Topic: EMPI Oil Sump installation

EMPI Sump installation

I picked up an additional sump this week due to concerns about oil starvation. As most of you know, the flat sump bottom allows oil to move away from the pickup tube on corners or when braking or accelerating. Driving normally, this is not an issue. But I’m not normal wink  When was the last time you saw a PT Cruiser embarrass a Jaguar or BMW in the turns? Yeah, that’s me. I do not plan on taking the VW to that level, but I do use more of its handling capability than average, and having peace of mind on those long cloverleaf ramps is a good thing. The oil sump unit is an EMPI 1.25 quart aluminum one which I purchased locally, and it bolts on where the oil drain plate mount. To over-simplify; you drop the drain plate, remove old drain plate studs, install new studs, bolt up the new sump where the drain plate was, insert pickup tube extension, and install the original drain plate and screen (if used) in the bottom of the new sump.

Although the sump casting quality is ok and the kit is meant as a bolt-on, you can’t. There were a couple of errors in the related parts supplied, which make it impossible to install this unit without a trip to the hardware store. The first problem is with the six studs that go into the engine case. One of these studs is longer and has a nut inside the case that helps secure the oil pickup assembly. All the EMPI studs are the same size, so you do not have any that are long enough to go all the way into the engine case for the extra nut. This was solved by purchasing a 6mm by 45mm bolt (fine pitch), and cutting off the head. Make sure you clean up the threads on the cut end or you will have a tough time starting the nut on that stud.

Second problem is that the pickup tube extension is too short. The oil drain plate is moved 72mm lower than the stock location. The pickup tube extension is about that long, but they forgot to subtract the overlap where the new tube slides over the old tube. It’s not important if you do not use the stock screen, but very important of you do use the stock screen. Another item to note before doing this is for users of full synthetic oil: Do not use the cardboard gaskets that come in the kit. Buy regular gaskets made of normal gasket material. Synthetic oil has a smaller molecular structure and seeps through cardboard gaskets. Regular oil users should be ok with the cardboard gaskets.

Tools you will need are:
21mm socket or wrench for the oil drain plug, if you have the plug (adjustable wrench will work fine).
10mm, ¼ inch drive socket and wrench
6 inch long ¼ inch drive socket extension
10mm box end wrench
6mm open end wrench for installing hose clamp on pickup tube.
Needle nose pliers (45 degree bend preferred)

For those using the stock type screen: To make the new pickup tube extension you will need;
Vise (mine is a little 3 inch Stanley vice and was adequate)
Hacksaw with fine-tooth metal cutting blade
13mm or ½ inch deep well socket
Metal tube of correct diameter. It can be the same inside diameter as the stock tube, or just large enough to fit over the stock tube. It cannot be smaller and go inside the stock tube. A smaller tube will be a restriction, and if it ever gets pulled up inside the stock tube by the suction, it can close the oil supply to the engine immediately.

1.    Raise and properly support the rear of the car with ramps or jack stands. I prefer placing the jack stands under the outer torsion tubes.

2.    Let engine cool enough so you don’t get burned by hot oil wink

3.    Remove the drain plug (if equipped), and drain the oil.

4.    If no drain plug, remove five of the drain plate nuts and slightly loosen, but do not remove the nut towards the back of the car. Break the gasket bond and let the oil drain, then remove the last nut and the drain plate.

5.    Remove the oil strainer and the gasket above it.

6.    Except for the front stud with the nut inside, remove the original studs by placing two nuts on the stud and tighten them together so they lock onto the stud. Then use the nuts to unscrew the stud from the case. TIP: Using the upper nut to unscrew the studs will allow you to use more torque before the nuts un-lock from each other. They all should come out easily.

7.    Here’s the hard one: For the one stud with the nut inside the case, install the two nuts like the other studs. Place the 10mm box end wrench on the nut inside the case and see if you have enough room to move the wrench at all towards the right side of the car. If it does move, then turn it the little that you can, and use another wrench on the double nuts to unscrew the stud while keeping the wrench on the nut inside the case. The goal is to NOT loose the nut or washer inside the engine case! Make sure that when you pull the nut out of the engine case that you do not accidentally flip the washer back into the case. If you lose either the nut or the washer inside the case, you WILL have to get it out. Mine came out smoothly, but if yours does not, you can bend and sacrifice a telescopic magnetic pickup to fish it out.

8.    Whew! Get a beverage and relax for a few minutes. Don’t worry about the dripping oil, just keep a pan under it because it will drip for a week. If using synthetic oil, it will drip for a month or until your car gets PMS.

9.    Pickup tube extension notes: If you have a full flow filter and do not use a screen, then you do not need to make a new oil pickup tube extension. Matter of fact, if you have a full flow oil filter then you should NOT be using a screen anyway! Toss out the screen or put it aside, then use the tube extension that came with the kit if you feel like. If you want to make a new one anyway, then go for it.  Why? With the new sump, the new oil pickup tube will be under several inches of oil… 12mm will not make much difference if you are not using the screen. If you ARE using the screen, then the end of the tube MUST engage into the screen properly or you will bypass the only filtration device you have. The tube in the EMPI kit is too short. This will allow debris to be sucked into the oil pump, like carbonized gunk, metal shavings, that washer from step seven you thought you could ignore…

10.    Making a pickup tube: This is where you have to get creative. I had to use the larger tube size, which did not match electrical conduit or copper water pipes at the hardware store. I was about to give up when my son helped me locate a rake with retractable tines. It was cool in itself, but more importantly the handle was the correct size and material. I pulled off the plastic cover on the end of the rake handle, sawed off a little more than I needed (cut it straight, don’t cut it at an angle yet), and put the handle back on. Rake is shorter but works fine. So is my wife, so they make a good pair wink
Measuring the new sump
Measuring the tube from the kit
Comparing the new tube with the tube from the kit

11.    Place the new piece of metal tube in the vice; firmly enough to keep it secure, but not so tight you crush it. With the hacksaw, cut four slits in one end, about 22mm deep. They should be the same depth because if one slit is longer, it will leak and reduce the amount of oil drawn in the bottom of the tube. These slits allow you to clamp the extension onto the existing pickup tube.

12.    If your tube is the same diameter as the existing tube, you will need to stretch it a bit to install it over the existing pickup tube. Use a 13mm or ½ inch deep well socket and tap it into the tube on the slit end to expand the diameter. If your new tube is large enough to fit snugly over the existing pickup tube, then all you need is the slits to clamp it on.

13.    The length of the new tube should be 72mm below the existing tube. The angle is not necessary if you are using the screen. I cut mine at an angle without thinking about it, but the angle is ok IF the short side of the angle still engages properly in the screen. To test, temporarily install the pickup tube extension, then push the screen onto the extension tube. Adjust the edge of the pickup screen flange so it is 72mm from the original drain plate mounting  surface. If it engages all the way, but does not come close to the bottom of the screen to restrict flow, then you are good to go.

14.    Install the pickup tube extension and clamp in place using the hose clamp that came in the kit. Best tool is a 6mm open end wrench. I had to use pliers to get up in there because a socket will not fit.

15.    Install the one extra long stud into the engine case. Put two nuts on one end and tighten them together like mentioned in step six. Screw the stud up into the engine case so that you have one or two threads above the surface. Put the washer in place, then gently put the nut in place and hold it there with your finger or bent needle nose pliers. You can snug it slightly by turning the stud back and forth, then using the 10mm box end wrench to tighten it a hair more (if possible) after the stud is installed.

16.    Install the first gasket that goes between the bottom of the engine case and the top of the new sump. Just push it up over the studs and it should stay in place.

17.    Place the new sump in position, then install two nuts finger-tight on opposite sides to hold the sump in place.

18.     Start the remaining nuts onto the studs, then use the 10mm socket and extension to tighten them to 5 foot pounds

19.    Install the drain plate studs into the new sump. Use the double nut procedure described in step fifteen. I used a pair of locking pliers to distort the stud threads so the studs would fit snugly. Not enough to strip the threads of the sump, but just enough to hold the studs in place. A better solution would be to pre-install the studs with Locktite. You could also screw the studs in far enough to put a retainer nut on the inside Like the one stud as an example in the pic, but then you would have to make another trip to the hardware store for that wink

20.    Install the upper gasket, oil screen, lower gasket, and then the drain plate using new copper washers.

21.    With everything in place, you can go ahead and add oil. This sump increases oil capacity by 1 and ¼ quarts, so just add that to your normal oil capacity. Once the oil is in, check for leaks before driving!

Re: EMPI Oil Sump installation

Nice write up!

Is oil starvation only a problem with older engines? I too like taking hair pin ramps as fast as I can. Most people can't or won't keep up with me in my '71 stock Super. However my oil light never flickers unless I am quite low on oil which is rare because it doesn't use much.


'71 SB, '62 & 73 tintop buses & '72, '76 & '77 Westys,
PO of '65 Beetle in '69, '70 Crewcab & '70 Ghia in '77
'71 Super inside rear vents now available … p?id=85915

Re: EMPI Oil Sump installation

I don't know what pressure the oil light comes on, but I suspect it's more of a problem in older engines in cars that have been hopped up and had handling improvements made along with sticky tires. I've never had my oil light come on while cornering (3.5 quart sump on my aftermarket engine), but it has flickered a bit when I was tuning the carb and the revs got down to the stalling level (300rpm?). If the oil pump starts sucking a little air in the turns, you will still have enough pressure to keep the light off, but you will get oil mixed with air bubbles fed to the bearings.


Re: EMPI Oil Sump installation

hi    many many thanks for your very informative article.i just recieved my empi extended oil sump yesterday  . thankfully i read your article firstly  re the short bolt..and the extended oil pick up extention .  empi  sends out this kit with NO instructions  , what a very sad showing.   they supply 3 diff.sized oil extender tubes  . what i would love to know   how as you stated these maybe short . how do i establish the correct length?  how would i know if it is too short?
  a word of caution    i just tried  one of the studs  in the new oil sump   and i found  little bits of debri  left in the hole after empi drilled the holes   make sure you clean your item  very well.  i know this has been asked a million times  what what oil in very hot florida?   i have an oil temp gauge    and it seems it goes to 300deg  in short time     i read somewhere  "a poor mans  way of checking oil temp   is to remove the dipstick   if your fingers get burned  you have a problem   "   well i tried that  it was very hot  but i was able to  hold onto the dipstick until cool. there was no smell of burned oil.  i am no tough guy    but it was hot  but not unreasonably so. what suggestions do you fine fellows have
   this is in a MG replica  the engine appears to be a 72 1600 motor  with a Spanish built  "Weber" ??     i am using a 009 electronic distributor. i am having the worst time getting rid of low rev  (ist and 2nd gear lugging)  however 3 and 4 gear  no problems     help  !!!!!!

Re: EMPI Oil Sump installation

To get the correct length pickup tube, measure the depth of the new sump as shown in the photo below. This measurement is how much length should be added to the pickup tube. With my engine, it was 72mm, so I made the new tube so it extends 72mm further than the original length.

300 degrees is too hot for oil... should be between 180 and 240. How is your engine tuned? A lean mixture or retarded ignition can cause it to run hot. Not sure about the bogging... what color are your spark plugs and how did you time your distributor?


Last edited by Altema (2013-01-20 17:56:20)