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Cracked Aluminum Oilpan - Repair or Replace?

I have a 1999 Ford Contour with the V-6 engine. Something leaped up from the road and struck this car's surprisingly unprotected aluminum oil-pan causing it to develop a crack on the (relatively) flat surface on the bottom, causing much of the oil to drip out and intermittently bringing on the dreaded engine oil light.



The Ford dealer wants over $800 to install the superceding-design oil-pan and a corresponding new dipstick(?); independent garages have alleged they can do the job anywhere from $350 (if a used oil-pan can be obtained) to $550. Even the low figure strikes me as a ridiculous price to charge for fixing something as simple and banal as an oil-pan.



When I inquire of the independent mechanics as to the possibility of repairing the existing oil-pan via welding or some such, a couple of them have discouraged this saying that the combination of the hot oil in the pan and its aluminum essence do not lead to reliable, lasting results.



But then I came across this product, HTS-2000 (http://aluminumrepair.com/index.asp), whose manufacturer claims it yields an aluminum repair superior to welding. Do the manufacturer's claims sound plausible? How hot does engine oil and an aluminum block get, and does this manufacturers' product sound capable of withstanding that (they claim (http://alu...e_info.asp) it has a "working temperature" of between 717 and 737 degrees)? Do you know anyone who has used this product?



Otherwise, have you ever been confronted with a cracked aluminum oil-pan and, if so, how did you resolve it? The answer is important as I will be taking this car and a trailer 2000 miles cross-country (back to Oregon) shortly and I'd prefer not to suddenly lose all of my oil in the Utah desert 100 miles from anywhere.
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Comments

  • edited September 2007
    There are epoxy repair products that will satisfactorily cure this problem. Devcon, J-B weld are two. The trick to success is the preparation of the crack. ALL trace of oil must be removed and the area ground perfectly clean before the epoxy is applied. Because of liability problems, few pros will be willing to do this, so it's a do-it-yourself project. But done right, it will last the life of the car.
  • edited September 2007
    Caddyman is right, the surface has to be very well prepaired and cleaned otherwise you will be left stranded.
    Suggestion, why don't you call the parts department and ask how much the pan cost with the new dipstick. If reasonable, buy it and have an independent install it. Just might work out cheaper.
  • edited September 2007

    The problem with replacing an oil pan is all the stuff you have to remove to get to it. Some you even have to raise the front of the engine up to replace it. That $350 charge...most of it labor.

    The other problem is that there aren't too many aftermarket companies that make oil pans. Just no market in it. It's one of those parts that doesn't break. So you may be stuck with OEM only.

    I've never tried the epoxy, but I sure would if I was in your shoes. Doubt there is a better solution.
  • edited September 2007
    Assuming your engine is not trashed from lack of oil, of course an aluminum pan can be repaired and hot oil has nothing to do with it.

    A good welder can MIG or TIG weld it and it will be good forever.
    It's better that the pan be removed for this procedure.

    Aluminum is routinely welded all the time. Being involved in the antique motorcycle world, I have seen rare, pricy, and hard to find engine cases exploded from fatigued connecting rods. These shrapnel cases are MIG/TIG welded back together, main bearing races align bored, and good to go; and they take a lot more of a beating than an oil pan does along with being immersed in hot oil.

    If you can't do the work, ask the shop if they will do the pan R and R and then take the pan to a good welding shop yourself.
    (That's assuming the pan is not trashed and the problem is nothing more severe than a crack, large or small.)
  • edited September 2007
    If OK had not sail all this, I would have. I would only add that I strongly urge you NOT to epoxy it. If you were to epoxy it, then I would recommend that you remove the pan and epoxy it from the inside, not the outside. I would want the weight of the oil to press the epoxy patch onto place, not press it out of place.
  • edited September 2007
    If you have access to the break, you can raise the front end, drain the oil and have it welded on the car. Degrease as best you can but I would not begin welding if oil was seeping from the crack.

    I had a aluminum motorcycle engine case repaired this way. The case was cracked in several places when the drive chain broke for a previous owner. The case was not disassembled and did not leak after the repair.
  • edited September 2007
    The guy is trying to avoid removing the pan...With the oil drained, the pan flushed out (with kerosene or solvent) and allowed to drain overnight, then jack up and support ONE SIDE of the car so it's on an angle and there is NO seepage from the crack, then grind it clean, wash with acetone, and apply slow cure epoxy made for metal repairs. Speed curing with a heat lamp. Or weld it. Done this way, the epoxy will not fail.
  • edited September 2007
    There should be a bunch of these oil pans used, junk yards and so forth. Find one and have it installed by an independent mechanic. Although welding and glueing are OK fixes for some things, my opinion is that this part of the car will be subjected to more rocks, cold, heat, pressure, and is pretty important if it fails. If you can get a used pan for even half of the dealer price and get it installed with a new gasket for $200-300, take it. This isn't even a car payment and you don't want to worry about this thing leaking on some dark & cold night somewhere in the boonies.
  • edited September 2007
    I'd tend to agree with that. Welding/glueing can be an option when the substitute(pan) is not available.

    In the next time, I might take a safe distance longer than necessary from the vehicle in front if it were a 1999 Ford Contour.
  • edited September 2007
    Just checked the online inventory of the "U-Pull" yard I use . . . they have a bunch of oil pans . . . same year, cougar/contour/mystique . . . $50 and up, they list only 98 & 99. If you want the site send me an email. Rocketman BTW, I'm in Pennsylvania.
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