Does it really matter what oil you use

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Nov 14, 2003
It seems like alot of oil companies change their formulas frequently or the quality of their basestock is occasionally questionable. So with that being said, it seems like you would need to do a virgin analysis on each and every case of oil you are going to put in your engine and then do your used oil analysis to determine your actual wear rates. To me it seems kind of crazy to spend at least 50.00 (or more if extending OCI) for analysis and another 30-40.00 in oil for a change to show what? maybe a change of 10 or so PARTS PER MILLION! change. So added to the possible change in formulas, basestock, additive packages, your driving styles, temperature changes, miles on the vehicle, number of starts, may vary between oil changes leading to further skewed numbers. There are just too many variables to take into consideration to make an educated guess in the real world,, I guess when doing an analysis the numbers would have to be seriously alarming to justify anything.
Anyone else see things this way?
Oh! What? Do my ears decieve me?

Oh great god of lubology, he did not mean to blaspheme.

Just joking around with you, but let me give you a hint, with all the oil geeks here be very careful, you may give one of them a heart attack.

Myself, for years and years, I used what ever kind of oil was on sale, never looked in the owners manual, didn't have an idea about API or SH, SJ or anything. Basicly I used a 10w-30 or just a plain 30w HD. Sometimes my vehicles got an oil change once a year, if I felt really good maybe once in 10 months. Some of those same vehicles towed boats, hauled firewood, and were missused and abused. Guess what, I had an Isuzu that went 195,000 miles, sold it for $700 and I think the new owner got 50 or 60,000 more out of it. To sum it all up, I never had an engine failure due to lubrication, hell never had an engine fail.

Now that I am older I find that I enjoy working on my vehicles, being just a little fanaticle about maintenance. Heck it is allot cheaper thean chasing women.
I think it matters some what brand oil you use, and it could matter a lot. What I mean by this is if you used SA or SB rated oil in a new vehicle, you would surely reduce the life of the engine. When it comes to SL rated oils, it may matter a little bit. Based on UOAs and VOAs at this site, there IS a difference in the quality of motor oils. For conventional motor oils, you might be safe going 2000-3000 miles with some SL rated oils. For other conventional motor oils, you might be safe going 5000 miles. If a person was changing oil every 3000 miles, maybe it would not matter a great deal what brand of SL rated conventional oil you were using.

Same thing for synthetic oils. Based on VOAs and UOAs here, there are a few synthetic oils that I don't think really are much better, if better at all, then the best conventional oils. But there are other synthetic oils that you could probably safely go 15,000 miles with.

Also, with what I have been able to discover on my own and what I have discovered at this web site, there are very few oil supplements and engine treatments that I would use. One of the few I would use is Auto-RX.
I guess I just cant see a pattern in all these oil analysis's that I have read on here.
I think you are making it too complicated and are overstating expense.

An oil analysis will tell you if the oil you used held up under the driving conditions during the oci. It will also show you if your car has some underlying problems such as bearings,incomplete combustion, dirty air filter or leaking intake, coolant leaks, etc. Using even different oils you can still detect a pattern in wear or engine deterioration.

If you want to go to the n th degree you can go for more sophisticated oil tests. But for what most folks here need to know and are curious about, oil analysis are useful and entertaining. And entertainment may be the biggest part for most of us.
It doesnt matter as long as its a quality oil
And yes it is entertaining as well as expensive!
Cause just when you think you've finally found exactly what you want, something better comes along! And we all want the best for our automotive mistresses

[ December 13, 2003, 10:42 PM: Message edited by: Jason8691 ]
I have truly enjoyed coming here for the past year or so and I just love looking over virgin and used oil analysis. What have I learned? Mostly that an oil doen't have to cost $5/quart to protect your engine, so long as it meets all the current API specs. Also, the 'water thin' 5w20 oil, especially Motorcraft, seems to work just fine. When my Ranger's warranty runs out next year, I will run 5w30 Chevron/Havoline from walmart in both vehicles at 4,000 mile intervals.
yeah, dont get me wrong its a good site with some interesting topics, I also want to run the best in my 03 Tacoma v6, 02 focus ZTS, and 03 Honda CBR 954RR. I cant really find any posts stating one oil is better in particular to another. I am running amsoil in the cars and mobil MXT in my bike. I will keep them in for the manufacturer recommended interval and test them to see no harm is done. It just doesnt seem so scientific with all the variable.
Here is my two cents.

For an engine driven relatively gently, in a moderate climate, it probably doesn't matter what oil you use if you only expect to get 150 or even 200k out of it. I believe just about any oil can get you there, if it's changed before it's useful life is used up. (in other words don't try to go 10,000 miles on cheap dino oil)

However, if you live in a cold or extremely hot climate, drive your car very hard, run a turbo or supercharged engine, or simply want to get 300,000 miles or more from your engine, then your choice of oils becomes very critical.

Also keep in mind that some engine designs are as such that any oil seems to show low wear, such as a Subaru engine. While others seem very sensitive to having the right oil and the right viscosity, such as my LT1 350 engine.

Another factor is that some people don't want to be forced to do 3k oil changes either, and want to go 10k or more between changes, in which case there are only a few oils out there which can truly handle this.

[ December 14, 2003, 06:54 AM: Message edited by: Patman ]
My X father -in-law always drove his cars 100,000 miles with no trouble before trading for a new one. He bought the cheapest oil from Walmart and always changed the oil filter which he said was the most important item. He changed oil every 2-3 thousand miles. Local people would always buy his old car and still drove it many, many miles with no engine problems.
I buy Amsoil!
I basically agree with Patman. However, I don't think 99% of us (well, driving public, this board may be an exception) will ever see an engine with 200,000 miles. Why, age kills everything else and the nickel and dime ($100-$1,000) repairs become so frequent that we just give up. My 92 Camry, 160,000 miles runs jsut great, has become incontinent, several seepages, and with almost all OEM still on it the future outlays will be huge. Will the engine make 200,000 sure, will the rest of it along with my patience?????? Engine was on Amsoil entire life.

So, a dino at 3000 miles OCI would probably accomplish the same results.
I tell potential customers that the key benefits of Amsoil are:

1) longer and more trouble free life for all your lubed components ...
2) the ability to run drain intervals 3-5 times as long in most applications ....
3) better extreme temp performance and fuel efficiency...

Certainly however, if you are willing to change oil every 3000-5000 miles, you will get long and trouble free life out of any engine, regardless of the quality of oil you use. In all likelyhood the engine will outlast the rest of the vehicle.

Either is a perfectly valid approach that will yield excellent results. I guess it comes down to how much you enjoy changing your oil and working on the car, instead of doing other things ....


[ December 14, 2003, 01:04 PM: Message edited by: TooSlick ]
My 2 cents;
I think it's all about how much you drive in a year.

Along the lines of what Spector said, I think most people would be satisfied with the results of changing their oil every 5K miles/6 months or so unless driving in the most brutal conditions (or a certified sludgemonster). Granted, the engine might not be showroom "clean", and certainly would lose some performance as it aged, but would keep the thing moving forward reasonably well until the owner got tired of fixing all the other problems that will eventually crop up.

For the "average driver" of 12k-15k miles per year, this amounts to 2-3 oil changes a year. Given that even long-drain Amsoil requires you to crawl under the car twice a year anyway I'm not sure where all the time & effort savings are? Definitely no savings in $.

So, in a nutshell I don't think it matters unless you drive 25K miles a year or more.

Another factor is that some people don't want to be forced to do 3k oil changes either, and want to go 10k or more between changes, in which case there are only a few oils out there which can truly handle this.

That nails it, Patman.

For the record, my woman's Coupe' GT I-5 has 185,000 miles and has used about 1/4 a quart of GC in 6000 miles, a manual driven hard. Before last year it had a diet of cheap dino oil, once-a-year. No problems with synth change-over either. I am going to wait until April for a change, probally Pennzoil Long-Life.

I am not too sure about the whole engine life vs body life vs high repair costs issue. Her 17 year oil car looks perfect with the original German silver paint. It drives well with it's new shocks, but has never had engine work beyond a rubber valve cover gasket. Every accesory including the digital dash, gas guage and heated seats works. Zero rust.
I always wonder why some people feel the need (irrational?) to use "the best". Unless they have a long term strategy for their vehicles or rely on them 100% for their income, searching for "the best" really doesn't matter.

I would not look for a pattern in UOA's. It's pointless. The only info from UOA's that really matter is what is learned from your particular engine. You wonder how does a UOA from some person driving a car totally unlike yours in different conditions from you apply to your situation? ANSWER: It doesn't for the most part. About the only pattern one could deduce from a large number of UOA's is a certain strength or weakness of a particular blend of oil. Beyond that UOA's are meaningless for you.

My 2 cents.
No, I don't agree. Sure Amsoil has tweaked their fully synthetic formulas, but the result at worse is an oil equal to the previous oil. At best, of course, is a truly better oil. To worry about this seems a bit overboard.

I just made the point in another thread, but from another angle:

Simply put, use the best oil for your car (wear, least sludge, MPG, performance) and determine the longest interval that will not harm the car. 10-15K is usually fine for most all cars, and an oil analysis is $19 full paid. (oil closer to $25-30) Then you will get most out of your purchase (car and oil) and do the least harm to the environment (by not creating 5 qts of toxic waste every 3000 miles, better emissions, too.)
As long as the oil meets the specs for your car and is changed regularly (this is different for different conditions and style of driving), No! it does not matter which oil is used.
I have been serious about oils (going back to early 80's), and I have never had a problem with the different ones I have used (mostly has been Mobil 1 and regular Pennzoil, with an Amsoil stint).
Having lived up here in northern Minnesota since 87, I personally know some fellows up here that use (gasp!!!) Valvoline regular oil and have over 300,000 miles on their vehicles (cars and trucks), and some use block heaters and some do not, but they all change it within 3,000 miles.
Now if you want to go longer (say longer than 7,000 miles) I would say that it is the nature and characteristics of synthetics to excell in longevity use.
This is my humble opinion based upon personal and other's experience.

Good Day,

My 93 3.1 V6 Pontiac Grand Prix LE has 240,000 miles (mostly from Mobil 1 and a little Amsoil) at long drain intervals. But I am trying out regular 5W30 Pennzoil this winter and so far it has been okay (only -15 below zero as of now, but it will get colder, then I shall see). My car is kept in an unheated garage.
I agree with icruse. It's more of an obsession on this website. I really think we should change the name to Comparing wear levels that vary ever so slightly really doesn't make to much of a difference. Probably only at 300K plus miles as Patman stated. Most Americans, don't want to keep cars that long. I've had my car for 3yrs and I'm ready for a new one. I work hard so why not? Keeping the engine clean and free of deposits and sludge are more important issues IMO. A good synthetic oil will also excell under high stress conditions such as very cold weather or a hot running sports car. BTW, I'm obsessed and don't follow what I've said.
What are the log book OCIs for average American cars ? Would any Americans (apart from car nuts) ever consider changing at 3000 mile OCIs anymore with dino, irrespective of the oil ?

In Australia, every major manufacturer log book now says 15,000 km changes with an SL oil. So 99% of people who couldn't care less simply drop their car off at the dealer and get a refill of cheap dino SL and run it for 15,000 km irrespective of conditions. Then they claim the car has been meticulously maintained, which technically I guess it has.

Does anyone actually change dino oil every 3000 miles in the US or are they like average Australians who follow log books? I don't see how you could sell an Australian a better oil and say you could run an OCI of 15,000 km when they do that anyway with cheap dino for cheap.

Cheers Guys
This is what I was driving at in my earlier thread called 'A tale of two oil change intervals'...some people still do change oil at 3000 miles because they have been brainwashed and/or browbeaten to do so by our outstanding advertising machine. (To be fair, some people actually drive in conditions that require it. About three people...)
Those who wait until 5K or 7.5K miles or whatever their book says constantly keep looking over their shoulders in case the automotive grim reaper (or his henchmen "Sludgeman" and "The talented Mr. Ringwear") are hot on their tails. Pure BS from a practical standpoint, and it all fits in nicely with the fact that we as Americans (who have life by the b@$$s even on a bad day) are so stricken with fear about everything thanks to our own media. Now it's the flu we are all going to get and die. Last year it was the West Nile virus and the year before that, cellphone waves and Sharks. Like Marylin Manson said, keep 'em afraid so that they will just keep consuming...(in Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore).

As far as synthetic oils etc go, most people who are even talking about it have something to gain by getting you to "sign on". There are a precious few people who can really benefit from the top of the line products, and I'm happy now to let them have it all...

Sorry for the rant.
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