(Updated on June 9, 2020)
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.
1) Visible 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.
2) Engine Overheating
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
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
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
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
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 $110 to $150 while the labor costs will be around $190 to $700 depending on how difficult the job is.