What do manufacturers know about oil?

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Good Morning All; The recent thread about what mechanics know about oil made me think - what do the vehicle manufacturers (or even the oil manufacturers) know about oil? The vehicle manufacturers all set oil change intervals (or let the dashboard computer do it) based on the use of the specified oil viscosity and API grade, and dino except for high end cars. Even for severe service these intervals are working out to more than 3K miles / 3 months on new cars. From the posts I've read here, UOA has been showing thinning, wear, TBN loss as early as (or earlier than) 3k. For that reason many posters here still strongly support the 3/3 plan for dino oil, or use of synthetics. So my question is, the manufacturers HAVE to know that the oil is being affected, and that wear is occurring...but what level of thinning, TBN loss and wear is acceptable to them and why? The first instinct is to say "they only care about getting you through the warrantee", but I think that might be unrealistic, there has to be more to it. Companies have to be looking longer term than that, especially the ones whose success has come from a reputation for quality and longevity (Honda, Toyota). On a related note, what do the oil makers know? The dinos mostly still push 3k/3 months. Is that because they are being realistic about the quality of their products or to get more sales? I was running M1 and called about the nebulous info on their web site, which says to change at "maximum mileage or time" in your manual. Their techrep said I could run M1 for a year regardless of how much short-trip driving I did, but some UOA posted here says otherwise. To make matters even more confusing the M1 web says it's ideal for cars with oil change monitors - so does that mean go by the oil change monitor, which could go off at 4K or by the "max mileage or time" (7500 or 1 year)? Likewise, Amsoil puts out the blanket statement about the 1 year/25K, but posters here have cited UOA that suggests otherwise in certain situations. Again, the question - how much wear/TBN loss/thinning is acceptable to the oil makers and why? How high are the "minimum" standards for vehicle and oil performance in the eyes of the carmakers and automakers? Are they high enough? Sorry for the long post. I'd appreciate your thoughts on any or all parts of it. It seems like this board is out on the leading edge when it comes to oil.... Maybe we shouldn't even go into filters [Wink] Matt [Freak] (sitting on the mountain looking for the meaning of life, I mean oil).
 
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matt89 wrote:
quote:
Likewise, Amsoil puts out the blanket statement about the 1 year/25K, but posters here have cited UOA that suggests otherwise in certain situations
Untrue - Amsoil I agree gets really optimistic, but it certainly is NOT a blanket statement. They have a complete table of oils and applications - and a big chunk are 2x-3x car mfr recommended or six months..... As for your question - I think car mfrs are trying to balance marketing claims ("our cars need less maintenance") with the 3k myth and EPA regs for emissions and MPG....and well it ends up being LESS than scientific. That said they can and often are in the driver's seat (as they should be) for driving better lubes.
 

Matt89

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I guess I should say, the reason I ask the question is because no matter what route I go, I have the feeling in the back of my mind that I'm doing the wrong thing for my car or getting taken: -Changing the oil too soon (bad for environment, bad for my wallet, good for Oil Co.), -Not soon enough (bad for car & environment & wallet, good for Automakers), -Using products (i.e. high end synthetics) that are much better than necessary (not actually any better for car since it will rust out anyway, bad for my wallet & good for Oil Co.), -Using expensive products (M1 or Amsoil) that maybe aren't as good as they claim to be (bad for car, bad for wallet & environment, good for Oil Co.). Thinking this critically about oil (bad for sanity & marriage, good for procrastination). [Cool]
 
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Oh yeah, the manufacturers know...some more than others. You should see the lubrication specs for Mercedes-Benz. Different models, different years, different lubrication specs...they got it down to the lubrication type, brand, addative (if required)...even down to the "correct" lubricant for the door hinges ie. the proper lithium lube with such and such addative!! Now, do the dealers follow this? That's a different story...especially when you go overseas....especially in N.A... We've already talked about the oil knowledge of mechanics... Interesting take on the M-B article....the grade of oil isn't mentioned. Conventional oil WILL go the full FSS interval, but not a 5-30/10-30 oil...only a 15-40 or 20-50.
 
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.....and don't forget they factor in planned obsolescence..... They want cars to last long enough after warranty that the customer doesn't feel negatively about the product but not too long. Prime examples: Australian fleet and govt buyers following log books in Australia for the 4 major 6 cylinder manufacturers which state 15,000 km changes with at least SL oil. The fleet managers care about one thing: the minimum cost of ownership. They buy the minimum quality lubricants that allow them to state that the logbooks were followed. Some Holden (GM) dealers are actually offering free servicing throughout the life of the warranty for private buyers. I can't imagine that they use anything but the cheapest SL dino they can find. The customers are then running for 15,000 km in stop-and-go traffic. [Eek!] I feel that ex-fleet cars will be sold in 3 years at auction with 6 or 7 years wear on the engine. Just my opinion
 
Years ago I did some work in a GM plant around the engine test areas. They could compile test data in a few months it would take most of us 10 years to accumulate. Some engines ran 24 hrs per day for 6 to 8 weeks would be similar to 100k. If I ever get near those areas again would like to sit down in the break area to hear what those guys have to say about oil.
 

CJH

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Pennsylvania
This does not reflect my personal opinion, but if I could capture what most people on this board seem to think (there are obviously some exceptions), it would go like this: 1) The manufacturs are EXPERTS on specifying the correct type of oil. If a manufacturer specifies 5W30, most seem to be afraid to go to a 0W30 or 5W40, especially if the car is in warranty. The thought seems to be that the manufacturer has expert knowledge when it comes to specifying oil type. 2) However, when it comes to intevals, most seem to think the manufacturer is an idiot. What the manufacturer calls severe service, most on here want to call normal service. What the manufacturer calls normal, most on here want to say no oil could last the specified interval under any conditions. Most seem to think the manufacturer should be reducing the change intervals to 3,000 miles, but instead those stupid manufactuers continue to make the interval even longer. Obviously they want the engine to blow the minute the warranty is up. And the oil change computers that base the oil change interval on facts rather than just a designated milage, well, they are just a ploy to get people to wear out their engines sooner. Either ignore them altogether, only use them if you are using synthectic oil, or change when they say 50% of the life is left. That way you can outsmart the manufacturer at his own game. Me, I personally believe you can't go wrong by following the manufacter's recommendations. My 2000 Honda Civic Si has a 1.6 liter 160 Hp 8,000 rpm engine. Honda says for normal service to change the oil at 7,500 miles and to use SJ oil with 5W30 viscoisty. That is exactly what I do. Why does everyone think the manufacturer's oil specifications are the gospel, but think they are idiots when it comes to specifying the interval?
quote:
Originally posted by Matt89: Good Morning All; what do the vehicle manufacturers (or even the oil manufacturers) know about oil?
 
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Why does everyone think the manufacturer's oil specifications are the gospel Not everyone. Have you read any 5w-20 posts lately?
 
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Maybe the manufacturers aren't so far off . I have stuck fairly close to their recommendations, 10W30-now5W30 dino, and mostly AC's on GM products. The only real oil problem I ever had on 5 100-200K engines was a badly sludged up 81 Phoenix. By the time I replaced it with a 92 Grand Am, I interpreted the owners' manual as calling for 4 oil changes a year instead of 2. I also upgraded my 77 LUV to 4 oil changes a year in 1992. That is 4 $2 ST filters and 24 qt. of $1.40 Pennzoil or $44 a year with tax. It is out of warranty. I could go to better oil and filters, less often, but would I save that much? It only has 120K miles. I figure I am stuck with what Chevy says on my 02 Cavalier for now. Since my Phoenix sludged up, they have decreased the change interval. Note, I had back slid into using Quaker State for a while in the Phoenix. My older brother says that was the problem.
 

Matt89

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I think I have to agree with CJH. With all the "infopinion" I've gathered from the internet I just can't say that I know more about lubrication and what makes a good oil or change interval than the engineers at Volvo, Toyota, or even the "5W-20 pushers" at Ford. And I still have some faith left in the free market system that the weak products will get weeded out by competition. I think it's pretty extraordinary that we even have organizations like the API to make sure the products we use are at least "good enough". It's great that people are adding to the body of knowledge about oil, filters, etc. I just wish somebody had some hard DATA that shows we have a global lubrication crisis on our hands. I've found people put more thought into what they pour into their cars than what they eat!
 

MolaKule

Staff member
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Yes, manufacturers know about the lubes. They even do radioactive wear tracing on engines to determine what the ppm of wear is /XXk mileage. I think they attempt to strike an even balance with the EPA on their heels, reliability on one hand, and the lobbying of the API on the other.
 

MolaKule

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quote:
Me, I personally believe you can't go wrong by following the manufacter's recommendations. My 2000 Honda Civic Si has a 1.6 liter 160 Hp 8,000 rpm engine. Honda says for normal service to change the oil at 7,500 miles and to use SJ oil with 5W30 viscoisty. That is exactly what I do. Why does everyone think the manufacturer's oil specifications are the gospel, but think they are idiots when it comes to specifying the interval?
I think that may be OK during the warranty period if oils other than specified oils might void the warranty. However, and as UOA has showed, not all oils of the same viscosity or manufacturer degrade the same in all engines. Blanket statements are dangerous, whether it be Amsoil or Mercedes making those statements. That would be like my doctor giving the same dose of medicine to two different people with different body weights.
 
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