In the grand scheme of performance, an engine’s oiling system tends to sit fairly low on the totem pole of priorities right up until the point when it becomes a very high priority.
While the value of pumps, pickup units, and oil formulations can be difficult to quantify when everything’s copasetic, the consequences of an under-performing oiling system can quickly serve up tough – and often expensive – lessons.
Fortunately for you and your Coyote V8, we have the benefit of the well-earned wisdom from the folks at Moroso, Lucas Oil, and Melling to help ensure that your five-liter’s oiling system is up to the task.
If you’re adding power to your drag car, getting prepped for extended sessions on a road course, or you just want to make sure that your warmed-over daily driver is up to snuff, this insight should help point you in the right direction.
Lay Of The Land
It’s no secret that the dual overhead cam Coyote is a high-winding mill, a characteristic that makes it well suited to the needs of high-performance applications. But with that rev-happy character comes significant lubrication requirements. The demands only increase as horsepower and grip are piled on.
The basic setup itself is pretty straightforward, utilizing a wet sump design with a crank-driven pump, along with a pan gasket that has an integrated windage tray. In certain applications, an external oil cooler is also part of the deal in order to provide additional heat management. Ford has made minor changes to the oiling system over the three generations of Coyote engines that have been produced, but as Moroso’s Thor Schroeder explains, there’s a common thread among all of them.
“Being a DOHC engine, there’s a lot more opportunity for oil to get held up in the upper valvetrain area. And since it has the variable timing and multi-displacement systems, the Coyote is going to be more sensitive to oil pressure fluctuations than your standard V8.”
To combat that, Ford developed a fairly robust factory oiling system to ensure that they wouldn’t be inundated with complaints of grenade’d engines from angry customers. But once the use-case starts to venture off of the beaten path of performance, the limitations of the system soon begin to take shape.
Being a DOHC engine, there’s a lot more opportunity for oil to get held up in the upper valvetrain area. And since it has the variable timing and multi-displacement systems, the Coyote is going to be more sensitive to oil pressure fluctuations than your standard V8.
The Right Pan For The Job
When swapping out the factory oil pan for an aftermarket option, it’s important to be aware that when you use a custom pan, your pickup location is often altered slightly from stock. “The new pan could be a little bit shallower, or a little bit deeper than a stock pan – or the pickup could get moved within the sump of the pan,” Schroeder says. ”Those situations will necessitate going to a different style of pickup.”
Regardless, would-be shoppers have a range of options when it comes to Coyote oil pans – it really just depends on the demands of the use-case. “We have ten different oil pans available for the Coyote due to all the different scenarios you might be using this engine in. For instance, a lot of people put Coyotes into Factory Five cars and other types of Cobra kit cars. So with those you need a shallower pan than the factory design, but you at least need to have OEM capacity – you really can’t cut back on the oil capacity because of all that oil that gets retained up in the cylinder heads.
So we created these T-sump kit car pans to accommodate that. These pans also have road race baffling in them. The neat thing about that baffling is that it works for road racing, it works in autocross, and it works in drag racing.
We also have a front sump oil pan for guys who want to put a Coyote in a vintage Mustang, or Galaxie, or anything that requires a front sump for proper clearance. That’s a special pan with an application-specific pickup, and we put road race baffling in that as well. That way you’re covered regardless of whether you’re doing a cruiser or a track-tuned build.”
Moroso also offers a range of rear sump pans with road race baffling as well. Each is designed for compatibility with specific exhaust system components, so selecting the right one really comes down to the combination of your particular build. “There’s four different sump styles – it really just depends whether you’re using BBK, American Racing, or some other style of headers. Some are a little bit wider and tighter to the engine, so we made pans with slightly narrower sumps to accommodate those.”
Rounding out Moroso’s Coyote oil pan offerings are a pair of pans designed specifically for drag racing applications. “We offer a steel version and an aluminum version, and they’re made for Fox body cars all the way up to current Mustangs. The baffling in these pans are slightly different from the design we use in the road race-style pans – the baffling is moved back in the pan a little bit, so it helps a bit more on the launch since we’re not quite as worried about the side-to-side lateral forces in this type of application.”
Schroeder also notes that all of Moroso’s Coyote pans are designed to work with the factory oil pan gasket and windage tray.
Pressure, Volume, And Potential Upgrades
Tim Foster of Melling tells us that the need for additional oil pump volume beyond what the factory system can provide really revolves around the resistances to the flow of oil in the system. “So first off, what are your bearing clearances? If you’re opening up those clearances above what is recommended in a stock application, then you’re going to need high volume out of the oil pump to keep your pressures up.”
He cites builds where significant amounts of boost and/or nitrous are in the mix as likely candidates for pump upgrades. “Typically, I think that the engine builders who are putting together those types of combinations like to have looser bearing clearances when turbos or superchargers are involved, and that’s when we’d recommend a high volume pump.”
That same rationale applies if components like piston squirters, remote oil filters, or aftermarket coolers have been added to the oiling system. “The goal is to keep the pressures up, and what creates pressure in the engine is the resistance to the flow of oil out of the oil pump. Add-ons and any alterations that change displacement or clearances will change that resistance, and potentially affect that oil pressure.”
Foster also points out that the powdered metal rotors in the factory oil pump tend to be a weak point in the system. “They don’t really like a whole lot of crank deflection, so if you’re adding a supercharger, we recommend going to a billet steel rotor in the oil pump.”
These rotors are as part of the deal in Melling’s performance oil pump for Coyotes. “Right now we offer a standard-volume pump with these billet rotors, but we also have a high volume pump with the billet rotors currently in development.”
And if we’re talking about the sorts of high-revving builds used in road racing disciplines, Foster recommends stepping up from the factory oil pump not just to get the benefits of a stronger rotor material. “Our performance pump has a hard coat anodized housing, and that’s important because you have a steel valve sliding back and forth in an aluminum housing, and that coating provides wear resistance. The steel valve is oscillating back and forth, and those steel rotors are turning, so that wear resistance is going to prevent it from creating clearances in the pump that are going to negatively impact the efficiency of the pump.”
Oil Weights And Blends
When it comes to selecting an oil formulation for your Coyote, Tom Bogner, Lucas Oil’s director of research and development, says it’s all about getting an accurate picture of the performance level that you’re working with.
“Gen 1, 2, and 3 all call for a 5W20, but we know that if you’re doing track days and are really putting a lot more temperature into that oil, you’re probably going to want to go to a heavier viscosity. We tested full synthetic 5W30 in my Gen 2 with a 3.6-liter Kenne Bell supercharger, from unleaded to race gas to E85, and we were able to push that thing to 940 horsepower at the wheels with our 5W30 in it. But I probably would have been afraid to do that with a 5W20, mainly because of film strength.”
Bogner adds that running a 5W30 in a mild climate like California still provides adequate drain-back, particularly with Gen 2 and Gen 3 cars due to improvements in the design, while providing better protection both at temperature and when cranking the engine over. “Thinner oils flow well and do a great job of pulling heat, but if you’re really going to be pushing the engine hard, I think you’re sacrificing the protection that you could gain just by moving to a slightly thicker oil.”
While 5W20 is fine for naturally aspirated applications and 5W30 is recommended for mild builds (and for added protection in general), Bogner suggests jumping straight to a 5W50 in more demanding applications. “If you’re pushing past 750 horsepower, that’s when I’d start looking at that weight. There’s a reason why Ford puts 5W50 in the Boss 302, GT350, and GT500 by default – they’ve done their homework. And if you’re road racing the car, a situation where you have a lot of oil temp all of the time, I’d go right to the 5W50 in that situation as well.”
There are a few blend additives that should be on your radar, too. “One thing that I like about our 5W50 versus some of the other options out there is that we took a little bit of a different approach by adding some extra zinc and phosphorus to it. The reasoning behind that was because we have those long chains and sprockets in the Coyote, and those other oils don’t contain the same level of cushioning that you get from the zinc. And from the testing that we’ve done, we also noticed better ring seal – and less oil consumption as a result. I think that the zinc and phosphorus help with that a bit.”
Whether you’re looking for added protection for that five-liter in your street machine or you’re on the hunt for added reliability in a Coyote-powered race car, the folks at Moroso, Melling, and Lucas Oil have developed offerings for this DOHC that can improve oiling system performance from top to bottom. Upgrading these components might not provide the instant gratification of bolting on a nitrous kit or a forced induction system, but it sure beats frying your rotating assembly.