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Oil pan issues

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  • Oil pan issues

    Some of you may have seen my post on Zilvia. Here's the short chronology:

    1. Installed SR20DET with stock oil pan, 2003, no problems.
    2. Switched to fake Greddy (ebay knockoff), again no problems. Never leaked or sweated oil despite many elitists' claims on Zilvia that the casting would be so porous you could see through it.
    3. Read Dave Coleman's article about using a Tomei steel pan instead of a Greddy cast-aluminum pan because of the chance of cracking the aluminum. Had a panic attack. Bought a Tomei but COULD NOT get it to seal against the flange on the upper pan despite trying 4 times. Re-installed the Freddy, which of course went back to working great.
    4. Fast forward to this summer. 240sxmotoring runs a special on the sheetmetal Moroso pan, so I figure I'll try it, having been nervous since the Tomei debacle. Bought one, and guess what? Same deal as the Tomei - it leaks, at least a tiny bit around a bolt-hole, no matter what I do.

    Here's what I've tried in the last two weeks:

    1. Installed with Red RTV. Leaked like a sieve.
    2. Found out that Gray RTV really does work better than red for this - tried gray. Worked way better but leaked around two of the rear bolt-holes (by the crossmember).
    3. Tried again after talking to my mechanic. He advised me to run two beads of RTV, around the inner and outer side of the flange, and to encircle each bolt hole. Did this. Still leaked around a rear bolt-hole.
    4. Found a shop to cut me a custom gasket from hi-temp silicone. This was this past week. Installed it Thursday night with a very thin bead of RTV on either side, encircling the bolt-holes, to glue it all together. Still leaks around the center rear bolt-hole.

    The car is currently draining again, for another removal-and-flange-cleaning session. I sold the )(!$(#%%*^ knockoff, or I'd stick it back on the car and be done with it.


    1. The stock pan and the Freddy pan have a groove around the flange, presumably to help hold the RTV where it belongs. These pans did not leak. The Tomei and Moroso have no such groove. Does anyone think this matters?
    2. It's possible the Moroso has a high spot by these bolt-holes that keep leaking but I would have figured the gasket would deal with that. I don't believe there's anything wrong with the pan, I'm just grasping at straws.
    3. Several people have suggested I try the copper RTV but I can't see how that would improve the situation. Thoughts?

    I'm ready to commit murder over this. My inclination is to buy an ISIS or similar knockoff again and sell the Moroso; I don't want to go back to stock because I don't want to give up the extra volume or the port for my oil temp sender.

    I'm sorry for writing a novel, but I'd be grateful for any input. I'm going to remove the Moroso pan right now and the car will be down until I can decide what to do.
    1990 S13, SR-swapped "Budget Baller" - gone down the road...

  • #2
    How tight are you torquing the screws that hold it together? Sheet metal pans only need tiny amounts of torque before they warp. i.e. screwdriver tight.

    Dad always told me too much RTV can also cause them not to seal properly, but I've never run into that issue. Usually I put a decent bead around the whole thing and slap it together and I'm done.

    You might try sticking a straightedge against the bottom of the block and the lip on the pan and see if there's a high spot there, but I don't really think that's your issue since it's happened with all of the pans.
    Originally posted by SoSideways
    I don't care what color they are as long as they are LONG AND HARD.
    '04 G35 Sedan 6MT- The DD
    '96 240SX- The Track Toy


    • #3
      Not all of them - just the Moroso and the Tomei.

      I'm going to put a straightedge against the pan when I have it off. I really don't think the engine's mating surface is the issue, since the stock pan and the Freddy pan worked fine, even with the "wrong" sealant (red RTV).
      1990 S13, SR-swapped "Budget Baller" - gone down the road...


      • #4
        With the stock steel KA pan, sometimes I would have to bend the area in between the bolt holes to touch the block surface first, as they would warp to allow gaps when the pan is tightened down.

        I'd put a straight edge on it to identify the problem. Also, maybe try "the right stuff"

        Cory B.

        "Driving a race car as fast as possible is all about maintaining the highest possible acceleration level in the appropriate direction."


        • #5
          so basically you switched to the steel pan out of fear, not necessity?

          go back to the one that gave you no problems. Unles syou plan to run over a large rock that is. The oil pan is basically between the front wheels, so anything the wheel sgo over will provide adequite clearance with the oil pan. I have bene using my greddy oil pan for about 4 years for track use only and never had it leak or crack under any off-track excursion.
          NASA HPDE Instructor


          • #6
            I sold the pan that worked Mostly because I'm stupid, apparently.

            I'm probably going to get another one.

            I stuck a straightedge across the rear of the flange, from left-to-right. That side of the flange actually bows down slightly, with the center bolt-hole being the lowest point. It's a very even arc and I have no way of knowing if it arrived that way or got that way after being installed, warmed up, and remove half a dozen times.

            The front of the pan does the same thing (as verified by the same straightedge) but doesn't bow as far. The front never leaked. I don't get this; the tightening order specifes front center, rear center, front left, rear left, etc. Since the centers were tightened first you'd think they'd be OK, but the rear center has been the leaky culprit the last three times I installed the pan.

            goofus, yes, I switched from the cast pan to the steel, back to the cast, and now to the sheet aluminum Moroso out of paranoia. Fear. Whatever. My car spends most of its time on the street and now and then something strange comes up. There was never an issue. I think the solution for my leak and my paranoia problems might be to get a new cast pan and a skid plate.
            1990 S13, SR-swapped "Budget Baller" - gone down the road...


            • #7
              Yeah, don't listen to dave coleman, he does know what he's talking about, but he's also so full of it i stopped reading his garbage articles. Lot's of performance cars use cast oil pans from the factory; e.g., rsx-s (non type-s uses steel), porsche 944, bmw e90 m3

              Do you see anyway to get the pan straight (hammering, heating up)? How much of a gap do you think there is? I would've thought the RTV could take up the slack, you're supposed to tighten it until you see the RTV start to push out the sides and torque only 1/2 turn after its dry. I use RTV black now, but gray is supposed to be better for applications where the bolt holes are close together and require tighter torquing.
              Last edited by flip240; 09-27-2009, 06:41 AM.
              - Phil
              1995 240sx | KA24DE-T 309whp, 368lb-ft


              • #8
                I'm not sure I agree Coleman's full of it (I've gotten a lot of good info from his writing) but I think his (and my) fear in this instance is unfounded. Reference the fact that I managed to use a cast pan for several years with no issues at all.

                The gap is probably 3/64" or so, at a guess, just from eyeballing it. I really think if I try to un-bow it I'll just make it worse, and I'm not convinced it's really the problem anyway, since the front has a similar bow but doesn't leak.

                I honestly think the next step will be to go back to a cast pan. Ebay, here I come.
                1990 S13, SR-swapped "Budget Baller" - gone down the road...


                • #9
                  or you can have the flange on the pan machined flat, odds are its warped from welding.
                  NASA HPDE Instructor


                  • #10
                    It's a thought, but frankly if I spend $250+ on an oil pan, I shouldn't have to take it somewhere and pay to have it made right. I'd return it but since it's been removed half a dozen times it's got nicks in the outside of the mating surface from tapping a putty knife in there to split it from the block, and I'm betting the vendor won't take it back.
                    1990 S13, SR-swapped "Budget Baller" - gone down the road...


                    • #11
                      you shouldnt have to pay $250 just to do more work this is true. But since you did pay $250 for somethign that needs more work, ther are things you can do to correct it and not remove it 10 more times. It sucks, but instead of trying to take all these short-cuts just spend the extra money and get it overwith so you never have to worry again.
                      NASA HPDE Instructor


                      • #12
                        if you must reuse the pan, i've found the oem nissan orange stuff works the best (may not necessarily be the same as the orange rtv you buy at advance auto). the oem nissan orange is super tacky and stains your fingers. that 1-minute stuff out of the aerosol tube is pretty good too.

                        your pan might have high spots from where you've tightened the bolts. it helps to take a ball-peen hammer and knock them down a bit (even lower than the mating surface), so that when you tighten them the bolt hole areas don't go too high. also, screwdriver tight is plenty, with one inside bead.


                        • #13
                          Grey RTV - Install in at least 1/8" beads all around each bolt hole. Put it up there, DO NOT TORQUE THE BOLTS. Get it to maybe 5 in-lbs, basically want to let the RTV set up with about a 1/16-1/32" gap to actually form a gasket. Let it set up for at least 4-6 hours. Torque the pan, I'd honestly go a little on the low side of the factory spec, but that's up to you if you want to deviate from factory specs.

                          It should hold after this unless the heat is breaking down the RTV if it's too thick(possible).
                          '18 Chevrolet Volt - Electric fun hatch for DD duty!

                          DefSport Koni Sleeve and Spring Perch Buy!!!


                          • #14
                            I've decided to take it upon myself to see if this is operator error or a pan issue. I should have the Moroso pan in a few days .

                            As for the application of RTV... I've always just layed down a good sized bead (1/8" as Def mentioned) and just torqued down the pan and have yet to have an issue in the 9 years I've been playing with SR's. RTV grey is the only RTV you'll find in my garage too.


                            • #15
                              The Mil-Spec grey Dow Corning RTV is heavenly, but it's like $12/tube. Grey Permatex is the closest stuff I've found. I hype that stuff up as much as possible.

                              The red/black/blue crap absolutely sucks in comparison.
                              '18 Chevrolet Volt - Electric fun hatch for DD duty!

                              DefSport Koni Sleeve and Spring Perch Buy!!!