Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2002 Civic replacing rusty oil pan and pipe

I had the oil changed on my 2002 Civic at the Honda garage. They said the pan was badly rusted out and beginning to leak and that the pipe (exhaust pipe?) would also fall apart from rust when they went to change the oil pan. They quoted me $780 and said it was unsafe to drive in the meantime because the pan is so soft. An oil pan online looks to be about $45, I’m not sure about the cost of pipe, etc. A friend tells me labor shouldn’t be more than half an hour for something like this. I also doubt it’s unsafe to drive around town. If the pan springs a leak, I can just pull over and get a tow, right? I hadn’t even noticed the leakage, it’s minor. I’ll take it to an independent garage for an estimate, but what should I be expecting for something like this? And should I buy parts myself online? And can I safely drive it around town in the meantime? Thanks!

It takes about a quarter hour just to retrieve the car from the parking lot, put it on the lift, get the parts, put tools up and return the car to the lot when finished. Its going to take more than a half hour to replace the pan, especially if the pan is blocked by the subframe and the exhaust pipe.

I am really suspect about the pan being rusted out though. I would get a second opinion. I would be suspicious that they buggered up the threads of the drain plug and are trying to cover their (fill in the blank) here.

I second Keith’s suggestion that you get a second opinion from an independent mechanic…I have NEVER seen an oil pan rust out to the point of leaking…If this is true, I would think the entire car was becoming unsafe to drive because of rust…Cars don’t rust out or wear out one piece at a time…

A more likely explanation is that the kid on the lube rack gets paid a commission on any service items he discovers and you agree to have performed…Sometimes they get carried away with their recommendations…

If the oil pan springs a leak, you won’t notice until the oil pressure light illuminates on the dashboard, and by that time, the engine will have sustained permanent damage, unless you happen to shut it off the exact moment the light comes on. It’s not safe to stare at the dashboard while you drive in the meantime, so I would get this taken care of ASAP.

I don’t know about your Civic, but on mine (a 1998 Civic DX), I believe they would have to pull the engine out just to replace the oil pan. That makes the labor cost go way up on this job.

Get one or two more quotes for these jobs. You might be able to get them done for less, but probably not much less.

My BS detector is going off here. I’m no expert on a 2002 Civic, but I’d bet that your engine is aluminum. Aluminum doesn’t rust. Even if our engine has an iron block, I’ve never heard of an oil pan rusting through. Maybe if this was a 1922 model, but not a 2002.

If you’re really worried about this, get a second opinion. My guess, though, is this guy was looking to make a boat payment off of you.

Good luck.

Thanks everyone for your feedback. I won’t drive it then until I get a second opinion. @Whitey, from what they showed me and from what I’ve read, it doesn’t require pulling the engine out, just dropping the exhaust pipe. Is there any problem with using generic parts? Thanks.

I’ve seen Civic oil pans rust in this area.

The exhaust pipe runs so close to the oil pan that it burns the paint off the oil pan exposing the bare steel. And if you live where salt is used on the roads in the winter it rusts out that area of the oil pan.


Tester, on my Civic, I believe there are heat shields around the exhaust pipe near the oil pan, but I can’t remember for sure; not that that would necessarily prevent something like this. However, the folks who live up north, where exhaust systems rust faster, are probably on their second exhaust system after a decade, so there is no telling on the OP’s car.

civicforever, the only issue I would have with a generic exhaust pipe is that it might not have the heat shields that come with an OEM pipe.

Once you get a second opinion, ask to take a look at the oil pan while the car is up on the lift. If your exhaust pipe has a heat shield around it, just make sure the new one, whether aftermarket or OEM, has the same shape and the same heat shields. If your exhaust pipe doesn’t have heat shields, ask the mechanic if an OEM exhaust comes with them.

Did you buy your Civic new or used? Have you replaced the exhaust pipe before?

Yes. There is a heat shield that protects the oil pan. However, in the rust belt that flimsy piece of metal rusts and falls off first and then the paint is burned off the oil pan.


I Have To Question " . . . the pipe (exhaust pipe?) would also fall apart from rust . . . "

I don’t know Hondas. Did Honda in 2002 not use stainless steel exhaust systems ?
We live in a severe weather, severe road (6 months / year) salt area, keep our cars much longer than the age of this car, and have never had to replace any stainless steel exhaust components and we keep a driveway full of cars.

Is the shop correct in their assumption ? What’s up with that ?


In that case, civicforever, I recommend you make sure whatever exhaust you get installed (if, indeed, it is necessary when you get a second opinion), it has the heat shields. It’s possible your heat shield(s) fell off, and created this problem. You might want to routinely check the condition of the heat shields in the future.

Has Anybody Experienced Rusted Out Exhaust Pipes On A Honda From Around 2002 ?

…not here in Florida! :slight_smile:

Of course, that will be a moot point if the OP’s second opinion confirms the diagnosis.

" …not here in Florida! :slight_smile: "
I hear you. I’d like to be in Florida, right now. I miss St. Augustine.

CSA - I live near Buffalo NY and we use so much road salt that I have had to replace 3 stainless exhaust systems, one at 7 years and 2 at 10 years.

Hm, I posted this already, but now I don’t see it. Try again.

Final outcome: I took it to an independent garage with a good reputation for honesty. They also suspected a stripped drain cap, but to their surprise the drain cap was dry and the oil pan really was rusted out (though not as dire as the other garage made it sound–they thought I could drive it a few more months, if I kept an eye on leaks). It was especially rusted out close to the exhaust pipe, but not exclusively there (no sign of a heat shield). The exhaust pipe wasn’t rusted out, but the bolts were and the danger was of rusty bolt heads breaking off. Worst case scenario, taking off the pipe could’ve broken the flange on the catalytic converter, and then bam, a $1200 total repair. But they soaked the bolts overnight in WD-40 and managed to replace just the oil pan! Total cost, $314. They even reused the new oil. Even if they’d needed to replace the exhaust, the quote was $540, far less than at the Honda garage. Some good reviews are definitely in order.

Thanks everyone for your advice!

May I give you one last piece of advice? Get the heat shields installed or replaced. The unchecked heat probably contributed to the rusting.

Last weekend I changed the oil on my Civic, and noticed the presence of heat shields near the oil pan.

CSA, I also noticed some rust on the formerly stainless steel exhaust. It started out as stainless steel, but with all the heat, it eventually started rusting.

What I would like to know is where do you purchase replacement heat shields? Heat shields are part of the exhaust component and are welded on.

I don’t know of anyone who sells replacement heat shields. Not even the dealer!


I would just add that you should not assume that because a dealer is higher, or even much higher, in price that you are being gigged.

The business model for dealers is completely different from an independent shop and the parts are also usually higher, or much higher as the case may be, but it’s not because the dealer is raising the parts prices through the roof as part of an attempt to stiff you.
The price the dealer pays Honda for those parts is generally very high and in most cases the price a dealer pays Honda will be higher than the over the counter retail price of an aftermarket part.

Rusted oil pans are very common on Hondas and Toyotas, at least where I live. They use a stamped steel oil pan and run the front pipe directly underneath it. The heat from the front pipe burns the paint off the oil pan and the bare metal rusts rather quickly. The front pipe is stainless steel and should not normally need to be replaced as it normally comes off without incident. I have replaced many oil pans on Hondas and Toyotas due to rust. I have also seen this issue on some older Fords.