why clean oil is more important now...

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Jul 4, 2003
As an engine builder for almost 25 years, I have seen engine designs change in ways that really requires clean oil and diligent maintenance. One place is the pickup screen. Prior to 1995, most pickup screens, if not all I'd seen were at least 3 to 4" diameter, with generous surface area. As of about '95, it seems all the newer engines I've been inside of have approximately 2" pickup screens. The surface area has been greatly reduced. The net effect is that if the engine is sludging, the small pickup will cover up and block flow much more rapidly. I had a 28,000 '97 dodge 318 in a p/u in here a few years ago, with rods hanging out of the block. Sludged screen. since this wasn't a problem before, I think the manufacturers are trying to save pennies per unit, figuring if the light recommended oils are used, and maintenance is diligent there won't be any problems. On the other hand, if maintenance is less than nessessary, then the resultant failure is the owners fault, and can fall under the term "planned obsolecence". Another place where oils really take a beating in in the cam gear drives on the average 4 cam engine. In my opinion, I'm glad I tried autorx in my shop. I can head off problems for my customers before they become devastating. I wonder what other area's y'all think are causing the sludging seen so much in the newer engine designs? Steve
Steve, your post sounds like straight info from somebody in a position to know. How much can they save with the smaller screens???????? In the past I interpreted the owners manual requiring 6 month oil changes for my driving. I ended up with a big sludge problem in my 81 Phoenix with the V-6 running mostly Pennzoil, but a few years of Quaker State. When I traded it on a 92 Grand Am, HO Quad 4, I decided the severe duty (short trips) meant me and replaced the Pennzoil every 3 months, and the engine stayed fairly clean inside over the next 10 years. I got a good look inside it and my 77 LUV when I replaced the head gaskets. Both had some varnish, but little sludge. My 02 Cavalier is getting its Pennzoil every 3 months. I have never used Auto Rx or other additives. Maybe I should have with the Phoneix. I see frequent oil changes like the owners manual says as the solution. Fanatically save the receipts through the warrenty period.
Labman - I assume your phoenix had the buick 3.8 in it? although I never liked the oiling system on that engine (built a bunch of 'em) they at least had a generous pickup surface. If you had done the same thing with a 2" screen, you wouldn't have gotten years of service out of it. ESPECIALLY with the old QS oil of 20 years ago! Steve
Designed so that the engine runs at a higher average temperature. Also, airflow around the engine is restricted adding to the heat. Dan
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