I just finished changing the oil pan gasket on my 2002 Sable Duratec. There was only one real snag but it was a doozy. Given that the car is 8 years old and has been operated on salty roads in Michigan for all those winters, it should be no surprise that the nuts and bolts on the exhaust system were pretty rusty. As a result, two nuts and one bolt rounded off when I tried to remove them, despite being careful with tool selection (proper size, six-point sockets). A couple of trips to Sears got me a Grip-Tite socket set and a Gator grip socket that worked just fine on the rounded nuts at the y-pipe-to-tailpipe connection. No such luck with the bolt holding the y-pipe to the rear manifold.
I disconnected the tail pipe and lowered it and moved it to the side to improve access to the remaining bolt, but could not get it to budge even with a stud extractor and breaker bar. Finally, I used an air powered grinder to grind the head off. You might be able to do that with a Dremel tool but it would take a lot longer. That allowed me to drop the Y-pipe and get the gasket changed.
According to the shop manual, the proper assembly sequence is to hand tighten the bolts to the transaxle, then tighten the oil pan to engine bolts in the proper order (above) to 18 ft-lbs, then tighten the pan to transaxle bolts to 30 ft-lbs.
When placing the oil pan in position, have two (and only two) bolts sticking up through the new gasket ready to engage their proper holes in the engine. Hand tighten those two before inserting the remaining bolts.
At that point, I still had the issue of the stub of the bolt in the rear exhaust manifold to deal with. I ultimately got it out by grinding it to a square shape, 1/4 inch on each side. That allowed me to fit a 1/4 inch drive socket over it (I happened to have an 8 point socket which functioned as an effective "gender changer". This allowed me to connect it to a breaker bar which, with some wiggling and only a little effort, aided by some PB Blaster, enabled me to thread that bugger right out. If you don't have an 8 point socket, you can use a 12 point 11 mm socket as a gender changer. It will fit perfectly upside down over a 3/8 inch drive ratchet.
You'll want to chase the threads in the rear manifold with a tap of the correct size (m10x1.50). You get a fair amount of crap in there that should be cleaned out before attempting to insert a new bolt. Needless to say I reassembled the thing with all new nuts and bolts on the exhaust pipe and used plenty of anti-seize as the write-up recommends. It does help to have a second person available to get the y-pipe back into position. In my case, I asked the wife to position the connection to the front manifold from above and put one nut loosely on the stud there while I supported the pipe from below and got one bolt loosely into the rear manifold. That took only a couple of minutes and supported the weight of the thing which allowed me to finish wrestling it into position and connecting the rest of the nuts and bolts. Get all the nuts and bolts on before tightening any of them down.
I'm not sure it was necessary but I used a couple of dots of sealer to hold each gasket in place while reassembling the Y-pipe into the car. I figured I didn't want to risk having them slip out of place and get distorted and that the sealer would eventually burn off. Seemed to work.
But for that one bolt, this would have been a relatively easy and straightforward job, and saved about $350 vs the dealer quote. Thanks for the great write-up.
Last edited by dcotter0579; 09-07-2010 at 02:18 PM.