Ford Aerostar 1986-1997 Repair Guide

Engine Oil Recommendations


See Figure 1

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Fig. Fig. 1: Look for the API oil identification label when choosing your engine oil

To insure proper engine performance and durability, the proper quality engine oil is essential. Using the proper grade of oil for your engine will not only prolong its life, it will improve fuel economy. Ford recommends that you use Motorcraft® oil or an equivalent that meets Ford Specification ESE-M2C153-C and American Petroleum Institute (API) categories of at least SG, SG/CC or SG/CD.

Engine oils with improved fuel economy properties are currently available. They offer the potential for small improvements in fuel economy by reducing the amount of fuel burned by the engine to overcome friction. These improvements are often difficult to measure in everyday driving, but over the course of a year can offer significant savings. These oils are recommended to be used in conjunction with the recommended API Category.

A symbol has been developed by the API to help consumers select the proper grade of engine oil. It should be printed on top of the oil container to show oil performance by the API designation. This symbol should match the manufacturer recommendation. The center section will show the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) rating, while the top outer ring contains the API rating. The bottom outer ring will have the words "Energy Conserving" only if the oil has proven fuel saving capabilities.


There are excellent synthetic and fuel-efficient oils available that, under the right circumstances, can help provide better fuel mileage and better engine protection. However, these advantages come at a price, which can be three or four times the price per quart of conventional motor oils.

Before pouring any synthetic oils into your vehicle's engine, you should consider the condition of the engine and the type of driving you do. Also, check the truck's warranty conditions regarding the use of synthetics.

Generally, it is best to avoid the use of synthetic oil in both brand new and older, high mileage engines. New engines require a proper break-in, and the synthetics can prevent this. Most manufacturers recommend that you wait at least 5,000 miles (8,000 km) before switching to a synthetic oil. Conversely, older engines are looser and tend to use more oil. Some synthetics may not adhere properly and may slip past worn parts more readily than regular oil. If your vehicle already leaks and/or uses oil (due to worn parts and bad seals or gaskets), it may leak and use more with a slippery synthetic inside.

Consider your type of driving. If most of your accumulated mileage is on the highway at higher, steadier speeds, a synthetic oil will reduce friction and probably help deliver fuel mileage. Under such ideal highway conditions, the oil change interval can be extended, as long as the oil filter will operate effectively for the extended life of the oil. If the filter can't do its job for this extended period, dirt and sludge will build up in your engine's crankcase, sump, oil pump and lines, no matter what type of oil is used. If using synthetic oil in this manner, you should continue to change the oil filter at the recommended intervals.

Vehicles used under harder, stop-and-go, short hop circumstances should always be serviced more frequently, and for these vehicles, synthetic oil may not be a wise investment. Because of the necessary shorter change interval needed for this type of driving, you cannot take advantage of the long recommended change interval of most synthetic oils.


See Figures 2, 3, 4 and 5

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Fig. Fig. 2: Remove the oil dipstick from the driver's side of the engine

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Fig. Fig. 3: With the dipstick wiped clean, you can see the add and full marks on the dipstick

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Fig. Fig. 4: If oil is needed, remove the oil tube cap at the center rear of the engine compartment

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Fig. Fig. 5: Use a funnel inserted into the tube to add clean oil into the engine

It is normal to add some oil between oil changes. The engine oil level should be checked ideally at the same time you get gas and or at least every 500 miles (800 km).

  1. Park the vehicle on a level surface and turn the engine OFF . Open the hood.
  3. Wait a few minutes to allow the oil to drain back into the crankcase.
  5. Pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean with a clean rag.
  7. Reinsert the dipstick. Make sure it is pushed all the way down and seated on the tube, then remove the dipstick again and look at the oil level scale on the end of the dipstick. The oil level should fall within the safe range on the dipstick scale.
  9. If necessary, add oil to the engine to bring the level up. Be careful not to overfill the crankcase and wipe the dipstick off before checking the oil level again.


See Figures 6 through 10

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Fig. Fig. 6: Loosen the oil pan drain plug

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Fig. Fig. 7: With a suitable drain pan underneath, remove the drain plug and allow the oil to drain out

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Fig. Fig. 8: Oil drain plug and washer. Replace the washer each time the oil is drained out

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Fig. Fig. 9: Use a suitable filter removal tool to remove the filter from the engine

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Fig. Fig. 10: Before installing a new oil filter, lightly coat the rubber gasket with clean oil

The engine oil and filter should be changed at the recommended intervals on the maintenance schedule chart or sooner. The oil filter protects the engine by removing harmful, abrasive or sludgy particles from the system without blocking the flow of oil to vital engine parts. It is recommended that the filter be changed along with the oil at the specified intervals.

Changing the oil requires the use of an oil filter wrench to remove the filter. It's also a good idea to have some Oil Dry® (or kitty litter) handy to absorb any oil that misses the drain pan.

  1. Start the engine and allow it to reach normal operating temperature. Park the truck on a level surface and shut the engine OFF .
  3. Set the parking brake firmly and block the rear wheels.
  5. Raise the vehicle and support safely on jackstands.
  7. Place a drip pan of at least five quart capacity beneath the oil pan.
  9. Loosen the oil pan drain plug with a socket wrench, then finish threading it out by hand while pressing in slightly until it is free. Be careful, the oil will be hot.
  11. Allow the oil to drain completely before installing the drain plug. Clean the drain plug threads and inspect the plug gasket. If the gasket is worn, replace it. Tighten the plug securely, but do not overtighten.
  13. Position the drain pan under the oil filter, then use an oil filter removal wrench or equivalent to loosen the filter. Once the filter is loose, finish removing it by hand. Again, be careful, the oil and filter will be hot.
  15. Clean the filter mounting base on the engine block and lightly coat the gasket of the new filter with a thin film of oil. Install the new filter by hand and tighten it another 1 / 2 - 3 / 4 turn after the gasket contacts the filter base. Tighten the filter by hand, do not use the filter wrench.
  17. Fill the crankcase with the recommended grade of oil and start the engine to check for leaks. It is normal for the oil warning light to remain on for a few seconds after start-up until the oil filter fills up. Once the oil light goes out, check for leaks from the filter mounting and drain plug. If no leaks are noticed, stop the engine and check the oil level on the dipstick. Add additional oil, if necessary.