Is there a way to fix my damaged oil pan without removing the engine?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a problem with an oil pan on a 1993 Chevy S-10 pickup. It's a 4.3 liter V-
6 with two-wheel drive and 115,000 miles on it. The side of the pan above the
drain plug has a crack that seeps a little oil. The area is about the size of a
silver dollar. There is also a little rust around the crack. I bought a used pan
for 20 bucks, but my mechanic says he has to take out the engine to do the job,
so he wants $500 to replace a $20 pan. For me, this is out of the question. Is
there anything else I can try? The truck is in otherwise good shape -- burns a
little oil first thing in the morning but not too much. -- Pete

TOM: If you can't or don't want to invest $500 in this truck, you have several
options, Pete. One is to do nothing.

RAY: That's my brother's favorite option in all aspects of his life, as you
probably know.

TOM: As long as it's not leaking much oil, and you keep an eye on it and make
sure it doesn't get much worse, you can probably just leave it. Who knows, with
115,000 miles on the truck, the piston rings or bearings might quit on you before
the rest of the oil pan does.

RAY: But a better option would be to try to repair it. You can either have it
brazed -- that is, welded at low temperature -- or you can use an epoxy.

TOM: We prefer epoxy, because we find that we set fewer cars on fire with it. And
we use stuff called "J-B Weld," which is an epoxy that works on almost anything.

RAY: It even kept my brother's hair under control for a few weeks last summer.

TOM: You should drain the oil out first so it doesn't seep out while you're
applying the epoxy. Then carefully clean a large area around the leak. Apply the
epoxy in a pancake-sized area around the crack -- and hope it holds. Since it's a
small crack, I think you've got a good chance of success.

RAY: And when you're done, DON'T forget to refill the engine with oil before you
restart it. Or if you do forget, at least put a new oil pan on when the engine's
out getting rebuilt.

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