For all of its strengths, of which it has many, the previous generation of the Z06 Corvette had some serious issues in the lubrication and oiling department. It’s not like most LS7-powered cars are going to have issues with daily driving or weekend romps down back roads. But as oiling specialist AVIAID is quick to point out, Even with its factory dry-sump oiling system, put one of these cars on track, and it’s time to roll the dice.
Essentially, an overall lack of control within the oil pan and sump tank itself can quickly cause starvation to occur when repeated sharp cornering, intense acceleration, or hard braking takes place. The result can be damaged bearings, as well as compromised crankshaft and connecting rods, all of which eventually evolve into engine failure.
This is why AVIAID, the company that first brought dry-sump technology to motorsports more than 40 years ago, decided that it was high time that someone did something to fix this issue. And fix it they did, with the AVIAID LS7 oil systems aboard race-winning Callaway Corvettes serving as proof.
Although these units help negate the risk of engine oil being vented into the intake, there is far more to this simple, yet highly effective sump system than just a reduction in blow-by and improved engine reliability and performance.
We recently caught up with AVIAID to discuss the development of this three-step solution for C6 Z06 owners, and how it remains a super straightforward product to install.
The History Behind The LS7 Sump
When GM came out with its factory dry-sump systems, AVIAID immediately thought that the LS engine would not be a good market for capitalization. But when people started calling them, complaining that their dealer had warned them that they would not warranty the engine in their Corvette a third time, AVIAID’s engineers started looking a bit deeper.
One look at the oil pan was all it took to convince the AVIAID crew that they had work to do. According to John Schwarz of AVIAID, the internals of the OE oil pan “…told us that it was great for going down the highway, but start turning and the oil would be everywhere but at the pickup in the pan.”
So they built a trap assembly that went around the pickup and kept oil from sloshing past the pickup point. Along the way, AVIAID also built a baffle assembly for the tank to complete what GM had started. This helped the system reach optimum oiling efficiency in any scenario, making it as reliable as the RPM limitations of the oil pump.
More Oiling Issues And OE Oversights: The LS7 Achilles Heel
Anyone who’s ever spent time inside an LS block knows that its confines are an over-engineered balance of brilliance. Yet despite a lengthy list of well-designed components, even the OE LS7 Corvette dry-sump tank had a few facepalm-grade misses that never got addressed.
Take the engine’s unbaffled OE oil tank pickup for instance. Whose brilliant, race-winning strategy was it to incorporate this design? Seriously. We really would like to know.
Sudden acceleration, braking, tight turns… surely race car drivers would never attempt such things… Facepalms and fresh engine builds for everyone. Hooray…
Oil starvation sucks, literally. If the aerated oil doesn’t cause pressure issues, temp spikes, and combustion efficiency are sure to make the scene instead. Remember, driver error due to distraction from a spiking gauge needle can ruin both a good time and a race in the same amount of time.
Oil Pan Insert And Windage Tray
Interestingly enough, AVIAID’s solution is as straightforward as sliding some tank insert baffles inside the pan. As the easiest method of keeping oil displacement proportional inside the pan, this design allows an oil separation setup with a solid aluminum screen and a foam breather element to take care of the ventilation side of the equation.
As for insertion, that’s as easy as grabbing some hand tools and a permanent marker, and gettin’ to wrenchin’ ya’ll.
But the stock LS7 oil pan suffers from another severe shortcoming, one caused by hard driving and lubricant loss. When the pickup point for the oil struggles to provide equilibrium and flow, the uncontrolled oil relocates to the crank. This results in a shackled rotating assembly. Another simple engineering oversight. But a massive oversight, nevertheless.
AVIAID found that by baffling the hell out of its pan in a maze-like configuration, with one-way trap doors for keeping the oil around the pickup, it could inexpensively and effectively regulate flow. This “louvered windage tray” allows the driver to experience unimpeded performance perks when driving a vehicle with intent, may they be on the track or not.
Installation is a three-hole solution within the base of the pan. A stamped-steel template with each kit allows the insert to be affixed, thanks to the windage tray being bolted to the insert itself.
The AVIAID External Dry Sump Pump
Regarding the dry-sump unit side of the system, AVIAID took the lacking Z06 lubrication system and gave it a kick in the pants. With an efficient, tightly packaged single-stage pump on board, scavenging is double that of the stock unit. In turn, the crankcase pressure vent side of the puzzle prevents oil from resting on the floor of the pan for too long. It’s just another clever way AVIAID keeps everything cycling smoothly inside the block.
Mounting is strictly a passenger-side affair and a top-mounted one at that. This permits the use of a simple cylinder head-mounted pump, belt, and pulley. This section of the setup features a handy-dandy Katech idler assembly. With quick adjustability, this system eliminates the need for the stock spring-loaded idler and pulley assembly. Thus allowing the factory serpentine belt in the LS7 to be far more resilient, reliable, and easier to inspect.
Every kit includes the auxiliary pickup with a secondary scavenger filling in over at the OE spot. Flow is transported via a -10 line from the oil pan to the pump and back. The bung kit fills in any connection points that the auxiliary pump return does not eliminate.
In true AVIAID fashion, a complete backup vent connection and breather tank return unit combo come with every dry-sump upgrade kit. You know, for when things don’t always go according to plan, and that nitrous blast tries to cause a rod to go rogue.
Mandatory Mild Modifications
Outside of drilling a hole into the pan for the pickup bung, and welding three holes with matching fittings inside the tank, fabrication is pretty much nonexistent. Throw a line from the sump tank, and zingo…. you’re ready for installation. Just weld carefully, please. You don’t want to go pan-hunting because your measurements were off a smidgeon.
No more fretting over where to relocate the oil filter with this kit either. Tinkering with GM’s oil tank and oil cooler lines is so 2017 guys. Yeesh…
The most important thing to remember is that everything has been designed to work in concert with the OEM air conditioner, power steering, alternator, etc. — AVIAID
To The Swap Meet… and Beyond!
Anyone looking to skip the previous gen Corvette’s looks, proportions, and GM-grade interior materials, can still benefit from one of these dry-sump upgrades. As with all AVIAID kits, clearance and safety are taken into account, so fitment is sure to be top-tier every time.
AVIAID has found that people with earlier-gen Camaros, Firebirds, “Tri-5 Chevys,” and even old-school Corvettes tend to gravitate heavily toward this design. This has spawned an entire range of tank sizes to be manufactured. Trunk, engine compartment, cabin… you name it these guys have it.
This kit’s widespread popularity is largely due in part to the fact that it allows you to retain a fully functional factory air conditioning setup in most scenarios. Power steering inputs, alternator outputs, and an OE oil filter, oil cooler, and oil tank, along with all pertinent plumbing remain in place as well. So in essence, this is a dry-sump system that is 100-percent compatible with OEM components.