Oil drain plug issues


#1

Back in late August I took my car to the local Goodyear shop to have my oil changed. Everything went just fine, however today I took it to another place to get the oil changed as I am at about 5000 miles since last change. The place today told me that the previous place tightened the drain plug so tight they can not get it off without fear of stripping the plug. I called the previous place who said they doubt it could be that tight, but they will look at it next week.

My questions are if it can’t be removed what are my options and given I am at 5000 miles what damage is being done with oil with that many miles.


#2

Assuming you have checked the oil level and it is correct even if you reach 6000 miles you are needlessly worrying. You did not state what this vehicle is but just relax until Goodyear has looked at it and see what they have to say. If you don’t like what they have to say then you will know what you need to do.


#3

Opps sorry it’s a 2003 Kampala that burns about a quart of oil over 3000 miles but right now levels are fine as I check all fluids weekly.


#4

I give up. What is a Kampala?

Frankly, I don’t see how it’s possible to tighten a drain plug that tight. The plug and the threads in the bung hole both get washed in oil during the process and the plug gets reinstalled that way.

HOWEVER, if you end up being told the drain hole threads are stripped, be aware that you don’t need a new pan. I’ve attached a link to perhaps the most well known repair kit (there are others) and, frankly, a good shop should have everything needed to retap the hole and put a helicoil in.

Another option is an oversize plug. The hole is tapped out oversize and an oversize plug installed.

http://www.timesert.com/html/drainplug.html

We’ve seen a number of posts here where owners are told their oil pans need replacing for hundreds of dollars because the drain hole is stripped. My blood pressure increases every time I read one.


#5

We’ve seen a number of posts here where owners are told their oil pans need replacing for hundreds of dollars because the drain hole is stripped. My blood pressure increases every time I read one

In defense of some of these posts, not all oil pans can be repaired on the car. There are many cars out there where there is simply not enough room to drill and retap and use a thread insert while the oil pan is in the car. Sometimes if an oil pan is stripped out the only recourse is to remove the pan. And that can get quite costly.

But as to the OP, so what if the drain plug gets stripped or damaged on removal? Get it out and put a new one in. Any shop that does oil changes also has a selection of drain plugs on hand for $5 each.

Are they using such poor quality wrenches that they can’t loosen a stuck bolt? Even if the head completely rounds, weld a nut to it and get it out.


#6

Well they can be over tightened. My son in-law had his oil changed and then tried to do it himself and could not get the plug out no matter what he tried. He had to take it to a mechanic who used an impact driver to get it out. Luckily the threads are holding, but I’m sure they are damaged.


#7

Ase, with respect, there are self-aligning self-tapping oversize taps that can be used where there’s insufficient room to get a good alignment with a conventional tap kit, and there are also self-tapping oversize drain plugs that use a box end wrench and cut new threads. I remain unconvinced that an oil pan in any common road car needs to be removed to repair stripped threads.

I will grant you that I’ve only changed oil on perhaps three or four dozen different vehicles total, but I’ve never seen one that would be unable to repair on the engine. And even if a pan needed to be removed it would not need to be replaced.

If you run into one that requires removal, one that could not be repaired with either an insert or an oversized self-tapping plug, and could post a photo, I would certainly reconsider, but until I actually see one I believe the referenced oil pan replacements are unnecessary.


#8

Buddy over tightened his drain plug and cracked the bung. Had a fairly good drip. A quick zap with welder fixed it.


#9

Knifenmore, I have a breaker bar that I’d bet will break it loose. But the impact wrench always works too.

It’s possible that the threads are weakened, but if it were mine I’d prepare with a self-tapping oversize plug and hoe they aren’t If they are, chances are that they’ll fail when changing oil and not drop the plug out on the road. I’ve seen drain holes with long holes, I seem to recall my daughter’s Civic as being horizontal with a surprisingly deep threaded drain hole. I believe the pan was cast aluminum. In thinking about it, it probably would have been possible to get a plug stuck in there. Steel in cast aluminum can gall and be a stinker to get out. I’ve had that problem in industrial applications too where cast aluminum housings were used with screwed-in fittings installed.


#10

I must have been born with calibrated hands since I’ve never over-tightened or stripped any nuts or bolts in my entire wrench turning career. I’m not counting the first time I encountered a “left-handed” threaded lugnut on my 63’ Pontiac Grand Prix. I made it home just fine on the 4 remaining lugnuts. I changed the remaining “lugs from hell” the next day to the “right handed” variety.


#11

If I was a betting man (which I’m not), I would wager that the source of the problem is the result of not using a new crush washer on the drain plug after each oil change. In an effort to save–maybe–20 cents, shops will inadvertently wind up tightening the drain plug too much because they re-used the old crush washer.


#12

I’ll bet we have a winner! +1 to @VDCdriver I’ve been the victim of this on a truck bought used. It took an impact wrench to get the plug out and there was NO sealing washer under the plug. I saved the threads though.


#13

What burns me is that I have to drive almost 40 miles RT plus pay more for this oil change to happen as the place I got the previous place was next to where I use to work, or otherwise I wouldn’t have gone there. Hopefully they can get the plug out without damaging the oil pan cause I don’t have the funds for a new pan and I doubt the other options stated here will be offered.


#14

I guess @brm7675 is not going to clarify what his vehicle is.


#15

I too have never stripped a nut of bolt. I long ago was taught the folly of tightening as tight as possible. I only tighten as tight as necessary.

Well, I guess it would be technically incorrect to say I never broke a screw. In North Dakota at subzero temperatures the heads of the aluminum screws would occasionally pop off when trying to remove them from flux panels on the ends of the wings. Every time we’d go out knowing we had to remove the panel we’d call the airframes shop before going and they’d meet us at the aircraft prepared to extract the shanks. But that wasn’t from over tightening.


#16

Worse case you’ll just need a replacement oil pan. It’s truly a pain, and an unnecessary expense, but not the end of the world.

One suggestion going forward, stop by a dealership and buy a bunch of the washers which go between the drain plug and the pan surface. In an ideal world a new one would be installed on each oil change, but the folks who do oil changes rarely do this. They’ll often just install the used one and when it leaks their solution is to tighten the plug tighter.

So secure a bag of those washers from the dealership and keep it in the car. Next time for an oil change, give them a new washer. If you feel lucky you could ask that they hand tighten the drain plug using a torque wrench, and hand the person helping you a piece of paper with the manufacturer’s torque value.

Edit… maybe that piece of paper should also contain the phrase “Federal Reserve Note” . … lol

Me, being cheap … lol … I make my own oil pan washers from rubber gasket material. I prefer the rubber type b/c I’ve never had an case where it leaks after the proper torque is applied. The metal washer sometimes will still leak, especially if there’s small scratches on the oil pan surface. One time I made a oil pan washer for my truck from the sole of an old pair of flip flops. I fashioned it with a box cutter knife. It never leaked a drop.


#17

we still don’t know what kind of vehicle it is

It could be one of those where the oil drain plug has a “captive” seal . . . think GM and some Ford vehicles

Even so, a new drain plug is relatively cheap


#18

I’m betting Impala.


#19

Good point, db. That WOULD be a nice bit of information!
OP?


#20

The rubber seal on the OP’s Impala doesn’t require replacement during each oil change but they get damaged from over tightening.

If the Goodyear shop over tightened the drain plug they should replace the plug or perform whatever repair is necessary, I wouldn’t expect to be sold a repair.