The Great Oil Change Mystery

by Bob Streng,

Originally published in the Austin-Healey Magazine


The Healey was up on four jack stands and I was doing a tire rotation and lube. I removed the oil filter and drained the oil. No matter how much care you take this is a messy job and oil gets everywhere. I removed the filter and a lot of oil came out of the engine. At the time I thought it was strange, but put it out of my mind, I screwed on the new filter and dumped in seven quarts of oil. With the car on the jack stands I turned the key and hit the button and the engine fired. As is my custom, I watched the oil pressure gauge, and there was no reaction. No oil pressure!


Did my oil pump die? Electronic things die instantly, but not mechanical things. They make bad noises or break loudly to let you know they are going soon (or have gone). I unscrewed the oil filter--it was empty. Down came the pan, off came the pump and into a bucket of solvent. It worked fine, now what?


Out with the pressure regulator, looks OK no domestic matter in there; flex line and oil gauge line were clean. The clue was on page D/10 of the Service Manual: "The Pump Does Not Need Priming." In a pig's eye! With my little oil can I filled the tube to the pump through the bottom of the spin-on filter mount.


When you change oil in a British car it should be in the "ENGLISH POSITION", that is with only the front wheels off the ground. Oil stays in the rear of the pan, keeping the pump immersed.


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