What makes Mustangs so bloodthirsty? Could it be that they don’t have enough blood of their own, a condition known as hypovolemia?
Wikipedia defines hypovolemia as “a state of decreased blood volume” “characterized by salt depletion”. Alas, after more more than twenty years on the road, salt has indeed depleted the outer integrity of my car’s oil pan. The result? A gradual loss of my dear 302's lifeblood.
It started slow, maybe a quart every oil change. But in the past couple of months, it’s become a weekly maintenance item. The bottom of the pan is constantly wet, and the dripping leaves stains on the ground. Last week, I tightened the drain plug, hoping that it was merely loose, and cleaned the area. But it’s still leaking, which is both good news and bad. The good news is, I must have tightened it properly during its last oil change. The bad news is, fixing the leak just got a bit more complicated...
I crawled back underneath and picked away bits of flaking paint. As you might expect, a disconcerting amount fell away from the rusted steel surface. I scraped and brushed all that loose material, and wiped away the dust and oil from the surface. Suddenly, right on the side of the pan I noticed some fresh weepage. Oil, that is.
Black brown gold. Texas tea.
In theory, the job is simple: unbolt the oil pan, and put a new one on with a fresh gasket. Shouldn’t be more than $100 in parts. In reality, the saddle-shaped pan is nestled over the K-member, which means dropping the entire front suspension, or pulling the engine out from above to access the pan. All for an itty-bitty oil leak.
Even though a new pan is guaranteed to keep the oil on the inside, that’s an awful lot of trouble to go through. So instead, I’d like to try patching this one in place. Don’t get me wrong: I dislike the idea of taking a chance on a patch that may or may not hold. I’ve only ever tried doing such a thing once, wrapping a glob of J-B Weld around a leaking steel section of power steering line. (It didn’t last long.)
But the oil pan is not subject to that kind of hydraulic pressure. I believe that if I can prep the surface well enough, and seal it with something that can handle temperature changes and oil contact, this would be the practical way to go.
The leak is on the passenger side of the pan, on a flat vertical section. A quick Google search for “oil pan repair” reminded me of one of Torch’s articles from a few years ago: The Super Hacky Oil Pan Emergency Repair Fix
I’ve already drained the oil, and am seriously thinking about (after prepping the surface) smearing a bit of RTV over the pinhole, and using that to glue a coin per Jason’s technique.
What do you think? What are your experiences with patching up leaks? If it was your car, how much of a hassle would pan replacement have to be before you would attempt something like this?
Thanks for the suggestions! I took a chance on epoxy after all.
I prepped the surface real good and coated the front, sides, and bottom of the main hump. After sanding, painting with engine paint and re-filling with oil, I found that it was now leaking in the oil level sensor dimple. I must have disturbed some loose rust and uncovered a new leak.
So I had to start all over again. Re-drain, re-prep, re-coat, re-sand, re-clean, re-paint, re-fill... Only now can I report no leaks!
We’ll see how long it lasts.
The very edge of the repair where the epoxy was thinnest broke through, probably due in part to winter’s more extreme temperature fluctuations. See post here.