done, remove the bolts that hold it using the sockets. Even when you have all the bolts off, the chances are that the pan won't fall of its own, and therefore you'd have to use a soft hammer to tap its side gently, for it to come off. You could also use the flat screwdriver and remove it gently. Whatever tool you use to remove it, be careful, as it is made of thin aluminum, hence, hitting it hard could form a dent on it, and also because, despite the leakage, it may contain some oil.
- Check for any possible dents and after ensuring that there aren't any, scrape of the old gasket. Clean the engine block using rags, wipe it thoroughly before installing the new gasket.
- Finally, install the new one using all those nuts and bolts that were previously removed, also attach the accessory brackets etc., that were removed, refill the crankcase with oil, and then start the engine to inspect for any leakage.
Although it may seem like an easy procedure, it's better if you go through your owner's manual or the service manual that will give you a clear overview on the engine and other parts.