What Are the Signs of a Cracked Oil Pan?

by Gregory Crews
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An oil pan is a removable metal cover bolted under an engine's crankcase. When the engine is started, the oil pump sends oil through the engine and the oil filter. When the engine is turned off, the oil falls back into the oil pan. If the pan is cracked, the oil will eventually seep out onto the ground. The signs of a cracked oil pan are simple to identify.

Oil on the Ground

The oil pan will drip oil when the vehicle is parked for a long period of time. Parking on a clean, level surface will reveal any oil dripping from a cracked oil pan. Placing a piece of cardboard under the vehicle will make it easier to see the leaking oil.

Unexplained Loss of Oil

Having to add oil at regular intervals is an indication that there is an issue with oil loss. Checking the oil after the vehicle has been parked for a few minutes should not show a loss of engine oil. A large drop in the oil level after the vehicle has sat overnight is an indication that oil is leaking when the engine is turned off. Most vehicles are designed with an oil level alarm as well. This alarm will sound once the oil pressure drops below an acceptable level.

Undercarriage Covered in Oil

When you perform a routine inspection under the car, look to see if the components behind the engine are soaked in oil. When the vehicle is in motion, the leaking oil will blow back against the transmission and components under the vehicle. An inspection of the oil pan may reveal a portion of the oil pan will be clean. Look for the crack directly behind the clean area.

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