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Oil Pan Gasket

I recently had my oil &filter changed on my 01 integra at the dealer and was told that my oil pan gasket has started to leak. Car has 180k on it, and has no engine leaks.Seems like steep price for the repair $340.00 for the oil pan gasket. Is this repair really worth doing on a 12yr old car or is this just a normal thing that happens w/ age. Also Oil is not leaking on the ground and has no leaks around the engine. Iam only adding 1qt. of oil evry 3k, please advise.
Thanks, Jintegra

It depends on what we mean by “leak”, if it is a bit of oil seeping around the gasket, I will just keep an eye on the engine oil level as needed. If there is visible spots on the ground when you leave the car parked, then I might consider fixing it.

Not sure how Acura’s are setup, but that price sounds steep anyway. On a car that old, I will stay away from the dealer, just find a local independent shop to go to. Ask around for someone honest.

Price isn’t too bad, but if you’re not having to add oil any more than that, I’d just keep an eye on it.

It really depends on how hard it is to get the pan off. If there are restrictions that have to be removed it can get a little expensive. Otherwise its a $20-30 part and an hour or so. I’d agree though to keep an eye on it and if its not bad, ignore it.

1 quart every 3,000 miles total usage?
No, it is DEFINITELY NOT worth fixing. Seepage through the pan gasket on a car that age is not unusual and not at all meaningful…except to dealers, who use the seepage for take money from unsuspecting victims.

The oil pan is exactly that, a pan for the oil to be held in. The oil pump pumps oil up from the pool of oil in the pan through a straw dipped into the pool, called a “pickup tube”. The edge of the pan in which the oil is held is above the oil pool, just like water in a pan on your stove. The pan gasket only connects the pan to the bottom of the engine such that oil running down from the valvetrain, the cylinders, etc, goes back into the pan.

Pans weep a bit for two reasons;

  1. after being compressed for soo long, they lose their ability to push back
  2. crankcases develop a bit of “blowby” (combustion gases passing by the rings under pressure) as they get older. That “blowby” pressure pressurizes the crankcase some (much of the pressure is relieved through the oil return passages and the PCV valve).
    The pressure can push some of the oil past the long-compressed gasket.

It is NOT a problem and means NOTHING to the operation of your engine, as long as you keep the level up where it should be…and you are clearly doing that.

And, as Bing said, I believe that engine has obstacles, like an engine cradle, exhaust pipe, and sway bar, that all need to be removed to remove the pan.

You might put some newspaper on the ground where you park after driving the car to operating temp. You might discover a drop of two of oil is leaking out. It’s hard to see unless you have some white paper to see it drip on. It’s sort of unusual for this gasket to leak unless the car has overheated or you’ve hit the oil pan driving over some obstruction and jarred it loose. Even if it is dripping, if this were my car I wouldn’t replace the gasket just for a drip or two. First of all, it isn’t usually possible to tell that the leak is due to the oil pan gasket on just a quick visual inspection. You’d have to clean everything off, then watch it over the course of a few days. It could be anything above leaking, then running down to the oil pan. It isn’t uncommon for the oil drain plug to leak either, esp if the gasket/washer on that isn’t changed with each oil change, and when it leaks, the wind will blow the oil back to the gasket area, so it appears to be leaking from the pan gasket, when it’s really leaking from the drain plug. I think the best thing to do is keep the $340 for yourself at this point, and monitor the oil level.

A common ploy to drum up business: point out the slightest imperfections.

Seems like ‘leaking oil pan gasket’ is a common scam these days. Cars leak MUCH less now than they used to.

I’d stick a torque wrench on the pan bolts and see if tightening them a touch will stop the seep. If there are no drips on the ground, there is no leak.

Why would you go to the dealer for anything on a car that old, especially an oil change?
that’s like having a “rob me” sign on you back.

The only thing I will add is that since an oil pan gasket leak is really not too common on modern cars maybe the cause is being misdiagnosed.
Maybe the leak is a crankshaft seal or something of that nature. Those types of seals are much more costly to replace than a pan gasket so this should not be done unless it’s verified and becomes a much worse problem than it is now.

My vote would be to clean the oily area off, recheck the pan bolts for tightness, and see what happens from there on.

Before you spend considerable money, ask someone to tighten the oil pan screws and then watch for leaks. If that does not work then a new gasket may be indicated if the leak is not from elsewhere. An oil pan gasket is an easy task. A billed hour from an experienced mechanic should cover it in my view and if not, ask why so slow.

I would not previously thought it possible but my very old car recently had loose oil pan screws to make a leak.

@texases why are you cynical about leaking oil pan gaskets?

Is anything less than a Niagara Falls size leak a scam to you?

@bennyandthejets I am a fleet mechanic and I see plenty oil leaky oil pan gaskets. I clean the pan, torque the bolts and recheck. If the pan is wet but there’s no drips on the ground, does that mean there’s no leak?

While that may prove that the engine isn’t losing oil a fast rate, it doesn’t mean there’s no leak.
What it does mean is that you may not have a big problem.

There are leaks, and there are LEAKS. It is a matter of degree. Most of the time my cars are parked on a gravel driveway, so a puddle would need to be significant for me to see anything. In an oil pan, this is basically a tub at the bottom of the motor. The function is to hold oil and a loose oil pan gasket is like a loose cap on a bottle. If the bottle doesn’t tilt you don’t lose any drink and you never know, drop the bottle and you can have a mess.

Tighten the oil pan bolts to spec torque. Clean the area around the gasket, and the bottom of the pan. Then monitor to see how fast any more oil residue shows up, for drips when parked, and dropping level on the dipstick. Unless you have issues I won’t replace the pan gasket.

A motorcycle with any oil leak is a big deal. You don’t want to get any oil on the rear wheel, it will reduce traction and might cause the bike to slide out from under the rider on a corner.

Leaking oil isn’t good for the roads since this oil rises up to the surface when the road gets wet with rain. This can make the roadway very slick at the start of a light rain shower. I’d fix an oil pan that is leaking just to be a good citizen. But I’d have to see more evidence of a significant leak. Seepage and some oil residue around the oil pan gasket is common and might not require replacing the oil pan gasket.

Honestly, OK4450, at a total usage of 1 qt every 3,000 miles for a vehicle with 180K on th eclock, I wouldn’t bother. I agree with your point that it may be a crank seal, but even then I wouldn’t bother.

What does bother me is dealerships getting people worked up about nothing just for the purpose of revenue generation. Respectfully, IMHO the OP’s shop is what needs changing.

@db4690 - we’ve had a number of questions over the years from folks that typically went to a quicky lube place and were told they needed a new gasket, even though there were no drips on the garage floor and no noticable loss of oil between changes, just a little oil staining on the pan. That’s the scam part.

Sure, if there’s significant leakage, requiring adding oil more than usual, get it fixed.

I’m in agreement that oil pan gasket leaks can and certainly do occur but my point is that it’s not as prevalent as it used to be.
In this case and with useage at about a quart per 3k miles maybe the term weepage might be a better one than leakage and with retightening of the pan bolts being a possible fix.

As to what they were told by the dealer, and playing devil’s advocate for a bit, the person doing the oil change may have noticed leakage and having no idea of the rate of oil consumption based on a leak and very high miles may have recommended a gasket replacement.
Failing to do so could mean that the lowly oil change could come back to bite him with the customer blaming the dealer if the engine ran low on oil a few thousand miles later due to a leak that the mechanic chose to brush off.

I’m not saying that the OP would do this; only that it does happen with regularity.

Good points all. And it’s a good reminder that the guy under the car doesn’t have all the data that we’re given and has to assume some possibilities based on what he sees. I’ll try to keep that in mind and give them more of the “benefit of the doubt”.