oil philosophy

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pmjett's picture
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oil philosophy

So there's no oil in a Mac, but this is a pretty diverse crowd here, and I've seen lots of good advice dispensed on all kinds of subjects.

I have what I consider a philosophical question about motor oil. My grandmother passed away and left me her car, a 2001 Buick Century with 16500 miles (yes, 16.5k) sporting a 3.1L V6. It's a nice car, very comfortable, and from my tests has a max gas mileage at about 35 mpg. I'm coming up on the first oil change for me on this vehicle. So you know my question: do I use old-school dino oil or some variety of synthetic? I've always used dino oil in everything except my '02 TDI Jetta (which is obvious in its need for synth).

I tend to keep my cars for 8-10 years, and also tend to roll a lot of miles (25-30k/year). I've always had good luck with plain oil, but I'd like to give the Buick every chance not to screw up that is cost effective.

What's the concensus?

thanks,
mike

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my opinion would have to be s

my opinion would have to be synthetic oil. first of all, your not wating resources, but mainly because it can range in weight.

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Dino-oil

I have been given the following advice from an actual auto mechanic:

It doesn't matter whether or not you go with petroleum oil or synthetic based lubricant. But once you go synth, you cannot go back without possible damaging your engine.

Once you make the choice, stick with it.

And, Wow... 25-30K per year? That's almost what I run... I've racked up 180K miles in my 02' Civic EX, and have used Dino Oil every time. Still getting 35 mpg. (Just so you have a practical example)

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Yeah... I heard that..

We have three cars at the moment, so the mileage on any one is a little less, but 25-30k is about right. Contrast that to my parents who do the textbook 12k or less!

I had heard about that sticking with one or another, and not switching back from synth to dino. I don't mind going to synth and staying, assuming there is some sort of advantage with this kind of car. I've used Castrol (which I know some look down their nose at) for years, and had good luck. I pulled the valve cover off my old Corolla (13 years old at the time) after 180k of Castrol and it was pristine looking.

The jury is still out for me on whether synth actually saves resources, because it appears that the manufacturers start with a hydrocarbon feedstock, crack it to building blocks, and build the oil up from that. I wish they'd start with say a soybean feedstock, crack that, and go from there. I guess it doesn't work that way yet.

mike

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My philosophy is to put Mobil

My philosophy is to put Mobil 1 in it, and stick with it. In actuality, as long as you change your oil and filter regularly, it doesn't matter if you run dino or synth...and in fact, a lot of synths out there are actually just Group III dinos. And I rather doubt that switching back and forth between dino and synth would do any harm, but sticking with the same type of oil is probably easier on the seals and gaskets.

Oh, and don't waste your money on boutique oils (Royal Purple, etc.).

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Re: My philosophy is to put Mobil

Dr. Webster wrote:
My philosophy is to put Mobil 1 in it, and stick with it. In actuality, as long as you change your oil and filter regularly, it doesn't matter if you run dino or synth...and in fact, a lot of synths out there are actually just Group III dinos. And I rather doubt that switching back and forth between dino and synth would do any harm, but sticking with the same type of oil is probably easier on the seals and gaskets.

Oh, and don't waste your money on boutique oils (Royal Purple, etc.).

I'm for mobil 1 as well, but only because it is the cheapest and easiest to get. It is not a "true synthetic", and is not the best, but it is above the requirements for the car so in the end it really doesn't matter. As Dr Webster said, no need for royal purple motul redline or any of those others unless you are building a highboost turbo or supercharged engine that is run very hard. Also, use the correct weight oil for the conditions. In the end, it doesn't really matter the type of oil you use, they are all generally above the requirements for the car, and the engine will last as long as you regularly maintain it. If you want to really know what is going on with the oil or be a true nerd, get a blackstone oil analysis done.

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Re: My philosophy is to put Mobil

hackintoshg4 wrote:
I'm for mobil 1 as well, but only because it is the cheapest and easiest to get. It is not a "true synthetic", and is not the best, but it is above the requirements for the car so in the end it really doesn't matter. As Dr Webster said, no need for royal purple motul redline or any of those others unless you are building a highboost turbo or supercharged engine that is run very hard. Also, use the correct weight oil for the conditions. In the end, it doesn't really matter the type of oil you use, they are all generally above the requirements for the car, and the engine will last as long as you regularly maintain it. If you want to really know what is going on with the oil or be a true nerd, get a blackstone oil analysis done.

True, Mobil 1 is a Group III dino oil. It's not the cheapest (or even the most readily available in the weight I need), but it's a pretty stable oil with good additives, and is light-years better than the crap Motorcraft oil that my car came with from the factory.

Getting a used oil analysis (UOA) is a good idea regardless if you're a nerd...it's a good way to tell not only if you're wasting money by changing your oil too often (Mobil 1 can in most cases be run to 5,000 miles without problem), but also if you're having unusual wear in the engine. A UOA can even tell you if your air filter is dirty! It's amazing what they can tell you about your engine and it's operation just from some used oil.

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dino

I've been using Castrol GTX 20W50 in my '85 Golf (with original gasoline motor) for about 820,000 miles, so I'm thinking conventional oil works just fine.
Blum 3

dan k

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I have found that synthetic o

I have found that synthetic oil has higher heat tolerances then compared to regular oil. I do however use it because i drive my car Very hard and constantly red-line it when shifting. One other plus is the viscosity in cold temperatures. i live in a state that has a few 0 deg F days every now and then, some even below, so i want the most protection for winter driving possible as well. I use Mobil 1 too, sometimes i use a Semi synthetic if im feeling a little broke that day. I drive about 21k miles a year. My little corolla takes a beating, and i would spend another 3 grand to fix it, if it breaks!

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820k? man...

dankephoto, that is outstanding. If only my '02 TDI Jetta will make it that long. I kinda doubt it, as the car is already beginning to fall apart around the engine and tranny. Darn VW. At least I still have my fahrvergnügen Smile .

I admit (since I've gotten some feedback now) that I've been leaning toward the Mobil 1. I use Delvac 1 (the diesel rated sibling) in my Jetta, as a bevy of oil nerds at tdiclub.com pronounced it pretty decent. I've also heard a lot of discussion about having UOA's done, although I imagine I'd just hang with changing the oil every 5k and call it good. I did not, however, realize that Mobil 1 wasn't exactly considered a synth. Pretty good marketing on Mobil's part there.

I suppose from a cost standpoint on the oil alone, it's really moot. I'd say in round numbers the Castrol GTX is about half as much as the Mobil 1. Then I'd end up changing it half as often. At that point, the characteristics of the oil would make the descision. If what I'm hearing- namely that the formulation of the Mobil 1 is decent- then well, there you go.

I had pretty much ruled out the boutique oils like Amsoil, since we are talking about a V6 Buick and not a Lancer Evo.

thanks y'all,
mike

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Probably an unpopular post, b

Probably an unpopular post, but I have had excellent luck using the new "friction modifier"
additives with the first oil change. After that normal oil and filter changes using Castrol GTX. Also some dealers sell a generic equivalent to Castrol at a great price.

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oil is oil

Just thought I'd mention... (and... this is just what I've picked up from mechanics)... synthetic oil, when it comes to motor oil, is actually dino oil, or at least made from something that is made from dino oil. I have a feeling the motor oil designated as 'synthetic' in the US is not considered synthetic elsewhere, at least not in the sense that its synthesized from purely non-natural substances. I find it easier to think of synthetic oil as just premium oil, but really, all oil is so darn good these days, I'm not sure it matters (unless you are racing NASCAR). Just pick an oil and stick with it for the life of that car.

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Several Considerations

It's not quite as simple as it's made out to be sometimes.

The first consideration is the age of the Engine: My dad's got a 1990 GMC S-15 with the 4.3L V6. Loads of power. He decided that he'd put synthetic oil in it. Hugely bad idea, as the damn thing smoked like a train until he changed the oil a couple of weeks later. We change the oil and put in regular 10w30, the smoking stops and there's no more oil consumption. My point: If your engine has more than 100 000mi/160 000km, synthetic oil is often too thin to keep from passing between the cylinder walls and the piston rings. Stick with Dino Oil. I've got about 150 000km on an '86 Audi 5000 (no turbo, 2.3L I5) and synthetic makes her happy. YMMV.

The second consideration is where do you live? I'm in Calgary, Canada. We put synthetic oil in those vehicles that can take it during the winter. Quite simply because at -30, the oil still acts as if it's at room temperature. Regular dino oil at -30 makes molasses look like water. Depending on the engine, we switch back to 10w30 in the summer. We run our vehicles to 300 000mi (typically), with no major engine problems, so I'm not sure I buy the argument that you shouldn't switch between dino and synthetic.

Keep in mind that we change our oil about every 3000-4000kilometers (2000 - 2500 miles). We live in Alberta: Cold starts in winter, high heat in summer, dust all year long, massive temperature swings in summer and winter along with higher-sulphur content fuel and 95% city driving all wreak havoc on engine oil. We also change our filters at every change. Again, YMMV, but with some filters holding 500ml of oil, that's up to 1/6 of your engine oil that's still dirty.

Food for thought.

Cheers,

The Czar

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Porsche 914

Yes, I drive the "not a real porsche" porsche 914, and I use nothing but Shell Rotella in my car. I try to change the oil every 3000 or so, but usually end up changing at 5000. It does leak a litte, but the engine has well over 100k which is great for a engine that runs over 350F in normal operation Smile

I hear heavy diesel oils contain bigger amounts of natural, heavy duty lubricants such as Zinc and other additives that help diesel engines cope for longer. Plus its great coming in gallon jugs!

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I run synthetic in my Audi A4

I run synthetic in my Audi A4 but that's what they suggest running. If you are going to change your oil every 3,000 miles, I'd say just use dino.

Oh and I hate mobil 1. My car consumes about 1 qt per 1,000 miles. I don't know where it goes, but it goes real fast. I spoke to an oil lab about it and they said that mobil 1 is thinner than it's rating is, and also is has a smaller molecule and tends to slip past rings and seals. I just filled my car up with Cstrol Syntec yesterday and we will see if that reduces my rate of consumption.

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I wouldn't waste the $$$

Synthetic oil is costly and in most vehicles it's a waste of $$$, unless of course it's a new car and they recommend it.

Castrol GTX is as good as it gets in almost any vehicle. I used to ride very fast motorcycles and 99% of the other riders and racers used GTX. Those engines were run really hard and the GTX handled it just fine. If it's good enough for a 10,000 RPM air-cooled motorcycle engine it's good enough for just about anything.

The key is to get the right weight for your driving conditions and change the oil & filter religiously every 3,000 miles without exceptions, and it will keep your Buick running smooth for many more years.

Engines have not changed that much in the last 50 years and there's no need for a "new and improved" oil that really isn't better in most cases. The gas you burn in your car will make more of a difference in the long run.

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I AM a mechanic, you can ...

take it from me, you don't need to run synthetic oil in your Buick. So far as the switching back and forth between synthetic and dino oil, the argument doesn't make any sense considering there are a lot of synthetic blend oils out there.

The thing that's more important than the oil you run in your car is changing it frequently, and performing maintenance on your car. Keep the OEM service schedule, and fix things when they go bad. That's FAR more important than anything else.

The first thing you want to consider on that car is the engine. The GM 3.1 liter is FAMOUS for having problems with intake manifold gaskets. They are plastic with rubber ring inserts, and over time the inserts take what's called a "compression set", where the rubber stops pushing out as a seal, and just stays squished. That leads to the plastic holding the rubber in place breaking, and the gasket fails. You may not see any antifreeze leaking though, because sometimes it will leak internally, and you will see your engine oil has turned into a milkshake.

Check your oil frequently, and look for signs of that. Also look for antifreeze leaks at the front of the motor (on the passenger's side of the car) by cylinder #1, if it's leaking, that's usually the place it does it.

Also, the distributor plug has an o-ring that seals it from leaking oil, and that goes bad and leaks oil too. Low mileage on your car doesn't mean these things won't go wrong, especially considering the age of the car.

If you don't know what you're checking for, take it to a pro, I've seen way too many of these engines that blow the gasket at #1 cylinder, and it leads to overheating on that cylinder, and eventually blowing a head gasket, or even warping or cracking a head. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

You can sit around all day talking to mechanics about which oil to run, and for every shop you come across, you'll probably find 10 different answers. Anyone worth his (or her) weight will tell you to maintain the car as a whole.

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Buick 3800

I have a 1988 Buick Electra Park-Avenue with the 3800 engine. It currently has a bit over 463,000 miles. I use Royal Purple 10w30 in it and a ACDelco filter. I have been slowly extending my oil changes to 5,000 to 7,500 miles and I just last month took a valve cover off to repaint it and the engine was as clean as the day I got the car... maybe cleaner. While I had the valve covers off, I changed the gaskets. Better to be safe than sorry. Even before I changed the gaskets, the car used less than half a quart of oil between oil changes. I had a uoa done and the guy could not believe that oil had almost 7,500 miles on it, and was asking if I was joking when I told him my car had over 450,000 miles at that time. I actually showed him my car and its odometer before he would believe me. Although the first 100,000 miles was dino oil, I still feel that the reason my car runs like new is the royal purple. It is also nice to be able to extend my oil changes so much. oh, and my car got an average of 32 mpg on a 5,000 mile trip around the country. Below is a link to a pic of my car.

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