Pennzoil Ultra Platinum deposit buildup?

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Hello all, I'm curious if anyone who uses Pennzoil Ultra Platinum has noticed any excessive sludge/deposit buildup issues. I have been using Pennzoil Ultra Platinum 5W30 almost exclusively in my 05 Honda Civic 1.7 VTEC and usually changing it around 4K miles or at the very most 5K miles and I have not been very impressed with it's cleaning and I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed this.

I recently changed my timing belt, water pump, oil pump seal, etc and I first noticed slight but noticeable crud buildup under the valve cover on the rocker arms and cylinder head similar to the oil pan below. I wish I thought to take a picture of it. The buildup wasn't much, but I refreshed that engine about 3-4 years ago and thoroughly washed the cylinder head and valve train to like new condition before reassembly, so my expectation would be very minimal to no buildup with almost all highway miles and 4-5K mile oil changes with synthetic oil.

I suppose mild buildup in the cylinder head area after several years of driving is acceptable, but IMO the worst buildup is what happened to the bottom of my oil pan after only 4400 miles. I slightly cracked my original oil pan on a rock several months ago and had to replace it with a used one, which I very thoroughly washed to like new condition before I installed it. It now looks like this. The bottom of it is lightly coated in some kind of greasy sludge. Again, not terrible, but that's after only 4400 miles. My daily commute is 50 highway miles per day (25 miles each way) 5 days a week and I don't idle much, sit in traffic, drive short trips, etc. I also regularly accelerate to redline, which I would think should help prevent buildup like this compared to driving like a granny all the time.

I'm considering switching to another brand of oil next oil change because I'm not thrilled with this much buildup in the oil pan after only 4400 easy miles and I would expect the valvetrain and head to stay free of that sticky buildup for more than a few years with easy driving conditions and 4-5K mile oil changes. Do you think these expectations are unreasonable?

Any thoughts are welcome as always!

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Pennzoil platinum should be good oil and should not do this expecially after only 4K miles. Is there any chance there is an engine problem (coolent leak, excessive bearing wear) that is causing this?

The only way to tell is a UOA to see if there is anything going on. Also switching to another oil (M1?) and see if it continues. if so, go top of the line and try Amsoil. If it still does it you definitely have a engine problem.
 
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I noticed same with the 13 Volvo in my sig. Was very clean down in oil fill when bought at 70k klms. I always change it at 8k klms. It slowly got darker looking by 200k or so. When I changed the PCV/flame trap, there was much more sludge than expected. I now use M1 in all cars of mine
 

Avery4

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Great point about blowby, I forgot to mention that in the first post. I compression tested this engine and got an even 210 PSI across all 4 cylinders, so the blowby can't be too bad. The oil doesn't get dark excessively quickly, it still had a bit of a gold look when I drained it after 4400 miles.

No coolant contamination or excessive bearing wear. I checked a couple of the rod bearings and they still look almost new. Only the tiniest coating on my magnetic oil drain plug and no visible glitter whatsoever in the pan. I have had an oil pressure gauge for several years and oil pressure hasn't decreased at all since I installed the gauge. If the bearings were wearing excessively, the oil pressure certainly would have decreased by now.
 
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Great point about blowby, I forgot to mention that in the first post. I compression tested this engine and got an even 210 PSI across all 4 cylinders, so the blowby can't be too bad. The oil doesn't get dark excessively quickly, it still had a bit of a gold look when I drained it after 4400 miles.

No coolant contamination or excessive bearing wear. I checked a couple of the rod bearings and they still look almost new. Only the tiniest coating on my magnetic oil drain plug and no visible glitter whatsoever in the pan. I have had an oil pressure gauge for several years and oil pressure hasn't decreased at all since I installed the gauge. If the bearings were wearing excessively, the oil pressure certainly would have decreased by now.

Then it doesn’t appear to be doing too much cleaning……..
 
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maybe engines are like dishwashing machines. after a while, stuff accumulates or deposits on spots with not much oil flow.

Could also be engine specific. How many miles on your car?
 
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Avery4

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maybe engines are like dishwashing machines. after a while, stuff accumulates or deposits on spots with not much oil flow.

Could also be engine specific. How many miles on your car?
I have no idea how many miles are on this engine, I bought it used from a Japanese engine import shop. It supposedly had no more than 50K miles on it when I bought it, but I have no way to verify that. It seems to be in great condition though. It was reasonably clean, has great compression, doesn't burn a significant amount of oil, and easily gets me 45+ MPG.

Honda called for 10K mile oil changes on the conventional oils available back in the early 2000's, so their engineers must not think these engines are too hard on oil. But I think the buildup I'm seeing in the oil pan and head wouldn't be so mild if I followed their suggestion though.
 
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I wouldn’t blame the oil, I don’t want to sound rude or condescending, but I just don’t think people realize how things look inside of an engine after some miles. There’s just so many nooks and crannies that might not get proper temperature. And by the look of that pan (which looks fine to me) there are several reinforcement fins inside that pan that might experience some flow and cooling differences that may lead to a little buildup. I don’t think you’d experience anything different with any other oil. IMO.
 
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I'd say there's limited oil flow in that area and over time combustion by-products will accumulate there. IMO it's the nature of the beast in that application. My bet is no matter what oil was used the same thing would have happened.
 

Avery4

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I wouldn’t blame the oil, I don’t want to sound rude or condescending, but I just don’t think people realize how things look inside of an engine after some miles. There’s just so many nooks and crannies that might not get proper temperature. And by the look of that pan (which looks fine to me) there are several reinforcement fins inside that pan that might experience some flow and cooling differences that may lead to a little buildup. I don’t think you’d experience anything different with any other oil. IMO.
Good points. I can understand the buildup in the pan, that's a great point about the fins. However, I have run this engine with the valve cover removed and oil quickly gets everywhere even at idle. I would think there should be plenty of heat and oil flow/splash in the cylinder head area to prevent any real buildup?

I have worked on other engines with much more mileage and an unknown maintenance/usage history that had a cleaner head and valvetrain than mine with about 40K miles since the refresh, easy usage, and <5K mile oil changes.

My friend's almost 200K mile Cadillac CTS is a great example of this. When I changed the valve cover gaskets and replaced the cracked oil pan, that engine was pretty darn clean inside. The oil pan was definitely cleaner than mine and the head and valvetrain was somewhat cleaner than mine too. He owned it for about 2 years and did 6-7K mile oil changes with whatever synthetic was available cheapest (usually STP or a generic parts store brand), but the rest is unknown. It's totally possible things about other engines are just better for staying clean than mine, I just wonder how much the oil contributed to the buildup. Sounds like in my case the design of the engine has more to do with it than anything else.
 
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Both D17A1 (non-vtec) and D17A2 (vtec) do tend to have head gasket issues at higher mileages, but often age is in question too. Engine could've been sitting dry/empty for a few years in a warehouse before you got it, and now small coolant contamination may be attributing to the sludge-ish mild build-up. Buy a kit to test your coolant, and do a UOA on oil. Could just be a very early sign of a failing head gasket, unfortunately. But no way to tell for sure without a UOA and coolant test.

Coolant test strips
Combustion leak detector
Wix oil analysis kit
Blackstone oil analysis kit
 

Avery4

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Both D17A1 (non-vtec) and D17A2 (vtec) do tend to have head gasket issues at higher mileages, but often age is in question too. Engine could've been sitting dry/empty for a few years in a warehouse before you got it, and now small coolant contamination may be attributing to the sludge-ish mild build-up. Buy a kit to test your coolant, and do a UOA on oil. Could just be a very early sign of a failing head gasket, unfortunately. But no way to tell for sure without a UOA and coolant test.

Coolant test strips
Combustion leak detector
Wix oil analysis kit
Blackstone oil analysis kit
That's true, great point. However, I replaced the head gasket before I installed the engine for this exact reason and I thoroughly washed the head and had it checked by a machine shop while it was apart, so that should't be a problem. There's absolutely no coolant loss, no oil in the coolant, and no overheating problems at all. An oil analysis would be interesting though, I may do that next oil change.
 
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There has to be another issue with the engine - when was the last time the PCV valve was changed ?
 
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I had 2 2001 Honda Civic LX Coupes, and both had a failure of engine coolant temperature sensor, both before 100k miles. Not a complete failure, but more of like spotty operation. Resulted in occasional hard starting, occasional rough-ish idle. A complete shot in the dark, but I wonder if it could be related. As in - spotty ECT sensor operation causing localized high temp spots, and oil slightly cooking in those spots? Don't think it's the case though honestly. But if all else fails - there are some guidelines online on how to test the sensor, or just throw a new one in. (Not sure if ECT sensor is an issue in just 2001 models, or the whole 2001-2005 EM2 line-up.) I'm on the "it's not he oil's fault" side.
 

Avery4

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I had 2 2001 Honda Civic LX Coupes, and both had a failure of engine coolant temperature sensor, both before 100k miles. Not a complete failure, but more of like spotty operation. Resulted in occasional hard starting, occasional rough-ish idle. A complete shot in the dark, but I wonder if it could be related. As in - spotty ECT sensor operation causing localized high temp spots, and oil slightly cooking in those spots? Don't think it's the case though honestly. But if all else fails - there are some guidelines online on how to test the sensor, or just throw a new one in. (Not sure if ECT sensor is an issue in just 2001 models, or the whole 2001-2005 EM2 line-up.) I'm on the "it's not he oil's fault" side.
Good to know. I'm not sure what year my engine is since it's used and JDM engines have no VIN, but the temp sensor failed a couple weeks after install. In my case, the sensor failed completely open and the coolant temp showed -40 degrees all the time. Replaced the sensor with a spare from the old engine and it has been reading properly ever since.

I'm sure a bad coolant temp sensor could definitely contribute to this issue though since it's an important input for fuel delivery. If the ECU thinks the engine is cold all the time and injects too much fuel, the rich mixture certainly will create incomplete combustion and excessive soot. Some of that soot will end up in the oil around the piston rings and valve seals. I have seen severe fuel delivery problems like bad MAP sensors turn the oil black within just a couple hundred miles of driving.
 
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I'd say relax and enjoy driving. And if you're changing every 5000 miles anyway, grab some Costco or Walmart next time. That motor will be just fine.
 
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