It’s time to change the engine oil and filter. Lamborghini prescribes that the oil must be changed every 5000 km, which in today’s eyes is a very short interval. Even when I drive less than 5000 km within two years, I always change the oil so I know it has the best possible lubrication.
The old Lamborghini V12 engines are designed for mineral oil 20W-50 which has other properties than semi- and fully synthetic oils. Basically, all synthetic oils start out as organic but are further refined, distilled, purified and broken down through a process of chemical engineering. There is no doubt that semi- and fully synthetic oils have better properties in virtually all areas, but if you add synthetic oil to your old classic without having adapted engine tolerances and gaskets, you risk poor lubrication and a leaky engine. There are many different attitudes to oil types for our classics, but I prefer to apply the originally intended liquids on the Espada.
The used oil on the stick is about two years old but has not driven more than a few thousand km. The oil is still amber and clear, which is a sign of no significant engine wear.
Before draining the oil I always take the car on a short ride to get the oil warm (not hot) so that it has a lower viscosity and as much used oil as possible is drained.
There is easy access to the oil plug if you disregard the fact that there is only 120 mm from the oil pan to the ground. Therefore, a lift or jack is a necessity.
Be ready for a little river! The engine uses a full 14.3 liters of oil, so the oil comes quickly, especially if you, like me, open the oil filler cap on top of the engine for maximum flow.
The usual oil collection cans (for home use) are too small so you need a proper tub to hold all the oil. I let the engine drip for a few hours so most of the used oil is out of the engine.
The oil plug is of the type without a disc or gasket, and is a bit conical so if you over-tighten the plug you risk to crack the oil pan.
Then the oil filter must be replaced. Lamborghini loved large cast aluminum parts in their engines, and of course the oil filter should also have its own fine aluminum housing. The oil pump has a flow of 11 liters / min already at 1000 rpm so a large filter is needed.
The air filter housing is held in place by a long through bolt so it is easy to control the draining. The filter housing holds about 1 liter of oil.
The Espada’s engine compartment is impressively tightly packed and access to the filter housing is no exception. The anti-roll bar is located in front of the filter housing so it cannot be removed from here, and the bracket for the oil pump is also in the way of the filter housing being able to slide out towards the wheel well.
Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes to loosen the four front nuts on the anti-roll bar so it can be tilted down a bit to get the filter housing out.
The filter housing seals against a thick gasket on the oil pump and this gasket must be changed every time to avoid any leaks here. It is a quite thick punched paper gasket and it is a good idea to lubricate it with some engine oil before mounting the housing again.
Note the ball valve in the oil pump, which is a pressure relief valve that opens at too high an oil pressure.
This oil filter was used on all the early Lamborghini’s like the 350GT, 400GT, Miura and on most Maserati from the same years.
The new oil filter slides easily into the filter housing and has premounted rubber gaskets at each end which keeps the clean and dirty side separate.
Now we are ready to pour fresh new oil into V12. In order not to damage the engine, it is a good idea to wait with the last few liters of oil until the engine has been idling for a few minutes, so that the oil is completely distributed in the engine and in the new filter. Then it can be refilled to just above the oil dipstick minimum. It takes some time for the oil to settle in the engine so wait to top up with more until you have driven a short ride.
All in all, changing the oil on an Espada is a fairly easy task that can be done in less than an hour if necessary. So it’s one of the easiest and perhaps most important service tasks to keep the beautiful V12s running for many years to come.