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Unread 07-14-2019, 02:13 PM   #1
Tool Guy - Kg
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Differences in synthetic oils?

So, I went shopping for some synthetic oil today. And I don’t think you can glean a whole heckava lot by reading the labels. Does anyone know if there’s much difference between one 0w-20 synthetic and another? Thinking back, I remember lots of folks saying that Mobil 1 is the cats pajamas. But is there a difference...or is this a Chevy vs. Ford, brand-preference thing?
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Unread 07-14-2019, 02:19 PM   #2
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A number of good ones out there. Mobil 1 is pretty hard to beat but Pennzoil also has good reviews. What is this going in?
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Unread 07-14-2019, 08:42 PM   #3
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I’m certainly no expert but I’d expect the oils reference a standard or specification. Sorta like thinset specs (but be sure not mix them up!)
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Unread 07-14-2019, 08:54 PM   #4
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I dunno, Goldstein. Is synthetic all made from synthetic dead dinosaurs?

What's in that stuff, anyway?
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Unread 07-14-2019, 09:26 PM   #5
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Penzoil has some kind of process were they extract a synthetic base oil from natural gas. It has tested well and it is what I run. I have found some additives that fell out of suspension at the bottom of the bottle which tech support said is no problem. My friend went 250k on his Infiniti on mobil 1 and extended intervals. I'm sure they are all good these days.
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Unread 07-14-2019, 09:28 PM   #6
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Unread 07-15-2019, 08:12 AM   #7
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I still run conventional oil in my vehicles. I don't have any evidence to suggest they're better or worse, it's just how I learned growing up. The shop I sometimes use for oil changes uses a synthetic blend (whatever the heck that is). When doing my own oil changes I just get the conventional and change it at 3,000 miles.

Now my newest vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler, has the feature in it that tells you when to change the oil. I guess it's based on mileage, and is set for 7,500 miles, and I've been following that.

Several times I've considered changing to the full synthetic simply for convenience. They're more expensive, but supposedly they don't break down as quickly, so you can get more miles out them. Some of them even advertise as much as 15,000 miles.

You get all kinds of stories about whether it's worth the extra money to get synthetic oil. One parts store employee told me that it only helped if you drove all highway miles. Another one said I could change to synthetic, but could never change back, as it would gum up the engine. Who knows if any of those claims are true.

Maybe the next time I get a new vehicle, I'll switch to all synthetic and compare it long term to the conventional oil and see what I find. Maybe I'll just stick with what I know. Maybe I'll just get a bicycle.
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Unread 07-15-2019, 07:13 PM   #8
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I ran Mobil 1 in my 2009 Chevy Silverado, and it went 209,000 miles, and was still running strong when some doofus pulled out in front of me and I t-boned him at 60 mph. I changed it every 5 to 6k.

I am running Amsoil in a couple of my newer small engines, it was recommended by Briggs and Stratton, and is supposed to be the bee's knees. You have to find a licensed dealer, and some people do it out of their home. I felt like I was scoring something illicit.
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Unread 07-16-2019, 09:22 PM   #9
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I was taught that synthetic oil doesn't break down and lose it's oily goodness for a reeeeeeally long time. I don't think synthetic is better than conventional when they're both fresh. But if the synthetic breaks down at a slower rate than the conventional, then it'll do a better job in the long run. And that's been my lure.

My question was sparked by alla different labels. There's one for extra gas mileage...and one for extended period of time between changes...and one that promises more hair growth...and.....blah, blah, blah. Just wondered if it's the typical manufacturer splitting hairs on relatively minor differences to persuade you to buy their stuff, or if there really was a difference.
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Unread 07-18-2019, 07:09 PM   #10
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Synthetic oils tend to hold their viscosity rating longer than conventional oils. A conventional oil is still a blend of lots of components. A synthetic is pretty much engineered with all of the oil molecules identical, so you don't tend to get some shearing into smaller particles, some evaporating, etc...they all work as designed. A significant portion of the 'oil' is additives to buffer the pH, keep foaming down, hold particles in suspension, and do other things useful to the longevity of an engine. Once the buffers are exhausted, corrosion can begin to occur quickly in the engine. That's one parameter that is good to watch if you have your oil tested.

My BMW came with synthetic oil from the factory. The computer keeps track of the type of driving and how far you've driven along with the time. I recently did a lot of driving - NH-NY-MI-TX-NY-NH-NY (I'm there now). WHen I started, the computer said 4200 miles to service. After driving all of that way, almost all on the interstate at steady speeds, it now says service required in 4300-miles. While conventional oils should be good for longer than 3000-miles, it really does depend on your driving conditions. Drive lots of short distances, stop and go, or dusty conditions while pulling a trailer, and you should change your oil more often. Drive mostly highway, with almost no stop and go, and it could last a really long time...much more so with a synthetic versus a conventional. The baseline on the BMW is about 18000-miles. Now, it has 7-liters in the oil pan, and that helps versus many having half of that, and it has an oil cooler, which not every car has either. Still, you should replace it annually, regardless of the mileage if you haven't driven enough miles.

For awhile on my last car, I sent my oil into a testing lab. The cost is around $20, depending on the number of things you want to be reported. I did notice a difference in the oil used and the wear components listed in the report. FWIW, BMW specifies a specific Castrol synthetic for their cars (well, there are several different ones, depending on the engine and whether it is a diesel or not). In the case of the BMW, they specify an oil that meets their test cycle indicated by LL-01. Some manufacturers have their own engine spec oil requirements. Some of the oils list a whole large string of them, if they meet them. Then, you have the service factor. Older oils, even those from as little as a few years ago are NOT the same as the newest concoctions...the newer ones ARE better. And, you should be able to extend the change interval. Plus, they usually lubricate better, generating a more efficient mpg value.

That testing from the lab showed me that with the oil I was using, in that engine, could go easily about 11K miles. On one report, they indicated that there were some traces of antifreeze. My overflow wasn't down much at all, but I noticed that it was dropping after that report. Fixed that before it caused engine damage, so there's that to help justify testing. FWIW, at least with BMW, they list Mobile 1 as a possibility, but it's about 3-4 on the graded list of acceptable oils...IOW, it will do in a pinch, but not their ideal. Now, with another engine in a different car, it could be at the top of the list...depends on how it was engineered as to the best match.
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Unread 07-18-2019, 08:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD
On one report, they indicated that there were some traces of antifreeze. My overflow wasn't down much at all, but I noticed that it was dropping after that report. Fixed that before it caused engine damage, so there's that to help justify testing.
What did you do to fix that?

Where did you send the oil for testing?
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Unread 07-18-2019, 09:00 PM   #12
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Amsoil, on their website, and probably from local dealers, sells the collection kits. There are other places you can use as well, maybe someone local. Those are the ones I used.

After some research, I found some tablets that, according to their website, is used by some manufacturers in the factory to pretreat the cooling system. FIgured it would be safe and cheap, if it worked. Don't remember what they were called, I still have some, but I'm not home at the moment. Anyway, after dosing the cooling system with them, the slow drop in the overflow bottle stopped and on the next oil test, it didn't show any antifreeze in the oil. An excess of antifreeze shows up as a coffee colored slime in the oil. I didn't notice any of that at the time, indicating that the amount in there was still quite small. The biggest item to watch in the results, other than gasoline, water, or antifreeze and wear metals, is the state of the buffers. Mobile 1 doesn't start with all that much, at least in their 'normal' formulation. Their extended mileage version might (probably) has more. Especially as an engine ages, and you get more blowby the rings, buffering becomes critical to slowing the wear before it turns acidic.

FWIW, one study I read said that 90% of the wear on an engine typically occurs in the first minute or so of running on a cold start. Synthetic oils tend to stick better than a conventional oil, helping in that critical cold start. The natural variations in conventional oil has the average weight, but some components are thinner, and some thicker...a synthetic has them all the same. IMHO, a synthetic blend doesn't buy you all that much, it's either all or nothing when it comes to synthetics.

The initial cost of full synthetic is offset by the longer service life. Make sure to use a high quality filter.

Personally, I think if cars had an hour meter like many stationary engines and airplanes, it would be best to use one of those to help determine when to change the oil versus miles which can vary vast amounts relative to actual engine on time. The computer in my car does that dynamically. Those that are just mileage reminders, don't.
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Unread 07-18-2019, 09:18 PM   #13
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Jim!
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Unread 07-19-2019, 08:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim
Personally, I think if cars had an hour meter like many stationary engines and airplanes, it would be best to use one of those to help determine when to change the oil versus miles which can vary vast amounts relative to actual engine on time. The computer in my car does that dynamically. Those that are just mileage reminders, don't.
My 2016 Chevy Silverado has an hour meter, and a dynamic oil life monitor.
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Unread 07-19-2019, 06:23 PM   #15
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I had a 2015 Dodge Charger that had a life meter on it. Would be nice if they all did.

I had been looking strictly at costs of oil and filter when considering going to synthetic, i.e. changing every 3,000 vs. 10-15,000. Obviously there's a lot more to it than that, when you factor in engine wear. But then when you throw in highway vs. city driving, that adds a lot more to the formula.

I just bought several gallons of Pennzoil conventional oil, but when that's gone, I'm going to visit this thread again and consider switching.

Thanks for all the helpful info, Jim.
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