Jim Smart
December 20, 2010

Mustang oil pans tend to be vulnerable to damage from road debris, humongous speed bumps, deep dips in the road, and careless handling by sloppy mechanics with monkey wrenches. Some gearheads use them as a jacking point. And sometimes an unfortunate fate awaits them in our travels. One acquaintance struck a semi-truck brake shoe on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, tearing the oil pan completely off his Mustang's 289, rendering the car dead in its tracks.

The torn oil pan speaks for itself. It must be replaced. But when should you replace an oil pan or leave well enough alone? Oil pick-up placement inside your oil pan is what counts most. A dented oil pan can close the gap necessary to ensure the oil pickup is getting sufficient oil flow. You want at least .060-inch between pickup and pan. If the pan is badly dented, you don't have the clearance needed for safe operation. Although oil pan replacement is considered drudgery work, it will give you peace of mind. What's more, Fel-Pro and Virginia Classic Mustang have made it easier with affordable products you can install yourself at home.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Why Oil Pan Debris Is Bad

If you believe your engine's oil pickup screen will keep destructive debris out, think again. Trash from a failed timing set, hardware accidentally dropped into the pan during distributor installation, and broken valve seals can all find their way past the screen into your oil pump, which can cause serious engine damage. Debris the size of a grain of sand is what made this pump rotor seize, twisting the shaft into a barber pole in nanoseconds. While your pan is off for replacement, it's a good time to install a new pickup, pump, and shaft. Before installing the pump, remove the cover and inspect clearances and machine work.