Better results by periodically cleaning the oil pan?

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Aug 30, 2004
Consider this: Many of us strongly endorse periodic pan removals on our transmissions to clean out any accumulated sludge on the inside of our pans, as well as cleaning and/or replacing the filter. Some of these transmissins have auxilliary filtration via an inline filter or a spin-on filter. Why don't we do the same for our oil pans? Theoretically, engine oil is exposed to much more contamination than transmission fluid, thus further allowing unwanted buildup inside of the pan. Sure, we drain our oil via a plug, change a spin-on filter, yet some of us own cars with transmissions containing a similar setup, practice religious periodic fluid and external filter changes, yet drop the pan later to be horrified by buildup. Wouldn't our engine oil pan be even worse? Yes, engine oils have far more detergency than transmission fluids, but the oil still faces much more contamination. Something to consider... TC
I might consider it on an engine that was showing a lot of sludge build-up under the valve covers. I don't own any sludge monsters and haven't in over 40 years, so as long as somr sludge is staying in the oilpan minding it's own business, it doesn't bother me.
i would tend to agree, however your average engine oil pan is a lot more difficult to R&R than your average trans pan. i know on my car (98 mustang GT) you have to remove the engine cradle, or else pull the motor.
Trans oil pans get a lot of build up. Engine oil pans do not. Of course, if there is a problem, you will get deposits there. I've seen a jillion of them in the shop.
In most cars, you MUST drop the transmission pan if you want to change the filter. Therefore, it only makes sense to clean it out at that point. (Plus, you only do it once every 30,000 to 80,000 miles!) This isn't true with oil filters. I've never seen a car where you have to drop the oil pan to change the oil filter. If my cars had external spin-on transmission filters and drain plugs on the transmission pans, I'd NEVER break the pan loose!
Yep, but a lot of VW, SAAB, Toyota, and Chrysler drivers thought they had a well maintained engine... [crushedcar] I dropped mine once on my 9-5, I won't do it again for maybe 50-60k miles if the car makes it that long. It took me 6 hrs start to finish.
Originally posted by Steve S: Have you ever seen the insides of an oil pan in a well maintained engine ?
My car doesn't look pretty under the valve cover, but isn't nasty either. I replaced the oil pan a month ago, and it was very clean inside.
Originally posted by Ray H: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
You=the clear winner. It took me about 25 years to learn this simple lesson. You create 12 jobs for yourself by Preventative Maintenance. And if you are lucky (or unlucky) maybe you will save yourself one job. The numbers don't add up. Life is short. [Smile]
Originally posted by Steve S: Have you ever seen the insides of an oil pan in a well maintained engine ?
If it's well maintained there should be no reason to ever see it for wellover over 200,000 miles. Or was that your point? [Smile]
remember a automatic transmissions filter just stops junk from getting to the pump.its open on the bottom and if there is a lot of trah in the pan it just drops back to the botton at shutdown.engine oil filters are made to contain the trash and allow it to be eliminated when it gets replaced. unless there is evidece of serious sludge or a stopped up pickup dropping the pan is a waste of time.
Pulling the pan on a lot of cars is an all day operation for the diy person, and may require an cherry picker. You may be fixing something that does not need fixin'.
Plus, do you EVER really get a good seal on the pan after it's been off the first time? And then replaced on your back under the shade tree? Maybe if it's on a lift, ya have the right tools, the right torque on the bolts, etc, etc, but seems like valve covers and whatnot always leak a little. Oil pan doesn't seem much different.. Never had one off, but my little 4 qt pan is held on with 15 bolts, seems like a HUGE PITA.. Maybe I'll look when it's at 300K [LOL!]
The old timer at the corner service station that serviced my dads car had a stiff piece of bent wire with swab on the end. After the oil drained he'd stick it in the drain hole and swab around the bottom of the pan. Think this was holdover practice from the old non detergent days? Even as a kid I thought it was good extra service. Today we live in a "service oriented society", ya right. lucky if they don't crossthread the plug, remember to put oil in, and don't charge you for a airfilter that you didn't need!
If it were important to remove the pan, it would be better to do it once, put an inspection plate in the pan so that you could reach inside. I think cleaning out a pan is a good idea, but the return on investment is too little.
You people are killing me. This is BITOG, not the fru-fru convention. toocrazy, why wouldn't you get a good seal? You know, you can buy the proper sealing materials at autozone etc? wiley, the swabbing around thing is okay for a general idea but it's not going to really tell you the condition of your screen. Larry, actually a saab enthusiast has come up w/ just such a device and may have some interest from eith the OEM or the aftermarket. Again, you can't make blanket statements on cleaning out the pan. For some it's overkill, for some it's a wise practice. It depends on the car, driving habits, etc.
On the Ford Z-Tech engines the head bolts go all the way through to the oil "pan". In Europe the heads were gasketless as in "glued on". Wow, that would be one major job to get rid of oil pan deposits! No thanks, I'll use Redline instead [Smile]
Easy, there, big fella! Don't want anyone getting killed! [LOL!]
You people are killing me. This is BITOG, not the fru-fru convention. toocrazy, why wouldn't you get a good seal? You know, you can buy the proper sealing materials at autozone etc?
[No no] I didn't say impossible, I said major PITA, especially on the ground, on your back, no lift, etc., etc. Taint worth it..
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