Oil Specs & Testing Approved Lubricants

Joined
Nov 16, 2002
Messages
38,386
Location
NJ
Don't mistake this post as me being anti-boutique oil. I'm not. I've used Amsoil and have Amsoil on hand. I also think HPL/Red Line are top notch and if out of warranty wouldn't hesitate to use it.

I always found this comment interesting. It's from a former XOM engineer that worked in NJ with XOM.

"If an oil doesn't meet its specs, this means that blending quality is horrible." Or maybe not, there are many more places along the path for things to go astray than the blend kettle.

Compounder-blenders are likely to have a very generic formulation that is 2-3 generations behind the majors, their exhorbitant claims notwithstanding. I've seen tearaparts of some pretty high-profile compounder-blender synthetics that were just sad. These guys are buying an adpak from Lubrizol or Infineum and blending it with basestock, usually from ExxonMobil, since that's the company with the most spare basestock capacity. Many of their "specs" beyond the physical properties are read across from the adpak & the basestock specs. In other words, they've never run many of the tests they quote on their actual completed blends, or even on a lab blend. I've seen plenty of oils represented as "GF-4" whose names are suspiciously absent from the ILSAC web page. Blend quality in this market segment is likely to be all over the map.

The majors are typically going to give you a state-of-the-art formulation. Even if LZ or INF produces their adpak, it's likely to be a custom job developed in concert between the two companies and frequently sold exclusively to the major in question. (Once they develop the next generation, you'll frequently find these now-out-of-fashion adpaks in the compounder-blenders' products.) Their problems may be in the blend kettle, but the gremlins are much more likely to creep into their heavily distributor-dependent supply chains."

That's just based on tearaparts I've seen, from a group of some very talented chemists playing with some very fancy toys. "Synthetic" can be about as useful a term with oil as "organic" is with food. Plastic-related materials (as in high levels of VI improver, PIB & diester) are synthetic, but there are better things to put in your lubricants these days. (But those better components, specifically high-vis PAOs and non-ester cosolvents, cut into the bottom line, you know.)

Any supplier touting one specific additive might very well be using that as sleight of hand to distract you from thinking about the rest of a fairly pedestrian formulation.

The same goes for touting one property. "We have 8 ZILLION times better wear protection than Brand X (and those deposits all over the place, uh, they give you extra rust protection, yeah, that's the ticket.)"

Think of a lube formulation as a partly filled balloon. If you squeeze it one place, it's going to bulge out somewhere else. You can also think of an additive like a drug, it's got beneficial properties and side effects. If you push too hard on one property, it's going to hurt you somewhere else. Better suppliers will try to give you a comprehensive formulation that gives the best possible overall performance the current technology can provide."
 
Last edited:
The majors aren’t going to give you state of the art. That’s wishful thinking at best.

They’re going to give you the lowest cost that meets specification.

Big, big difference.
Not entirely true. This is why historically Amsoil's additive systems lagged behind Mobil's. Notice how Mobil went to a more friendly LSPI before they did by 3 or so years?

I've been on this site long enough to see these patterns. The majors have the volume levels and co-development ability to do so.

And as I've said repeatedly, within a product line there are tiers - bare minimum, exceeds, to greatly exceeds.
 
Last edited:
State of the art. New. Highest performance. All different things.

Let‘s not confuse the terms.

If the majors were giving you state of the art products, and state of the art meant best performance, why use so much GRP 3 base stocks in the formulation?

Because cost is their overwhelming concern.

They‘re using the newest formulation - state of the art if you wish - doesn’t always mean the highest performance.

Star vs. other VII for example. One costs more. Both made by XOM. The better one, the more durable one, isn’t in their regular products.
 
State of the art. New. Highest performance. All different things.

Let‘s not confuse the terms.

If the majors were giving you state of the art products, why use so much GRP 3 base stocks in the formulation?

Because cost is their overwhelming concern.
Cost is the concern across the board for any brand. You have to make the oil as balanced as possible given all the options available. Amsoil uses GTL. You could make a PAO based oil with a dated additive system by loading up on cheap ZDP or boosting xyz. Doesn't mean it's better.
 
Not true. This is why traditionally Amsoil's additive systems lagged behind Mobil's. Notice how Mobil went to a more friendly LSPI before they did by 3 or so years?

I've been on this site long enough to see these patterns.
Mobil is always well ahead of the upcoming API changes I assume partly because they chair the API and so know what's coming down the pipe in the future. They also work hand-in-hand with the OEM's they have relationships with, so they are ahead of the curve on dexos and other OE approvals from MB, Porsche...etc.

Yes, we've seen them be years ahead on additive chemistry changes and their work on Trimer moly also put them ahead of the pack.

The produce some truly exceptional oils with some serious pedigree, like M1 FS 0W-40 whose reputation and prolific use in various racing bodies proceeds it. Dave at HPL has noted that this oil is incredibly good, so you take into consideration the price and it's no wonder it has such a following.

That said, Astro's point also stands with regards to materials selection. Mobil isn't buying GTL from SOPUS because it's better than PAO, it's the price. Castrol only uses PAO where necessary, like their 0W-40, otherwise using straight Group III (like their 5W-40). Price point and profit matters when you are competing in the consumer space and that's certainly factored into product development and production.
 
I would add that there are likely a few exceptions to this comment, with HPL/Amsoil using the latest technology that are off higher quality that off shelf oils provide due to not having to fully comply. I think Amsoil since 2015 or so has really stayed on top of current additives/advancements compared to years past. HPL is probably similar from what others have said.

We've seen examples of oils that do use PAO/Ester that fail to impress - RL comes to mind. Not knocking them, but more is not always better.
 
Don't mistake this post as me being anti-boutique oil. I'm not. I've used Amsoil and have Amsoil on hand. I also think HPL/Red Line are top notch and if out of warranty wouldn't hesitate to use it.

I always found this comment interesting. It's from a former XOM engineer that worked in NJ with XOM.

"If an oil doesn't meet its specs, this means that blending quality is horrible." Or maybe not, there are many more places along the path for things to go astray than the blend kettle.

Compounder-blenders are likely to have a very generic formulation that is 2-3 generations behind the majors, their exhorbitant claims notwithstanding. I've seen tearaparts of some pretty high-profile compounder-blender synthetics that were just sad. These guys are buying an adpak from Lubrizol or Infineum and blending it with basestock, usually from ExxonMobil, since that's the company with the most spare basestock capacity. Many of their "specs" beyond the physical properties are read across from the adpak & the basestock specs. In other words, they've never run many of the tests they quote on their actual completed blends, or even on a lab blend. I've seen plenty of oils represented as "GF-4" whose names are suspiciously absent from the ILSAC web page. Blend quality in this market segment is likely to be all over the map.

The majors are typically going to give you a state-of-the-art formulation. Even if LZ or INF produces their adpak, it's likely to be a custom job developed in concert between the two companies and frequently sold exclusively to the major in question. (Once they develop the next generation, you'll frequently find these now-out-of-fashion adpaks in the compounder-blenders' products.) Their problems may be in the blend kettle, but the gremlins are much more likely to creep into their heavily distributor-dependent supply chains."

That's just based on tearaparts I've seen, from a group of some very talented chemists playing with some very fancy toys. "Synthetic" can be about as useful a term with oil as "organic" is with food. Plastic-related materials (as in high levels of VI improver, PIB & diester) are synthetic, but there are better things to put in your lubricants these days. (But those better components, specifically high-vis PAOs and non-ester cosolvents, cut into the bottom line, you know.)

Any supplier touting one specific additive might very well be using that as sleight of hand to distract you from thinking about the rest of a fairly pedestrian formulation.

The same goes for touting one property. "We have 8 ZILLION times better wear protection than Brand X (and those deposits all over the place, uh, they give you extra rust protection, yeah, that's the ticket.)"

Think of a lube formulation as a partly filled balloon. If you squeeze it one place, it's going to bulge out somewhere else. You can also think of an additive like a drug, it's got beneficial properties and side effects. If you push too hard on one property, it's going to hurt you somewhere else. Better suppliers will try to give you a comprehensive formulation that gives the best possible overall performance the current technology can provide."
Thank you for posting this👍
 
EVERYTHING today is a lot of MARKETING because marketing is cheeper + as noted $$$$ are key!! unless we own a lab we REALLY dont know whats in our oils!!!! i suspect most oils of the same specs are quite similar + for most its thick or thin that varies your results especially in the long term or in extreme use like continuous towing heavy or competition. motorcycles especially bigger air cooled ones really TEST the oils quality IMO!
 
I recently read an XOM research and engineering patent for a lubricant composition exhibiting increased wear protection in gf-6 oils thru the formation of thick tribofilms on metal parts in an engine. The patent describes group II-IV made no difference in the formation of a thick tribofilm and that using group V ANs in up to 20% concentration permitted a thick tribofilm especially when boron was also used. It also mentioned the use of 5.5 cSt Monoesters and further testing with alkylated diphenol oxide base stocks and liquid amide base stocks. They also found that thru lower detergency levels, not to low as it would diminish the cleanliness of the product, the results were even better. This patent could be describing the method of formulation and testing in mobils new triple action formula as these oils have quite low levels of calcium and magnesium (seems around 600-650 of each) and a TBN starting at 5.8 for mobil 1 extended performance from blackstone. Based on that patent my guess is mobil 1 triple action is using a good chunk of group 5 ANs and possibly monoesters as well. My point with this post is that it may not look to be "state of the art" but it very much so seems to be the case here.
 
I recently read an XOM research and engineering patent for a lubricant composition exhibiting increased wear protection in gf-6 oils thru the formation of thick tribofilms on metal parts in an engine. The patent describes group II-IV made no difference in the formation of a thick tribofilm and that using group V ANs in up to 20% concentration permitted a thick tribofilm especially when boron was also used. It also mentioned the use of 5.5 cSt Monoesters and further testing with alkylated diphenol oxide base stocks and liquid amide base stocks. They also found that thru lower detergency levels, not to low as it would diminish the cleanliness of the product, the results were even better. This patent could be describing the method of formulation and testing in mobils new triple action formula as these oils have quite low levels of calcium and magnesium (seems around 600-650 of each) and a TBN starting at 5.8 for mobil 1 extended performance from blackstone. Based on that patent my guess is mobil 1 triple action is using a good chunk of group 5 ANs and possibly monoesters as well. My point with this post is that it may not look to be "state of the art" but it very much so seems to be the case here.
Interesting. Valvoline Modern Engine was pretty advanced too despite the anemic looking additive package. Oil had a unique smell that I never noticed before with any other oil. They priced themselves out of the market and demand was never there.

For some reason people get more impressed with seeing higher levels of additives, which I can understand to some degree, however there are many that don't show up via a VOA. Kind of how people get impressed with seeing water bead off paint, even though that's so easy to formulate towards.
 
Last edited:
I recently read an XOM research and engineering patent for a lubricant composition exhibiting increased wear protection in gf-6 oils thru the formation of thick tribofilms on metal parts in an engine. The patent describes group II-IV made no difference in the formation of a thick tribofilm and that using group V ANs in up to 20% concentration permitted a thick tribofilm especially when boron was also used. It also mentioned the use of 5.5 cSt Monoesters and further testing with alkylated diphenol oxide base stocks and liquid amide base stocks. They also found that thru lower detergency levels, not to low as it would diminish the cleanliness of the product, the results were even better. This patent could be describing the method of formulation and testing in mobils new triple action formula as these oils have quite low levels of calcium and magnesium (seems around 600-650 of each) and a TBN starting at 5.8 for mobil 1 extended performance from blackstone. Based on that patent my guess is mobil 1 triple action is using a good chunk of group 5 ANs and possibly monoesters as well. My point with this post is that it may not look to be "state of the art" but it very much so seems to be the case here.
M1 0w-40 Api SP version have now triple action Plus
 
State of the art. New. Highest performance. All different things.

Let‘s not confuse the terms.

If the majors were giving you state of the art products, and state of the art meant best performance, why use so much GRP 3 base stocks in the formulation?

Because cost is their overwhelming concern.

They‘re using the newest formulation - state of the art if you wish - doesn’t always mean the highest performance.

Star vs. other VII for example. One costs more. Both made by XOM. The better one, the more durable one, isn’t in their regular products.
What regular products? and how do you know this?
 
Another thing this individual said was:

"A major has usually drawn a formulation through a knot-hole before it gets to Manny, Moe & Jack. The compounder-blenders don't usually have those sorts of resources."

Not all, this is more of a general blanket statement.

Some of the older chemistry used years ago is still excellent which consisted of low Noack PAO/ester base oil, good high dose of Ca and ZDP. It does work and still effective. But due to CATS and other regulations this formulation approach was slowly abandoned. When I had first joined the site Mobil 1 contained about 3,200 ppm of Ca. Over the next several years it was lowered significantly and the challenge then was to maintain/exceed those performance metrics using lower metallic additives. It didn't happen overnight. Some stayed with that approach for the next 15 years bc they operated outside of the stricter regulatory guidelines. However engines also improved and no longer need high levels of ZDP.
 
Last edited:
M1 0w-40 Api SP version have now triple action Plus
That might be for foreign markets. Im not sure where your from but since your page says "from suomi" i assume finland. I see gold jug 0w40 mobil 1 saying triple action power+ in indian markets and others but nothing here
 
The majors aren’t going to give you state of the art. That’s wishful thinking at best.

They’re going to give you the lowest cost that meets specification.

Big, big difference.
Price point. It has to be expensive enough to make you buy it and believe that it's a quality product but it's also got to be cheap enough to where it will catch the eye of the consumer. I would put the general oils that you find in basic stores in line with Dutch boy paint. As many know it's owned by Sherwin-Williams but it is made to a price point to sell. So there's not going to be as much acrylic and binders and Cobalt and titanium dioxide. But like I said before every oil has a place and the majority of the people who are buying motor oil for their vehicles are not racing on the weekends or into it for the sport and hobby so they are looking more at Price point. I say to myself and I say to fellow members you get what you pay.
 
Not entirely true. This is why historically Amsoil's additive systems lagged behind Mobil's. Notice how Mobil went to a more friendly LSPI before they did by 3 or so years?

I've been on this site long enough to see these patterns. The majors have the volume levels and co-development ability to do so.

And as I've said repeatedly, within a product line there are tiers - bare minimum, exceeds, to greatly exceeds.
Functions of an engine oil;
#1. To make money
#2. See #1

www.savantlab.com
www.tannasking.com
 
Did the cars that made 1/2 to 1M miles run on state of the art oils? Or was it better built engines?
The thing with that is most of us that care about what oil we are using either we dont drive enough to put a million miles on in 30 years or we buy a new car every 5 or so years so it never gets the chance to get to a million. Generally the people putting a million miles on do it at such a rate that their changing the oil every 3-4 weeks so they use the cheapest quick lube they can find in their travels.
 
Back
Top