5 Symptoms of an Oil Pan Gasket Leak (And Replacement Cost)

Oil is the blood flow of any vehicle with an internal combustion engine. Oil circulates through the engine and lubricates its components the same way that blood flows through our bodies and nourishes our cells.

The oil pan is located underneath the engine. It serves as a reservoir which stores the oil as it circulates through the passages of the engine and flows through the components.

In between the engine block and the oil pan is something called an oil pan gasket. The gasket serves as a seal which keeps the oil contained while it circulates from the oil pan to the engine block and vice versa.

If there was no oil pan gasket, then oil would leak out of the pan and be unable to circulate properly to the engine.

Top 5 Oil Pan Leak Symptoms

Like most components of a vehicle, the oil pan gasket does not last forever. As you continue to drive your vehicle, the gasket will go through normal wear and tear.

Eventually, it will get to the point where the gasket is so worn out that it will not be able to seal the oil any longer.

As a result, oil will begin to leak from the gasket as it tries to circulate between the engine block and the oil pan. You need to recognize the symptoms of this issue so that you can replace the gasket immediately and resolve this issue.

Otherwise, it could cause enough oil to leak out where major damage to your engine could occur. Below are five of the most common signs of an oil pan gasket leak.

See Also: Metal Shavings in Oil? (What it Means)

1) Visible Oil Leak

oil leak

Obviously, the biggest and most obvious symptom will be oil leaking from underneath your vehicle. Before getting in your vehicle, look under the front of the car.

If you see a small puddle of a dark brown or black fluid underneath your engine, you have an oil leak. You should inspect further to see if it’s coming from the oil pan or another location.

See Also: Causes of Oil Leaking Into Spark Plug Wells

2) Engine Overheating

engine overheating symptoms

If oil is leaking out of your vehicle, then your engine will not receive enough oil to lubricate and cool down its components. This will cause your engine to overheat because of all the moving components that rub together and generate intense heat.

Unless you replace the gasket that is likely causing the leak, the engine will become ruined if it overheats for too long.

3) Smoke Issues

smoke from exhaust

When your engine overheats, it is common for a blueish smoke to be emitted from the exhaust pipe. Sometimes the smoke will come directly out of the engine compartment in the front. This is the result of oil leaking onto the exhaust manifold (which is normally very hot).

If you let this leak continue on like this, then important electrical sensors in your vehicle could become damaged if the oil leaks onto them too.

4) Low Oil Level

excessive oil consumption

If you need to confirm that you have leaky oil, take a dipstick and check the oil level in your vehicle. If the oil level is too low, check around the vehicle for any leaks if you haven’t already noticed them.

Also, take a look at the condition of the oil pan gasket and see if it is worn out. Either that or take your vehicle to a mechanic and have them change your oil. At the same time, have them check your gasket for you. If it is damaged or worn out, then replace it.

5) Engine Warning Light

oil pressure check engine light

The engine warning light should illuminate on your dashboard if you have an oil leak. Some model vehicles have a separate oil warning light too, but you should at least see the engine warning light.

Oil Pan Gasket Replacement Cost

We recommend Parts Geek for the best prices and selection.

When you have a leaky oil pan gasket and you need to get it replaced, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $850 for the replacement.

The parts cost alone will be around $30 to $100 (depending on the type of gasket), while the labor costs will be around $300 to $800. This price depends on how difficult the job is on your specific car. 


19 thoughts on “5 Symptoms of an Oil Pan Gasket Leak (And Replacement Cost)”

  1. Mechanic says I need a oil gasket on my oil pan but no leakage on ground no smoking no smell of oil uses about a quart a month wonder if it’s fake mechanical diagnosis any comments thanks guy for your comments

    • It may be seeping out from the gasket. You could crawl underneath to take a look at the oil pan yourself if you are curious how the gasket looks. If there is a leak, you will see a damp layer of dirt and oil caked onto the bottom of the pan, especially near the oil pan gasket.

      If you aren’t comfortable jacking up the car to crawl underneath, you could probably just slide a phone underneath and take some pictures instead. Another option is to get a second opinion at your next oil change.

  2. Richard I just had my oil pan gasket replaced along with the oil sending unit. The mechanic said that there is now no evidence of leaks. I plan to take the car for a test drive before I take it on a 300 mile trip. Is there anything else I should do before the trip or things I should watch out for on the trip (save checking the oil level of course) ?

    • Check the oil level at every gas station, bring extra oil if you’ll be out in the middle of nowhere. It’d be a good idea to do a few extended test drives around town first if you can. After you return, check all fluids, tire pressures, etc. to make sure you’re ready for your trip. Should be fine.

  3. An oil pan gasket costs about $20. The job is easy, unless there are other parts in the way: drain oil (which can be saved and reused if it is clean), remove bolts, clean off old gasket, attach new gasket, reinsert bolts. An hour tops if the mechanic is competent.

  4. I went for an oil change because I needed one. Midas says I need a new oil pan gasket and cover. $800. I never once saw leaking oil until I brought it home last night. They just did an oil change. It leaked for a little but hadn’t since. If I never saw a leak, could my oil pan gasket really be leaking (they said seeping) oil?

    • Seeping oil means it’s leaking, but very slowly. Often this is too slow to even notice a drip. It may drip occasionally and you may notice a drop or two in your driveway when the car is parked overnight.

    • U can pick up a gasket under $50 refill the oil under $50 and find someone else to do it cheaper than $800…alot of these auto mechanics are crooks

      • Yes, they are crooks. The labor is between 1.75 to 2.50 hours ($150-$370). The parts average fron $50 – $150,

  5. Hey there . I have a oil leak coming my oil pan gasket . I have a Toyota Corolla 1991 E90 1.3 . I don’t know it uses a sump gasket or if I need to get sealant for it . Any advice please.

    • Sometimes oil seeps out of the valve cover slowly enough where you can smell it, but don’t immediately notice a drop in the oil level at the pan. It’s important to still get this addressed because oil dripping onto something hot like the exhaust manifold could catch fire.

  6. I believe oil pan or gasket is bad,I do have small leak,but low oil light doesn’t always come on,and I checked and oil level is fine. Just wondering if I should ad oil anyway,knowing it’s leaking,maybe oil pressure sensor bad?

    • Leaking oil is not good for the environment, so it’s best to get the issue addressed. That said a small leak probably won’t leave you stranded if you need to wait to afford the replacement cost.

      If the low oil light is coming on, perhaps the oil level sensor is working intermittently.


Leave a Comment