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Importance of an oil pan?

I just got an oil change before leaving on a 500mile trip. I was told that I need a new oil pan–have an oil pan gasket leak. The place I went could not replace but put in thicker oil to slow the leak. How much does this affect the safely of driving my car? Should I make sure to get it done pre-trip?

I think you need to describe how much of a gasket leak you have. My personal experience is that a oil pan gasket leak is not so much that I would consider changing to a heavier oil to slow the leak. Not so sure that will work as a temporary solution, anyway.

Also don’t understand needing a new oil pan, unless the oil pan plug/bolt is stripped and leaks badly, so pls clarify. Are you sure they said oil pan gasket and not oil plug gasket?

Changing an oil pan gasket is done routinely without replacing the pan, if it leaks bad enough (but see my earlier comment about pan gasket leakage).

How much oil did you lose between oil changes? Does this car puddle every time it is parked?

I would not embark on a 500 mile trip if the oil drain plug and gasket are leaking severely. Find an independent mechanic who can clarify what is going on. If oil drain plug issue, then sometimes an oversized drain plug solves the problem. That is something I would have expected the oil change guys to suggest or try rather than putting in heavier oil. I would also reconsider where I had my oil changes performed. These guys aren’t doing you any favors, and may be the problem if the issue is that the oil drain plug is stripped. You may be paying for their collective inattention or mistakes made when doing previous oil changes.

Find a different mechanic. Putting in a thicker oil has the potential of hurting (or destroying) your engine…especially if the weather gets too cold.

Oil pan gaskets are not very likely to leak. Get another opinion. Are you loosing any oil?? Notice oil droplets on the driveway or garage floor??

What’s leaking?? The pan gasket or the drain plug?? The drain plug can be repaired easily and usually just tightening the pan bolts a little will stop a gasket leak…

If the oil pan is leaking, it needs to be replaced. If it has damaged threads on the drain plug, it may need to be replaced or the plug leak corrected. Normally either of these are easy and not expensive to do. Well worth the trouble compared to the potential problems.

The oil pan bolts could be really loose too.

How would that happen???

The gasket slowly crushes down releasing the torque on the pan bolts…Very common with thick composition gaskets. Thousands of hot and cold cycles contribute to this…

There’s some vehicles where changing the pan gasket is such a pain in the butt that it might make some sense to be better safe than sorry and change the pan itself, but if there’s no evidence that the pan itself has been damaged it’s definitely overkill.

It would help to know the yr/make/model/mileage and engine size.

Aside from that I would like to know if this ‘leak’ is nothing more than what is known as ‘sweating’.
If oil is not running down the side of the pan from the gasket, BUT the edge of the gasket/pan is moist, then you need not replace the pan or the gasket.

The pan gasket on my '00 Silhouette van has been ‘sweating’ for over 4 years but does not leak to the point of dripping.

Also, if the gasket only sweats, there is no point in re-tightening the pan bolts as that MAY warp the pan and cause a leak for sure.

If the pan has rusted through, replace it.