Wet Sump vs Dry Sump -Which Lubrication System Is Better?

Wet Sump vs Dry Sump -Which Lubrication System Is Better?

July 24, 2021 1 By CarGuy

Dry sump and wet sump are the two most popular lubrication systems. Wet Sump vs Dry Sump which is better? Well, that depends.

Dry sump and wet sump systems are widely used in the piston engine world and each of them has its positive sides and negative sides. Each of them has its own application in the industry.

In this article, we are going to learn more about these wet sump and dry sump lubrication systems in piston engines and we will discuss more about the advantages and disadvantages that both of these systems have. And also, we will see who is the winner wet sump vs dry sump which is better? And finally, we are going to learn how to plumb a dry sump oil system.

What Is Wet Sump Lubrication System?

Even though there has passed more than a century of internal combustion engines. The wet sump lubrication system is still running strong and is most widely used in internal combustion engines. This popularity is because of its simplicity. These wet sump systems are one of the simplest systems in every engine.

How Wet Sump System Works?

How this system works is pretty simple. The crankcase sump is used as an oil reservoir. The crankcase sump is also known as an oil pan. The oil pan can collect an amount of oil, depending much on the size of the pan and the specification of the engine.

The pan is located at the base of the engine. At the bottom of the oil pan there is a pickup tube, the oil is picked up by the oil pump through the pickup tube and readily displaced wherever needed inside the engine.

Advantages Of The Wet Sump Lubrication System

The biggest advantage is the simplicity of this system. It is not prone to error and malfunction. Also, it is very cheap to make, and manufacturers benefit from this by saving some cash. It is also very cheap to maintain and service because there are not a lot of parts involved. You don’t need an external tank like in the dry sump systems and complex plumbing inside the engine. This makes the wet sum system perfect when it comes to this aspect.

Disadvantages Of Wet Sump Lubrication System

Although there are many advantages to the wet sump lubrication system. There are also a couple of disadvantages that come with the wet sump system and these are the lack of lubrication when it comes to racing applications. Wet sump can be problematic in race cars because of the large g forces that are created on the track with the tight cornering. These movements can cause the oil to move away from the oil pick up and starve the engine of oil. This can potentially damage the engine in the worst-case scenario.

If you are running your car on the track and you have a wet sump system, it will be a good idea to start learning how to plumb a dry sump oil system. We will explain how to plumb a dry sump oil system at the end of this article. Now let’s discuss about the dry sum lubrication system and later compare the wet sump and dry sump which is better?

What Is Dry Sump Lubrication System?

The dry sump is a completely different kind of beast compared to the traditional wet sump system. The dry sump system is usually equipped with two oil pumps that are inserted on each cylinder bank and uses a separate oil reservoir that is located somewhere else in the engine bay. Unlike the old-fashioned wet sump system that uses the main sump and an oil pan to pump oil into the engine.

Dry sump systems are popular in race car engines and also aerobatic piston-powered aircraft. The dry sump system is perfect for these applications because it increases their reliability and survivability on the racetrack during all these high g maneuvers.

Advantages Of The Dry Sump Lubrication System

The advantages of the dry sump lubrication system are immense if you are running a race car. Dry sump systems are running a lot of oil. Far more than a wet sump system could handle. As we said an advantage of this system is that you will not have to worry that your engine will starve for oil on the race track. With the dry sum system, the oil will be equally displaced inside the engine at any g force.

A dry sump system will improve the car’s center of gravity and the engine could be mounted lover and the oil reservoir can be mounted away from the engine.

The temperature control will also be improved because of the increased oil volume that will provide resistance to heat and saturation.

Increased engine power is also one of the benefits of running a dry sump oiling system in your car. When a car picks up speed very quickly, inside the engine and oil pan is created a viscous drag. This drag creates a parasitic power loss. With the dry sump there is no parasitic power loss, and there is no horsepower lost during accelerations from a standstill.

Increased lubricity inside the engine. With a dry sump system, your engine will be 100% oiled all of the time.

Disadvantages Of The Dry Sump Lubrication System

Although there are many advantages to the dry sump system, there are also some disadvantages when running a system like this in your car. Some of the disadvantages of the dry sump lubrication system are:

The dry sump system is overly complex and can weigh a lot. This is true because there is so much more weight to be added, the dry sump system can increase the curb weight of the vehicle. And this also adds to the cost of installing a system like this.

Another disadvantage is that this system requires a lot more maintenance and oil. If you are running a dry sump system your maintenance costs will probably go up by a lot.

Dry sump systems can ruin the daily drivability of the vehicle. This is true because inside the dry sump system there is a lot of oil. This oil needs time to reach the operating temperature. So, if you are driving your dry sump car on a short trip to the store, your oil will likely never get up to temperature.

The large oil reservoirs may be very tricky to position in the engine bay. If you can’t position them in the engine bay, you will have to position them in the trunk and this will require more plumbing and more money spent on this system.

These are only some of the disadvantages of the dry sump system when it comes to daily driving a car that has a dry sump system. So, if you want to achieve good drivability during the day, wet sump system is probably the best solution for you.

Wet Sump vs Dry Sump Which Is Better?

In this article, we have discussed both of these lubricating systems and it’s time to see which one is better wet sump vs dry sump which is better? Well, it depends.

If you are running a car that you plan to drive daily, the wet sump is perfect for you. I’m saying this because of its simplicity and the small number of moving parts. Chances of failing in this system are nonexistent. There is almost zero chance that your dry sump oiling system will fail. Your oil with this system is also going to get up to temp easier and you will not have the trouble of running your engine just to get up to temp.

A dry sump system on the other hand is not recommended for daily usage. As we said, with this system it’s going to be hard for you to get the engine up to temperature and use its maximum performance.

With this system also comes big expenses for oil and plumbing. If you want to install one of these systems you will need a new oil pan, new oil reservoir, plumbing cables, and two oil pumps. All of this can cost thousands of dollars, not to mention that you need to maintain this system regularly and make sure that everything is check. Something that with a wet sump you won’t even bother at all.

Not to forget the increased oil capacity. Your oil capacity with the dry sump will double in size and this also will increase the cost of operating this system.

But if you are planning to run this system on the track, this is the way to go. If you use dry sump system, your engine will never get starved from oil during these hard g force maneuvers. Your car will handle like a breeze and you will also gain better lap times.

Dry Sump Oil System Kit?

There are many companies out there that are making dry sump specific kits for some popular engines. And these kits are making the conversions much easier. So, what does a dry sump oil system kit includes?

Well, it includes a lot of stuff. There are probably more than 100 pieces that come with the dry sump kit. It is also very useful to look online for dry sump oil system kits and see more about the parts these kits include.

But the most important thing that the dry sump oil system kit includes is the new oil pan that is made for this specific purpose. This pan does not go low like the classic wet sump oil pan. The dry sump pan is shallower because it doesn’t hold oil.

To the oil, pan are connected the oil lines that go from the oil pan to the oil pan. Another part included in these kits that is necessary is the oil pump. This pump circulates the oil from the oil pan into the engine and into the oil reservoir.

The oil reservoir is also another important component in the dry sump system. The oil reservoir holds all of the oil. When the oil pump starts, the oil starts circulating inside of the engine at high pressure.

There are also some miscellaneous pieces in the dry sump oil kit like pulleys that are powering the oil pump. Bunch of fittings and belts.

When buying a dry sump oil kit make sure that you get a brand that is quality and will deliver a good performance in the process. Because if your oil pump dies all of a sudden on the race track some bad things may happen to your engine. Also, make sure that they use quality materials and fittings. Perfect plumbing will make sure that you don’t get any oil leaks on the track. Losing oil may cause your engine to seize and the engine will be scrapped, unfortunately.

How To Plumb a Dry Sump Oil System?

Plumbing a dry sump oil system can be a very tricky job. And if you decide to make a dry sump conversion it is best to read some manuals first and see online for dry sump oil system kit. You need to look for a dry sump oil system kit because you need a kit that is built for this engine and this will make it easier the plumbing process and installation. With every kit, there is a manual that will guide you through the whole process.

Here is a video of all of the steps. And everything a dry sump oil system kit has to involve inside. In order for this conversion to be successful. You should watch a couple of these videos in order to get the grasp of knowledge you need. In order to understand how this system works in practice.

Conclusion

We thoroughly discussed wet sump vs dry sump which is better? And also, we learned a lot about these system’s purposes. A wet sump is good for daily driving and dry sump is perfect. Especially if you run your car on the race track. The dry sump will also make your car handle much better. Because of the low center of gravity and the increased horsepower from running this system.