Oil Pan Trail Fix
Things happen- you’re on the trail, minding your own business, climbing over some obstacle like while enjoying a delightful chilled beverage when you hear a loudish thud from under your Jeep. It sounds like any other thud, “it was probably a rock hitting the axle/tie rod/control arm, no biggie.” You drive down the trail a little, everything is normal, back to business.
What you don’t realize is that the thud you blew off was a rouge rock piercing your oil pan. When you come to a stop you see a brown stream of eco-terrorizing Jeep blood pouring from your oil pan. PANIC! “What will I do? How will I get home???? Can the Sierra Club see me from the top of Mt Doom?”
Take a deep breath, hope is not lost. As a matter of fact, most of the time you can piece together a fix that will plug that hole in the oil pan long enough to get you home. Watch our video to see how we did it, and read the steps below to get a basic sense of how to be prepared for something like this, should you ever need it.
Use these tips at your own risk! If you aren’t comfortable with relying on this fix, then tow it home. The worst case scenario we can think of is still better than you blowing your engine on the trail.
Step 1: Don’t be that guy
-CLEAN UP YOUR SPILLAGE. That’s right; you owe it to your 4x4 community and the beautiful wilderness that has allowed you to enjoy spend your time traipsing around it to clean up every drop of dead plankton you have left on the trail. If that means getting on your hands and knees, scrubbing granite boulders with paper towels, so be it. Throw dirt over any wet spots can’t get clean. Scoop up any oil soaked soil and put it in a sealed container and cart it back to the trailhead with you to throw away. Sometimes you can’t get every little bit, so do us all a favor: next time you see broken beer bottles or discarded fast food bags on the trail, get out of the Jeep instead of driving by and pick it up.
-JKS adheres to the Tread Lightly! Principles at all time, your goal is to always leave the trail in better shape than it was when you got there. Do it because it’s the right thing to do, do it because it keeps the trails open for all to enjoy.
Step 2: Gather supplies that you’ll need
-The basics: patch material (flat plate, a beer can end, a large fender washer, ect), JB Weld (preferabily putty), black silicone, files, sandpaper, a hammer, gloves, a bunch of clean rags/paper-towels, a can of brake cleaner, starting fluid or spare gas (not diesel), possibly shelf tapping screws, an oil catch, flashlight (if working into the evening), replacement oil.
-Your vehicle will be disabled during the repair. If you have to gather supplies; do it before you start the repair. Every situation is different, plan ahead!
Step 3: Find a Spot to Work
-You’ll be here a while. Find a suitable, relatively flat spot to work. If you are staying overnight, you might want to make sure it’s within walking distance of where you’re sleeping. Make sure your supplies are in order. Make sure your rig is able to stay there until you get it back on the road.
Step 4: Drain the Oil Pan
-Pretty simple concept: you want to drain the oil enough to not have oil coming out of your puncture. During this fix, we were lucky and the puncture was on the rear of the oil pan, so we jacked up the rear of the Jeep to keep the dripping to a minimum.
-Let is drain as long as possible. Oil is the enemy of your patch. Even after the bulk of your oil is drained it’s important to let the remaining oil inside of the oil pan drain out so you aren’t fighting seepage during your patch
Step 5: Plan it out
-Surprises are terrible when your fix is vital to getting home. Look at all of your options and plan the best, sturdiest patch you can. If this patch fails while you’re driving, you could suddenly hemorrhage your rig’s life blood all over terra firma, leaving you stranded in a less than convenient location.
Step 6: Make your patch
-The most important part of this; is your physical patch that will hold your JB weld and silicone together. Without it, your JB weld plug can fail very quickly. We were lucky, we had the oil pan drain plug to use as an anchor, but if you’re left without an anchor point, don’t’ worry, you can make one! Your oil plan is trash after this, what’s another hole going to do? You can use shallow self tapping screws to zip a patch plate onto the oil pan. If you literally can’t figure a way to fasten your patch to the pan with hardware, you can always “glue” the patch to the oil pan with your JB weld or RTV, but some sort of hard mount is always better.
-If you’re drilling holes, remember that any metal shavings that are on the inside will be in the engine oil. Try to minimize contamination.
-Only use nuts and bolts if you can remove the oil pan and secure with Loctite. If your hardware was to come lose and find its way into the moving parts of your engine your oil leak will suddenly not be that important anymore.
Step 7: Clean, clean , clean
-Put on your rubber gloves, it’s time to scrub. Spray the area around your patch area with brake cleaner and scrub. Repeat. Repeat again until you are down to bare metal.
-Use your solvent soaked rag to clean out your hole/crack, keeping in mind that you do not want puddles of solvent in your oil pan. Do not spray directly into an open hole. Take steps to minimize contamination
Step 8: Beat it
-It’s time to take your anger out about your situation, gently. Beat your hole flat, taking care not to crack or compromise the area around your puncture any more than it already is. You want the flattest, most consistent surface for your patch live on.
Step 9: Scour it
-Using your file and sandpaper, you want to roughen the surface under your patch, giving it the most texture to grab onto.
Step 10: Plug the Hole
-Time to mix your JB Weld and stuff it in the hole. Make sure that there is no oil seeping out. You may need to shoot it with a little solvent and stick a rag in there one more time right before you stuff your JB Weld into the hole. If you get oil on your gloves, change your gloves. YOU DO NOT WANT OIL IN YOUR JB WELD. Any oil will compromise the patch. Stuff it in there like you’re patching drywall. You want your patch to create a seal. Wipe off any excess material, you want your plug to be flush.
Step 11: Lunch time!
-It’s time to let your plug cure for the minimum time as indicated on the instructions. Give it at least enough time to harden. Not allowing your materials time to cure is the best way to ensure this adventure ends in sadness.
Step 12: Clean it again
Step 12: Prepare for the Patch
-This is the most involved step that requires the most planning. You only have one shot! Apply another layer of JB weld over your plug with enough additional material to push out the sides of your patch plate.
-Apply a bead of black silicone around your patch, or the area around the perimeter where you patch will be. The silicone will hold any seepage in. Once oil compromises your seal and is allowed to flow, the party is over. It will continue to compromise your patch by getting under your seal and push your material out.
-Apply silicone around any areas you will be fastening down.
Step 13: Patch Time!
-Line up your patch and press it down. If you are driving self-tapping screws through the patch, hold the patch very still while fastening, don’t let it slip around and mix your material. If you’re using multiple fasteners, make sure to since them down evenly, this prevents your material from pushing out of the side of your patch.
-Crank it down! If you’re using fasteners, snug it down and leave it be.
-If you do not have fasteners, it’s time to get comfortable. You need to hold your patch in place until your material has cured enough to hold the patch in place.
Step 14: Beer-Thirty
-Possibly the hardest part is waiting without knowing for sure if you were a success. Wait as long as possible to allow all of your materials to cure and harden. Raid your cooler of beer and kick back, it’ll be fine! If you’re not using fasteners, it might be wise to allow your material to fully cure as per the instructions on your silicone and JB weld. In some cases, you may need to stay overnight…
Step 15: The Reckoning
-Put the drain plug in and add oil.
-Start the vehicle and let it get up to operating temperature. If all seems well, take it for a test drive. Remember, your vehicle cannot operate without oil, and if you have a long journey ahead of you, it’s best to be sure.
-If you develop a leak again during the test phase, you have three choices: Run it, start the whole thing over, call a friend/tow truck. Only you can make this call.
- If you have only a short distance to drive, you might be ok with a controlled leak, and you’re still in better shape than you were. Make sure you have a quart or two of extra oil.
-If you have a long drive ahead of you, it is probably not worth starting the journey if you have any seepage. As mentioned above, any seepage will get worse. Oil is designed to get into every nook and cranny that it can and will compromise your patch.
Step 16: Tell your Story
-You did it! You made it home! Tell your friends how amazing you are. Feel free to embellish your story with sharks, bears, FBI agents, solar flares and ninjas. You deserve it to be celebrated.
-Give JKS credit for giving you the knowledge, we saved your ass! Then tell them to visit www.jksmfg.com to satiate their deep driven desires to buy Jeep parts.
Step 17: Do it all again
-Get out there in your Jeep! With your new oil pan installed, it’s time for the next adventure. Often times those broken parts and snafus add to the experience. Tread lightly and get back out there!!!! Happy Jeeping!