Oil pan change - 1997 SOHC | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Oil pan change - 1997 SOHC


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Elite Explorer
July 26, 2004
Reaction score
City, State
Willow Grove, PA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'97 XLT
So my oil pan had been rusted through for a few years - I noticed it a while back, oil seeping right through the rust bubbles on the bottom of the pan, and I patched it with JB weld. This lasted 2 years before I had to re-patch this spring and decided I didn't want to deal with it anymore. I ordered a new (used) pan from ped5stang a few weeks back and swapped my old pan out. I referenced this thread from gijoecam (http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=158086) which was a big help and is pretty much exactly what I did. Below are pictures detailing all of my steps and hopefully this gives anyone considering it a pretty comprehensive how-to.

First, the pan. I got the used pan and it was in pretty good shape, but had a few rust spots and I wanted to make sure it was almost rust-proof. I began cleaning, stripping and sanding it down:


I sanded down to bare metal on a good portion of it, and sanded down the paint on the good parts so the new primer and paint would stick. Here's a partially-sanded photo:


After that was all done, I hit it with a few coats of engine enamel high-heat primer:


When that dried, I finally finished it off with 3-4 coats of high-heat engine enamel top coat - it came out looking great:


Once the pan was all ready, the real job began. Oil was drained and I began removal of the old pan. Here's the old pan...you can clearly see the JB Weld patch on the bottom and the general ****ty condition it was in:


Removal was pretty simple. Started with the lower bolts. There are 10 bolts total - all 10mm. All you really need is a 10mm socket, ratchet, and a couple of extensions to make it easier. I never sprayed my bolts with any penetrating oil or prep and they came out very easily - I guess a function of being oily and never rusting. I left the middle one in on the end to hold the pan in place until I was ready to drop it.


The top 3 bolts are a little harder to get to, but with nimble hands and a little patience you can get 'em.


Once all the bolts were out, the pan held in place (probably because it hadn't been touched since it was socked down in the factory 13 years ago) and I needed to give it a little tug to pop it free. It pops off and slides right out.



I bought a new gasket at Pepboys, and popped it right on (4 rubber nubs push through holes on the pan).


The new pan goes on as easy as the old one comes off - slide in, bolt on and you're done:




...and that's it. It's an easy job for the 97 SOHC. Hope this helps anyone considering a swap.

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Good work, now do mine. :thumbsup:

Gasket remains?

Thanks for the post with the photos. I was just under my pan this morning and checking it out. Did the old gasket come off clean or was their remains on the upper aluminum casting that reinforces the block? Did you use any kind of gasket sealer with the new gasket?

No problem - the old gasket came off clean. There was just a little bit of oil buildup/dirt that I wiped down before putting the new one on. I didn't use any sealer on the new one.

No rust

My oil pan is still in good condition including the paint. From the tires I see in your photo and the location of the rust on your pan I suspect that off-roading signifcantly contributed to the deterioration of your pan. The pan is in a somewhat vulnerable position to damage. There are no scrapes anywhere on the underside of my Sport so I doubt it has been been off-road much if at all. Your painting skills are admirable!