Synthetic oil confusion.

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8,467
Location
Colorado
I don't know about anybody else, but I am now quite confused when it comes to synthetic motor oils. When it comes to conventional motor oils, I think because of VOAs and UOAs at this site, I have a pretty good idea of which conventional motor oils (of those that have been tested) that I would be willing to use. In fact, I think there is one stand-out that I could choose and it would surely be as good as about any other. But I am now completely confused when it comes to synthetic oils. Some VOAs and UOAs of various synthetic oils, such as Redline, Royal Purple, Mobil 1, and others vary so much that I no longer know what to think. And the German Castrol, which as far as I know has consistently posted good UOAs, is very hard to find-otherwise I might well use it, at least in the wintertime. I have seen sensational UOAs of Redline, and UOAs of Redline that don't look so good. I have seen mostly not so good UOAs of Royal Purple, and there seem to be unending questions about Mobil 1. Amsoil seems to post good UOAs fairly consistently. Am I the only one who feels this way, or are there more of you who find the synthetic oil situation confusing? It seems to me that with all of these VOAs and UOAs, we should be able to say-yes, that synthetic oil is always great in UOAs, and that is my choice. And there seems to be a real reluctance on the part of people here to test any 'synthetic' motor oils that are actually Group III. Maybe they are not 'true' synthetic oils, whatever that means. But unless we test a motor oil how do we know if it is any good? What if one of those Group III motor oils was 90%-99% of the quality of a synthetic and a dollar or more less a quart?
 
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34,386
Location
NJ
quote:
Am I the only one who feels this way, or are there more of you who find the synthetic oil situation confusing? It seems to me that with all of these VOAs and UOAs, we should be able to say-yes, that synthetic oil is always great in UOAs, and that is my choice.
To some extent, I can understand your frustration. It would be nice to see that when using a good synthetic, you received excellent results 99% of the time. However, there are more variables at play like the engine type, driving conditions and health of the engine. It would also be nice to see that one oil works best all the time, but that isn't reality. Generally speaking, a good dino is all you need if your changing the oil at 3-5k mile intervals. If you want to extend drains or have a high performance car, syn. lubes are better. The problem with UOA's is that you need a good trend. One UOA is only a snap-shot of how your oil worked in a short period of time. The type of engine you have also plays a part. Take for example LS1's or the Jeep 4.0L engine. Both like thicker oils so Mobil1 being on the thin side, isnt' always the best choice. Any high quality synthetci should hold up better then a dino and give you better wear numbers. [ September 06, 2003, 11:48 PM: Message edited by: buster ]
 
Messages
5,358
Location
Gone
Mystic, The latest data seems to point to consistently good UOAs for M1 and GC. Are they consistently the best?...only more UOAs in the database will tell, but GC has been strong from the first UOA and M1 seems to really be coming on.
 
Messages
34,386
Location
NJ
quote:
The latest data seems to point to consistently good UOAs for M1 and GC. Are they consistently the best?...only more UOAs in the database will tell, but GC has been strong from the first UOA and M1 seems to really be coming on.
Very true.
 

Patman

Staff member
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22,012
Location
Guelph, Ontario
The thing you have to keep in mind is that the best synthetic oil in the world will not show good wear numbers in an engine that is not mechanically at it's best, or if there are tons of short trips, etc. Driving conditions and engine condition play a HUGE factor in how a UOA shows up. So one guy could run the cheapest 69 cent dino oil and see almost no engine wear in UOA, but he drove in 70 degree weather, all highway on flat ground. Then another guy runs super expensive synthetic, but does short trips, lots of full throttle, lots of heavy loads, and his engine could be out of tune. Air filtration also plays a huge factor too. Someone running a good synthetic but has more dirt in the oil, would see worse numbers than someone running a great air filter but cheap oil. You just have to test the oils out under consistent conditions to truly see which ones come out on top. If you look at the overall picture on here, the oils that stand out above the rest are Schaeffer Oil, Mobil 1, Amsoil, Redline, GC 0w30, Pennzoil and Chevron Supreme.
 
Messages
226
Location
Long Island NY
What we really need is a mighty effort like 3 mad poncho's except instead of multi UOA's on one oil in one car, 4-6000 miles on each of 3-4 oils in the same car. The forum shows a lot of data from the past few years of UOA's but I think we are seeing different numbers as much due to different engines and driving habits as due to different quality oils. I learned during my 12k test of 2 cars with M1 0-40 that no matter how good the oil is, some conditions like the Aunt Millie driving cycle demands frequent oil changes. I tried M1 0-40 for 12k miles, then 4k miles(sample just sent out). 5-30 M1 went in yesterday. No matter what the numbers say in 4k miles, Penzoil 5-30 dino is going in for exactly 4k miles. After I get the results on the Penzoil, I will have a good idea about exactly how worthwhile synthetic is vs dino and what difference 30 vs 40 weight has made. All in the same engine/same driver. By next spring, the above sequence will be complete and I will make a decsion on what oil and viscosity I will settle on for the foreseeable future.
 
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