Loose oil drain plug

Closed Thread

  #1  
Old 01-30-05, 01:58 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NW Ohio
Posts: 188
Loose oil drain plug

Just had my oil changed in my 99 Concorde 3.2 engine. Mechanic showed me the oil drain plug was loose, the pan is aluminum and the threads were worn. Being Sunday, he put an expander plug in so it was operable but cautioned against long term use. His recommendation was to replace the oil pan.

The car has 121,000 miles (many highway) and has run very well. I have had the car serviced and the oil changed regularly. On trips I can average 30mpg plus. Is this an unusual thing? Is it expensive to change the oil pan?

Any other thoughts or opinions are welcome.

Tom
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 01-30-05, 04:40 PM
the_tow_guy's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: SW Fla USA
Posts: 11,564
In my never to be humble opinion, cast aluminum oil pans are one of the worst excuses for automotive engineering on record. As you've already found out aluminum is not as durable as steel and if you, for instance, take the drain plug out and put it back in enough times, eventually you are going to have a problem. Add to that the fact that they are susceptible to damage from road debris, parking curbs, and towing equipment (on some cars, possibly including yours, if you're not careful hooking up the wheel lift, the oil pan will contact the cross bar on the wheel lift and the first good bump you hit is going to knock a nice hole in the pan). And when you damage a cast aluminum pan it usually means a piece broke off and/or a hole, unlike a steel pan that would simply be dented.

And yes, it is expensive to replace. I've never priced one, but I suspect you're looking well over $100 + labor.
 
  #3  
Old 01-30-05, 05:13 PM
billys68ss's Avatar
Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 1,459
I have to about halfway agree with the Tow Guy. Aluminum can be a PITA. Especially when you take it to Jiffy Lube or the sort for your regular oil changes. Not saying thats what you did or do. Ive seen both steel and aluminum pans damaged this way. Some hercules punk with too much testosterone in the pit putting a pry bar on your drain plug to tighten and loosen it the next time.
At any rate, the only real safe option now is to replace the pan. The OE part number is 4663841AC, providing it has not been superceded as my info is a year or so old. The pan should cost somewhere around $100.00 and it calls for 1.5 hours to replace.
Good Luck,
Billy
 
  #4  
Old 01-30-05, 05:45 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NW Ohio
Posts: 188
Thx Tow Guy and Billy for the quick and knowledgeable responses. I always keep my machines serviced with what they need and rolling on good rubber. I appreciate your opinions and for the lack of any other viable options will plan to have the pan changed.
 
  #5  
Old 01-30-05, 08:19 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 478
If there is enough material I would put a helicoil in there. It will be stronger than the original therads unless it had a helicoil from the factory as some aluminum pans do. The trick will be to get it drilled and tapped straight.

As has been said this is a common problem in all types of oil pans. If people would torque the drain plug to the manufacture's specs. this problem could virtually be eliminated. People understandably don't want the plug to come out so they overtighten and stripped threads will result over time.

One of my cars has an aluminum pan with a factory helicoil. At first oil change I drilled a hole in the head of the drain plug. I tighten it 10 ft. lbs less than specified and put a piece of safety wire through it. It cannot come out and I will bet the threads will out last the car.
 
  #6  
Old 01-30-05, 09:55 PM
backyardhndyman
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
food for thought

all these guys are correct and wether u have pan replaced or a helicoil installed i wld look into sumthing that could reduce the wear on ur threads i had a 1980 mercury which i bought used and found at my first oil chg sm1 had installed a drain plug that u dint need to remove to drain ur oil it was a valve that u wld turn a 1/4 turn or so allowing u to drain the oil without the need to remove the drain plug thus minimizing the wear on ur threads i know ur gonna ask what if the valv gets bumped and opens on the road well it was stiff to turn anyway just something u cld look into especially if ur drain plug pulls out the side of ur pan next to the bottom rather than straight out the bottom
 
  #7  
Old 01-31-05, 07:02 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NW Ohio
Posts: 188
Thx guys,

The mechanic mentioned but downplayed using a helicoil simply because of the need to pull the pan anyway to drill it. He also discouraged getting a used one from a junk yard, it'd prob have the same problem.

If I can get it replaced new for a reasonable amount of $ that's how I plan to go. If it appears to be too much I'll pursue these and resource other options and do the work myself. To actually unbolt and pull the pan didn't look to be too extensive, so I haven't totally exempted the overall idea from doing it myself...

Thx to all you fine fellows, anyone else have any thoughts to share?
 
  #8  
Old 01-31-05, 12:31 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 207
Lightbulb Helcoil

No need to remove pan to drill, put grease on the bit, an old machinest trick, also grease tap, have done it many times.
 
  #9  
Old 01-31-05, 07:44 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 478
Originally Posted by trs4594
Thx guys,

The mechanic mentioned but downplayed using a helicoil simply because of the need to pull the pan anyway to drill it. He also discouraged getting a used one from a junk yard, it'd prob have the same problem.

If I can get it replaced new for a reasonable amount of $ that's how I plan to go. If it appears to be too much I'll pursue these and resource other options and do the work myself. To actually unbolt and pull the pan didn't look to be too extensive, so I haven't totally exempted the overall idea from doing it myself...

Thx to all you fine fellows, anyone else have any thoughts to share?
I don't know why your mechanic thinks he needs to pull the pan unless the frame or some un-movable object would interfear with drilling and tapping.

slls Mentioned a good trick for catching most of the chips If any are missed the oil filter will catch them. Like I said the trick is drilling and tapping straight.
 
  #10  
Old 02-01-05, 05:44 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NW Ohio
Posts: 188
There is a cross brace too close to the plug hole to be able to get in to drill, saw it myself. Pulling the pan is easy enough to work on it but I'd use a new gasket replacing it. So with it off it's a question of a helicoil insert or just replacing it with a new pan. Labor tradeoff, extra cost, benefits all factored in, I'm going with a new pan.

The car was paid off over 2 years ago and has been taken car off pretty well. All required service has been followed including regular 3000-4000 mile oil changes. It runs very well and I plan on keeping it to the grave. If it was my '88 work truck, I not only would use a helicoil but would just do it myself....

So I save where I can and I save where some can't-but sometimes it's best to spend money smart...

Thx all for input and ideas, it's all good...
 
  #11  
Old 02-01-05, 03:46 PM
Desi501's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Boynton Beach Florida
Posts: 2,207
Originally Posted by slls
No need to remove pan to drill, put grease on the bit, an old machinest trick, also grease tap, have done it many times.
I gotta hear more about this. What on earth are you referring to with the grease. How's grease going to change the access angle.
 
  #12  
Old 02-01-05, 04:15 PM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Pittsburgh,Pa
Posts: 2,417
He was referring to catching the shavings I think Desi not the access.
 
  #13  
Old 02-01-05, 07:08 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 478
Originally Posted by trs4594
There is a cross brace too close to the plug hole to be able to get in to drill, saw it myself. Pulling the pan is easy enough to work on it but I'd use a new gasket replacing it. So with it off it's a question of a helicoil insert or just replacing it with a new pan. Labor tradeoff, extra cost, benefits all factored in, I'm going with a new pan.

The car was paid off over 2 years ago and has been taken car off pretty well. All required service has been followed including regular 3000-4000 mile oil changes. It runs very well and I plan on keeping it to the grave. If it was my '88 work truck, I not only would use a helicoil but would just do it myself....

So I save where I can and I save where some can't-but sometimes it's best to spend money smart...

Thx all for input and ideas, it's all good...
Are you saying the cross brace will not just un-bolt and come off??
 
  #14  
Old 02-02-05, 08:06 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NW Ohio
Posts: 188
Car nut,

That is exactly what I am saying. IMO, by the time you unbolt 'this' and loosen' that, do the deed, and put it all together again, the labor balance could easily exceed the practicality of just changing the pan. Of course one sure way to see "eyes on" is to get under the vehicle-which is what I did. Even if there is a trick for drilling/tapping with pan in place with low risk of tailings getting into the oil system, I already posted my reasons for choicing.
I resourced another local opinions and I'll share: he agreed the helicoil was not the best choice in this instance. He agreed the aluminum pan was a poor design but the best approach was a new pan. And he agreed the estimate was on the money.

I posted on here to get the value of experience and wisdom. I thank you all for your knowledge and opinions, it has helped. The decion was made, the work is done, and the car is in my garage.

Thank you.
 
  #15  
Old 02-02-05, 09:10 AM
billys68ss's Avatar
Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 1,459
Glad you got it done, whatever your course of action. Thanks for letting us know.
Billy
 
  #16  
Old 02-02-05, 11:56 AM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 207
Cool

Originally Posted by Desi501
I gotta hear more about this. What on earth are you referring to with the grease. How's grease going to change the access angle.
Read all the posts, interference was not mentioned until after the fact. BTW I see nothing wrong with the oversize drain plug, it came from the factory with the same tapped threads, i would have left it alone.
 
  #17  
Old 02-02-05, 07:37 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 478
Originally Posted by trs4594
Car nut,

That is exactly what I am saying. IMO, by the time you unbolt 'this' and loosen' that, do the deed, and put it all together again, the labor balance could easily exceed the practicality of just changing the pan. Of course one sure way to see "eyes on" is to get under the vehicle-which is what I did. Even if there is a trick for drilling/tapping with pan in place with low risk of tailings getting into the oil system, I already posted my reasons for choicing.
I resourced another local opinions and I'll share: he agreed the helicoil was not the best choice in this instance. He agreed the aluminum pan was a poor design but the best approach was a new pan. And he agreed the estimate was on the money.

I posted on here to get the value of experience and wisdom. I thank you all for your knowledge and opinions, it has helped. The decion was made, the work is done, and the car is in my garage.

Thank you.
It seems you were somewhat irritated by my question about removing the cross brace?? I was just trying to help in case you had not evaluated that option.
I'm glad you got it fixed but sorry you took my question the wrong way.
 
  #18  
Old 02-03-05, 03:55 AM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Pittsburgh,Pa
Posts: 2,417
The original problem has

been solved to the satisfaction of trs 4594 so the post is now closed.
 
Closed Thread

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes