Engine oil plays a vital role in an engine, including cooling, lubricating, and cleaning an engine’s moving parts. As the engine parts cycle several miles every minute, the oil reduces the wear and tear on the components.
Moreover, the oil ensures that everything works more efficiently and at controlled temperatures.
When fresh oil moves through the engine’s lubrication system, the engine lasts longer with no or minimal repairs. Engines have several moving parts, and each of the papers needs lubrication for a smooth and consistent performance.
With that said, which part now stores oil for engine lubrication?
Oil travels through different parts, the oil filter, pressure relief valve, pickup tube, oil pump, oil pan, and galleries. As oil flows through these parts, it is stored in the oil pan for lubrication. Although it can be stored in the filter while the engine is off, the primary story component remains an oil pan or oil sump.
The role of the oil pan (or oil sump)
The engine oil pan or sump is one of the engine components located at the bottom right of an engine block cylinder. This component is attached to the cylinder block by including a gasket to prevent leaking of the oil.
The primary function of an engine oil pan is accommodating engine oil for lubricating the engine parts. The other functions include:
a. The oil pan holds all used engine oil
Besides holding oil for lubrication of the engine parts, the oil pan holds used engine oil; that is why it is commonly called the oil reservoir. The oil sump has a multilevel shape, and the concave paper takes the place of an oil filter and holds engine oil in the lowered part of the oil pan.
Then the oil pump circulates the oil from the oil sump to all engine lubrication systems via the oil filter plus all its components. After circulating, the oil then falls back to the oil reservoir for recirculation.
b. The oil pan acts as a draining place for engine oil.
The other role of an oil pan is a draining place for engine oil. There is a tap bolt in the oil sump that removes oil from the pan. The tap bolt makes it easier for oil replacing hence acting as a drain plug.
c. Maintains smooth engine oil circulation on various road surface conditions
The road surface through which the car oil passes is not always straight and flat. Sometimes it goes up and down, left-right, or even flat. This can affect the position of engine oil in the oil sump.
Since engine oil is in liquid form, it will tend to flow to lower points. However, with the oil pan, this will not happen. The component has bulkheads that prevent engine oil from flowing to lower places.
In this way, the smooth circulation of the engine is maintained in different road conditions. Therefore the engine cannot encounter poor or lack of lubrication even when the car is in an incline or a road that makes the vehicle tilted.
The importance of the oil pan for the lubrication system
The oil pan is located at the bottom part of the engine with bolts. This sump is a reservoir for oil that gets pumped throughout the engine for lubrication, cooling, and cleaning moving parts of an engine.
An oil pump pumps oil from the pan via the filter to strain dirt and other debris before circulating through the engine. Then the oil dipstick gets into the reservoir and measures the oil level as oil moves through the parts and back to the oil pan to recirculate.
What are the symptoms of a faulty oil pan?
Since the oil pan is located beneath the car, it can be challenging to see the signs of a faulty oil pan. Here are the symptoms of a damaged oil pan.
1. Low oil levels than normal
Faulty oil pans might lead to leakages which end up reducing the oil levels.
2. Presence of oil puddles underneath the car
The presence of oil drippings underneath the car can signal a faulty or damaged oil pan.
3. Overheating of the engine
Engine oil is responsible for engine cooling, and it is the oil pan that facilitates the smooth movement of the oil. If the oil pan is faulty, then oil will not move smoothly through the engine. For instance, the oil level will drop if the pan leaks, causing the engine to overheat.
4. Smoke emanating from the engine
Smoking issues from the engine is another noticeable sign of a faulty gasket. This is due to the oil falling on the exhaust manifold. If the issue persists, it might result in issues like damage to oxygen sensors and other components.
5. Illuminated warning lights on the dashboard
A severely leaking oil pan can result in low-level oil, which then triggers dashboard warnings.
Can the oil pan be repaired or needs replacement?
Yes, an oil pan can be repaired if it has minor cracks. But if the damage is significant, then the oil pan will need a replacement rather than a repair. So, the severity of the damage determines whether the oil pan needs a repair or a replacement.
How much does it cost to repair/replace the oil pan?
Replacing an oil pan costs about $100 to $350 or even more depending on your car model, amount of damage, and the mechanic you visit. The other factors that affect the cost include the oil pan brand, material, capacity, and whether it comes with a gasket kit or not.
If you need a cost-effective oil pan for replacement, you can go for the aftermarket oil pans. They are cost-effective and manufactured by different brands; hence, it is easy to get one compatible with your car.
In the engine lubrication system, the oil pan is an oil reservoir that holds oil for lubricants and reserves the used one for recirculation.
When the oil pan is faulty or damaged, there will be illuminated warning lights and low oil levels in the dashboard. If your car has the signs, then you need to replace the oil pan. The costs for aftermarket or second-hand oil pan are not that high, and it’s worth it.