How clean is the new oil you use?

Joined
Mar 14, 2019
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223
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Iowa City
I have read in the past year some debates about how clean new oil actually is and where to buy it. I recently had some work done at Chevrolet dealership in the midwest. They have quite a few dealerships in three states, and sell/service Honda, Kia, GMC, Buick, and GMC. They offered a complementary oil change so I took them up on it. I asked and they freely provided a sample of the oil they use. I was told it was AC Delco Full Synthetic Dexos 1 Gen 2 oil, API SN. They even took a picture of the 500g storage tank for me. They said it was the same oil and nothing to worry about. I went into the parts department and bought a quart of the same AC Delco oil (p/n 88865926) 10-9253. I sent a sample of each to Polaris Labs and paid for the ISO Code particle count, in addition to the normal tests.. Attached are both new lube references reports. There is difference in additives, especially Boron and minor difference calcium, phos, and zinc. The shocker was the particle count. The oil they have in bulk storage and which they use for their express lube service was 32x more contaminated with hard particulates than what you would see in a quart bottle that was produced by ExxonMobil in their blending facilities. I went back a few weeks later and saw, a third party distributor delivering new oil. When one considers the the distribution channels, storage facilities, vehicles needed to transport the oil to it's final destination, the chance of contamination is quite high and probably normal for the industry. I doubt they clean any of these tanks, rather just drain and refill, especially for delivery vehicles. I thought maybe there was some error in one particulate size or the test in general, but each micron rating showed the same percentage of contamination per ISO Code when compared with the oil in the quart container. When you consider that anywhere from 10-20% of oil may remain in the engine, and how fast or how little they allow the oil to drain, along with the high contamination of oil going through the distribuition chain, gives me a different sense of "trusting the experts, and doing my part maintaining the car the best I can." Makes me wonder if the quick drop in TBN after an oil change oil is really normal or due to conditions described herein. . The old adage applies, if you want it done right, do it yourself, and "buy it yourself." Yes, I have had bad experiences at dealerships and some indepedents with oil filter and drain plug installs, but none when I do it myself. I always watch to make sure they actually change the oil and filter. If you use an independent, ask them if they buy their drums of oil direct from a reputable blending facility, distribuition facility, or have them refilled on-site. The other choice is to buy it yourself by the quart or gallon and have them change it.
 

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Joined
Jun 27, 2017
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NE Oklahoma
This is very interesting, thanks OP! I don't know if it makes any difference in the long term health of the engine, but it's certainly gives you something to think about.
 
Joined
May 9, 2010
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Illinois, U.S.A
You're right, that iso count is an eye opener. It makes sense given the distribution process but definitely makes you wonder a bit.
 
Joined
Nov 28, 2012
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Ontario, Canada
Whenever it's "FREE" it is of the lowest (cheapest) quality. They use the free oil as a loss leader hoping to find something else to make the money on.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2005
Messages
36,247
Location
NY
Thanks for the info. I'm not surprised. The bulk tank is not kept in a pristine, clean environment. Aside from filling up and replacing the pump when it goes bad, is it ever cleaned or serviced? How about the tanks the bulk oil is transported in? That's just one of many reasons why a dealer or a speedy lube place will never change oil in one of my vehicles.
 
Joined
May 13, 2013
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upstate NY
Chevron promotes their lubricants as ISO Clean or something like that, and it's for that reason. Everytime oil is handled there's a chance for contamination. Just the delivery process at a garage can introduce many small particles, and there are plenty of other chances before that final delivery. I've posted a couple of VOAs of Castrol Edge in the last year, both out of sealed jugs. Neither of them were "clean". Last year's VOA was similar to your bulk tank sample and this year's sample of Edge was even worse. My point is that even oil from a bottle or jug can be "dirty". Caterpillar has always asked me for a sample from bulk oil tanks when I send in my UOAs for the big diesels, for the concern of particle contamination.
 
Joined
Oct 1, 2005
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Newport News, VA
working at a chevy dealer in the mid 1980's, and that place went back to the very beginning, lots old old infrastructure and old tanks and you know they never clean old oil tanks. water would get in and of course then rusty metal. Bulk tanker fills old tank, the high flow rate stirs up all the crap in the tank. Hey is it even filtered by their pump before pumping into your car?. Are you kidding me, as long as it flows, its fine they will tell you, and engines have filters too. Finally they opened a new facility and tore down the old place, has become part of the interstate on ramp now. . Maybe things change.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2005
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NY
It wouldn't surprise me if disgruntled employees taint the oil in those tanks too. Maybe the boss [censored] them off, maybe they hate the world. Dump soda in the tank, a bit of dirt, etc. In my younger years prior to going into business for myself I worked with some pretty spiteful guys. So there isn't much that surprises me.
 
Joined
Aug 28, 2018
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Earth
How do you all like my conspiracy theories about the dangers of dealer bulk oil now?! I never said Mobil or Pennzoil or Q.S. weren't selling decent bulk, it's the human element that is the weakest and most corruptible in any given system.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2005
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36,247
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NY
Originally Posted by JC1
To the OP thanks for doing that.
Originally Posted by double vanos
Guess I'll be changing my oil till I'm well into my 80s....
+1
+2
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2004
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Indiana
Originally Posted by ad244
But say no to SuperTech!!!!!
Our roadsides in America are overflowing with dead cars murdered by WalMart oil and filters /sarc
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2004
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Indiana
Originally Posted by double vanos
Guess I'll be changing my oil till I'm well into my 80s....
Put in a vehicle lift...it makes a big difference on this kind of work (71st birthday this weekend).
 
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