2004 Saturn L300 engine pan damaged TWICE

This car belongs to a friend of a friend. She has had to replace the engine’s oil pan two times. Once was from hitting two dips in rapid succession at an intersection and the second was from debris on the road. Do these pans hang down lower than the norm on an L300, or is she just extremely unluckly? She thinks she needs a different car. I’m inclined to think she needs to be more careful, AND carry full coverage insurance.

I agree with you, but try telling the driver that. In this society, EVERYTHING is someone else’s fault.

I agree with both the OP and with mleich, but I want to add another possibility, namely worn-out struts.
If the struts on this 7-8 year old car are worn out, hitting two road dips in rapid succession may have been just too much for the old, tired struts, thus leading to the oil pan bottoming out on the road surface.

And, then of course, we have the issue of whether the driver is sufficiently observant and aware of road conditions to avoid debris that is big enough to cause damage to the car.

But, as mleich pointed out, few people today seem to be able to assume responsibility for their actions, and any bad thing that befalls them HAS to be someone else’s fault.

I’d think that if there was some weird thing about this car’s design one could easily figure this out with some basic internet searches.

But I also agree with you. This is most likely someone that drives a bit recklessly and with less than a proper amount of attention to the road.

I think the problem is with the driver not the design of the L300. I have been driving for over 40 years and have driven hundreds of different vehicles and have not even dented an oilpan. A driver is more than one who just steers and brakes a vehicle.

A lot of cars have low hanging oil pans so I think in this case the problem could be due to some aggressive driving habits, weak struts as mentioned, and/or just some bad luck.

Maybe fashioning a 1/4" thick steel skid plate might be in order if this happens again.

If the oil pan is replaced a third time then I think the steel skid plate should be a requirement.

Some cars don’t seem to have any practical ground clearance. Acuras have similar problems. That’s why it is always a good idea during the test drive to run the car into parking lots, where you might encounter bottoming out or unusually steep on/off ramps.

I agree with missleman, and have suggested same. She lives in Colorado where they know how to put skid plates on off road vehicles. Why not a Saturn? They have found a pan on www.car-part.com, and are looking for someone to install it cheap. She’s a single underemployed two-job mother of two. You get the picture.

MG, it’s good to hear from you. It seems to have been awhile.

I agree with your assessment…she needs to be more careful, to learn to be more attentive. There are loads of these vehicles on the roads, including here in the NorthEast where potholes are rampant, and damaged oil pans simply are not a common problem. If there were a design flaw, my feeling is that damaged pans would be epidemic.

Did she used to drive an suv ?

She MUST learn her vehicle no matter what she’s driving today.