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Car folks- Oil pan bolt/threads stripped, how to fix?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
So the oil pan bolt hole on my '96 Civic is stripped (once I take the bolt out, it's not going back in).

Anyone had this problem, and what did you do? It's $550 to replace the pan, but some other options are rubber plugs, or re-threading. It already has an oversized bolt in place, so this has happened before (it's got 1,000,000,000 miles on it ). This combined with $800 for the timing belt/water pump it need soon isn't going to happen right now.

Thanks!
post #2 of 44
Are you capable of replacing the pan yourself? I bet you can get one for not much off Honda-Tech classifieds... I would ask them for recommendations anyways
post #3 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavalier View Post
Are you capable of replacing the pan yourself? I bet you can get one for not much off Honda-Tech classifieds... I would ask them for recommendations anyways

Thanks, I have a thread over there, some people recommended a junkyard. I can get the oil pan online for $60 or so off retail, but that doesn't cut the cost down much.

I'm hoping someone has experience with the rubber temporary plugs (must be replaced after each oil change). I don't like the idea much, but they're cheap (picture a drywall butterfly bolt thing, with a rubber washer in between to seal it). I figure the worst that will happen is losing the plug while driving, oil light comes on, and I'll have to have it towed somewhere.
post #4 of 44
I'd listen to what they tell you over there, I always ask them my questions (I have a '99 SI )
post #5 of 44
Without seeing it, who knows. Have you tried a heli-coil kit? Basically you tap it to a slightly larger size and put in a heli-coil so that it has the same size threads.
post #6 of 44
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFYa6sjhh_E

You can get these at most car parts stores, NAPA, grainger or fastenal.

Basically you drill out the hole, tap for the next larger size and install the insert. If done right, it should be stronger then the original threads, since its hardened.
post #7 of 44
Wait, I'm confused -- you need to buy a new pan? Is the pan threaded as well? Typically the housing is threaded and the pan is not (I do not know Hondas), in which case, as ms suggested, you install a Helicoil into the housing and use your own pan. ~H
post #8 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huntsman View Post
Wait, I'm confused -- you need to buy a new pan? Is the pan threaded as well? Typically the housing is threaded and the pan is not (I do not know Hondas), in which case, as ms suggested, you install a Helicoil into the housing and use your own pan.

~H

The pan itself is threaded, but a helicoil should technically work. The previous owner already used an oversized bolt once, so I'm not sure if that prevents any type of tap/rethreading from being used again. Also, labor costs for removing the pan and tapping it will run a large % of the total cost of just replacing the pan, and are not 100% guaranteed to work.

Current plan is to try the rubber plug until that fails me, at which point I can get a pan slightly discounted online, and then have a shop install it.

Too much work just to be able to change my oil again
post #9 of 44
A rubber plug will not hold up to vibration, especially upside down. Helicoiling, even replacing the whole oil pan is MUCH MUCH Easier, and CHEAPER then the whole engine.

I would highly advice against plugging it up with anything other then a threaded fitting.
post #10 of 44
Wait - are you sure the pan itself is stripped? I stripped out a bolt once, but the pan remained intact. I'd check that and if the threads remain intact - a replacement bolt is the easiest fix.

If the pan is stripped, I'd cut new threads into the pan with a tap (pour some used oil through the engine to drain out the cuttings) and then use a bolt of the new size. And use a rubber washer this time: sounds like either the pan's a bit soft, or someone's tightening it way too much.

Not really a fan of helicoil, but that's just me.
post #11 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas View Post
Wait - are you sure the pan itself is stripped? I stripped out a bolt once, but the pan remained intact. I'd check that and if the threads remain intact - a replacement bolt is the easiest fix.

If the pan is stripped, I'd cut new threads into the pan with a tap (pour some used oil through the engine to drain out the cuttings) and then use a bolt of the new size. And use a rubber washer this time: sounds like either the pan's a bit soft, or someone's tightening it way too much.

Not really a fan of helicoil, but that's just me.

Two guys have said if they remove the bolt, it won't go back in, since the pan and bolt are seized together.

Do you think two moderately handy young guys could pull off the labor required to replace the pan and gasket? My B-I-L has some basic tools and a big Nascar jack, sounds like we just unscrew the pan and it drops away, then we put on a new gasket and pan, voila?
post #12 of 44
That depends, you might have it that easy or not.

On some cars you have to remove the subframe or axle/suspension components to get the pan out .

Did you actually see whats down there? Perhaps you can post a picture?
post #13 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ms244 View Post
That depends, you might have it that easy or not. On some cars you have to remove the subframe or axle/suspension components to get the pan out . Did you actually see whats down there? Perhaps you can post a picture?
From reading some DIY's, you have to remove a stiffener (easy) and the exhaust pipe (sounds a bit harder). Pic below, offending bolt is the center of screen I can't tell if the pan extends over the exhaust pipe or not, but it's pretty close.
LL
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by longskate88 View Post
Two guys have said if they remove the bolt, it won't go back in, since the pan and bolt are seized together.

Do you think two moderately handy young guys could pull off the labor required to replace the pan and gasket? My B-I-L has some basic tools and a big Nascar jack, sounds like we just unscrew the pan and it drops away, then we put on a new gasket and pan, voila?

Hmmm. These guys who tell you it's seized...how well do you trust them? Do you change your own oil or have it done? And...when's the last time you changed your oil? For as often as oil gets changed, and the fact that there's oil on the other side of the bolt, I am really reluctant to believe it's seized and won't come out. My thought - if it's a professional shop telling you this, I'd be suspicious that they're trying to sell you more work than you really need. Times are tough, even for mechanics, and it wouldn't be the first time I've seen a mechanic pad their time with useless work.

If you trust them, or if you're tried it yourself with no luck at all...here's what I'd do

1. I'd search for a used oil pan and new gasket and see what they run. I'd probably put one on hold at a junkyard somewhere as a back-up. Also: if you don't already have one, I'd get a Haynes manual.

2. Break off that bolt. Your best case scenario is that the pan holds the threads and the bolt strips. Again, since there's oil on the other side, a full seize is IMHO unlikely, though I could always be wrong. There are a few outcomes from here, though.

If the bolt threads hold but the pan strips out, I'd get a drill bit, tap, and bolt to clean out the hole and then tap new threads - provided the hole hasn't gotten too big. If it's too big: new pan.

If the bold head breaks off but the shank remains in the hole, then I'd seal off any cracks with JBWeld and see if I can tap a new hole closeby. Alternately you can try to drill out the bolt and re-tap, but that may be a lot of work (and you run the risk of leaving the rest of the bolt in your oilpan). The other caveat from here is that the area where the original threads are is probably thicker than the rest of the pan. You run the risk of drilling into a thin spot, which is unusuable and ruins the pan. Hence, the back-up. And be sure to have a back-up car at the ready, because you'll be sure to need something after you've started.

As for replacing it outright, I see no reason why you couldn't. Ratchet drive, long extenders, and 12mm sockets (or 10mm?) should do the trick. But - drain it first, and even then it will be messy as hell. And whatever you do - use jackstands to hold the car up. If that floorjack gives way, or rolls, or whatever, you're hosed in a very bad way. Your hospital bills - if you survive - will make your car service bills seem cheap.
post #15 of 44
Exhaust bolts? ugh. $550 might be worth it to not have to deal with those. They rust as soon as you drive it off the lot.
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