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How to Replace the Oil Pan Gasket in a 1997 Saturn

by Cayden Conor; Updated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Drain pan

  • Set of wrenches

  • Set of sockets

  • Lug wrench

  • Pry bar

  • RTV silicone

  • Torque wrench

The oil pan gasket on a 1997 Saturn should be replaced when you notice oil leaking from the gasket area. Over time, the gasket could dry, rot and crack. An oil leak not only makes a mess out of the bottom of the vehicle, it costs money, as you must constantly add oil to the Saturn. If you use RTV silicone when replacing the oil pan gasket, you ensure that the gasket is in its proper place, so there is lessened chance of a do-over.

Jack the front of the Saturn up with the floor jack. Support it with the jack stands. Place a drain pan under the oil pan. Loosen the oil pan bolt and allow the oil to drain into the drain pan. Discard the oil in a proper manner -- most auto parts stores accept used oil.

Unbolt the exhaust manifold and the exhaust pipe rear flange, then remove the front exhaust pipe and its gaskets. Remove the engine stiffening bracket and the flywheel cover, located under the vehicle, using the appropriate sockets.

Remove the right front wheel using the lug wrench. Remove the splash shield, located under the car, using the appropriate socket. Loosen the four front motor mount bolts, located on the front motor mount, in front of the engine, then unscrew the bolts about 1/2 inch. Do not take them all the way out.

Remove all the oil pan bolts using the appropriate socket. Remove the oil pan. If the RTV holds it on, use a razor blade to carefully cut into the RTV, then bang the pan off with a rubber mallet, taking care not to dent the pan. Do not allow the pan to fall to the ground. One of the engine mounts is going to be in the way. Pry it the shortest distance necessary to free the oil pan.

Clean the mounting surfaces of the oil pan and the block using a scraper and a rag. Be sure to get all the RTV off both surfaces. Place a 4-mm bead of RTV on the oil pan, keeping the RTV on the inner side of the bolt holes.

Allow the RTV to skin over. This means that when you touch it, it should not stick to your finger. Install the oil pan and tighten the bolts to 80 inch-pounds of torque. If you are using a gasket instead of RTV, smear RTV on the pan flange, allow it to set for two minutes and press the oil pan gasket onto the pan. Place a 1 mm bead of RTV on the gasket, then install the pan and tighten the bolts to 80 inch-pounds of torque.

Tighten the four front mount bolts to 37 foot-pounds of torque. Reinstall the splash shield, wheel, stiffening bracket and the flywheel cover using the appropriate sockets. Install the exhaust pipe, then tighten the bolts, working in a crosswise pattern, to 23 foot-pounds of torque. Tighten the converter bolts to 33 foot-pounds of torque.

Remove the jack stands and lower the Saturn. Fill the engine with oil according to the specifications in your owner's manual for your model Saturn. Start the engine and check for oil leaks.

About the Author

Cayden Conor has been writing since 1996. She has been published on several websites and in the winter 1996 issue of "QECE." Conor specializes in home and garden, dogs, legal, automotive and business subjects, with years of hands-on experience in these areas. She has an Associate of Science (paralegal) from Manchester Community College and studied computer science, criminology and education at University of Tampa.

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