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Old 08-27-2009, 10:07 PM   #1
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454 oil pan capacity?

The owner's manual for my year ('79/'81) states that the 454 uses 12 pints (6 qts.) and the 350 uses 8 pints (4 qts.). Is this a typo? A retired mechanic friend of mine said that the stock big block systems (cars) that he's worked on had the same oil pans as the small blocks...which is a 5 qt system (4 in pan, 1 in filter), although the BB oil pumps were different. He's not sure about these truck systems on MH's though. So I thought someone may know for sure so that I can be more accurate with my oil changes, since my dipstick got changed out and is not accurate. My oil pan sure looks like a stock 5 qt. one to me. I may have to pull it and measure to make sure.

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Old 08-27-2009, 10:21 PM   #2
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Unless the oil pan is different on the Airstream GM Big Blocks, whether it's a 396, 402, 427 or 454, it should take about 5 qts., including filter.

My '69 SS 396 Chevelle took 4.5 qts with the short filter. If you are able to use the longer oil filter, it will be 5qts...The longer oil filter holds approx 1qt. of oil, btw. If your Owner's Manual has GM specs, it will show the oil pan capacity because, according to my father, way back in the day cars that had oil filters weren't always changed out at each service interval.

My '72 402 Suburban, however took 7qts of oil, because it had a larger OEM extra-capacity oil pan.

My suggestion to you is to empty your system as much as possible, preferably with a suction system of some kind, and measure the fluid, including the oil in the filter, that way you have a pretty decent idea of how much your system can really hold.

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Old 08-28-2009, 09:17 AM   #3
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Thanks. I also got a PM stating that there may be variations in design such as length of hoses, coolers, et cetera. I think I'll just have to pull the pan and actually measure the volume. I did that with my '65 Sting Ray after changing to a Moroso 7 qt. racing hammerhead oil pan. The stick didn't even register after 8 qts. so I emptied it, pulled it, and measured the volume with water. It held 6 qts. plus one in the filter to make it 7 qts. as described. So my dipstick was off and I had to alter the tube to read accurately.
My MH had headers put on, and those guys bent the original dipstick tube, thus needing a new one, which was not the same length. So not knowing the original capacity, I don't know if I'm a qt. low or high or full.
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Old 08-28-2009, 10:02 AM   #4
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An old drag racer's choice was to put on a truck oil pan when you could for the extra capacity. It was smaller on most cars because of the ground clearance.

Of course, there's no guarantee that you have the original motor/oil pan.
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Old 08-28-2009, 08:49 PM   #5
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I think mine is 8 quarts
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:14 AM   #6
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On our 1990 345 w/454 the oil capacity is 11 qrts. As far as I know the oil pan is stock however I do have an external oil cooler mounted in front of radiator as well as the Amsoil kit which consists of the base that holds two spin on filters, one being a large bypass filter and the other is "stock" size spin on. This base is mounted up front under radiator area so when you add all the external oil lines, extra filters, it takes 11 quarts when doing an oil change.

The first time I changed oil I really was hesatint on putting that much oil in but now have put over 20,000 miles on the MH with no oil problems whatsoever. I'm pretty sure that if you keep an eye on the oil it will be "foamy" when hot if you have too much in system providing it doesn't blow a seal first.
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Old 08-29-2009, 02:14 PM   #7
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Pretty sure I put 7 quarts in with filter. I have an extra cooler under the radiator in series with the cooling plate inside the radiator, but these don't drain or shouldn't.

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