Totally oil confused now!?!?!

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Oct 11, 2002
Colorado Springs
OK, I drive a 99 Pontiac Grand Am GT 3.4L V6. I have run Mobil 1 synthetic in her until now, about 50,000 miles, with 3,000 mile changes. The stuff is too expensive for me, so I switched to regular Valvoline All Climate 10W-30 for the summer. It's starting to get cold where I live now (Colo. Spgs. CO). I come here and see all this negative stuff about conventional Valvoline oil and about 5w-30 oil, which I'm about to run to help combat the colder temps at startup. I am totally clueless now as to what I should use!!!!!! You hear one thing, then someone says another. What would be your recomendation, with supporting proof, as to the best over the counter conventional oil? I just don't want to continue spending 4 times the money for synthetic when many people say premium conventional oil is fine. Also, is 5w-30 OK for colder temperatures? I always use 10W-30 in the summer time. One more thing, oil filters. Are regular ultraguard AC Delco's fine (not the ultragaurd gold or silver)? Thanks very much for anyone's input on such a confusing subject!
Drew, Sometimes it seems that the purpose of this forum is for some folks to count how many drops of oil can dance on the head of a pin [Big Grin] Anyway, with 3k oil drain interval, I don't think that there are any bad name brand oils among the API-SL group. Some will be slightly more durable, and you'll get some excellent recommendations. My thoughts--Pennz, or Chevron, or Mobil, and yes, 5W-30 is good for your winters. Why not use a superior oil and longer drain intervals?...although, if you just make short drives where the engine is seldom warm, short drain intervals are not a bad idea in your climate. Ken
Yea, the main reason I don't go over 3,000 miles is because I drive about 4 miles to work and shut the car off for 10 hours, then ditto for the trip home, so I get to operating temp for about 5 seconds [Big Grin] So is Valvoline really not the best conventional oil? I was always under that impression till I found this board. It is "The Choice Among Top ASE Certified Mechanics!" God, what has marketing done for us anal retentives [Eek!] If valvoline isn't that great, what's the absolute best conventional oil money can buy now adays? Besides Chevron, which is no where to be found here. I've seen Havoline mentioned, but then I saw something about Havoline from different manufacturers and one's better than the other [I dont know] Ahhhhhhh, too much oil information to swallow!!!!
A few people here have indivated Penzoil conventional oil with purebase to be decent. Any other enthusiest message board I've been to has been hostile to Penzoil because it contains perafin wax. Now what am I supposed to believe now for crying out loud [Duh!]
It's true that at 3K intervals most name-brand SL-rated dinos should be adequate, though your climate and driving habits do qualify for severe service. Some might disagree, but using a dino in the cold part of the year with 4-mile trips, you might consider changing more frequently than 3k; having your oil analyzed a couple of times will help you remove all doubt about what oil and change fequency is optimal for you. I think it's been posted on this board that the ChevronTexaco Havoline has one of the better cold temp. flow. The other Havoline, marked on the lower back label as Equilon and produced by Shell,is an unknown regarding specs as far as I can tell. Good Luck! -Doug-
Originally posted by Drew99GT: A few people here have indivated Penzoil conventional oil with purebase to be decent. Any other enthusiest message board I've been to has been hostile to Penzoil because it contains perafin wax. Now what am I supposed to believe now for crying out loud [Duh!]
I believe the parrafin wax myth has already been debunked. At least that's what I read here, from people who sound like they know more than your average "I repeat what I hear" consumer. Drew- For every person who chooses BrandA conventional oil over BrandB conventional oil, you're likely to run into another person who chooses BrandB over BrandA. After reading a lot of threads here, there doesn't seem to be enough of a performance difference amongst your typical name-brand SL dino oils to split hairs over. (Chevron is available at Costco, a case of 12 1qt bottles for $11.69)
For shorter trips like that, you are better off sticking with a synthetic, even if you extend the intervals to 5k. Synthetics can handle the shorter trips better than dino oils can, there is an SAE paper on this (the Aunt Millie test, as it's been referred to) So if I were you I'd continue with the Mobil 1, do an oil analysis, and see that it's still ok for longer than 3k. If I were you I'd make sure to go on a longer highway trip at least once per week also.
Drew: Well, I have to chime in now, there's that darn word parffin wax again. I have posted this somewhere else on this board, but I will do it again. Pennzoil causes sludge because it contains pariffin wax. BS!. That is a tale that started over 70 years ago, and it just won't go away. Every brand of dino oil is made from pariffin crude oil. That's where this idea of pariffin wax comes from. One of the first things any oil company refinery does to crude is de-wax it. I use to live in your beautiful town, wish I still did. I now live in Northern Wisconsin, and I can assure you it get's a lot colder here than where you live. As a matter of fact, when winter sets in, it's here for months with no let up. My friends in Minnesota go through the same thing. I drive a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix and use nothing but 10W30 Pennzoil in it year round. The car is parked outside and is not plugged in. I have never had any problems starting it in the winter. The car now has 54,000 miles on it, and it is as clean as a baby's butt inside. NO SLUDGE. I change the oil on an average of every 4,500 miles. When you are talking about OTC dino oils, I will put ours up against anyones. [Cheers!]
Originally posted by kreativ: [QUOTE]Originally posted by Drew99GT: [qb] .... Any other enthusiest message board I've been to has been hostile to Penzoil because it contains perafin wax. ....
I don't know what the myth was about paraffin, but the facts are that crude oils are either a paraffin base crude, or an asphaltic base crude, or something between the two, depending on geographic location of the oil wells. Paraffin base crudes produce the best lubes, so that's what every oil company uses. As Johnny says, ALL crudes are de-waxed. There is no, and probably never was, any problem with lubes made from paraffin based crudes, and if it was, it's the refiner's or the blender's fault, not the source of the crude oil. Pennzoil is excellent. So is Chevron. So is Havolin mady by ChevronTexaco. Older Havolin made by Equilon (a joint venture between Shell & Texaco) is still on some retailer's shelves and probably OK. If you want one of the "full synthetic" oils made from a very highly refined petroleum oil call Group III base stock, that'll work very well and cost less than a true synthetic. Pennzoil's synthetic is one of these, as is Castrol Syntec. Any will do well for you..get them if the price is right. For your application you can not go wrong with any name-brand API service category SL oil on the shelf. How long do you plan on owning your car? Well over 100,000 miles? Then do pay attention to the fine details of these various good oils. problem. Ken
Drew, The best thing to run for your type of driving conditions is Mobil 1, 0w-30. I would stick with it and consider a modest increase in your change interval, say to 4000-5000 miles. I would also test your used oil 1-2 times and just see how much fuel dilution and moisture is in there. As long as the wear rates are acceptable I wouldn't be concerned if there is 1%-2% fuel in the oil. Any oil you use is going to break down faster under these conditions, but Mobil 1 will still hold up better and give you better engine protection under severe conditions. you will also get significantly better fuel efficiency with the 0w-30 synthetic, compared to a 5w-30 petroleum oil. TooSlick
Johnny, my Dad is from Green Bay, so I do spend some time in your territory. One of my uncle's lives in Green Bay, another in Beloit. [Cheers!] I'm sorry I guess, for bringing up the parrafin wax myth. Now I know! So pennzoil it is for dino?
What would be the best weight of Mobil 1 to use in colder climates? They all pump at way lower temps than any conventional, but I've read bad things on here about their 5w-30 formula or something like that? If the 5w-30 is bad, then wouldn't 0w-30 be really bad as far as breaking down quicker? I've always read that the smaller the difference between the two numbers in a multigrade oil, the better, and to stay away from a 30 point spread like 0w-30, 20w-50, and 10w-40 especially. You guys also say that mobil 1 5w-30 actually thins to 20W real quickly. Wouldn't mobil 1 0w-30 thin even more? I know I ask too many of the same questions that everybody has asked time and time again, but I want the facts from the experts [HAIL 2 U!]
One more piece of the puzzle to throw in. My GM 3.4L is a knocker like many others, only at startup though. Mobil 1 makes the knocking much worse than 10w-30 Valvoline dino. Any comments on that? My motor doesn't burn a single drop of oil between changes though, absolutely none!!! I know I should get an oil analysis, but I'm afraid of the results as many others here with GM midsize V6s show super high levels of wear metals.
There was a post a few weeks back about a Monte Carlo with a cold-startup knock. I hate to kick a dead horse, but I believe your car is equipped with an oil life monitor, which does take into account cold startups and driving below operating temperature, among other things. If it were my car, I would use Mobil 1 or another quality synthetic, and just go by the monitor for the change interval. (The monitor was designed for conventional oil, so you could do just the same with Pennzoil or another quality dino oil.)
Drew99GT, The reason some of these GM engines are louder on startup with Mobil 1 is that it is indeed thinner on cold starts. This is particularly true if you are starting your engine in subfreezing temps. Overall, this is very desirable as it reduces wear and provides better fuel efficiency. The petroleum oils still thicken up quite a bit at these temps and this thicker oil is helping to cushion the piston "slap". Keep in mind that the clearances between your pistons and cylinder walls is greatest when the engine is cold. Once everything starts to warm up and the Aluminum pistons and cylinder heads start to expand, the knocking subsides. Aluminum has a greater CTE - coefficient of thermal expansion - than does steel. You have to allow for this in determining the tolerances between moving parts as a function of engine temp. Engineers have to make a tradeoff in determining the correct tolerances to design into the engine and this is the compromise GM has selected for these engines. The reason why the 10w-30's seem to work better than the 0w-30/5w-30 versions of Mobil 1 is that it is also a bit thicker on cold starts. Once the engine warms up a bit, the viscosity/temp curves for these different formulations start to converge, so they are all going to behave about the same. So what can you do about this? Well, you can go to a slightly thicker xw-30 synthetic oil, like Redline or Amsoil, which will tend to cushion these vibrations. The high dose of moly that Redline uses may actually help in this situation.... You could also try a 0w-40/5w-40, ACEA A3/B3/B4 rated oil, which will still allow easy cold starts, but will start to run a bit thicker than a 0w-30/5w-30 synthetic as the engine warms up. These are what I like to call the "Euro synthetics", as they are primarily intended for high end German cars. TooSlick
As much as I like the margins on synthetics, I won't recomend any oil change interval more than 6 months unless it is just sitting. Your short trips cause build up of moisture and possibly fuel in the oil which can corrode bearings when extended. Your note that the engine uses absolutly no oil is a sign of possible contamination - for that I would get it analized to find out. So instead of extending the drain over 6 months, I would look to a good group II SL like Pennzoil or Chevron.
Drew, I gotta agree with Johnny, the Pennzoil is one fine OTC mineral oil and it has moly in the formulation but they did not charge for it [Smile] . I beleive this will help keep your wear metals down and help reduce " some" of the undetermined noise you here on start up whatever it might be. In winter months,it would help to take the long way to work and home to help the oil from becoming deluted prematurely. If not daily,anything more than to work and back would help.
Originally posted by Drew99GT: One more thing. I replaced the thermostat from the stock 195 to a 180 degree. It's great in the hot summer time at high altitudes here because the factory fans don'tkick on till 215, actually 225 I think for the high speed setting. Is 180 too cold for short trip winter driving? It might not let the oil get to temperature quick enough etc and cause sludging.
If you're doing short trips, or any type of winter driving for that matter, you should not have a colder thermostat in there. Your oil will not be getting up to the proper temperature to burn off the moisture effectively.
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