Whether you’re building a new engine, or just doing a few upgrades, at some point you’ll be forced to make a decision about the oil pan. There are multiple factors that dictate how you select the right oil pan for the application. There are seemingly dozens of oil pans out there for each application as well. To help us make more sense of the oil pan dilemma, we reached out to Jeff Behuniak at Canton Racing Products for a little advice. Behuniak gave us the four top things he recommends considering when selecting the right oil pan for your next build.
What type of engine and what brand block
This sounds like an easy one, but it can actually boil down to a few more specifics outside of it’s what brand the engine is based on. Behuniak says, “A good example is Dart makes blocks for the Ford 302 and 351W that have four bolt mains on all 5 caps which causes some oil pan problems.” Aftermarket blocks, or blocks that weren’t originally part of your vehicle’s applications may contain different provisions than the OEM block it’s replacing. Knowing the specific details of the block you’re using for the build is a critical factor.
What kind of car is the engine going in
This one also sounds like another no-brainer. However, if you’ve been in this hobby long enough, or have friends who are, you’ve likely had or seen an engine sitting on a stand, or pallet in the corner. That someday engine, that will someday find it’s way into something. Trouble is, what is that something? “Before you order a pan, know what kind of car the engine is going in and does it have any abnormal chassis constraints. There is a plethora of aftermarket front ends out there all of which have different clearances that need to be accounted for when it comes to fitting the oil pan,” Behuniak says. Ground clearance, and even four wheel drive are other factors. A pan that will fit lifted four wheel drive truck may not be ideal for a street car with lowered suspension and minimal ground clearance.
What are you using it for
Auto enthusiasts are a diverse group to say the least. Interests run the gamut from drag racing to circle track, and everything in between. We’ve found ourselves changing direction on a project mid-way before, as have many others. According to Behuniak, Canton’s oil pans are as specific to the application as the type of driving that the car will be doing. “Each of our pans is set up for a specific type of car use. Whether it be Circle Track, Some pans will cross over between applications such as using a Road Race pan on the street but it is also very important not to use something like a Circle Track pan on a road course.“
This is probably something most of us give the least amount of thought to with an oil pan. However, oil control is critical to not only engine life, but also to maximizing power output by reducing parasitic loss through windage. Behuniak says, “We design our pans using the best features possible and some of those features are added to separate the crank from the oil in the pan so stroke clearance is important to consider.”
These are just some of the basics to consider when selecting the oil pan for your next engine build or engine swap. Of course the experts over at Canton Racing Products are happy to help with questions regarding pan selection or other oiling system queries.