How to Clean Oil Pickup Screen Without Removing Oil Pan

The justification behind cleaning the oil pickup screen without removing the oil pan has its own steps and it takes special care to put it back. So being able to clean the mesh screen of the oil pickup tube without dropping the pan is an advantage.

Before starting the cleaning process it is helpful to learn what an oil pickup tube, an oil pan, and a filter screen of the oil tube are.

An oil pan is the storage area for the motor oil in our vehicles, from where the oil is distributed to all parts of the engine through the oil pump.

The oil pump has a pickup tube that connects the pump to the oil pan, and it has a filter screen attached to one end.

The oil pickup screen cleaning is important because it prevents any debris particles from entering the oil pump, without which the engine can face severe consequences.

7 Steps to Clean the Oil Pickup Screen Without Removing Oil Pan 

To keep your engine oil pressure at a healthy level, you must clean the oil pickup screen. Here is a list of material and steps required in doing so:

Material Needed

  • Drain Pan
  • A new drain plug
  • A strong fuel cleaner/solvent
  • Oil filter
  • Engine oil
  • Wrench
  • Rags

Step 1: Locate the drain plug underneath your car

Since you are opting to clean the oil pickup screen without dropping the oil pan, the first thing you need to do is locate the drain plug. By doing so you would be able to drain all of the engine oil without having to remove the oil pan.

A drain plug is basically a large nut that can be seen by crawling under your car or by jacking two wheels off your vehicle.

Step 2: Put a drain pan under the drain plug

Now that you have located the drain plug, put a large drain pan/container underneath to hold all of the engine oil from your car.

After carefully placing the container in the right place get a wrench to unscrew the drain plug from under the engine.

As you unscrew the bolt, some engine oil might come on your hands so keep a rag nearby. Let all of the motor oil drain properly before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Take off the oil filter

Remove the oil filter from the engine following the drainage of the oil, and put a new drain plug to close off the opening.

Using the same drain plug is not advised because typically it bends as you open it. Now your oil pickup tube and filter screen are ready to be unclogged.

Step 4: Pour a gallon of quality fuel and injector cleaner

Like the oil change procedure, here you have to first pour in a strong and good quality solvent to remove sludge and carbon. Get a gallon of Berryman 12 or any other cleaning solvent you trust and pour a gallon of it into the engine fill.

Once done, do not turn on the ignition for two days and let the solvent do its work in the oil pan.

Step 5: Drain out the solvent and repeat 

After two days have passed, open the drain plug and drain out all the solvents from the oil pan.

The color and the consistency of the drained cleaner would be dark meaning that it has been working on the pan and pickup tube. Repeat the process of pouring the solvent into the oil fill and again rest it for two days.

Step 6: Inspect the cleaning solvent for carbon grit

Drain the solvent from the oil pan but this time you have to keep an eye on the feel and the consistency of the draining solvent. If the sludge is still very blackish in color, the process needs to be repeated one more time.

If not, then inspect the discharge by rubbing it between your two fingers. A smooth texture of the discharge means there is no carbon grits present which is what you should look for.

Step 7: Install oil filter and drain plug 

When you are sure that there is no carbon grit present in the sludge discharge that can clog the oil pickup screen again, let the engine air out.

This may take an overnight or a day, after which you can reinstall the new oil filter, engine oil, and the drain plug. Turn the ignition on for small intervals so that the oil pickup tube and the oil pump get warmed up a bit.

Check for any noise coming from the engine and your oil pickup screen cleaning is done.

Clogged Oil Pickup Screen Symptoms 

Keeping the filter screen of the oil pickup tube is crucial for the accurate oil pressure of the engine.

The openings of the filter mesh screen are as large as 0.040 inches2 which means they can easily be clogged with dirt and grit. To help you understand, we have listed some clogged oil pickup screen symptoms:

Reduced Oil Pressure 

The most common symptom of a clogged oil pickup screen or tube is the decrease in oil pressure. As the engine oil from the pan is transferred to the oil pump via an oil pickup tube, a clogged screen will hinder its movement.

And when the oil flow is reduced it will subsequently lead to lower oil pressure.

Loud Noise from the Engine 

When the oil pressure to the engine is reduced, due to a clogged filter screen, the engine will not be able to stay lubricated enough. This causes the components of the engine to rattle due to friction, hence loud metallic noise can be heard coming from the engine.

Hearing those loud metallic sounds frequently is an obvious sign that your oil pickup screen is fully clogged.

Low Performance of the Vehicle 

Although you cannot always blame a clogged oil pickup screen for the poor performance of your vehicle, it is one of the many reasons for it.

Common things to notice for a clogged screen include, accelerator not working perfectly, and the engine not speeding up.

Cleaning the Oil Pan Gasket Surface 

To clean the oil pan gasket surface you need to first remove the oil pan from the engine. The oil pan gasket surface is made up of soft metals like aluminum therefore be careful in what tools you are choosing for its cleanup.

To remove the gasket for the cleaning process, use plastic-made tools, while leaving the metallic surface area behind. The cleaning of the oil pan gasket surface requires, get a plastic scraper or a razor blade.

Always use a new razor blade for cleaning each part of the gasket surface. Position the scraper or the razor blade on the gasket surface in such a way that it does not damage the reusable parts.

After scraping, use a brake cleaner or any other cleaning agent for auto parts to remove the sludge and leftover oil residue. Let the solvent sit on the gasket surface for a while and then wipe it off using a paper towel.


1. How do you clean an oil tube without removing the oil pan?

You can clean the oil tube without removing the oil pan by using injector cleaners or other fuel solvents of your choice. Simply pour the solvent into the oil pan and flush it out, and repeat the process two to three times.

2. Can you clean an oil pump screen?

The best and less time-taking way to clean your oil pump screen is to take off the oil pan and clean the mesh screen using kerosene. Scrape the surface gently to get the dirt out and then spray some brake cleaner to clear sludge from the mesh.

3. Will an oil change remove sludge? 

The oil change itself doesn’t completely remove the sludge from the engine, an engine flush does it. But changing your engine oil at regular intervals indeed prevents sludge formation, as the engine oil has additives for that.

4. Does seafoam really work?

As the seafoam is made up of petroleum elements, it is known for removing debris particles, deposits, and residue from the engine components. And unlike many other solvents, it is relatively safe as well.

5. How do I clean sludge out of my oil pan? 

You can do it by simply draining oil all of the dirty oil into a drain container, after unbolting the drain plug. Sludge will come off with the dirty oil, or you can add some flushing agent for better cleaning.


For the motor oil to reach all parts of the engine and do its work, it has to reach the oil pump, via an oil pickup tube. That oil pickup tube contains a filter screen to clean the oil passing through the pickup tube, which sometimes gets clogged, and hinders oil pressure.

But the good news is that the oil pickup screen can be cleaned with or without removing the oil pan of the engine.

Identifying the blocked oil pickup symptoms make it easier for the driver to know the right time for the unclogging of the screen.

The cleaning of the oil pickup tube and screen holds great significance because a fully clogged mesh is the death of an engine. 

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