Extended Drains 101

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Aug 2, 2002
A couple of tips to pick up the best results with long drain synthetic lubes, based on 25 years of "lessons learned": 1) Start with a clean engine - I typically use the Amsoil engine flush if the engine had over 30k using petroleum oil. For high mileage engines, I now highly recommend the use of AutoRX. Use a double treatment if the engine is really dirty. 2) Make sure you aren't getting abnormal contamination, particularly from coolant, silicon or fuel. Do an oil analysis BEFORE putting the expensive synthetic in and trying to run a long change interval. A significant coolant leak can cause the oil to badly sludge up in 2k-3k miles and destroy the main bearings. 3) Tune the engine on a regular basis - this includes things like changing PCV valves and oxygen sensors and servicing EGR valves where required. A poorly running engine produces abnormal rates of oxidation and nitration. 4) Flush and refill the coolant every few years - If the engine is running hot from a clogged cooling system, the oil will oxidize more quickly. 5) Use an effective fuel injector cleaner on a regular basis, at least 1-2 times a year. I"ve had excellent results with the Amsoil performance improver. The Schaeffers Neutra and Redline SL-1 are also very effective. Chevron "techron' is probably one of the best off the shelf cleaners. 6) Get at least 10,000 miles on the engine before running a long drain interval. New engines don't have a very good piston ring seal and there is too much wear in the first 10k miles to keep the oil in for long periods. I will get 5k-6k on the motor before using a synthetic for the first time and limit the first Amsoil change to 7500 miles after that. On the rare occasions where I see problems with Amsoil and extended drains, it is generally due to one or more of the above reasons .... TooSlick Dixie Synthetics
I agree with you for the most part except for the engine cleaning suggestions. I have converted a Chevy Corsica with 49,000 miles, a Mercury Mystique with 30,000 miles, and a Izusu Rodeo with 57,000 miles to Amsoil 10W30 and used no engine cleaner or flush. The engines appeared relatively clean to begin with (Izusu the only one with varnish build up) and started all with a 3000 miles initial drain and then went to 7500. The Chevy and Mystique settled in for yearly changes after that (good analysis, 7500-12,000 miles/year) the Izusu has settled at 7500, seems to be simialr to the Camry in beating up the oil. (In the Izuzu I did try two engine cleaners subsequent to several oil changes to remove the varnish and neither one succeeded in that). However, engine has run great since purchase and still does. This current fill I drained a quart at 4000 miles and added a fresh one and will see if this affects analysis. New cars I convert at first oil change, experience tells me it takes 20,000 miles to break in to see reduced silicon and wear metals. Sometimes longer. I no longer get excited by high wear metals or silicon in the first 20,000 miles. Anyway, the cleaning, IMO is not necessary unless there is a known problem or it looks filthy on sight. Three cars get the PI in every tankful the other two whenever I can get to them. Also use Neutra treatment once in a while. [ April 18, 2003, 09:04 AM: Message edited by: Spector ]
Good basic advice. I never followed it, but in the future I would. That does remind me that I have not put in an injector cleaner. I generally use the "Joe Sixpack" stuff like STP, etc. I know they work (concentrated formula) bc I have cured problems with them with leaking injectors. I have heard that the Techtron stuff is good. I will do that this week end. Thanks [Cheers!]
Originally posted by Spector: ...(Izusu the only one with varnish build up) ... the Izusu has settled at 7500, seems to be simialr to the Camry in beating up the oil. (In the Izuzu I did try two engine cleaners subsequent to several oil changes to remove the varnish and neither one succeeded in that). However, engine has run great since purchase and still does.
[Off Topic!] What year? Does it burn/consume any oil? [ April 18, 2003, 09:41 AM: Message edited by: pinoy99 ]
Excellent advice! You did forget one thing though. Make sure not to go directly to the longest interval on the very first run with the oil. Go to about 5 or 6k, and then drain it and take a sample. Then on the second batch you could go a little further, based on the info you get from the UOA. Running a super long interval on the very first run is not wise due to possible additive clash with the old oil which might lower the TBN faster and have possible increased oxidation too.
I agree with the original poster. The only thing I add is why dump the synthetic at 7.5K. Add a bypass filter. To me extended drain is welding in the drain plug so no further leaks. (figure of speech guys, don't flame) Also I have before and after analysis to prove cleaning even a new engine works. So to me cleaning is a must. My hat off to TooSlick. Good recommendations.
Good advice TS. I think synthetics like Amsoil are great for extended drains when they are in well running engines. Also, it's one year or 25,000, which ever comes first. I think many forget this.
This may be a little off topic but what effect does outside temperature have on extended drains. I see alot of UOA remarks about high Iron being due to cold weather. I can accept that but is that a reason to change an oil like Amsoil S3000 with a SDF only filter after winter? Or can Amsoil, Redline etc handle such cold/hot extremes and extended drains. Or is a UOA on a specific engine the only way to tell. [Cheers!]
Amsoil's 1 year or 25,000 miles is under non-severe conditions, right? What do they recommend for severe conditions? (Frequent short trips, excessive idling, pulling a trailer, etc) Oh, and what do you guys think of BMW's new recommendation for oil changes every *2 years* (up from 1 year), or whenever the maintenance computer calls for it (usually every 15,000 miles)? I believe SAAB has also upped it to 2 years on their new 9-3SS (or whenever the maintenance computer calls for an oil change... not sure what a typical mileage interval is on that car). Jason
Originally posted by 1maniac: This may be a little off topic but what effect does outside temperature have on extended drains.
I wouldn't recommend doing extended drains during the winter period if it's very cold where you are. Best thing to do then is to change the oil right before winter, then immediately after. Then if you wish to run an extended interval from early spring to late fall you'd be ok. But if you're going to experience temps below 20F or so on a regular basis, it's going to quickly degrade your oil.
There is one important aspect to extending drains that is a MUST While determining your drain interval, you should not do this blindly. Any good oil such as amsoil and such should have no problem with reaching the 7500 mile limit, but anything beyond that, it is VERY important that you use oil analysis. The blanket 25k or 1yr is not something to go by except by verifying it with oil analysis. Each engine has it's own little quirks,each engine has different types of mechanics affecting oil, each engine has different sump sizes affecting how long it takes the oil to pass through the engine(the more oil, the better the chance of oil longevity), each driver drives differently, each person lives in different climates also have different types or mixes of fuel, and types of use vary. Because of all these factors, each of which can affect the oils longevity no matter how good an oil is. Even if you have multiple vehicles, each one can vary in how far one can use the oil in that engine. So, point is, when trying to determine extended drain intervals, this includes the cars that say to go 2yrs, verify it oil analysis, at which point, you'll know if it can or not under your specific conditions. THE MORAL OF THIS WITH THOSE THAT SAY TWO YEARS, THEY ARE IN THE PARTS BUSINESS AND KNOW HOW LONG IT WOULD TAKE FOR THAT CAR TO WEAR OUT UNDER THE SET PARAMETERS THEY GIVE YOU. So, do your own home work and make sure they aren't just trying to sell you parts down the road. [ April 20, 2003, 10:28 AM: Message edited by: BOBISTHEOILGUY ]
Or ahem, use inexpensive but quality dino oil and do 3k change intervals w/ new oil filters. If you do 12k miles a year, that's 4 dino oil changes or about two synth oil changes (generally speaking). Using Chevron Supreme at $1/qt for 6 qt, and a $2 super-tech oil filter that's $8 per change. $8 x 4 = $32 a year Using Mobil 1 at about $4.75/qt for 6 qt, and a $2 super-tech oil filter, that's $30 and change per interval. $30 x 2 = $60 Now if you want to do extended intervals, you have to factor in the costs associated with oil analysis ($20 a test?) Now if you do 36,000 miles a year. that's 12 oil changes for dino, and about 5 changes (conservative) for synthetics. 12 x $8 = $96 for dino 5 x $30 = $150 for synthetic not including oil analysis. In order to break even with the dino oil costs, you'd have to run 12k intervals with synthetic for a 36k mile/year schedule - not a problem if I'm reading the opinions/comments regarding Amsoil and other synthetic oils. Now the question is - how sure are you that your engine won't run into problems during that interval? I ran synthetic in my carb'd 302 and the choke pull off failed, causing a rich starting condition that flooded the engine. I had to dump out the flooded oil and wasted $18 worth of synth oil that had less than 500 miles on it (turned black). With dino oil, you have about $50 lee-way per year that's roughly 50 quarts of oil or about 8 oil changes to screw up before costing the same as synthetic. That being said, I'm a believer in synthetic oils. I use it in the rear axle, transmission, and for grease applications, but unless I'm towing, driving in the desert, or professionally racing (or just racing on the dragstrip) I don't see how a synthetic engine oil fits into my service interval. I'd rather have fresh oil every 3k in my engine. Cheap insurance against potential failures and I don't have to be chained down to the Oil analysis labs waiting on their results and sending them wads of hard earned cash ($20 = roughly 20 quarts of dino oil). Add the TBN fee and you add another 10 qt of dino oil. *Oil recycling is paid for in my county by our taxes, so we just take our oil filters and oil to the center at specified times of the year.
Quadrum1, I'd use my "Oil Change Formula" to get you in the ballpark as far as an initial change interval: OCI = (120)(mpg)(sump capacity)(cubic inches/Hp) Fuel efficiency is a function of the severity of driving conditions. So if you do short trip driving in cold weather or lots of stop and go driving, your fuel efficiency will decrease significantly. As a practical matter if you didn't want to bother with this, I'd go with a 10k-12k/1 year change interval for severe service conditions, with a filter change and topoff halfway through.... I DON'T consider oil analysis to be necessary all the time with Amsoil. Just 2-3 tests initially to determine the best change interval for the application. TooSlick [ April 20, 2003, 11:10 AM: Message edited by: TooSlick ]
I agree with everything stated above, but if your like me, and drive 50K miles per year, dino oil is a waste of time and money. I think the article recently posted in the Lube report has me thinking in a new direction. Environmental costs and the fact that europe runs 10k mile drains makes me think we should start extended drains. A dino oil @3k miles might look like a synthetic oil @ 12k miles so in reality, changing the dino every 3k is not beneficial. So for 36,000 miles as stated above, A good syn lube running for 12-15k miles is only 2 to 3 changes or roughly $40 worth of oil. So what your saving is time. If I were to use a dino, I'd be under my car every other week. No thanks. My engine should be finally clean, as I am finishing the 3rd treatment of Rx. I plan or running various synthetics for extended drains with maintenace doeses. I don't feel analsyis is needed until around 10K + miles with a good syn lube based on what I've seen. I think I'm finally comfortable extending drains based on the last 1/2 year reading this site's UOA. I've come to realize that you really need a clean engine to allow exntended drains as Terry has stated over and over again. TS, did you read your email? Does S3000 contain FM'S? D1 from what I've read doesn't. [ April 20, 2003, 11:28 AM: Message edited by: buster ]
Buster, I've been running extended drains for 25 years with no problems, over 500k miles of total use. In the nine years I've been actively selling Amsoil, I've had one engine fail due to a cooling leak. I think this engine would have failed regardless of the oil change interval. This includes a wide variety of gas/diesel car/truck engines running under all sorts of operating conditions, as well as inboard boat engines, motorcycles, local racers, etc. The key to successfully running extended drain intervals is simply good maintenance practices. If you drive you cars until something breaks and don't do preventative maintenance, than paradoxically you are better with 3000 mile change intervals and cheap oil. However, even if the engine is badly out of adjustment, you will still be able to run the extended drain synthetic several times as long as a 5-7 TBN petroleum oil. TooSlick
buster: your math is flawed If you drive 50k miles a year that's $8/change for dino x 16 = $128 at 3k intervals if you run a synthetic, $30.50/change x 4 = $122 at 12k intervals NOW you're assuming 12k intervals will be A-OK for your synthetic oil, and you're not accounting for oil analysis fees or any problems you might run into (leaking injector, stuck PCV, etc...) which may affect oil longevity (if you drive through a flooded area, or your vehicle gets flooded, etc... hey it can happen) like the case with my synthetic oil in the 302 V8. A stupid problem forced me to change the oil wasting $20. The initial difference calculated above is $6. That's only assuming you're using a 12k interval right away. You have to send in oil analysis samples at various intervals and that adds up. meanwhile with religious 3k dino changes, no one's engine has failed because it didn't use synthetic!!! For Joe Sixpack, commuting to work/school isn't the same as towing through the desert or drag racing. You have to be absolutely sure the synthetic oil you're using can handle 12k miles. If that is the case, you will probably need to use something like Amsoil or Redline, which can cost more than $4.75/qt. Here are some more numbers: over 100k miles, using $1/qt dino oil (6 qt) plus $2 oil filter at 3000 mile intervals: cost will be around $267 over 100k miles, using Amsoil series 2000 0W-30 at $8.35/qt for 6 qt plus $2 oil filter at 12,000 mile intervals: cost will be around $434 In order to break even with dino oil using synthetic engine oil at 12k intervals, you'd have to pay no more than $5/qt of synthetic oil that can handle 12k changes. I know Mobil 1 is less than $5/qt which is a good thing.
metroplex: your numbers are flawed. I pay $4.35qt. for Amsoil's pref. customer program. 5w/10w-30. [Smile] AMSOIL 50,000 miles per year / 12,000 mile oil changes (i'm confident Amsoil can go this far without problems in a sound engine)= 4 oil changes per year That equates to 4 oil changes X 4qts($4.35) = $69 DINO 50,000 miles per year / 3,000 = 17 oil changes per year. I'm not using $1qt oil, sorry. Oil is cheap, engines are not. So 17 oil changes X 4qts.( $2)= $136 So you see, you save big time with Amsoil. Your dino oil at 3k miles will look like Amsoil at 12k miles so what is the difference? Time spent on oil changes and I'll have a cleaner engine. Synthetics can go 12k miles easy IMO when you maintain the car. Using dino won't stop other things from going wrong either so I don't see your point there. The bottom line is you do save when using a good synthetic lube and you generally get better protection. I think change dino every 3k is perfectly fine. It just doens't fit people who drive a lot. Do the math on some of these truck drivers who run S3000 HD or Delvac 1 and you will see they save a lot of money. I'm not an environmental wacko but I do think we should start going to 10k mile drains. The lube report article really shed some light on how behind the US really is, in part because of the big oil companies. Most people BTW, go to Jiffy Lube and pay $26 for half-*** service and dino which is a TOTAL wast of money. [Wink] [ April 20, 2003, 05:55 PM: Message edited by: buster ]
Buster, isn't your Amsoil price $89? $69 + the $20 annual fee? And, is shipping included? And, with the highway driving you must do to get 50k/yr, good dino oil is good for 5k, which gives you 10 oil drains yearly, not 17...$80 for oil. You still save money due to the cost of filters and the time to change the oil. Or, how about Schaeffer #703, and see if it's good for 8k or 10k @ $3.25/qt? Ken
Buster you're math is flawed. Use the $1 dino figure. what's good dino that you can buy for $2??? Heck, what dino oil do you buy for $2/qt??? All I see for Group I-II+ prices are below $1.5/qt and that's very expensive. $1/qt = Chevron Supreme $1/qt = Pennzoil PureBase if you know where to look $1/qt = Motorcraft if you know where to look The UOAs for all of these indicate they're QUALITY oils. Ford uses Motorcraft in their engines at the factory, not Amsoil. $4.35 for series 2000 Amsoil? That's some deal, I sure as heck can't get Amsoil at that price. So I'll have to use the retail $8.35 price. I have no other solid quantifiable numbers for Amsoil to go by. So as you can see you still save with quality dino oil. There's no reason anyone has to use synthetic and extend their drain intervals in order to prolong the life of their engine. Using $1/qt Chevron Supreme will most likely result in the same engine lifespan as Amsoil in a normal non-severe environment (commuting to work, school, church, etc) [Cool]
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