How to Remove Your Oil Pan

There are many reasons you may want to remove your oil pan: to repair or replace it, inspect it, or access bearings and other parts without having to remove the engine. All cars are different and may have different requirements for easier access, like lifting the engine a few inches or you may even have free access. Whatever the situation may be, this is simple step-by-step tutorial will guide you in the removal of the oil pan of your particular automobile.



Find a Safe Place to Work

First, you must find a safe location to work on your vehicle. Garages and driveways are great places where you can regulate who comes and goes and offer you better protection from the unexpected. Working on the side of the road or on soft ground is not advisable, as these can very well lead to mishaps and other unfortunate situations. When looking for an ideal work place, consider places with flat, level, solid ground where you can easily work under your car, have access to your tools, and can guarantee safety from on-coming traffic.


Gather All the Safety Equipment

Make sure you have the tools and equipment you need. Among your top priorities should be; safety glasses or goggles, mechanic gloves, and any relevant disposal and cleanup items. You will be working underneath your car, so it’s essential you have sturdy platforms to hold your car up, like jack stands. Gather any other equipment you may need and get prepared to work. Be prepared for some mess, as working on a car is never clean business.


Lift Your Car

It would be impossible to access your oil pan without first lifting your car. At this point you shouldn’t be trying to work on it; simply focus on safely, raising the front of your vehicle off the ground. Once you see that you have enough space under the car to comfortably slide under it, support the vehicle on jack stands. Most vehicles have spots specifically designed to support the weight of the car safely, usually immediately behind the front wheel along the rocker panel. Some DIY mechanics suggest laying your axle on the jack stand; this is extremely ill-advised and could lead to serious damage on your car or worse.


Prevent the Car from Rolling Back

Before getting under the car, chock the rear wheels and then apply the parking brake. Chocking a wheel is done by placing a sturdy object against the back of the wheel, which acts as a point of friction to keep the car from rolling back and falling off the jack stands. Applying the parking brake is another preventative measure and it locks the rear wheels in place with a steel cable system.


Slide a Catch Pan under the Oil Pan

Prevent messes and potentially damaging your driveway or the environment by placing a catch pan underneath the oil pan. The catch pan is used to catch all the oil and other possible debris that is going to come pouring from your oil pan after removing the drain plug. The drain plug can be removed using a wrench or ratchet and socket. After removing the plug, let the oil drain from the system for a few minutes. Once the oil is completely drained, replace the drain plug.


Inspect the Oil Pan

Carefully examine the oil pan to the best of your ability and look out for any parts that should be removed. By doing this, you’re going to be more aware of the work this is going to take and what tools you’re going to need. It will also spare you the headache of discovering that you haven’t quite removed every part yet. If it makes your task easier, consider disconnecting one or two motor mounts and lifting the engine a little with a floor jack to get better access to the oil pan and offer more clearance for removal.


Remove Cross Members or Mounts

Cross members and motor mounts are the components of your car that hold all the parts of the engine bay in place and where they need to be. In some vehicles, these may restrict access to the vehicle and it may be necessary to remove them. To do this, locate their various bolts and nuts and undo them with a wrench or ratchet and socket.


Unscrew Oil Pan Mounting Bolts

Locate and uninstall the oil-pan mounting bolts from the pan flange. The flange is the part that connects the pan to the rest of the oil delivery and creates a seal between the two; it should be fairly easy to find. Use a flashlight or other lighting source if necessary. Due to the cramped spaces often found in engine bays, it will be necessary to use a swivel socket or long ratchet extension and ratchet. These tools can be found at most automotive and home improvement stores; some are even designed specifically for this task.


Give the Oil Pan a Tap

Using a rubber mallet, lightly tap one side of the oil pan to release the pan from the engine. It may sometimes need to be pried off with a pry bar, but do so with caution, as it can cause irreparable damage to the oil pan. Unless the part is being replaced, you will need to find a new pan before you can drive your car again if damage is done. If using a pry bar, it can help to place soft fabric between the bar and the oil pan to protect it.


Scratch off Old Gasket Material or Silicone

Because you will be replacing the oil pan with a fresh gasket, silicone, or sealing material, it is required that you remove the old material. This will greatly ease the process of sealing the oil pan to the mounting surface again. Be careful not to damage the surface and use a gasket scraper to assist you. Damaging the surface and reapplying the sealants and oil pan will result in compromising the pressure of the oil-pan and may cause other problems. Your engine relies on a constant internal pressure to operate properly.

After the last step, your oil pan is off and ready for the work that needs to be done. Once you’ve done what you need to, simply follow the steps in reverse after applying the new gasket or sealant to the mounting surface and you’re good to go. The oil pan should go in much easier than it came out. Before taking the car out on the road, be sure to let the car run for a few minutes in park, so that it can reestablish internal pressure. This is also a great time to make sure everything is working well.