If your car is leaking oil, the oil pan gasket is a very common culprit. This gasket rims the lip of the oil pan, creating a seal between it and the engine mounting surface.
Unfortunately, the rubber degrades, hardens, and even cracks with age. That means you may have to replace the oil pan gasket, especially on a higher mileage car.
In addition, the rubber might be prone to cracking and breaking if you’re driving in very rough, cold, or very hot conditions. Once it does, your oil pan will start to leak.
Luckily, replacing your oil pan gasket is relatively simple.
However, the average cost of replacing an oil pan gasket can exceed $600. Here, you’re looking at a normal range of about $150 including labor to well over $800. In most cases, the gasket itself costs somewhere around $50-$160 – although you may pay more for luxury vehicles. Labor costs can go well over $500, simply because not all oil pans are easy to take off. However, on average, you can expect the job to cost around $250.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of oil pan gasket replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
|Supplier||Labor||Oil Pan Gasket Cost|
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How Much Does Oil Gasket Replacement Cost?*
The largest cost of replacing an oil gasket is almost always going to be labor. In most cases, the other largest price-influencing factor is the make and model of your vehicle.
For example, you can often get a Honda oil pan gasket for as little as $40. On the other hand, you’ll usually expect to pay triple that for a BMW oil gasket.
In addition, because most of the costs are labor, you can save a lot of money by doing the work yourself. If you prefer DIY, you can often replace the part for no more than the cost of the gasket and new motor oil.
Oil pans require no special tools other than a good ratchet set. That makes this repair job extremely accessible to do yourself.
Otherwise, you can expect the following price ranges for replacing the oil pan gasket in my common vehicles.
|Vehicle||Oil Pan Gasket Cost||Labor Cost|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (February 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Replacement Oil Pan Gasket Pricing Factors
In almost every case, there are only two important pricing factors for replacing an oil pan gasket. These include the make and model of your car and the cost of installation. Both have considerable impact.
Make and Model of Vehicle
If you know the make and model of your vehicle, you can almost always get a good quote. You can also decide if you want an OEM or aftermarket gasket replacement.
However, aftermarket options aren’t always available. For example, you can get an OEM BMW oil pan gasket for around $150+.
On the other hand, you can opt to buy aftermarket options from FelPro, Mahle, or Bapmic for as little as $5-$10 each. That’s a big difference in price.
However, you might have trouble finding someone to do the installation work for you – as many mechanics only install parts you buy from them.
Additionally, choosing aftermarket products isn’t always the best call. If you choose aftermarket for something like a gasket, make sure you choose a quality brand that will last.
That’s especially important for products like oil pan gaskets, where the cost of installation is significantly higher than the cost of buying a new gasket.
That is, of course, unless you’re opting to do the installation yourself.
The cost of labor for installing an oil pan gasket can be considerable. For most vehicles, you’re looking at prices that start over $100.
In fact, the average cost is about $250+ just for labor. In most cases, this will include all garage fees.
However, it does mean you’ll generally pay around $350 or more for an oil pan gasket replacement. It may also include oil replacement, however, it might not. It’s important to ask your mechanic.
The only way to cut labor costs is to do the work yourself.
You’ll always have to replace the motor oil when changing your oil pan gasket. That holds true even if you’ve recently replaced the oil.
Unfortunately, the cost of replacing oil can range from a low $16 to well over $150 depending on your vehicle, the type of oil it needs, and your mechanic.
Oil Pan Gasket Leak Symptoms to Look Out For
If your oil pan gasket is leaking, it’s usually easy to notice. In most cases, oil pan gaskets result in visible oil leaks – either on the oil pan or on the ground.
However, there are also other symptoms to look for. For example, if you’re going through oil at a record rate or your check oil light keeps coming on, it might be an oil pan gasket leak.
If you see oil spots or puddles under the car, the oil pan gasket is one of the most common sources of a leak. Here, you can check the oil pan itself and check for residue around the pan.
The oil pan gasket is at the top of the pan, so any oil has to go over the pan. That means there are usually spill and traction marks from the oil.
You might also want to take the time to check the oil pan drain plug. In some cases, this might be the cause of a leak.
For example, if it’s cracked and broken. Alternatively, if you’ve just changed the oil, it might not have been replaced correctly.
In most cases, this is the most obvious sign of a leak. Oil pan gasket leaks are always near the center of the engine, and you can always check under the engine to see the pan itself. If there are leaks, it’s usually not hard to notice.
If your engine is smoking, you probably have an oil leak. That’s true whether you notice drips or spots or not.
Oil often burns off blue – which is a great tell for oil leaks. However, you might also have white smoke depending on the type of motor oil you’re using.
Unfortunately, you won’t notice this kind of smoke until your engine is running hot. Therefore, you’ll either have to notice it while driving or you’ll have to idle and rev your engine to heat it up while parked.
An overheating engine is often caused by an oil leak. However, it’s not a guarantee.
If you’re experiencing engine overheating, check the oil. If you’ve recently filled it, it might be a leak.
Unfortunately, your engine can overheat for plenty of other reasons, so this should generally be considered a secondary symptom of an oil leak.
If your engine oil light is on, you constantly have to fill up the oil, or you’re otherwise burning through oil, a leak might be the issue. However, this can also be caused by other issues.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to check for leaks. If you don’t see one, you can always check for other issues afterwards.
Steps For Changing an Oil Pan Gasket
If you want to change your oil pan gasket, chances are, you can do so yourself with minimal effort.
In fact, in most vehicles, changing the oil pan gasket doesn’t require any special tools. However, it does involve time.
Things You’ll Need:
- Ratchet set (at minimum, a 10mm ratchet)
- Oil can or trap/drain pan to catch the oil
- Disposable gloves
- Replacement engine oil
- Replacement oil pan gasket
- Pry bar or flat screwdriver
- Weatherstrip or other sealant
- Park your vehicle on a flat surface where you can slide under the car. Then turn the engine off and allow it to cool thoroughly.
- Slide under the vehicle and check that the oil leak is actually from the gasket. If there’s oil on top of the oil pan, it’s a good sign the leak is coming from somewhere else in the engine.
- Then, take a tub or basin and slide it under the oil pan. You can then remove the oil drain plug and allow the oil to drain out. You should normally dispose of this afterwards rather than reusing it.
- You’ll want to put the plug back in when it’s still just dripping.
- Use a ratchet to remove the bolts attaching the pan to the engine mount. There may be 4-10+ depending on the make and model of your car.
- In addition, some bolts have plastic covers, you’ll want to use a screwdriver to remove the covers.
- Finally, some oil pans are actually glued on. You can use a pry bar or a strong flat screwdriver to break the seal loose on the seal.
- Clean the oil and any glue on the pan off. You’ll also want to clean off any remainders of the gasket if it’s degraded.
- You’ll also want to clean the space on the replacement.
- Fit the new gasket into place. You can use sealant to stick it into place. Three On Black Weatherstrip is a good choice, however, you’ll have to let it dry for about 30 minutes.
- Replace the oil pan. Here, you’ll want to replace the bolts by hand to start and then tighten them with a ratchet. This is easier than holding the pan up the entire time while tightening the bolts.
- Make sure your bolts are tight.
- Finally, replace the oil in your car.
That should be it.
If you have a small and adjustable ratchet or socket set, you’ll normally have a much easier time of taking the oil pan off and putting it back on. Otherwise, the bolts can be difficult to reach.
Replacing your oil pan gasket is easy enough to do yourself. Most mechanics can also do it same day.
However, if you still have questions, these related questions might help.
How long does it take to replace an oil pan gasket?
In most cases, you can expect to replace an oil pan gasket in 1-5 hours. However, this time depends on your tools and the accessibility of the bolts on the pan.
For example, some cars make it very difficult to access all of the bolts. In some cases, you’ll also have to clean glue and old gaskets off the pan and the engine.
All of this takes time. Therefore, the time from start can vary significantly.
Can you drive with a leaking oil pan gasket?
You can always drive with a leaking oil pan gasket. However, it’s crucial that you ensure your engine has enough oil in it.
Driving with low or no oil can result in blowing out your engine. Low engine oil can result in overheating your engine.
Both can also cause expensive damage that could have been prevented by simple maintenance and replacing the gasket. Therefore, it’s always a better call to replace the gasket as quickly as possible.
In addition, if you’re leaking oil, you’re creating an environmental hazard. Engine oil is toxic to animals and to plants.
In addition, it’s a slipping hazard on the road, especially for motorcyclists. Repairing your engine oil leak is the ethical thing to do.
Is it OK to have a small oil leak?
A small engine oil leak is unlikely to kill your vehicle. However, it will ramp up costs.
In addition, as mentioned above, it can result in significant damage to your vehicle. And, it can cause damage to the environment and to other drivers.
If your oil pan gasket is leaking, it has to be replaced. Unfortunately, the price of the part varies significantly.
You can find oil pan gaskets for prices ranging from a few dollars to well over $150. In addition, the cost of labor is usually more expensive than the gasket itself.
However, if you’re on a budget, changing an oil pan gasket is relatively easy to do yourself.
Good luck fixing your oil leak.
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