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Aluminum oil pans / external coolers?


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I've been digging around and don't see the answers I'm looking for to the following questions:

Does anyone who put an aluminum oil pan into a street-only S30 recommend it?

If so, we're there any issues around fitting it into the car? I've seen people mention that they get in the way of the suspension and require modifications I don't want to do, but I can't verify that.

Is anyone running an external oil cooler on a non-turbo, naturally aspirated car?

Are both of these excessive mods that might prevent the car coming up to temp?

I'm looking for mods that improve operation and longevity, not just power output, but these are seeming like a waste of cash for a street car that probably won't clear 200hp.

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The Arizona Z Car oil pan is fine for a street car.  Its OK for competition use but it has a drain back problem if the car is run at sustained high rpm on a race track.  Autocross use is fine.  An oil cooler is mostly unnecessary on a street car unless, again, you run at sustained high rpm.  Tony D had oil temp issues running across west Texas in the summer at 110mph.  Most everyone else won't because street drivers rarely run above 4,500 rpm for any length of time. 

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So how much does the car really need the baffles for street driving? I've read that the engine can have pickup problems but how many Gs do you really need to pull to cause that. Can I just run a 280zx pump and pan to solve this?

Trying to balance the cost to the benefit.

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I have the Arizona Z Car pan in my street 240 along with a turbo oil pump and have had no issues for over 10 years and I drive it hard. Push come to shove I don't really need that oil pan for a motor making less than 250hp. When I had a different engine in there and did track and AX events, yes it was worth the money of the pan as an insurance against engine loss.

We had to remove the original Bob Sharp Racing oil cooler out of the 240 race car because we couldn't get the oil temp up above 180 degrees when the temps outside were below 95. It was too dam big. We were also running the original 10 qt pan so an oil change (~15 qts) got expensive.

A stock pan, good oil and filter are all you need for a stock Z.

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I autocrossed and tracked (track days only) a 240Z with a stock oil pan and turbo oil pump.  With 5 qts of oil I would see flickering on the oil pressure gauge at Willow Springs in Turn 2 which is long (sustained 10  seconds) right hand turn.  The car could pull 1.25G in that corner for that amount of time.  I never worried about it.  Engine lasted for 10 years and finally got rebuilt as part of an upgrade.  No internal oil related issues ever.

Edited by John Coffey
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I put an aluminum 3-row radiator, fan shroud and oil cooler (the smaller one from MSA) after constant overheating on a summer trip to  Tucson. Seems to work. Eastbound on the 10 from Palm Springs there's a long upgrade. Palm Springs can get to 120F. Have seen overheating cars on the side of the road every trip. The Z is OK with it now, can go fast up the mountain on a hot day, zipping around all those slow trucks, and temp stays normal. Probably the oil cooler helps. As others say, unnecessary in more normal conditions.

My oil cooler has a bypass with a bimetal strip in the adapter, so it doesn't keep it from coming up to operating temp.

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I live in the South and got a 280ZX external oil cooler as insurance on a setup similar to yours plus an aluminum radiator.  Not sure which pulled the temp down more but I figure its insurance against the heat of the Summer.

Edited by gogriz91
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I was actually going to suggest using the savings on cooling system improvements.

Consider the size of the two radiators to see which does more work (or releases it as heat for those physics people out there).

You might also consider the potential downsides - more places for oil to leak, and a more brittle oil pan,  One missed speed bump or curb and you can be out $500 and have the car down for a while.

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Used to Autocross Z cars in Mod class way back in the mid 70's.  Goodyear 21x 8 x13 soft compound slicks. No G meters back then, but car handled like a slot car. Had to be pulling well over 1 G. No oiling issues ever with stock oil pan.

Also ran a D-Production Z car ( ICSCC ) in the late 70's on Goodyear slicks. Had a very expensive Aviad oil pan ( 7 qts, fully baffled, windage tray ). Pan leaked like a sieve because it was built improperly ( Twisted ) . Replaced it with a stock 240Z oil pan and ran the car for two years with Zero oiling issues.  Won quite a few races with that car. Stock pan is well designed and more than adequate for Streetuse,  Autocross and Track days  IMHO. FWIW.

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I have an oil cooler on my car (it came with it), and my only complaint is that it works too well! It didn't come with a temperature valve, so under normal driving (it's mostly a daily driver) I had a hard time getting the oil above 160 degrees. I found simple solution, though, which was to just block it off with a piece of insulation, and now the oil runs at the same temp as the engine (about 180).

On the track or when I really push the car, it keeps the oil around 200-210, which I think is OK.

I do have a larger 3-row radiator, but no special oil pan. The car did come with a racing pan like the one at dpracing, but it had clearance issues with the steering rack and the tranny, so I took it off. (It could have been modified it to fit better, but I didn't think it was worth the trouble considering how I drive the car most days.)

If I had to do it over again or lived somewhere where it was warmer (I'm in MN after all), I'd consider the oil cooler, but I'd definitely get the temperature valve...something like this one: http://www.thezstore.com/page/TZS/PROD/17-8057.

 

 

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