How to I approach the place/mechanic that stripped my drain plug and oil pan?

Hello, I recently just inherited my first car (Toyota Rav 4 2007) and I am pretty new to everything about cars. I went to get the motor oil changed through a groupon deal a couple months ago. The reviews on yelp for this place averaged about 4.5 stars so I was pretty excited. However, I got my oil changed at a different place today and they told me the previous mechanic over-tightened my drain plug and this stripped the drain plug and the oil pan.

What should I do now? I called around my area and the cost to replace the oil pan ranged from $250 to $700. One of the places I called suggested I go back to the original mechanic, and ask them to change my oil pan free of charge. How do I approach them? I am very non-confrontational. I am a 4’11 adult that still looks like a kid.

Here’s the rub.

The shop today said the previous shop stripped out the pan/plug.

How do know that the shop today wasn’t actually the ones that stripped out the pan/plug?



Is your car leaking oil through the drain plug now, and was it leaking before this last change? If leaking is a recent thing, the last shop may be to blame. If they are willing to lie to you, though, you may have no recourse.

One thing you might try is having a threaded insert installed and use a new drain plug. If this can be done, the cost should be a lot less than a new oil pan. A lot of oil pans are blocked by suspension parts or the frame, and it takes a lot of time to get the pan off. Then the shop has to reassemble the car after installing the new oil pan.


Thanks for your response! The place that I visited today told me that the oil pan is stripped as well. They tried to thread my drain plug but said they weren’t able to and my car wasn’t leaking before because my drain plug was jammed in there. For now, they placed an oversize plug as a temporary fix for now. I kept the stripped drain plug. I’ll try to see if someone else could thread my drain plug.

The oil pan in your vehicle is made of stamped steel.

Those are pretty hard to strip out the drain plug/pan.

The easiest fix for this type of oil pan is, weld a bung around the oil drain hole and install a pipe plug.



If an oversized plug was properly threaded it could be as good as the original but you must depend on someone to inspect it and tell you the truth. I have dealt with the oversized plugs many times with great success.

I just can’t understand why the quick change shops are so prone to twisting the threads off of plugs.


Amy, sorry you are having this problem. Owning your first car, good for you. You’re gonna have lots these kinds of experience, as I expect you already know. Anything w/moving parts is gonna break eventually. About the only thing you can do at this point is go back and forth between the two shops, and maybe you can get one or both of them to fix the problem for you. Either for free, or for a discount. A leaking oil drain isn’t the worst thing in the world, as long as it isn’t leaking much and you keep the oil topped off. If it looks like it might totally fail at any moment, of course that IS close to the worst thing in the world for a car engine, but presumably that isn’t the case at this point. If the oil pressure warning light ever comes on, pull over & stop the engine immediately and call for a tow truck.

I think one problem you may be having is the way you are securing this service for your car. Suggest instead of groupon-ing etc, you ask friends, relatives, work-mates, fellow church-goers, fellow bar-hoppers etc who they use, and from that list interview a few of the independent shops to see how they make you feel in discussing your car repair needs. And from that point just use that shop to change your oil and take care of your car’s other repair and maintenance needs. You don’t group-on to find a physician to treat your sore throat, right? Best if luck.

If you have a level cement place to do it, changing your own oil & filter isn’t that hard on a Rav 4. That’s another option. The upside to that is you know you’re doing it correctly, using the correct oil spec, the correct torque on the drain plug, and while the oil is draining you are checking out for the potential of other problems brewing, and lubing the other parts of the car that need it. Get someone who knows how to show you how to do it the first time. There are threads here on ways to make the job easier.

One final thought: I’d guess the most likely explanation for the drain plug problem is that ithappened quite some time ago, and neither shop is at fault.

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Suck it up and pay for it unfortunately. You have no proof to accuse anyone since you are the new owner. For all you know the place you went to did it.

Good luck.