1987 – 1996 F150 5.0L 4×4 (E4OD) On-Vehicle Oil Pan Gasket Replacement Without Removing Intake Plenum

By Donald J. Huebner, Ph.D.

I. Parts and
supplies:

Degreaser (Gunk), carb
cleaner or brake cleaner, anti-seize, loctite, Liquid wrench, Kroil,
or equivalent. I like a product called PB Blaster because you can
spray it on to hard-to-reach parts. Wheel chocks. Assortment of
wood blocks, e.g., six inch long pieces of 2×4, and a couple of 1×4
blocks. Magnetic parts tray. Mechanics gloves.

You will need metric
and English unit sockets and wrenches. I wish they would go one-way
or the other and not mix them up, but”¦quien sabe?

Fel-Pro
Set OS 34508R (fits 1988 to 2001): You get the gasket and some handy
studs (SnapUpsâ„¢)
to hold the whole pan assembly together. Should cost less than $30
(http://www.fel-progaskets.com/). Don’t waste your time with
multi-piece gaskets unless you are pulling the whole engine. Even
then, I would use the above premium gasket.

II. All the repair
procedures in Chilton’s, etc., and other posts I read stated
that you had to remove the intake plenum”¦I did not
. It
would not have helped because a lug on the torque convertor housing
hit the lower firewall before the plenum would have. By not removing
the plenum you can save yourself aggravation and money. I don’t
know if this will work every time but it did work on the above model
pickup. You don’t need a lot of space between the block and
the oil pan to work in a new one piece gasket.

I will outline the
procedure step-by-step. The order is not necessary for some steps,
however. The whole process, including replacing the motor mounts
took me about 7 hours with breaks. It was 100 degrees outside! If
you have a lift, you could probably knock off some of that time.

Wear safety
glasses or goggles. There is a lot of junk under the truck that
gravity will direct into your eyes!

Procedure:

1. Pressure or steam
clean the bottom of the engine and surrounding area. No use getting
completely greased out. Remember you’re doing this because it
leaks oil. In addition, it will make checking your work afterwards
much easier and will help preclude contamination getting into the
open oil pan.

2. Raise front end of
truck and support on stands, ramps, or better yet a lift. I didn’t
have a lift so I put it up on ramps. Make sure the vehicle is
securely supported. Chock wheels.

3. Disconnect negative
battery terminal. You will have to reset your radio afterwards and
it will take a few miles for your computer to reset.

4. Begin draining the
motor oil. I did not drain coolant or disconnect any radiator hoses.

5. While the oil is
draining, remove the upper radiator fan shroud bolts and lay shroud
against fan. The bottom of the shroud is held by clips not bolts.
Finish draining oil and replace plug. Time for a new plug? Remove
oil filter.

6. Disconnect auto
transmission cooler lines from left side of radiator. Watch the
bottom one because it will leak fluid. Put a pan down first and then
cap off the lines. If you don’t disconnect these lines you run
the risk of distorting them when you raise the engine. Use flare
wrenches (two) because you sure don’t want to twist off those
fittings from the radiator tank!

7. Loosen rear
transmission mount nuts and remove front motor mount nuts (bottom
ones). These bolts took an 18mm socket on my vehicle. I replaced
the motor mounts before proceeding with oil pan gasket. If yours are
pretty old it may be wise to do it now while everything is handy.

8. Remove the starter.
It will just be in the way and you can’t access the exhaust
flange bolts with it in place. The starter bolts on my engine were
13mm.

9. Remove exhaust
flange bolts. This will probably require lots of liquid wrench and
patience. I was able to use an impact wrench on 3 of the 4 nuts but
the upper bolt above the starter can be a real bear because of
limited access. The nuts on my truck took a 5/8″ socket. Soak
with rust buster, tap, and don’t get frustrated. With the
exhaust loose, you can replace the pan gasket without removing the
pan completely. If you need to totally remove the pan, you will have
to support the tranny, remove the cross member and drop the exhaust
system. I left the exhaust loose but in place.

10. Using a hydraulic
jack and a wood block (2×4) under the oil pan begin raising the
engine. Take it easy and check to make sure the plenum does not hit
the firewall. A helper is handy during this step. You may need some
extra blocks to get your jack up close to the oil pan if you have the
truck on stands or ramps. Take it up as high as you can, i.e., until
the intake plenum almost touches the firewall. Don’t force it
any further!

11. Place a wood block
between the motor mounts and support bracket. I used a small block
that was 1.25″ thick. Carefully lower the engine onto blocks
and remove the jack.

12. Remove all the oil
pan bolts. There are two sizes. I used a 3/8″ socket for all
but the end cap bolts that took a ½ ” socket. Do not
lose the metal plates that the bolts pass thru. You might want to
mark the plates so you can put them back correctly. An air ratchet
makes removing all the bolts easier but I would not use it to replace
them.

13. The oil pan should
drop down. If not, gently tap it but do not distort it! Mine
dropped right down with the old crappy rubber gasket. Make sure to
remove all of the old gasket and be careful that pieces of the old
gasket don’t fall into the oil pan.

14. I spent a good
deal of time cleaning the mating surfaces with carb spray and a
scotch-brite pad. The cleaner the better! A bunch of cleaner will
fall into the oil pan but you can drain it out afterwards. Just
don’t drop anything into the pan because it can be a real bear
getting it out. You only have a few inches of clearance and getting
your hand down there is pretty awkward. I know because I dropped a
scotch-brite pad into the pan.

15. The new Fel-Pro
gasket called for clean and dry surfaces”¦no oil, gasket
cement, or sealer.

16. When you are
satisfied that the surfaces are really clean, you are ready to
install the new gasket. Push the dip stick up. The trick now is to
work the gasket past the oil pump and inlet screen. Take it easy.
It is not too hard to do. Patience. Be sure you have the gasket
going the proper direction and the correct side up.

17. Install the “blue
studs” from the gasket kit. One in each corner hole. You can
put the studs on before fishing the gasket but I found it easier to
get the gasket in place first. Then pop the gasket on to the studs.
Either way will work fine. Check the alignment and make sure the
gasket is in the groove at the front and rear bearing caps. The
studs keep everything in line. Raise the pan and snap it onto the
studs. Pretty cool!

18. Check to make sure
everything is aligned and clean, and begin reinstalling the oil pan
bolts. Don’t forget the metal load spreader plates. I used
blue loctite on each cleaned bolt. Don’t torque them down too
tight just yet. Get them all in and then remove the blue studs. Put
the last four bolts in place. Gradually tighten all the bolts. I
torqued them to 12 ft/lb. It is handy to have lots of extensions and
u-joints. Double-check to make sure all the bolts are tight and you
can see even, undistorted “blue gasket” all around the
joint. Drain any residual cleaner from pan and replace the drain
plug.

19. Raise the engine
slightly, remove wood support blocks and lower engine back on to
motor mounts but leave the nuts loose. You may have to shift things
around a bit. Be careful what you pry against.

20. Reconnect the
exhaust pipes. Make sure that both of them are fitted before you
begin tightening bolts. This may require a little persuasion to get
them to line up. Evenly tighten the bolts. I placed anti-seize on
the previously cleaned threads. If your stud bolts are pretty
corroded you should probably replace them with new ones.

21. Tighten the motor
mount nuts, reinstall the starter, and oil filter.

22. Reconnect
transmission cooler lines and replace radiator fan shroud. Don’t
forget that the shroud has to seat into the bottom clips.

23. Don’t forget
to fill up the engine with oil! Hook up the battery ground. Check
everything over once more; make sure no trouble light cords, etc. are
hanging in engine compartment. Remove stands or ramps. Don’t
forget the oil!!

24. Start the engine.
Check for oil and exhaust leaks. You might have to cinch down those
exhaust bolts a quarter turn or so. At this point you don’t
want to break off the studs so take it easy.

25. If the oil leak
was your pan gasket, you should be back in business, if it was the
rear main or front seal you got another job ahead!

26. Test drive and
check for leaks. Success! And, you saved considerable bucks.

The above worked for me
but I cannot necessarily guarantee that it will work for you. I have
been working on cars/trucks for 40 plus years so I take some things
for granted. My assumption is that you are familiar with
engine/vehicle parts and various tools. Therefore, I may have left
out a step or two but the above procedure will work if you are
patient about cleaning the gasket surfaces and snaking the new gasket
in place. Be careful when raising the engine and keep an eye on the
intake plenum. And, don’t forget those safety glasses. A
scratched cornea or degreaser in the eyes is no fun.

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