Should I switch to fancy-pants oil?

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A series of UOAs and observations of others' UOAs tells me: I get roughly 1.7 ppm iron per thousand miles, using Motorcraft oil. If I switch to quality synthetic, I can get that down to 1 ppm iron per thousand miles. My question: Does the difference matter? That is, does getting it down to 1ppm iron translate into another 25K or so in miles before the engine winks out?
 
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3,495
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St. Charles County, Missouri
I always remember one of the Blackstone essays in their newsletter stating they could find no measurable differences between any approved oil. SuperTech or Royal Purple, they all come out about the same. Roughly forty cars owned during my life and with the exception of an early seventies Corvair, and a Ford Festiva that I picked up way under book and looked like I gave it it's first oil change at 28K--replacement engine at 110K, the only other car was a Plymouth Arrow that over heated at about 100K. Lesson to me--all oil's pretty good as long as it meats standards. Don't know what car you have but something else will probably kill it before the engine.
 
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4,825
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Taiwan
Originally Posted by jimbrewer
A series of UOAs and observations of others' UOAs tells me: I get roughly 1.7 ppm iron per thousand miles, using Motorcraft oil. If I switch to quality synthetic, I can get that down to 1 ppm iron per thousand miles. My question: Does the difference matter? That is, does getting it down to 1ppm iron translate into another 25K or so in miles before the engine winks out?
Well, psychologically at least, I'd say that difference would justify the added cost (not so great in the US by accounts on here), if.. (a) I believed it and (b) I expected to keep the car for a long time. (a) Doesn't apply, since its at variance with all the data I've seen. If you know different, why not share? (b) Probably isn't realistic for me and my banger, but it might be for you.
 
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Kansas
The engine will outlast everything else on the car. Do you really think .7PPM per thousand miles is that much? I would bet money that on most modern cars, the transmission will die well before the engine. Simply because a good chunk of people follow no service interval for them.
 
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193
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New Mexico
Originally Posted by jimbrewer
A series of UOAs and observations of others' UOAs tells me: I get roughly 1.7 ppm iron per thousand miles, using Motorcraft oil. If I switch to quality synthetic, I can get that down to 1 ppm iron per thousand miles. My question: Does the difference matter? That is, does getting it down to 1ppm iron translate into another 25K or so in miles before the engine winks out?
Quality synthetic, on clearance and deals posted here, is cheaper than motorcraft, so why not?
 
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2,220
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Indiana
Is there any question that synthetics are demonstrably superior oils? At the very least, you'll save some labor with the doubled or better OCIs.
 

jimbrewer

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1,677
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It's a 3.7L Ford. To be clear, my question is, does it make a material, practical, difference to switch to an oil that seems to crank out 1ppm per thousand miles iron readings over a well-regarded oil with equally good numbers elsewhere, that turns in 1.7 ppm per thousand mile readings? No, I'm not a UOA hobbyist. I'd rather just pop in to Quicklane for a change. But I'll do it if it actually makes a difference.
 
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Illinois
UOAs are not able to determine the actual amount of wear in your engine. UOAs are suited for determining the condition of the oil. Like dirt, fuel. coolant.
 
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MN
Originally Posted by csandste
I always remember one of the Blackstone essays in their newsletter stating they could find no measurable differences between any approved oil. SuperTech or Royal Purple, they all come out about the same.
Not true. They found about a 25% max difference in a Subaru type, and a 50% max diffference (wear rate) in GM V8s, yet they did not want to anger oil company lawyers and stated the diff is "not a problem". .... Its only a problem if you think possible 25%-50% difference in wear rates is a "problem". Its true that amount of difference will not grenade your engine in the typical ownership length of 100,000 miles, so you could say "it doesn't matter". If you're going to cite the study, at least put in the link to it: https://www.blackstone-labs.com/Newsletters/Gas-Diesel/July-1-2017.php
 
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193
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Tennessee
When I bought my 2004 Sprinter new in 2004 I started using good old dino 15w40 (it had the proper MB approval) oil in it instead of the more expensive synthetic 0w40 that people recommended. Some people said that if I used dino oil I would need to change it every 5k, others said I was crazy for using that kind of oil in a new Mercedes engine, and I should use the super duper synthetic Mobil 1, etc.. Well, I kept using 15w40 and changed it every 15k miles (it takes 10 quarts of oil) and almost 800k miles later the engine still purrrrrrs like a kitten. Other than the maintenance items I only changed an egr valve and an injector. I sent a few oil samples for analyses early on to see what this oil did to my engine and the wear metals always came in lower than the average they had for the same engine. Based on my experience, I will not pay extra for synthetic oil. I actually buy oil based on the price, not brand or composition, as long as it is approved by the manufacturer of the engine.
 
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4,672
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MN
Originally Posted by jimbrewer
It's a 3.7L Ford. To be clear, my question is, does it make a material, practical, difference to switch to an oil that seems to crank out 1ppm per thousand miles iron readings over a well-regarded oil with equally good numbers elsewhere, that turns in 1.7 ppm per thousand mile readings?No, I'm not a UOA hobbyist. I'd rather just pop in to Quicklane for a change. But I'll do it if it actually makes a difference.
Not enough of a difference to notice from the outside of your engine, no. You're fine using about any real, certified oil. Wear rates won't improve that much. .... Blackened pistons are another story. Some engines are susceptible to ringland fouling more than others of course. A UOA can't tell how nasty the rings are getting. As an example, to illustrate, here is a piston after 120,000 miles on a Toyota-Lexus late model DI-turbo engine: [Linked Image]
 
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St. Charles County, Missouri
I was quoting that July 2017 Blackstone newsletter... "Shell Rotella T6 had the lowest iron wear rate, at 2.03 ppm per 1,000 miles, while Royal Purple 5W/30 had the highest wear rate, at 2.58 ppm per 1,000 miles. The difference is just over half a part per million per 1,000 miles, which is almost completely negligible. In a typical engine, a half a part per million of the oil in the sump is such a small quantity that you wouldn't be able to see it without a microscope. To put that in perspective, an Olympic-sized swimming pool holds about 660,000 gallons of water. One half part per million of that volume would equal just over 5 cups of water - that's like mixing half of a 2-liter bottle of Sprite into the pool, and it makes about as much impact on your engine: if you know it's there, it might bother you, but realistically, you'll never notice the difference..... Now, some people report better fuel economy or other benefits from using one type of oil instead of another, and if that's you, that's great. Our point here is not to tell you that you should or shouldn't use a certain type of oil, so by all means, feel free to stick with what's working for you. All we're saying is, if you want to try an oil that maybe costs a little less, you probably don't need to worry about it causing any problems. Send us a sample of what you're using, and then try a similar oil run with the new stuff - by comparing those results, you might find that you can get the same great results, and save a little money as well! Good luck! "
 
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6,100
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Connecticut
It really doesn't matter. Most engines will live long lives on anything besides that gas station oil with 1970s certifications. Chances are the car will die from other issues or be totaled before the engine has a lubrication related failure, even if you buy the cheapest API SN certified oil you can find.
 
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3,235
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Phoenix, Arizona - USA
OP - Have a look at the UOA sheet below: [Linked Image] The oil shown for 8/27/17 was straight-up Valvoline Max-Life 5w30 (Syn blend of some sort). Note that the Iron value is 9, which works out to roughly 1.199 ppm/1k miles. Ignore some of the other metals showing somewhat high values - this was done shortly after I had a top-end rebuild due to a bad exhaust valve in cyl1. Now, look at the data for 4/8/2018, and see that the Iron value is also 9, for almost the same mileage, and works out to 1.215 ppm/1k miles. This was on a full synthetic oil - Peak Synthetic 5w20. Finally, the most recent entry, on 8/11/18, an Iron value of 7 for slightly higher, but again very similar mileage. This works out to 0.903 ppm/1k miles. This was on Mobil Super Synthetic 5w30. So, from one HM synblend to one Full Synthetic, the Iron values basically did not change, and then from one Full Syn to another Full Syn, they did.. This tells me that just the oil "type" itself is not going to necessarily change your wear metals showing in your UOA... but it might. Just keep using the Motorcraft oil and don't worry about it.
 
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MA, Mittelfranken.de
Originally Posted by csandste
Roughly forty cars owned during my life and with the exception of an early seventies Corvair,
That would be a very rare car indeed.
 
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3,495
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St. Charles County, Missouri
Originally Posted by Trav
Originally Posted by csandste
Roughly forty cars owned during my life and with the exception of an early seventies Corvair,
That would be a very rare car indeed.
Threw belts every time it was driven, car from h-e-quadruple-toothpicks (censor made me do it) which didn't move for about a year. Put it up for sale and I cleared hundreds of dollars more than I'd paid the dealer when it was running. Market caught up with it even though it was towed off. Probably my only appreciating car!
 
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4,672
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MN
Originally Posted by csandste
I was quoting that July 2017 Blackstone newsletter...
You didn't "quote" anything above. You just stated "they could find no measurable differences", which is not the case at all. They did find a 'measurable' difference, 25% difference, as I said above.
Originally Posted by csandste
"Shell Rotella T6 had the lowest iron wear rate, at 2.03 ppm per 1,000 miles, while Royal Purple 5W/30 had the highest wear rate, at 2.58 ppm per 1,000 miles. .................. an Olympic-sized swimming pool holds about 660,000 gallons of water. ...".
Again, (2.58-2.03)/2.3 = 24%, which is the difference in wear. And that's for the Subaru engine averages. The GM V8 had a greater spread. So, yeah, the 'swimming pool' nonsense Blackstone mentioned is intended to repel oil company lawyers. It is true, however, that a typical car owner would never know the difference, so even the worst spec oils won't kill an engine. To me, 25%-50% is important enough to easily choose another oil on the shelf at walmart. "[/quote]
 
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The circumstances could change depending on your routine. Driving around normally is one thing, towing a trailer over the passes might increase the iron numbers. It is difficult to have a steady routine unless your driving habits and routes are set in stone. This is parts per million we are talking about.
 
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