european view of synthetic motor oil history

Joined
Jun 9, 2018
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Hi everyone! I wanted to make a Topic About times when synthetic engine oil was something as a novelty and there wasn´t such a big offer of this type as it is today! Engines in the 80s and 90s were fully satisfied with the conventional Mineral based 15w40 oils here in europe! No matter if gasoline, turbocharged or diesel-turbocharged the usual 15w40 SF/cc and later SG/CD was prone to lubricate very well in all european Climate conditions except scandinavian! YOu did your engine something specila when you poured in your 55hp Opel Kadett the full synthetic Mobil 5w50 or castrol 10w60 stuff! In the Company I worked for back inthe early 90s we used the full Synthetics espcially for turbodiesles and 16 Valve engines! But also some of them ran on the usual 15w40 Mineral stuff! So let´s get to history I will Mention mostly the european lubricants as I don´t have much Information of the US Synthetics! The first producing synthetic oils here in europe were the Germans before and during WW2 mainly because they needed fuils and lubricants which did not base on crude oil because they were cut off thta supply! They synthesized oil for example from coil dust! The first real demand for Piston engines was when they couldn´t get their engines running in the freezing russiian winters during the war! May be the russians had it already because they also hat tanks and trucks at war, I don´t know! Apart from the sad history of war the Mercedes silver arrow Formula race cars were lubricated by a castrol synthetic full in 1955! Motul made its first synthetic based oil available to "the conventional motorists on the street" back in 1966, unfortunatly I do not have any furthe Information About this oil. Italian oil Company AGIP offered the very famous AGIP Sint 2000 20w50 in 1969 at their gas stations. It was stated a "Multigrade engine oil with synthetic oil Contents". It soon became factory fill in all ferraris for decades until Shell stopped their relationsship with Porsche and teamed up with ferrari somewhere in the 2000s! Lamborghine also used agip sint 2000 as factory fill! Later in the 70s it was switched to 10w50 viscostity and was the first synthetic oil getting manufacturer approval by Mercedes and Porsche! In 1971 Motul also sold the first full synthetic oil to the public, again I have no further Information! Austrian oil Company ÖMV-Elan cameup with their ELAN ESTER SUPER GT 10w50 engine oil "ALL CLIMATE OIL WITH SYNTHTIC ESTER" also in 1971. It was later renamed to ESTER SUPER GTE. As its Name states it contained a synthetic ester compound! It was only available here in Austria and southern parts of Germany! In 1972 Esso offered the "ESSO RALLYE OIL" 20w50. Altough it was a part synthetic, there was no Information on the can that it did contain such compounds! The Name alone told for which Drivers it was blended, for the sporty drver on the road and on the track! A year laterMOBIl came up with its MOBIL SHC 20w50, according to their ads the first full synthetic Motor oil and they rediculed all other so called Synthetics by only having 10-20% of synthtic ingrdiants!It was heavily advertised in german car magazines mostly with race cars and Drivers. It was stated to be the best insurances for the usual road car as it was tested by race Drivers! In Germany it was sold in a cone shaped tin can with a cylindrical black plastic cap which was copied off the gemini space capsule! Also an indication how progressive this lubricant was! In the ads it wasn´t stated as "OIL" but only as full synthetic lubricant! LAter on they called it also oil because it confused much of the Readers! French oil Company elf releasd the oil "13000 TOURS Synthese" in 1974! It was the Winning oil in the French TYRRELL Formula 1 six Wheel carsback then for whom ELF was the main Sponsor! One yera later CASTROl came up with their later very famous "FORMULA RS" the first synthetic 15w50! Like some othre synthtics mentioned before (ELF 13000TOURS, Esso RAllye OIL) the Name stated that it was mainly for high Performance and racing applications! The "RS" was the short form for "RACING SYNTHTIC" and it was by far the most expensive synthetic at the time! 1977 saw the release of another French synthetic "YACCO GALAXIE". In 1978 Maybe the most famous ever synthtic was presented, the "MOBIL 1". It was a fully synthtic 5w20 for year round use. The main Goal of this low viscosity was to reduce friction on internal engine parts and was the first fuel economy oil! The 5w20 formulation didn´t get any approval from european car builders so they had to reformulate it to 10w30 which satisfied Mercedes Porsche and Volkswagen to put it on the approvals list! Mobil SHC was switched to 15w50 and also had the aprovals then! German oil Company ARAL released also their first synthtic in 1978 named "SPECTRAL" 15w50. But this was exactly the MOBIL SHC filled into ARAL tin cans, Nothing new! VEEDOL in Germany also released their "SUPER S", an oil containing "highly Performing synthtic additives". They also came up with the first full synthetic 5w40 viscosity in 1979 called "VEEDOL SYNTHRON". Again the 5w viscosity wasn´t aproved by german car bulders and they reformulated it to 10w40 to satisfy the engine makers and CCMC requiremnets! One of the "BIG PLAYERS" like SHELL didn´t make any attempt to crack the synthtic market, but released SHELL TMO 10w30 in 1979, it was something laike an IN BETWEEN the top Performance Mineral oils and the Synthetics! Shell stated it as having similar abilities to synthtics but not the high Price as them! Shell TMO 10w30 was factory fill for all Porsches until they teamed up with mobil! Altough it was Pretty much expensive too! MAgazine ads also showed the oil mostly with racing applications but it was designed more for fuel saving, like MOBIL 1 10w30 and VEEDOL SYNTHRON 10w40 it had the VW 500.00 approval for so called LOW FRICTION oils! BP STRATO 10w40 also was a fuel economy oil which wasn´t a synthetic but more a highly refined Mineral oil! In the 80s nearly all oil Company s had their 10w30 and 10w40 fuel economy par Synthetics and blendslike ESSO ULTRA, VALVOLINE SYNGARD, ELAN ELAKTIV, ARAL Super LL, FINA EKOFINA and so on! BAck in the eyrly 80s another german oil Company called FUCHS released a part and a full synthetic at the same time, MOTOSYN and SUPERSYN, both 10w30 with the full synthetic supersyn being the first synthetic having an API SF/CD approval, all others having SF/CC, being suitable for TURBO diesels! MR Frank Williams owner of the same branded F1 race Team asked mobil in the UK at the beginning of the 80s to invent a new type of oil for his race cars to give them an Advantage over their competitors! The result was the fully synthetic MOBIL 1 RALLY SHC the first 5w50 viscosity, Which was back in 1984 available also on the shelf to the public! CAstrol one of the few companies offering a full synthetic switched the viscosity of their famous RS from 15w50 to 5w50 in 1987 at first an attempt to the motorcycle Driver but soon also for cars mainly high performnace Units! In 1987 AGIP reformulated their famous SINT 2000 to the AGIP NEW SINT 2000 10w40. Altough it was a part synthetic 10w40 the advertisments said that it would also match or outperform evry other part or full synthetic formulation! It was common for such an oil to have PORSCHE and BMW approvals! At the beginnig of the 90s the synthetic Fever came over european oil companies. Now nearly every Company had to offer a full synthtic 5w50 or 5w40 oil! The likes of ESSO Super synthtic oil, Veedol Synthron R, Aral Super Tronic, FINA FIRST, VAlvoline SYNPOWER, Fuchs TITAN are only a few examples! Austria released also a new line of engine oils dropping the Name ELAN in favour of ÖMV and releasing SYN COM 10w04 and FULL syn 5w50. CAstrol had to do something against their competitors and so they reformulated in 1990 their famous "FORMULA RS RACING SYNTEC" to the very first 10w60 viscosity on the MArket! Most companies seeing that a full synthetic 5w50 didn´t give the average car a big Advantage they reformulated them back to partially synthetic 5w40 in favour to meet the then new API EC spec. Shell after sticking to their TMO 10w30 for over a decade made their first first true synthetic in 1992 TMO 5w40 and a Special TMO for diesls with a 5w30 viscosity, I guess the very first Special oil synthtic for passenger diesels! Agip was the last of the big companies coming up with a full synthetic, the AGIP TECSINT 5w30 was the first european oil satisfying ECII API spec. Tey reformulated also their SINT 2000 to SINT 2000 GPX 10w40 and the bottle had a label on it which stated it as FORMULA 1 race tested! Interestingly all other companies switched their Synthetics to 5w30 to meet API ECII. CAstrol had to make the next big break into the market releasing their CASTROL SLX 0w30 in 1995, the very first oil having a 0w30 viscosity for year round use and approvals by MB BMW and PORSCHE! It was a new topü of the line product and didn´t replace their RS and TXT oils! Mobil made a counter strike one year later releasing MOBIL 1 0w40 and replacing the 5w50 with it for a while! While CAstrol SLX was aimed at the fuel economy market with its green formulation the mobil 1 0w40 targeted more the sporty Driver! Since then on nearly all Companies reformulated the Synthetic premium oils into 0w30 and 0w40. avery interesting Point is that Quaker state in the USA began a new Marketing treat by offering a Special type of synthtic oil for a Special car type liek the ULTRA PREMIUM for luxury Sedans, HIGH HORSEPOWER for Sports cars and the 4by4 and SUV formulation! !! BEginning with the 2000s Synthetics became more common for everyday driving with new viscosity slike 5w20 and 0w20! BTW a 5w20 was made by Shell in 1997 called the ULTRA X aiming also at the sporty Driver but at that time he extreme high Price as well as most sporty Drivers stuckk to 5w40, 5w50or 10w60 oils didn´t make a success of it and it was discontinued after a few years! This was just a short overview I find todays Synthetics not that interesting anymore as its has made its ways into most engines today and nobody sees it as a novelty putting that "magical" and pricey juce into his engine like it was back in the 70s and 80s! If somebody has some cocnerns About my writing I have done it from Research mostly of oil bottles and cans, ads and articles from magazines and oil brochures! IF anybody has some additional Information he is very welcometo share t with me /us! As in all my Topics I will emntion that I am Looking for older engine oil bottles for my Collection, of Course I´ll pay for them if somebody is interested to sell! Thanks for reading and Keep your engines well lubricated at any time!
 
Joined
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That's a very interesting write-up, Franz. Thanks for taking the time and effort to compile this information and present it.
 
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Franz, you might like this (I've got a few Oil suppliers "books" from the 80s and 90s and this century. (Nope, not for sale) Here's the Shell one on their XHVI "Mineral oil with the performance of a synthetic" https://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/3471384/1997_Shell_Product_Data_Book_- 1986, I was working in a Shell gas station, and they had XMO 15W30 "mineral oil with the performance of a synthetic". That product was too thin for Oz tastes, and then they made "XMO-High" (High viscosity 5W40). We also sold Agip Sint 2000.
 

Franz

Thread starter
Joined
Jun 9, 2018
Messages
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Austria
Very interesting! It surprises me a lot that this oil was a 15w30 in Australia! 15w30 oils were common in agricultural vehicles in europe but I can´t remeber any 15w30 for cars! Was it the XMO the only oil of this Kind or was 15w30 a common viscosity in Australia?? Here the TMO was a 10w30 as mentioned, the UK also went another way as the made their Shell Gemini from XHVI BAse oil a 15w40 and later 15w50s! Also I didn´t know of XMO High, Shell made its TMO a 5w40 and later renamed it Shell Helix Ultra 5w40 and later 5w30! That Agip SInt 2000 was sold in OZ is also a new fact to me! Maybe some day youll find a Picture of this Shell XMO oils to upload and study! Thanks for your Information!
 

Franz

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Thanks for sharing this real interesting Topics, the will be my evenning lecture!
 
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BP owned Duckhams then, and marketed the same oil as Visco 5000, I can't remember the viscosity. When Mobil 1 came out in the early '80's it was 5W-50 here, I guess other viscosities came later...I don't really know, because our bottle of Mobil 1 sat on the shelf for years...dusted off every few months.
 

Y_K

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Originally Posted By: carviewsonic
Thanks Franz for your presentation, it was interesting to see the European synthetic oil history!
European syn oil industry is essentially world syn hystory, just the history, as it usually happens, is being rewritten on a regular basis. Thank you, Franz
 
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DFW, TX
Interesting.

Not sure how accurate my perspective is, but in USA (and here on BITOG) you hear how “in Europe, it has to be REAL synthetic to be called ’synthetic’” whereas in USA, just about anything Dino can be called “synthetic,” as long as they ran it through some process. I know this is a bit harsh against the group III stuff, but Franz’s report somewhat makes Europe designations sound just as murky as ours.
 
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Interesting.

Not sure how accurate my perspective is, but in USA (and here on BITOG) you hear how “in Europe, it has to be REAL synthetic to be called ’synthetic’” whereas in USA, just about anything Dino can be called “synthetic,” as long as they ran it through some process. I know this is a bit harsh against the group III stuff, but Franz’s report somewhat makes Europe designations sound just as murky as ours.
the rise and fall of PAO is very well documented. liqui moly were the biggest grifters when group 3 came into the scene
 
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Joined
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Interesting.

Not sure how accurate my perspective is, but in USA (and here on BITOG) you hear how “in Europe, it has to be REAL synthetic to be called ’synthetic’” whereas in USA, just about anything Dino can be called “synthetic,” as long as they ran it through some process. I know this is a bit harsh against the group III stuff, but Franz’s report somewhat makes Europe designations sound just as murky as ours.
Because it's not "Europe", it is Germany that is the only difference, and both ExxonMobil and Castrol were selling Group III based synthetics all over the world (including Europe) prior to the NAD decision here in the US.
 
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Hi everyone! I wanted to make a Topic About times when synthetic engine oil was something as a novelty and there wasn´t such a big offer of this type as it is today! Engines in the 80s and 90s were fully satisfied with the conventional Mineral based 15w40 oils here in europe! No matter if gasoline, turbocharged or diesel-turbocharged the usual 15w40 SF/cc and later SG/CD was prone to lubricate very well in all european Climate conditions except scandinavian! YOu did your engine something specila when you poured in your 55hp Opel Kadett the full synthetic Mobil 5w50 or castrol 10w60 stuff! In the Company I worked for back inthe early 90s we used the full Synthetics espcially for turbodiesles and 16 Valve engines! But also some of them ran on the usual 15w40 Mineral stuff! So let´s get to history I will Mention mostly the european lubricants as I don´t have much Information of the US Synthetics! The first producing synthetic oils here in europe were the Germans before and during WW2 mainly because they needed fuils and lubricants which did not base on crude oil because they were cut off thta supply! They synthesized oil for example from coil dust! The first real demand for Piston engines was when they couldn´t get their engines running in the freezing russiian winters during the war! May be the russians had it already because they also hat tanks and trucks at war, I don´t know! Apart from the sad history of war the Mercedes silver arrow Formula race cars were lubricated by a castrol synthetic full in 1955! Motul made its first synthetic based oil available to "the conventional motorists on the street" back in 1966, unfortunatly I do not have any furthe Information About this oil. Italian oil Company AGIP offered the very famous AGIP Sint 2000 20w50 in 1969 at their gas stations. It was stated a "Multigrade engine oil with synthetic oil Contents". It soon became factory fill in all ferraris for decades until Shell stopped their relationsship with Porsche and teamed up with ferrari somewhere in the 2000s! Lamborghine also used agip sint 2000 as factory fill! Later in the 70s it was switched to 10w50 viscostity and was the first synthetic oil getting manufacturer approval by Mercedes and Porsche! In 1971 Motul also sold the first full synthetic oil to the public, again I have no further Information! Austrian oil Company ÖMV-Elan cameup with their ELAN ESTER SUPER GT 10w50 engine oil "ALL CLIMATE OIL WITH SYNTHTIC ESTER" also in 1971. It was later renamed to ESTER SUPER GTE. As its Name states it contained a synthetic ester compound! It was only available here in Austria and southern parts of Germany! In 1972 Esso offered the "ESSO RALLYE OIL" 20w50. Altough it was a part synthetic, there was no Information on the can that it did contain such compounds! The Name alone told for which Drivers it was blended, for the sporty drver on the road and on the track! A year laterMOBIl came up with its MOBIL SHC 20w50, according to their ads the first full synthetic Motor oil and they rediculed all other so called Synthetics by only having 10-20% of synthtic ingrdiants!It was heavily advertised in german car magazines mostly with race cars and Drivers. It was stated to be the best insurances for the usual road car as it was tested by race Drivers! In Germany it was sold in a cone shaped tin can with a cylindrical black plastic cap which was copied off the gemini space capsule! Also an indication how progressive this lubricant was! In the ads it wasn´t stated as "OIL" but only as full synthetic lubricant! LAter on they called it also oil because it confused much of the Readers! French oil Company elf releasd the oil "13000 TOURS Synthese" in 1974! It was the Winning oil in the French TYRRELL Formula 1 six Wheel carsback then for whom ELF was the main Sponsor! One yera later CASTROl came up with their later very famous "FORMULA RS" the first synthetic 15w50! Like some othre synthtics mentioned before (ELF 13000TOURS, Esso RAllye OIL) the Name stated that it was mainly for high Performance and racing applications! The "RS" was the short form for "RACING SYNTHTIC" and it was by far the most expensive synthetic at the time! 1977 saw the release of another French synthetic "YACCO GALAXIE". In 1978 Maybe the most famous ever synthtic was presented, the "MOBIL 1". It was a fully synthtic 5w20 for year round use. The main Goal of this low viscosity was to reduce friction on internal engine parts and was the first fuel economy oil! The 5w20 formulation didn´t get any approval from european car builders so they had to reformulate it to 10w30 which satisfied Mercedes Porsche and Volkswagen to put it on the approvals list! Mobil SHC was switched to 15w50 and also had the aprovals then! German oil Company ARAL released also their first synthtic in 1978 named "SPECTRAL" 15w50. But this was exactly the MOBIL SHC filled into ARAL tin cans, Nothing new! VEEDOL in Germany also released their "SUPER S", an oil containing "highly Performing synthtic additives". They also came up with the first full synthetic 5w40 viscosity in 1979 called "VEEDOL SYNTHRON". Again the 5w viscosity wasn´t aproved by german car bulders and they reformulated it to 10w40 to satisfy the engine makers and CCMC requiremnets! One of the "BIG PLAYERS" like SHELL didn´t make any attempt to crack the synthtic market, but released SHELL TMO 10w30 in 1979, it was something laike an IN BETWEEN the top Performance Mineral oils and the Synthetics! Shell stated it as having similar abilities to synthtics but not the high Price as them! Shell TMO 10w30 was factory fill for all Porsches until they teamed up with mobil! Altough it was Pretty much expensive too! MAgazine ads also showed the oil mostly with racing applications but it was designed more for fuel saving, like MOBIL 1 10w30 and VEEDOL SYNTHRON 10w40 it had the VW 500.00 approval for so called LOW FRICTION oils! BP STRATO 10w40 also was a fuel economy oil which wasn´t a synthetic but more a highly refined Mineral oil! In the 80s nearly all oil Company s had their 10w30 and 10w40 fuel economy par Synthetics and blendslike ESSO ULTRA, VALVOLINE SYNGARD, ELAN ELAKTIV, ARAL Super LL, FINA EKOFINA and so on! BAck in the eyrly 80s another german oil Company called FUCHS released a part and a full synthetic at the same time, MOTOSYN and SUPERSYN, both 10w30 with the full synthetic supersyn being the first synthetic having an API SF/CD approval, all others having SF/CC, being suitable for TURBO diesels! MR Frank Williams owner of the same branded F1 race Team asked mobil in the UK at the beginning of the 80s to invent a new type of oil for his race cars to give them an Advantage over their competitors! The result was the fully synthetic MOBIL 1 RALLY SHC the first 5w50 viscosity, Which was back in 1984 available also on the shelf to the public! CAstrol one of the few companies offering a full synthetic switched the viscosity of their famous RS from 15w50 to 5w50 in 1987 at first an attempt to the motorcycle Driver but soon also for cars mainly high performnace Units! In 1987 AGIP reformulated their famous SINT 2000 to the AGIP NEW SINT 2000 10w40. Altough it was a part synthetic 10w40 the advertisments said that it would also match or outperform evry other part or full synthetic formulation! It was common for such an oil to have PORSCHE and BMW approvals! At the beginnig of the 90s the synthetic Fever came over european oil companies. Now nearly every Company had to offer a full synthtic 5w50 or 5w40 oil! The likes of ESSO Super synthtic oil, Veedol Synthron R, Aral Super Tronic, FINA FIRST, VAlvoline SYNPOWER, Fuchs TITAN are only a few examples! Austria released also a new line of engine oils dropping the Name ELAN in favour of ÖMV and releasing SYN COM 10w04 and FULL syn 5w50. CAstrol had to do something against their competitors and so they reformulated in 1990 their famous "FORMULA RS RACING SYNTEC" to the very first 10w60 viscosity on the MArket! Most companies seeing that a full synthetic 5w50 didn´t give the average car a big Advantage they reformulated them back to partially synthetic 5w40 in favour to meet the then new API EC spec. Shell after sticking to their TMO 10w30 for over a decade made their first first true synthetic in 1992 TMO 5w40 and a Special TMO for diesls with a 5w30 viscosity, I guess the very first Special oil synthtic for passenger diesels! Agip was the last of the big companies coming up with a full synthetic, the AGIP TECSINT 5w30 was the first european oil satisfying ECII API spec. Tey reformulated also their SINT 2000 to SINT 2000 GPX 10w40 and the bottle had a label on it which stated it as FORMULA 1 race tested! Interestingly all other companies switched their Synthetics to 5w30 to meet API ECII. CAstrol had to make the next big break into the market releasing their CASTROL SLX 0w30 in 1995, the very first oil having a 0w30 viscosity for year round use and approvals by MB BMW and PORSCHE! It was a new topü of the line product and didn´t replace their RS and TXT oils! Mobil made a counter strike one year later releasing MOBIL 1 0w40 and replacing the 5w50 with it for a while! While CAstrol SLX was aimed at the fuel economy market with its green formulation the mobil 1 0w40 targeted more the sporty Driver! Since then on nearly all Companies reformulated the Synthetic premium oils into 0w30 and 0w40. avery interesting Point is that Quaker state in the USA began a new Marketing treat by offering a Special type of synthtic oil for a Special car type liek the ULTRA PREMIUM for luxury Sedans, HIGH HORSEPOWER for Sports cars and the 4by4 and SUV formulation! !! BEginning with the 2000s Synthetics became more common for everyday driving with new viscosity slike 5w20 and 0w20! BTW a 5w20 was made by Shell in 1997 called the ULTRA X aiming also at the sporty Driver but at that time he extreme high Price as well as most sporty Drivers stuckk to 5w40, 5w50or 10w60 oils didn´t make a success of it and it was discontinued after a few years! This was just a short overview I find todays Synthetics not that interesting anymore as its has made its ways into most engines today and nobody sees it as a novelty putting that "magical" and pricey juce into his engine like it was back in the 70s and 80s! If somebody has some cocnerns About my writing I have done it from Research mostly of oil bottles and cans, ads and articles from magazines and oil brochures! IF anybody has some additional Information he is very welcometo share t with me /us! As in all my Topics I will emntion that I am Looking for older engine oil bottles for my Collection, of Course I´ll pay for them if somebody is interested to sell! Thanks for reading and Keep your engines well lubricated at any time!
Thanks Franz,

More than an article, it's a doctoral dissertation
 

FCD

Joined
Oct 22, 2015
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3,878
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Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
Here in Spain until the 90s it was all pretty much 15W-40, 20W-50 or Straight 40, then in the 90s 10W-40 started to become more popular and still was probably the best seller until not that many years ago, ( though it still sells very well ), 5W-30s started to appear in the early 00s and until 2 or 3 years ago really 5W-20 or 0W-20 was basically non-existent, i have yet to see 0W-16 anywhere.
 
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