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Replacing Oil Pan for My 2008 Honda Element

Hello All,

I recently purchased a used (about 76,000 miles) 2008 Honda Element LX. I just took it to shop for the state inspection. Mechanic said everything looked okay except that the oil drain plug was backed out of the pan about halfway. In his opinion, it was just barely hanging on. He said he could remove the plug and check it out, but if he did and it turns out it needs a new oil pan, it would cost about $700.

I contacted the dealer about this. Unfortunately, replacing the oil pan isn’t covered in the 30-day powertrain warranty, but dealer said they could replace the pan for $400. But the dealership is over 1 hour away, and I’m concerned if I drive that far, I could do more damage to the car or even blow the engine! Of course I could have it towed, but that’ll cost something too.

Any suggestions?

Here’s some pictures, in case that helps.

Someone more knowledgeable than me will help, but as far as I know, there are always methods to install a new drain plug without needing a new pan. Such as drilling it out and tapping for a larger hole.

But you don’t even know if that is needed. Did you have someone just try to tighten the plug?

And there are rubber plugs that work on any hole, but they should be used only for a very short time, as they are liable to falling out.

And you should consider taking it back to the place you purchased it, and have the fix it.

I’m not a mechanic but if someone suggested to me that I needed to replace the oil pan instead of the oil plug in your situation, I’d assume they were trying to rip me off. BillRussell is correct. There are kits like this for dealing with a problem like that.

And that might not even be needed if the plug can be tightened.

You’d like to believe the inspection guy at least tried to move the plug to gauge if it was simply loose or if it was cross-threaded. With the position of the bolt now, it should be able to be rotated by hand if it’s not damaged. Maybe the person who did the last oil change simply did not tighten it. That would be the best case scenario.

It could be loose because the threads are already stripped and mostly gone. Tightening it should reveal if the threads are reasonably OK. Personally, I’d do an oil change and inspect it regardless.

If the bolt is cross-threaded and tight at its current depth, that’s obviously something that needs to be addressed. It does not need to be a full pan replacement, there are other options that are faster and less costly.

However, if anything needs to be done to fix it and it was my car, I’d be contacting the seller demanding some compensation. A $400 bill to fix it does not fit into my idea of compensation :wink:

Personally, if you just bought the car I’d want to fix it properly. Yes there are other plugs that can be used or it can be re-tapped, but I’d want a new pan on it myself. Now from the picture it looks like there is a plastic washer on the plug. I believe Honda’s use a metal crush washer and a new crush washer (about 10 cents) needs to be used each time the plug is removed. Honda’s are susceptible to stripped pan threads which is why a new washer is specified. I buy them six at a time when I buy filters. So change the pan and then have the oil properly changed or do it yourself to avoid the problem in the future. Probably a quick lube was in this car’s past.

The mechanic said he couldn’t the plug by hand.

*couldn’t MOVE the plug by hand

Then the threads are cross-threaded. It looks straight in the photo, but can’t be positive. You may be able to just clean up the threads on the pan with a tap and use a new plug. A good mechanic can tell by a close inspection, with the oil drained.

Your decision, as to whether you try to get the person/shop you bought it from to give you a new pan, or to just fix it at your expense.

It seems to me that an oil pan replacement in this situation would be similar to replacing a radiator because the radiator cap is stuck. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly the same but it seems like overkill when the problem could be fixed relatively easily.

The dilemma to me would be that I wouldn’t trust either the shop or dealer to do the job since they suggested replacement of the oil pan. At this point they will find a reason to replace the pan even though a plug should be enough.

If you can’t do this on your own I think I would take it to a third shop (not a quick lube) and ask what they would charge to replace or fix the oil drain plug rather than leaving the diagnosis to them. You could even do this by phone.

In my opinion, the dealer should fix the plug for no charge. But that doesn’t seem realistic to me and not a battle worth fighting.

That’s my 2 cents…

If the selling dealer was the last to change oil (during recon) then take the vehicle back and ask them to correct the problem. This is not a powertrain warranty issue, this shouldn’t be damaged at the time of sale. When you buy a used vehicle you expect to be able to change the oil in the future without problems.

The oil pan on your engine is stamped steel and not cast aluminum. So a TIME-CERT repair kit can’t be used.

What I would do if you were to bring it to my shop is, drain the oil, take an oxy/acetylene torch and heat up the pan around the drain plug to get the threaded hole in the weld nut inside the oil pan to expand, then remove the drain plug.

Then using a thread chaser of the proper size chase the threads in the weld nut.

Then install a new drain plug and gasket washer.


@Tester: Yikes!! That sounds complicated.

Sounds overly complicated to me too. Drain the oil, install the drain plug, heat the pan, remove the plug…

98% of the time I just remove the drain plug and install a new one. The threads on the drain plug become stretched from over tightening but the nut in the pan is usually OK. On rear occasion the threads in the pan are damaged.

Got a quote from another shop for replacing the oil pan (assuming that turns out to be necessary). $510. So I think I’ll just take back to dealer. MAYBE they’ll figure out a simple solution to fixing/replacing the plug. If not, I guess I’ll have to pay $400 to have them replace the pan. Not a great situation in itself, but if I get too obsessive in trying to find the “cheapest” solution available, I’m afraid it’ll just things worse, especially since I’m not a very experienced “do-it-yourself” person when it comes to cars.

Who is responsible for the damage? Did you buy the vehicle this way or did you have the oil changed somewhere?

I have NOT had the oil changed since I bought it. The dealership had never changed it either.

Did you buy the vehicle from a dealer or from a private party?

It is standard procedure to change the oil on used cars during inspection/recon. If they didn’t change the oil they should have at least inspected the vehicle to be sure drain plugs aren’t falling out.

Bought it from dealer.

I would return to the selling dealer and tell them their mechanic messed up this drain plug. This will cost them next to nothing to repair. Unless this is a junk dealer they should be willing to correct this.