Repairing a Stripped Oil Pan Drain Plug


Having a stripped oil pan drain plug is a very common problem on today’s vehicles.  Cars and truck built in the 80s and 90s often had steel oil pans that were made of strong thick steel that rarely got stripped out.  Today’s vehicles are usually built with aluminum oil pans.  Aluminum is better at transferring heat than steel so it can help keep cool your engine oil as it sits in the sump waiting to take another trip around the engine.  Aluminum is also lighter than steel so it can cut as much as a few pounds from an engine’s weight helping with handling and fuel efficiency.

The downfall of aluminum is that it is much easier to damage threads as a similarly sized bolt will hold much less torque in aluminum.  The most common places this happens in a motor is valve covers or intake manifolds bolting to aluminum heads or oil pan drain plugs threading into aluminum oil pans.

Oil Pan Drain Plug, Stripped oil panA stripped oil pan drain plug can be especially frustrating because it will leave your oil drain plug loose causing a constant leak.  If the threads are completely stripped it can even lead to the drain plug not fitting at all which would leave your engine completely empty of oil and unable to be ran.  If you find yourself in this position you’ve got 2 options:

Stripped Oil Pan Drain Plug Repair:

  1. Replace the oil pan
  2. Install an oversized drain plug

Oil Pan Replacement

Replacing the oil pan in some cars may be a simple job, as you can see as we replace the oil pan in a Volkswagen Beetle.   In many cars, it is a very difficult job as you have to move exhaust pipes or even drop the subframe.  Before you attempt to tackle this job it would be smart to get a repair manual for your vehicle and spend some time looking underneath your car so you know what you’re getting into.

Install an Oversized Drain Plug

If an oversized drain plug is available for your vehicle, like it was for the 2009 Acura MDX in the video above, it is by far the easier option.  These drain plugs can cut new threads in the soft aluminum of your oil pan allowing you to keep your current oil pan installed and drive leak free!

Try calling any of our partnering local auto parts stores to see if they carry an oversized drain plug for you vehicle:

  • AutoZone
  • Advance Auto Parts
  • Bennett Auto Supply
  • CarQuest Auto Parts
  • NAPA Auto Parts
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts
  • Pep Boys
  • Fast Track
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Specialists
  • S&E Quick Lube Distributor
  • DYK Automotive
  • Fisher Auto Parts stores
  • Auto Plus Auto Parts stores
  • Hovis Auto & Truck Supply stores
  • Salvo Auto Parts
  • Advantage Auto Stores
  • Genuine Auto Parts stores
  • Bond Auto Parts stores
  • Tidewater Fleet Supply
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts
  • Any Part Auto Parts
  • Consumer Auto Parts

Pictures Provided By:

stripped_oil_pan.jpg – By Sshepard – Licensed by Getty Images – Original Link

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One response to “Repairing a Stripped Oil Pan Drain Plug

  1. After reading your article on repairing strip oil drain plugs, I agree with option 2 replacing the strip drain plug with a new oversize plug rather than option 1, replacing the vehicle with a new oil pan. Option 2 is not only easier but saves a lot of money in the repair process. Note: Option 1 would be used only if option 2 failed or you can’t find a oversized drain plug for your vehicle.

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