Meaning | Concept | Definition:
An oil pan is a component that typically seals the bottom of four-stroke internal combustion engines in automotive and other similar applications. While it is known as an oil pan in the US, other parts of the world may call it an oil pan.
Its main purpose is to form the lowest part of the crankcase and contain the engine oil before and after it has circulated through the engine. When an oil pan is removed, some components that are usually revealed include the crankshaft, oil pan, and the lower end of the dipstick. Some oil pans also contain one or more magnets designed to capture small pieces of metal before they can plug the oil filter or damage the engine.
The oil pan contains the engine oil.
During normal engine operation, an oil pump will draw oil from the pan and circulate it through the engine, where it is used to lubricate all components. Once the oil has passed through the engine, it is allowed to return to the oil pan.
In a wet sump system like this, the amount of oil an engine can hold is directly related to the size of the oil pan. An engine cannot hold more oil than will fit in the pan without reaching the crankshaft, as a submerged crankshaft will tend to aerate the oil, making it difficult or impossible for the oil pump to circulate through the engine.
During normal engine operation, an oil pump will draw oil from the pan and circulate it through the engine.
The drain plug used to change the engine oil is usually located somewhere in the oil pan. An easy way to locate an oil drain plug is to find the pan and then look for its lowest point.
The tray may be tilted, have a bump on one end, or be at a slight angle due to the position of the motor. This low point is usually where the drain plug is located so most of the oil in the pan can drain through it.
A submerged crankshaft will tend to aerate the oil, making it difficult or impossible for the oil pump to circulate.
Some engines, such as racing or high performance engines, may use what is known as a dry sump system.
Instead of storing all the oil in the crankcase, these engines have a separate reservoir from which it is pumped. Oil pans on engines like these are typically much smaller than those on wet sump systems, as the oil is returned to the reservoir after being used for lubrication.
A vehicle’s oil pan can be accessed from the bottom of the car.