Which engine component stores oil for lubrication?

The engine oil is stored in a pan known as the sump which is generally located in the bottom of the engine. This is where around four to eight quarts of the engine oil is stored. While most cars have a wet sump, some cars also have dry sumps. A wet sump is basically where the oil pan is stored at the bottom of the engine and uses a single pump to circulate the oil between the galleries. Meanwhile, a dry sump is located at a place other than the bottom of the engine and uses at least two oil pumps to circulate the oil through the engine. While a dry sump offers more flexibility, it is more expensive and complex, so, it is usually found in high performance cars.

Apart from this, around one quart of the engine oil is stored in the oil filter when the engine is off.  Since the engine oil plays an important role in cooling, lubricating and protecting the parts of the engine.


What does engine oil lubricate in an engine?

It is common knowledge that the engine oil lubricates the moving parts of the engine and helps reduce friction between them. This leads to lesser wear and tear and eventually leads to improving the longevity of the engine. However, it is important to understand the parts of the engine which the engine oil actually lubricates. So, basically, the engine oil lubricates all the dynamic metal parts of the engine like the pistons, the crankshaft, the valves, cylinder walls and all other parts of the engine. The engine oil flows under pressure and leaves a thin film on the internal metal surfaces of the engine which help reduce friction and prevents the engine from overheating.


How long does it take for oil to lubricate an engine?

While a warmed up engine and an engine oil of low viscosity might just lubricate the engine almost instantly within 20 seconds, cold engines and thicker engine oils take much longer. So, it is best to warm up your engine and use an oil of suitable viscosity to ensure that it is able to lubricate the engine properly and efficiently.


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How does engine oil lubricate the engine?

As soon as you turn the ignition and the engine starts, the oil pump moves the oil from the sump pan to the oil filter. The oil filter then cleans the oil of its impurities and the oil is then circulated through the engine through galleries, which are basically tubes, pipeline or channels which run through the entire engine and ensure that the oil is delivered in the necessary parts. These galleries also run through the crankshaft and the bearings, which allow continuous circulation of the oil and ensures that the parts remain cool. Further, spurt holes spray oil on the undersides of the piston to ensure that the combustion temperatures can be regulated and it also helps ensure reduced friction while the piston moves inside the cylinder due to proper lubrication. It also helps ensure lubrication in the camshaft, valves and the valve springs. Once the oil has passed through the engine, the galleries suck it back to the sump pan. Thereafter, the oil again gets passed through the oil filter and the cycle starts all over again.


What are the symptoms of a faulty oil pan?

An oil pan stores the engine oil of the car and plays a very important role in ensuring that your car keeps functioning properly. However, due to the oil pan being located in a remote lower part of the engine, it can be very hard to check if the pan is functioning well. So, these are a few symptoms which might help you realise if your oil pan is faulty –

  • Sudden Reduction in Oil Levels – The oil levels of your engine may begin to fall drastically due to leakages if the oil pan is faulty. So, it is important to keep a check on the oil levels in regular intervals.
  • Presence of Puddles – If you see puddles of oil being formed underneath your car, it can be a signal that your oil pan is faulty. If such drippings are spotted, it is best to examine them properly, top up the oil and immediately taking your car for repairs if you don’t want to end up stuck with an engine breakdown.
  • Overheating of the Engine – Since the engine oil is responsible for keeping the engine cool, an overheated engine is likely to indicate a faulty pan as it is the pan that is responsible for the smooth movement of the oil throughout the engine. It may also lead to smoke in your engine as the oil falls into the exhaust and blocks it.
  • Illuminated Warning Light – If you see a dashboard warning of low engine oil, avoid ignoring it as faulty simply because you topped up the engine oil recently. The light signifies that there is low engine oil and one of the main reasons of low engine oil is a faulty oil pan.

Pro-Tip – Since the oil pan also stores the used oil, it is bound to get dirty. So, it is best to use a high pressure water hose and a good degreaser to clean your oil pan in regular intervals to prevent it from rusting.


Pistons are usually made of what material?

Modern pistons are usually made of alloys of low carbon steel or aluminium allows. Due to the immense pressure, vibration, heat and friction the pistons are subjected to, it is very important for the piston to be durable and strong. While initially iron was used, it led to jamming of the pistons as they expanded due to the heat. Thereafter, aluminium pistons were used due to their light weight and excellent thermal conductivity. However, these pistons were infamous for their brittle nature. To fix this issue, alloys of aluminium or carbon steel began to be used. Silicon became an important constituent of such allows due to its high durability and ensures that the pistons last longer. On the other hand, the cylinders are generally made out of cast iron due to its high resistance to heat, durability and low cost. However, as aluminium alloys become more affordable, there has been a steady shift to aluminium alloy cylinders in modern cars due to its technical advantages over cast iron.