Does synthetic oil make the starter last longer

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Sep 16, 2004
Vista, CA
I am the original owerner of an 84 Honda Civic that has 380k+ miles on it and the starter has never been touched. It's true, that I live in Southern California and we don't have weather, but I wonder if synthetic oil and easyer starting has allowed the starter to last a bit longer than it normally would? What do you think?
I have still in the family a 1986 VW jetta with 250k and it's spent it's life in Utah (where there is weather) and now Southern CA and never had anything go wrong with the engine. Using Dino oil all it's life.

Since its arrived in Southern CA, it's gone thru 3 Cats in 4 years. It does not like the "better" gas that you guys down there have to run.

I know my Ford Taurus did not like it and got 4 mpg worst with it.

I think your starter life is more normal than not with small 4 cyl engines. Not the oil choice..

Take care, Bill
You probably made your own good luck by keeping the car well maintained and thus easy to start. I don't expect the synthetic oil has a measurable effect at start up due to lower friction. How long do you think is normal for this starter to last (and why)?
theirs a 1988 f-150 My dad used to have it had 480K on it. still the orginal starter on it. I think its mostly luck with some maintenance mixed in.
It's true, the starter is probably lasting because the engine is kept in good tune. The oil is Red Line and a long time ago was Mobil 1 and before that Castrol Syntec. I bailed on Syntec when I found out it was not synthetic. I did not mind that it was a Group III, just that Castrol mislead me, and charged me synthetic prices. I've never used any of their products since then. I switched for a while to Mobil 1, but when I replaced the camshaft I switched to Red Line.
parents had a 87 civic wagon that had dino and had 250,000+ and had the orignial starter. . now my 89 mustang 2.3 at 50,000 the starter literaly fell apart. so I agree with others its just the luck of the draw. just like you can take sister vehicles and one yo uwill have no prob and the other can be a lemon.

I would think starter life would depend more on how well tuned your engine was. the quicker it fired up the less wear on the starter.
A car with that kind of mileage probably has relatively few starts per mile, I'd think. That would help.

- Glenn
A storm blew in with rain and the temp crashed down into the 50's. We are expected to get more than a tenth of an inch of rain, maybe several tenth's. It rained so hard, yesterday that the street got wet. In fact it rained so hard and got so cold that, on the drive home, I had to roll up the window and turn on the w/s wipers several times. One can't be too careful with it's cold and wet out there.

I think you have figured out the starter life question, luck of the draw, well tuned engine, few starts, no weather and, last but least, clean, thin oil, synthetic or not.
The Effects of Crankcase Oil Viscosity on Engine Friction at Low Temperatures, Cockbill et al:
By using lower viscosity oils there is less friction, improved cold weather starting, improved fuel economy, a savings of starting system components and less wear by increasing the rate of oil pressurization and flow in the upper oil galleries.

My comment:
Synthetic oils thicken less on engine shut-down. Even at 50 - 75 F the synthetic is markedly less thickened than conventional oils (averages). Not only is the starter working less to turn over the engine but the battery has less current draw. The alternator will work less to recharge the battery so many systems gain by having a less thick starting oil viscosity. The article I quoted above depicts this finding.

With the difference in price between dino and synthetic, assuming the same OCI, you could have replaced the starter several times over, including installation, in 380k miles. That of course assumes the oil has something to do with starter life, which is extremely unlikely.
With a new battery and solid connections a starter has pretty much a constant RPM output regardless of the load. It can take as little as 20 amps to turn over a hot motor or as much as 200 amps for a cooler motor. Although the time it takes to start may only be a second or two the cooler situation will extract 10 times the energy from that battery.

I say this from my electrical engineering background and personal experience with clamp on ammeters.

Ref: AEH Electronics, HAM operations - KA4NGX


PS Why is it that few ever believe anything I say even when I go to the trouble to dig up the references?
Dr Haas, I think you have opened a lot of eyes. Maybe it's just that when men learn something about their car, they act as if they always knew. After all , it's about cars.
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