The Sludge Hammer

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712
Location
St. Louis, Missouri
Here's an excerpt from an interesting article that appeared in the December, 2004, issue of National Oil & Lube News. SLUDGE What a great word. Sludge. It sounds like what it is, like the words "ish" and "muck". Anyone who has worked on a car knows what sludge is, that yucky goo that builds up inside an engine due to motor oil oxidation and degradation. The funny thing is, no one ever sets out to buy sludge. So how do we put a price on it? We all know the damage it can do. This gooey oil can block sensors and cause cars to run badly. Excessive sludge accumulation can even cause an engine to seize. The reality is, however, that this sludge problem is the hidden price of choosing petroleum motor oils [a.k.a. conventional motor oils--in other words, non-synthetic]. That is why people in the know say conventional oils have to be changed all the time. Their molecular structure is irregular. In the presence of high temperatures the oil's lighter ingredients boil off, making the oil thicker. In addition, many of the complex chemicals naturally found in petroleum basestocks begin to react with each other, forming sludge, gums and varnishes. Cold temperatures can also be a culprit, resulting in a gelled mess that pumps poorly, if at all. Synthetic motor oils, because of their higher flash points and their ability to withstand oxidation and evaporation loss, are far more resistant to sludge development. And in cold temps synthetics remain fluid far beyond anything petroleum oils can achieve, even with their special additives. As a result, in all circumstances engines run cleaner with synthetics, offering better fuel economy, wear protection and superior performance. THE VW/AUDI LETTER Today's automakers are well aware of the problems associated with conventional petroleum motor oils knowing that engine designs have been a contributing factor in the sludge problem. One reason is that engine compartments are smaller and hotter than in the old days. They put more demands on motor oil. Another reason, though, is that with all those brain boxes and sensors, engines simply need to be kept cleaner or they don't run right. This summer VW/Audi of America sent a letter to vehicle owners informing owners of 1998-2004 VW Passats and 1997-2004 Audi A4s that they will receive extended warranty coverage on the 1.8L turbocharged engines. In the letter, VW/Audi recommended synthetic 5W-40 engine oils that meet the VW 502.00 spec because the use of petroleum oils increases the risk of sludge formation. To their credit VW/Audi does not require that the oil be changed at the dealership. Vehicle owners simply need to keep records of their oil and filter maintenance. The reason VW/Audi took this stance is easy to surmise. Execs at VW/Audi did not want to get embroiled in the oil related storms that cost Mercedes 32 million dollars or Toyota's bad press due to sludge problems. TROUBLES AT TOYOTA In recent years Toyota has also had to deal with serious sludge issues. A 2002 article in Automotive News detailed the high volume of sludge related complaints received by Toyota. The trouble centered around Toyota's 3.0-liter Sienna V-6 engine. With over 3.3 million such engines the problem could not easily be hidden in a glove compartment. I had become aware of the problem even before it appeared in print. Accusations flew that the engine was flawed (Toyota, owners spar over sludge, Automotive News, Feb 8, 2002) but Toyota would never acknowledge this. (Toyota to Cover Oil Gelation Damage, by Tim Sullivan, Lube Report, Feb 27, 2002) The Automotive News article cites numerous sources to make its case. Larry Perry, an A.S.E.-Certified Master Technician who owns a repair shop and hosts a radio talk show in Florida was quoted as saying, "We believe Toyota reduced the size of the cooling passages to the cylinder heads in those engines in order to increase combustion temperatures for more of a complete burn to reduce exhaust emissions." Perry, who has seen more than his share of sludge problems went on to say, "the solution is to use only 100% synthetic motor oil." In the end, Toyota Motor Sales USA made a one time offer to cover the repairs to vehicles damaged by sludge. For Toyota, this was the tangible price they paid for sludge. A REASONABLE RECOMMENDATION We live in a complicated world. Nothing is really all that black and white. On the one hand, it would appear that the sludge problem would lead to the conclusion that we need to press for more frequent oil changes. On the other hand, we are all too well aware of the strong desire for convenience, often resulting in negligence with regard to routine oil change maintenance. Because of this latter trend, which shows no sign of abating, I strongly recommend that you train your technicians to teach your customers the benefits of synthetic motor oils. Motorists who use conventional petroleum lubes are putting their vehicles at risk if they do not change the oil regularly. Sludge is a waste of time and money that is no longer necessary. With the advent of synlube technologies, engines can remain cleaner and last longer than ever before. When it matters, when you want the best for your customers' vehicles, synthetic motor oils are the only reasonable recommendation. [Built_Well's note: The above article was written by Ed Newman, Amsoil's marketing and advertising director, but it did appear in the National Oil & Lube News, which I assume is a nonbiased journalistic source of news about the lubrication industry? Anybody ever seen an issue or know anything about this organ?]
 
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Messages
121
Location
Virginia
 Originally Posted By: ZR2grizz
Just when I was thinking about switching to conventional...
"Motorists who use conventional petroleum lubes are putting their vehicles at risk if they do not change the oil regularly." That's the key. Change regularly and dino will work just fine. I'm switching back to dino. I just can't justify paying the extra for synthetic. After reading the post on this forum, I have nothing to fear from today's conventional oils. I'm gonna stay on top of the OCIs and not worry about it. \:\!
 
Messages
25,046
Location
ON, Canada eh?
 Originally Posted By: RamAir5
 Originally Posted By: ZR2grizz
Just when I was thinking about switching to conventional...
"Motorists who use conventional petroleum lubes are putting their vehicles at risk if they do not change the oil regularly." That's the key. Change regularly and dino will work just fine. I'm switching back to dino. I just can't justify paying the extra for synthetic. After reading the post on this forum, I have nothing to fear from today's conventional oils. I'm gonna stay on top of the OCIs and not worry about it. \:\!
I agree... but under the following conditions: 1) Your engine isn't a known sludger 2) You operate your vehicle for pleasure or to/from work type of driving and not racing 3) Your car doesn't specifically require the use of syn oil. 4) If you aren't operating your engine in brutally cold temps. 5) Your car doesn't have a turbo that is run regularly because of the drivers spirited driving. (I would still probably use syn) I would use a high quality SM rated dino in my engine if I could get around the horrendous sounds my engine makes in the brutally cold winter weather. That being said I would have no problem with running a SM rated dino like Pennzoil YB or Valvoline for up to 5K miles under normal operating conditions or up to 3K miles in severe driving conditions in the warmer weather.
 
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205
Location
Missoula
I guess I was sort of joking with that reply above, I currently have enough Syntec for 1 more OC and after that I'm planning on making the switch to Chevron Supreme since I can reliably find it at a local Costco for a reasonable price. I've posted about this before and recieved nothing but confident replies from BITOG members...but when the time comes we'll see if I can pull the trigger.
 
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11,461
Location
Illinois
If I look at the owners manual for my 1994 Geo Prizm, the OCI is 7500 miles. I think Hondas and GM specify to go by the oil change monitoring system which can go further than 5K miles depending on how the vehicle is driven.
 

Built_Well

Thread starter
Messages
712
Location
St. Louis, Missouri
 Originally Posted By: javacontour
If I look at the owners manual for my 1994 Geo Prizm, the OCI is 7500 miles.
Hmm, I think Toyota used to recommend 7,500 mile OCIs for some cars, but a few years ago, scaled back their recommendation to 5,000 miles.
 
Messages
110
Location
Maryland
My 09 Escape recommends 7500 mile OCI's on the "Normal" service, 5000 on "Severe". This is with the Motorcraft Syn blend recommended oil, but the manual doesn't specify synthetic or conventional oil. Wife's 07 Montego says 5K for normal and 3K for severe. I'm going to do 5K OCI's on the Escape as its a nice round number. Been using MC 5W-20 on the Montego every 5K with no problems, but Duratecs are pretty easy on oil from what I understand..
 
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7,430
Location
beaver land EH?
Nah! Some of this is true, otherwise, this posting is somewhat biased favouring full syn over conventional oil (thus the reposting from the boutique oil maker). Again, you may beg to differ but my experience RE: Toyota sludger here in CA is not as significant as the postings would like you to believe in (give us some hard facts and numbers, not just some quotes from so-n-so) for I've done some research and was, at one point in time (before we bought an 04 camry 4cyl), actively shopping for a used toyota "sludger" sienna in the used car market and I haven't seen that many sludged up units, most of them are in respectable shape and conditions. That being said, however, ballgame has changed quite a bit and now with GF-4/GF-5 specifications right around the corner, I would still insist that unless you are running something "weird" or you have lots of money to burn, otherwise, I personally would not bother to go with boutique syn oils, period. Would I worry about longevity of my cars, you bet! would I worry about sludging up my car if I don't choose boutique syn oils? Baahh Humbug! At the end, if money in my wallet that matters. Q.
 
Messages
4,422
Location
Guilford, CT
 Originally Posted By: Built_Well
Here's an excerpt from an interesting article that appeared in the December, 2004, issue of National Oil & Lube News.
There is a National Oil & Lube News? I feel like that's something you would see on a magazine rack right beside Obscure Sports Quarterly.
 
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14,429
Location
The Old North State
Here's my take. The two examples were turbo charged engines, and known Toyota sludgers. The turbo charged engines should use synthetic and the Toyota's, if using conventional, should likely have followed the 3k/3m rule( but who knew). A design flaw, IMO. IMO, those are not the rule, but rather exceptions. Honda has some non severe dino OCI's going 7500-10k, with oil filters every other change. If you're trying to sell sythetic, pointing out those exceptions might help you do so. Sort of what this article sounds like to me.
 
Messages
6,902
Location
Louisiana
 Originally Posted By: exranger06
There is a National Oil & Lube News? I feel like that's something you would see on a magazine rack right beside Obscure Sports Quarterly.
You can get a free subscription to "Lubes and Greases."
 
Messages
23,591
 Originally Posted By: Built_Well
SLUDGE What a great word. Sludge. It sounds like what it is, like the words "ish" and "muck". Anyone who has w
Don't you wish you had my sludge_hammer photobucket account name? I almost registered under the sludge_hammer moniker on BITOG years ago! A small gear puller might work.
 
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4,844
Location
Saskatchewan
 Originally Posted By: Built_Well
Are there any car makers that recommend dino OCIs of longer than 5,000 miles?
Yes, I believe most do. The recommended OCI for my Mazda3 is 5000 to 7500 miles, depending on driving conditions, and I can tell you from experience that inexpensive conventional 5W-20 still looks like new on my dipstick after 7500 miles of non-severe service. I find it amusing that the author blames conventional oil for sludge despite seemingly knowing that it only happens with a poor engine design or extreme lack of maintenance.
 
Messages
25,046
Location
ON, Canada eh?
 Originally Posted By: DeeAgeaux
Is this still an issue with Toyota's V6?
No it has been resolved. The Toy V6's are harder on oil than your average engine, but they aren't sludging anymore like the old ones with regular dino at less than 7.5K Miles.
 
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