How an Engine Lubrication System Works

Author's Note

Like lots of automotive journalists, I thought I knew exactly how the lubrication system worked. But when I had to actually write it down, listing each part and how the oil moved through the engine, I realized I only had the vaguest idea of how it all went down. I'm also guilty of talking about wet sump and dry sump systems as if I had a clue. Now that I do have a clue, thanks to my research for this piece, I'll be even more insufferable.

The one thing I did know for sure was that bit about two-stroke engines and mixing the oil with the gasoline. I'm the proud owner of a two-stroke 50-cc scooter with an injection system, so I don't have to premix. Now if I could only find a sidecar for the dog...

Related Articles


  • Bessel Motorsports. "Wet Sump vs. Dry Sump." Nov. 17, 2008. (April 25, 2012)
  • CDX Online Textbook. "Engines: Engine Lubrication" (April 18, 2012)
  • "Glossary of Auto Terms." (April 18, 2012)
  • Engine Builder. "Wet Sump vs. Dry Sump Oiling Systems." Jan. 13, 2009. (April 24, 2012)
  • Wright, Lance. "Automotive Engine Lubrication Basics." (April 18, 2012)