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Oil Pressure Sending Unit..How hard to replace?

I have a 97 4 cyl Grand Am. The oil sending unit is leaking oil. I want to know how hard it is to replace? I looked at it and it doesn't seem too difficult, but what I don't know is do i have to drain the oil before working on it? or can I just take it out and replace? How do I do this? Any help? This piece is right on top of the engine in easy reach...small and black. It has one of those metal rings that you tighten with a screwdriver and maybe have to have a wrench for the other side? Please help if this makes any sense.


I just called the mechanic I usually go to and if I bring in the part, which is only $12.00 and IF it's as easy as it looks he says then he will charge me $40!!! That's ridiculous! He said it will probably take 30 minutes..I highly doubt that. Can anyone tell me how to change it myself? I don't mind getting my hands dirty.

Update 2: doesn't look hard to get to, it's right on top of the engine right next to where you put the spark plugs in. Right next to the big metal thing that says twin cam blah blah blah.

Update 3:

I assume the engine should be cold? I mean for the more obvious reason that I don't want to get burned. I have done other work on my car, but had instructions over the phone from the guy who replaced my transmission, but he was nice and saved me $250! It was a fairly easy fix, but a tight squeeze for my arm.

Update 4:

Converse: What is cross thread? Are you saying don't screw it in too tight?

Update 5:

Dave..I do love my coffee, may take me a while! Like I said, I have done work on my car b4, changed the sparkplugs and ignition coil last week, noticed the fresh oil around this unit and some drips on the ground, so I figured I'd replace it to see if that's what's on the ground or something else.

12 Answers

  • Dave J
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    All oil sending units are merely screwed into the

    engine in an oil channel on the head, or the block.

    It makes no difference if they are the type that

    are electrical with wire connected to them, or one

    that has an actual tubing for direct oil pressure to

    a gauge.

    Merely disconnect any wire, or tube from the

    sending unit, and use a wrench to fit the bottom

    next to the block if yours has a square end for

    this, or a socket on a ratchet to fit over the top

    of the unit if it is that type.

    You do not have to drain oil as you won't really

    lose anything more than a drop, or two. As for

    being a cool engine, well you won't get burned

    from the engine when you change it. Otherwise,

    it doesn't matter.

    The time involved all depends upon how easy

    you can bend over the engine to get to the unit,

    and how adept you are at using your tools to do

    the task. It could be anywhere from five minutes

    to five hours (dependent upon interruptions, and

    coffee breaks).

    Cross threading means that you should insure

    that you don't start the threads in ********. To

    do this will strip the threads, most likely, from the

    new unit so that it will not seal from oil leaks

    around them. Usually, a person can tell by feel.

    If it screws in reasonably by hand without forcing

    it to a solid stop, it should be ok. If you get stopped

    after only one, or two, or so threads, almost like

    bottoming out, you are probably in crooked. Just

    back it out and retry until it is correct.

    Most shops have to charge enough for their

    overhead of the shop, labor, wear and tear on

    tools, and equipment, etc. Jobs are based upon

    a per hour, or time studied task. There are even

    flat rate manuals published for different tasks with

    different hourly rates. Some shops have been

    known to have a first hour rate, as well as rates

    as high as $125 per hour, depending upon their

    type of shop. (Some have just pulled their prices

    right out of thin air of the moment, too.)

    Look up the part, and the cost for the unit for your

    vehicle in Autozone. You can then look into their

    section on how to do the job on your car.

    One restaurant I used to frequent told me that I

    should never buy my coffee by the cup. They

    said I should buy it by the pound. lol

    I used to own, and operate R-F Auto Electric. In my

    shop I used to go through two 30 cup pots twice a

    day, along with lots of milk, and sugar. (I tend to

    like my coffee like I like women; sweet-n-creamy.)

    • MIKE4 years agoReport

      it shouldint no more then 15 min i change before

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  • staib
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Oil Pressure Sender Unit

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  • br549
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    You don't have to drain the oil, but an oil sending unit will not have anything like "one of those metal rings that you tighten with a screwdriver" on it.

    You aren't looking at an the pressure unit. Best to spend the 40 bucks IMO.

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  • Bonnie
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    For the best answers, search on this site

    Most of the time I use a pair of channel lock pliers! But there is a special socket that takes the unit off!

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  • 1 decade ago

    40 is ok for labor, it's very easy if you could get to it. You don't have to drain any oil, you would probably lose a few drops during replacement.

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  • renume
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    You do NOT have to drain the oil, this is a very easy fix and your mechanic is a theif (most of them are) He wants to charge you 1/2 hour labor for a 2 minute job. All you have to do is unclip the wire on the sending unit, Twist the old one out, Twist the new one in and reconnect the wire. Keep this in mind if you have any other issues with your vehicle. Tyr asking here first, Why make your mechanic rich?

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  • 1 decade ago

    Not hard if your familiar with tools. You won't have to drain the oil if it is on top of the engine. Just make sure to oil the thread before replacing it. That way it won't freeze up on you.


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  • 1 decade ago

    The first guy is right. It's pretty simple.

    The reason the shop guy wants to charge you $40 is it takes time to do al the paperwork, bring it in the shop, and all the other little things.

    Some shops have a minimum charge for just that reason.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It's easy just get the right size spanner on it and replace it you don't have to drain the oil as the oil only gets up to the sender with pressure when the engine is running there will be nothing when it's stopped probably just have a few drips that's about it just wipe with a rag. Unplug or unscrew the wire and replace the unit then reconnnect the wire again, you might need some teflon tape or sealant on the thread portion if you have any leaks but it might be fine I replaced one with no sealant and it never leaked at all just make sure to thread the new one in by hand first to make sure it doesn't cross thread and just nip it up till it gets tight don't go overboard this is all it needs. hope this helps.

    I mean to put the new sender unit in by hand first so you know it's going in straight and easy and not on an angle and turn it in as far as you can by hand to make sure it's going in easy and straight as they can sometimes be a little tricky and hard to turn in...once you know it's been turned in as far as you can by hand then just nip it up a little more with a spanner and it should be fine, connect the wire, start the car and check it for leaks..hope this helps.

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  • 1 decade ago

    you are correct it is not hard if you have the right tools and $52 is not bad if you are going to a shop...if they break something they pay to have it fixed not you and you can also go to a web site alldata pro or identifix these will show you step for step most of the time

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  • 1 decade ago

    they are not hard to change. all you do is disconnect the wire going to it, take a wrench and take it out and put the new 1 in, tighten it down and hook up the wire, start it up and check for leaks.

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