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Old 03-04-2013, 07:21 AM   Thread Starter #1
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Default Motor Oil Simplified

I know a lot of people may still be unclear about motor oil products. Which is the best, which should I buy etc.... I found this on a Honda site and I thought it would be great for the noobs and some of the old heads.

Originally written by Scott Croughwel on Thursday, July 3 2003:

Intro to shopping

Walk into any auto parts store and you'll be faced with a dizzying array of engine oils. There may only be three brands available, but each of these will be subdivided into particular types (conventional, synthetic, high-mileage, truck, semi-synthetic, etc etc etc) and each of these subdivisions will be divided again into different viscosities (thicknesses rating or "weight"). Vehicle owner's manuals never go much further than suggesting the oil change interval, let alone any of these other things! Two main oil subdivisions that concern us are conventional oils and synthetic oils. Conventional oils are the dead dinosaurs that get sumped out of the dirt and refined. Synthetics are manufactured in labs. So, now that we're clear on that we'll make our opening risqué statement: Performance enthusiasts use synthetic engine oil, nothing less.


It's a widely held belief by enthusiasts that Mobil-1 synthetic offers the best performance for the dollar. Let's touch on a few bullet points supporting this argument so we can put it to rest and talk tech:

Synthetic Vs. Dino

Dino oil is a refined crude. Refining isn't a perfect process, so there will still be impurities in the finished product.

Dino oil contains paraffin, which over-thickens the oil when cold, in turn greatly increasing the load on your starter and eating fuel economy.

Any refined oil is made up of molecules that vary in size. Smaller molecules evaporate more readily, leaving larger molecules behind and causing the oil to get thicker with age.

These varying molecules also limit the friction-reducing ability of the oil.

On the other side of the coin, here's why we prefer synthetics:

Being a manufactured product, synthetic engine oil molecules are very uniform in size, meaning evaporation has minimal impact on viscosity.

Synthetic oil molecules are also rounder in shape than refined oil molecules, giving them superior lubrication characteristics.

Synthetic oils maintain a more constant viscosity over a wider temperature range, meaning it's safer to tag high RPM on a cold engine because a synthetic oil film is less likely to break down. (Analogous to tearing a piece of cold clay.)

A lubricant that's very slippery reduces frictional power loss and improves fuel economy.

With that said, there have been horror stories revolving around switching a higher mileage vehicle to synthetic oil if it's been run on dino all its life. These mostly have to do with synthetics finding places to leak out of; oil that's more slippery will leak more easily. The general rule of thumb here is that whatever an engine does on conventional oil, it will do more of on synthetic. Meaning, an engine that leaks oil will leak more; an engine that makes gobs of power will make more power.


You may have seen semi-synthetics being sold as a lower cost alternative to full synthetic. Indeed, conventional oil blended with synthetic retains many properties of full synthetics. However, we'd have to recommend against purchasing pre-mixed semi-synthetics because you really don't know how much of the oil is refined and how much is synthetic. If you really feel the need to save a buck, mix your own! In a four-quart engine, this is as simple as buying two quarts of synthetic and two quarts of dino of the same viscosity and pouring them into the engine at the next oil change.


Viscosity Selection


Now that we're clear on which type of oil, the next thing to decide on is the oil's thickness, or viscosity. Viscosity ratings are listed as "30W" or "10W-30." Higher numbers indicate a thicker (more viscous) oil. For late model engines we'll always use a multigrade oil, which are the ones with viscosity ratings that read something-W-something, such as our 10W-30 example above. This means that the oil behaves like a 10-weight oil when cold and will thicken to a 30-weight when hot. Most Japanese and American automakers spec either 5W-20 or 5W-30, while most European automakers spec 15W-40. The trend with race engines these days is to run a tight-tolerance engine and zero weight (0W) oil. Some of us with modified stock engines will be tempted to run heavier oils such as 15W-50, reasoning that higher internal pressures need a thicker oil in order to be properly protected, and some engines do. The drawback of the heavier oils is that they greatly increase loads on the oil pump, and this costs power. Heavier oils also increase the amount of effort required for engine parts to slide along their trajectories and can wind up like rope around a rotating crankshaft. Heavy oils do have their place in "loose" engines and can extend the service life of worn engines that are exhibiting low oil pressure. However, for the most part, whatever's suggested in the vehicle owner's manual is all that's required even for extreme-output engines.




Other Oil System Maintenance Notes

Simply popping off an engine oil fill cap is a great way to see how your lubricants have been performing, because overworked oils leave behind varnish and carbon deposits visible through the oil fill hole. Anything under the valve cover should look shiny and new; aluminum heads that are anywhere from tan to black are showing you that the lubricant performance is insufficient. If you're getting blue smoke out the tailpipe, a symptom of an engine that's burning oil, chances are the oil control rings and/or valve seals are being jammed by carbon deposits. Deposits can lock oil control rings into their piston grooves, reducing their built-in spring tension to seal them against the cylinder wall. These same deposits can also act as a sieve between valve stems and valve seals. Fortunately they're not all that hard to remove with high-detergent oil additives such as Rislone. Better yet, high-detergent engine oils such as those intended for use in diesel engines provide superior lubrication and are considered the "silver bullet" to many engineers in the petroleum industry. Name brands to watch out for include Mobil Delvac and its synthetic counterpart, Delvac-1. We've seen 'em both at Wal-Mart. (Left photo, varnish deposit in wristpin depression; mid photo, carbon deposits on oil control piston ring pack; right photo, carbon depost on piston crown.)


How About Whizbang Oil Additives?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has actually sued manufacturers of certain oil additives for false advertising. You've probably seen additives with Teflon; DuPont specifically states that Teflon is not to be used for engine lubrication. (The Teflon can precipitate out of solution and clog oil filters too. Nice.) Then there's the ad where a Q-Tip dipped in another additive and placed on a bearing prevents it from being scarred as someone bears it down on a rotating shaft. These additives are usually chlorine-based extreme-pressure additives; they work quite well in the short term but quickly turn corrosive. We're of the philosophy that if oil manufacturers wanted a specific additive package in their oil, they'd put it there in the first place.


And Oil Filters?

Another good question, and the thing to remember here is that you get what you pay for. Maybe you'll think twice when buying that $3 Fram oil filter for your $20,000 car. We've had excellent luck with Purolator's PureONE filter. It packs more filtration media than about 90% of the filters out there and the quality control is excellent. We've actually had several Honda OEM oil filters "bypass" on us, which means they're doing zero filtration. Nice.



What About Ultra-Premium Oils?

Here's where we hit the Royal Purple, Red Line, Amsoil and Alisyn territory. Aside from the fact that you don't see them in average auto parts stores, there's a matter of cost, because these can run $8 and up for a quart. This isn't lost money though; Royal Purple in particular has well documented horsepower gains by using their engine oil and gearbox lubricants.

I Caught You! How About Synthetics and Rotaries?

Since older (non-RENESIS) rotaries are oil burners by design, there has been concern that using a synthetic will clog the catalytic converter(s). To clear this up, we made some phone calls to the various engine oil companies and came up with… Exactly nothing! So, we trolled around the RX-7 message boards and have been told that rotaries seem to be fine with the ultra-premiums.

Un-confused yet? We hope so. Next time, we'll talk about the intricacies of antifreeze/coolants. You're not off the hook yet.

Copyright © 2003 Overboost.com
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allblackmax607 (03-04-2013), BurntOrangeAppeal (03-04-2013), C_max89 (03-04-2013), Latinmaxima (03-04-2013)
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Old 03-04-2013, 07:56 AM   #2
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Default Re: Motor Oil Simpilfied

Good info
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: Motor Oil Simplified

Agreed. Thanks for the post.

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Old 03-04-2013, 10:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: Motor Oil Simpilfied

Great info. Thanks Mr. D
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: Motor Oil Simplified

I liked that post. Good job.

I never thought about the effect of thicker oil like that. I figured slightly heavier was better for damn hot summer months.
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:09 PM   Thread Starter #6
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Default Re: Motor Oil Simpilfied

Originally Posted by Chemax View Post
I liked that post. Good job.

I never thought about the effect of thicker oil like that. I figured slightly heavier was better for damn hot summer months.
Neither did I. I found the post very helpful when I first read it. Can a mod edit my title plz?
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:12 AM   #7
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Default Re: Motor Oil Simplified

Very helpful... I had seen that Stillen and a couple other companies offer an oil cooler... What's is the benefit of running that cooler?

Quoted from Stillen on eBay:

An oil temperature reduction of 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit can be realized with the installation of our specially designed Oil Cooler Kits. These Oil Cooler Kits allow hot oil to be circulated and cooled outside of the motor through a high efficiency cooler.

Thousands of miles of engine life will be added by keeping a "cool" coating of oil on high-wear engine components such as piston rings, piston skirts, cam bearings, and rod bearings.

The Oil Cooler Kit is complete and includes all the necessary adapters, fittings, and hoses you will need for installation. This will require the drilling of mounting holes to install this kit. Instructions are included.

STILLEN also offers a large filter and adaptor kit for some vehicles that adds 2 1/2 quarts of oil capacity. It is an option that works in conjunction with the STILLEN oil cooler kit. It cannot be used without the oil cooler. Kit includes adapter and oil filter. These filters are readily available at any auto store from all filter manufacturers.

NOTE: Oil Cooler Kit cannot be mounted on a 350Z with a long and low aftermarket cold air intake system due to interference issues.

I only mention this cause I didn't see too much about heat referenced in article...
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