The oil pan is the part of your vehicle that actually holds the engine oil. It is located at the base of the engine, but your oil dipstick reaches down into the pan, which means that you can access it from the top of your vehicle as well. Oil pans do not suffer from wear and tear through their normal operation, but collisions, environmental factors and simple age can cause damage to occur to your oil pan. Any sort of cracking or breaking can allow for oil to leak out of your oil pan, which can cause serious complications to your engine and by extension, the rest of your vehicle. Understanding the warning signs associated with a damaged oil pan can help you determine when you should head to a mechanic to have it inspected.
Oil Under the Vehicle
Obviously, the most common sign that your oil pan has become damaged is if you notice that there are large puddles of oil that are sitting under the vehicle after it has been parked for a while. This points to an actual crack or broken section within the oil pan that is letting oil leak out. Individual spots can point to minor damage, but if there is any sort of pooling of oil, you should avoid driving your vehicle at all and get in touch with an auto repair specialist to determine the best course of action.
Low Oil Levels
In a very similar train of thought, you may be experiencing a damaged oil pan in the event that you find that your oil levels are consistently below the recommended minimum on the dipstick every time you check. In general, you should not have to add in more oil between oil changes, which you should have completed every three months – though check the owner's manual for specific recommendations for your vehicle. Having to add in additional oil outside of oil changes is a clear indication of a leak in your oil pan, or at the very least some other engine issue that should be addressed by a professional mechanic.
Finally, the last clear indication that your oil pan has been damaged is if your engine is consistently suffering from high operating temperatures. Oil works to lubricate and cool your engine down: inadequate levels of oil mean that your engine will quickly heat up, burning more gas and even creating steam and outright shutting down in extreme circumstances. Avoid driving an engine that consistently overheats until a mechanic has had the chance to inspect and repair the oil pan.
Reach out to a center like H & S Tire & Auto Center to learn more.