Fixing the oil leak

As I’ve reported before, the car has had an oil leak coming from the oil pan since I ran it the first time. I suspect it’s from not getting a good seal between the pan and the engine block when we first put on the RTV. I also know it’s leaking from the blue drain plug which isn’t that big of a deal; I can easily take the plug out and add some teflon tape. However, when I do that it will require me to drain the oil so might as well fix both at the same time. The general process looks like this:

  1. Take off the oil pan.
  2. Clean all the previous gasket pieces from the oil pan and the engine block with some gasket remover, soap and water, then finally with some brake cleaner to make sure all the residue is off.
  3. Re-attach the pan with new RTV being very careful to align and attach it without smearing the RTV.
  4. Attach the blue drain plug with some teflon tape to secure the oil leaking between the threads.

With that in mind, I set aside some time this week to start getting the pan off and cleaned. That was fairly easy; jacked up the front of the car, put it on stands, then undid all the bolts securing the oil pan, the timing cover to pan, and the bellhousing to pan. Once loose, pry off the pan with a pry bar being very careful not to gouge the pan or block – there’s two little indents at the rear of the pan for this purpose. Getting the pan off the engine is a bit of a pain – it will only come out at a certain angle and takes a little gentle persuasion with the rubber mallet (GENTLE!).

I scrubbed and scrapped it all clean once loose. Picture of the clean block and pan below.

Oil pan cleaned and ready to reattach

Clean block

Now for the hard part. As I mentioned before, the pan only comes off at a certain angle. That means it only goes back on at a certain angle too and you can’t slide it around. So practice, practice, practice before you apply the RTV.

After a few test fittings I applied the “Right Stuff” black RTV. It’s got a 5 minute drying time which should have been enough time to put down the goop, take a picture, then get the pan into place. I recruited Kim to help life things into place under the car since I knew I’d need another set of hands. We opted to life the pan with the floor jack and it worked great – I could rest it on there and slowly lift it into place and align it before final mating.

RTV goop applied using the Haynes manual diagram…

RTV applied

RTV at the back

And then we proceeded to life the pan back into place. There is a secret however – get the lip of the oil pan (in the clean oil pan pic, the far left little outcropping) into the bellhousing first, then slide upward. Once you get close tap the front with the mallet GENTLY and push up. The front edge of the pan will slide up into the timing cover and from there you can get a couple bolts in. Note, you don’t fully seat the pan against the block, but rather work your way around in a star pattern using three torque ranges. From memory it’s 10 ft-lb, then 15 ft-lb, then 18 ft-lb for the final torque.

Pan back on and torqued. I’m sure it’s not the most pretty gasket work, but as long as it doesn’t leak I don’t care at all.

Oil pan back on

[Edit: Still leaking oil. I failed.]

Daniel

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