Engine oil never gets hot- changing to 5w20

wwillson

Staff member
Messages
3,994
Location
Naperville, IL
All, I have always wondered how hot the engine oil in my Mercury Villager ('97) and Chevy Suburban ('02 w/5.3L) gets in the winter. So for the last month when I park the vehicle at the end of the day, I crawl under and grab on to the oil filter or oil pan. I can leave my hand on the filter or pan for a few seconds before the pain sets in. I'm guessing the oil can't be more that 140*? Now it has been cold here in Chicagoland for the last month, with the temps not being above 32* for over 3 weeks. I am still suprised to see that the oil in both the 'burb and the van don't get any hotter. The 'burb's shortest trips are usually about 15 miles so I was expecting hotter oil. The van makes lots of short trips so I'm not suprised. Even more suprising, I made a trip of 300 miles in the van to Iowa last weekend when the ambient outside temp was -10*. When I arrived after 300 miles of 70+ mph driving I again crawled under and expected the oil to be very hot. I couldn't have been more than 120* as I just held on to the filter and didn't have to let go. Some on this board probably remember my fascination with Rotella 5w-40 syn year around. Now my guess is that the 5w-40 is just too thick if the oil never gets over about 140-150*. Wouldn't you think the oil is bypassing the filter most of the time? I switched both vehicles to Penz 5w-20 dino for the rest of the winter. BTW - the heaters work fine in both vehicles, so I don't think it's a water temp problem. It's just plain cold. What is the effective viscosity of 5w-40 at 150*? What is the effective viscosity of 5w-20 at 150*? Thanks in advance for you comments, Wayne
 
Messages
1,130
Location
California
The cold air blowing along your oil filter and oil pan is going to be cooling the metal at a good clip. I do not think that your grab and estimate method has much if any validity. The question is what is the oil temperature inside the engine, not what is the temperature of the external metal. At this point I don't think you have any valid information to base a decision on, though I doubt that the 5W-20 will do any harm. John
 

Patman

Staff member
Messages
22,016
Location
Guelph, Ontario
I've often said on here that a 5w20 or 0w20 oil is a good choice if you do short trips in winter. The viscosity of that oil when the oil temp is 150F is still going to be thicker than most 40wt oils at 220F, so if you're running an even thicker oil than 5w20 to begin with, imagine how thick it is. Considering how well M1 0w20 is doing on here, I'd go with that.
 

tpi

Messages
200
Location
So. CA
quote:
Originally posted by jthorner: The cold air blowing along your oil filter and oil pan is going to be cooling the metal at a good clip. John
Yes helping to cool the oil [Smile] Not to mention the cooling provided by the subzero intake air on the piston crowns, intake tract, cylinder walls. His oil temp estimates sound reasonable to me as well as his selection of 0W-20 for these conditions.
 

wwillson

Staff member
Thread starter
Messages
3,994
Location
Naperville, IL
quote:
Originally posted by jthorner: The cold air blowing along your oil filter and oil pan is going to be cooling the metal at a good clip. I do not think that your grab and estimate method has much if any validity. The question is what is the oil temperature inside the engine, not what is the temperature of the external metal. At this point I don't think you have any valid information to base a decision on, though I doubt that the 5W-20 will do any harm. John
I agree that my "grab" test is about as unscientific as it gets, but it's the only way I have of estimating the oil temps. I can tell you absolutely for sure that the summer temps and the winter temps are a world apart. BTW - I do stop the vehicle before I get under to do my grab test! :-) Wayne
 

pmt

Messages
148
Location
MN
This subject is one that I've given some thought to also lately. I've been doing the "touch the oil pan" test on my GMC pickup last summer and this winter when ever I change the oil. Although coolant temp runs at 205 F year round, there is a huge difference in oil pan (by touch) temp - wish I had an oil temp gauge. I've been feeling guilty about using 5W-40 in my 96 T-Bird (to control oil consumption) - "40 weight is too thick to properly lubricate, etc, etc." But if the oil temp in summer runs at say over 200 F and the winter oil temp is 180 F - 40 weight oil @ 212 F is thinner than 30 weight @ 180 F. I now don't see any problem with running a 5W-40 oil. As long as the oil viscosity at low temps is good, 0W or 5W, I think you're safe.
 
Messages
764
Location
Fairfield County, CT
Despite all the good UOAs, I wouldn't switch to a 5W-20 unless the manufacturer says it's safe to do so. Does GM even recommend this viscosity at all? Even Ford and Honda do not recommend this for all their vehicles. Rotella T Syn 5W-40 is a very good oil and I would have left that in there... I don't see what you would gain from switching to Pennzoil 5W-20?? For more accurate oil temps, pull the dipstick and touch the oil, or better yet, install a gauge [Wink]
 
Messages
526
Location
Manitoba Canada
Without a temp sensor in the oil pan, you'd never get an accurate sense of what the oil is doing. If you examine the HTHS ratings, those are run at an elevated temp of 150 C. I've asked GM if any xW-20 could be used in their truck Vortec motors (1999 and up) and in no uncertain terms they said: Absolutely not. So for the winter cold pumping I need at -42 F, I run Mobil 1 0W-30. If you're in Canada and can't find an appropriate 0W-30, try Esso XD-3 0W-30, it's almost as good. I was away for a day trip and happened to stop into a Wally World. Their own brand "Tech 2000" has a full synthetic 0W-30 for $5.66 a litre. I don't know anything about Wally World oil so can't recommend or comment until I see a spec sheet. Still, that's over $2 a litre cheaper than Mobil 1. Though $1.20 a litre more than Esso XD-3 0W-30. Jerry
 

tpi

Messages
200
Location
So. CA
Do others with oil temp gauges tend to agree with his temps? I don't get much experience with -20 degree temps here. But at times I travel and see very low temperatures; I have observed long warmup times for the oil plus oil temp stabilizing at 140 F. or less. This on an old SB Chevy with sump temp. gauge. As for the filter touch test; this area has good circulation and are not likely to be tainted by coolant temperatures or temperatures regulated by coolant thermostat. Certainly seems fine by me for a quick and dirty check.
 
Messages
2,768
Location
Tn
Hmmm Mola, sounds like the GM oil life monitor might not work with this animal in the Winter climates. You'd never ever get the oil up to operating temperature. Seems like you'd keep major condensation.
 

MolaKule

Staff member
Messages
22,072
Location
Iowegia - USA
You have to realize this was the oil temp upon arrival. High-speed driving down the turmpike most likely peaked the oil temp to over 210 F for short bursts and removed condensation. This year of vehicle did not have an oil life monitor anyway. This is the same vehicle with 280,245 miles on it with nery an engine touch. Oil (10W30) is changed every 3-5k with either Mobil 1, Amsoil, Redline, or Schaeffer's, or a mix of same (whatever oil I have on hand). Oil Filter is Amsoil SDF23 or SuperTech, or CarQuest. http://theoildrop.server101.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=000196#000000 [ February 06, 2004, 02:02 PM: Message edited by: MolaKule ]
 
Messages
12,385
Location
Northern CA
quote:
Originally posted by MolaKule: You have to realize this was the oil temp upon arrival. High-speed driving down the turmpike most likely peaked the oil temp to over 210 F for short bursts and removed condensation.
An oil fanatic like you should install an oil temperature gauge. [Smile] They are interesting to watch and don't always show what you expect.
 

MolaKule

Staff member
Messages
22,072
Location
Iowegia - USA
Well, I had planned on selling it this past summer. If I keep it further, I may put a digital temp sensor in one of the extra sensor holes on the intake manifold.
 

Patman

Staff member
Messages
22,016
Location
Guelph, Ontario
quote:
Originally posted by heyjay: I was away for a day trip and happened to stop into a Wally World. Their own brand "Tech 2000" has a full synthetic 0W-30 for $5.66 a litre. I don't know anything about Wally World oil so can't recommend or comment until I see a spec sheet. Still, that's over $2 a litre cheaper than Mobil 1. Though $1.20 a litre more than Esso XD-3 0W-30. Jerry
I'm running the Tech 2000 0w30 synthetic in my mom's 94 Probe GT right now, and will have a UOA on it at the end of this summer. It'll only have about 3000 miles on it though, as she only drives about 60 or 70 miles a week. All short trips too. I personally think she is a good candidate for 0w20, but they don't sell it up here.
 
Messages
2,768
Location
Tn
quote:
Originally posted by Patman:
quote:
Originally posted by heyjay: I was away for a day trip and happened to stop into a Wally World. Their own brand "Tech 2000" has a full synthetic 0W-30 for $5.66 a litre. I don't know anything about Wally World oil so can't recommend or comment until I see a spec sheet. Still, that's over $2 a litre cheaper than Mobil 1. Though $1.20 a litre more than Esso XD-3 0W-30. Jerry
I'm running the Tech 2000 0w30 synthetic in my mom's 94 Probe GT right now, and will have a UOA on it at the end of this summer. It'll only have about 3000 miles on it though, as she only drives about 60 or 70 miles a week. All short trips too. I personally think she is a good candidate for 0w20, but they don't sell it up here.

I would consider that lucky. [LOL!]
 
Messages
12,385
Location
Northern CA
quote:
Originally posted by MolaKule: Well, I had planned on selling it this past summer. If I keep it further, I may put a digital temp sensor in one of the extra sensor holes on the intake manifold.
Summit Racing carries a line of reasonably priced digital gauges that have 1/8 pipe thread senders. They fit places the old 1/4 inch senders didn't. I've had one of the oil temp gauges on amotorcycle for 15,000 miles and it's surviving there.
 
Messages
742
Location
Lake Anna, VA
I've recently installed an Autometer Oil temp gauge in my 2000 2.5L Jeep Wrangler out of curiosity. My sump capacity is 5.25 quarts thanks to a remote filter mount and a Wix 51773 1qt filter. I've recently switched to a 40W oil from Schaeffer 10W-30 Blend and noticed that with the 40W it takes longer to get to operating temp. Probably 5 extra mins than the 10W-30. I've also noticed that my radiator will overcool the oil when driving at a steady pace at low rpms. The oil will hit operating temp and then slowly drop to close to 165 degrees where fully warmed it stays at 195 degrees.
 

MolaKule

Staff member
Messages
22,072
Location
Iowegia - USA
For '02 Burb: On my '02 Burb: At the back of the engine there is a "T" on the block near the firewall just to the right of the distributor, which has a pressure guage sensor AND idiot light oil pressure sensor. This is where I intend to put oil temp sender on mine. For the water temp, there are a number of pipe plugs on the intake manifold. I prefer here because the coolant flows through IM all the time.
 
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