Why the US market does't promote Extended drains

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Nov 16, 2002
This is interesting. "Dear Sirs! I am the beginner on yours Board. Let me to tell some words about me. I am from Kazakhstan. I am Product Engineer of company that distributes the Chevron lubricants. I hold frequently educational seminars with ours customers and clients. We always consider a circle of problems affected on it board. I chose the basic problems of the your discussion: · why in Europe the oil drains intervals are more than in USA? May be base oils and additive package in Europe are better? · how to determine «exact» drain interval? · how to select oil for the vehicle? I shall begin from the first question and if my answer will be interesting for you I shall keep on later. The answer why in USA drain intervals of oil are LESS than in Europe hides in the design features of engines from USA and Europe. In the American engines the upper compression ring of piston is located almost on a piston head. It is considered (and it is the truth) that fuel composite that located between the wall of cylinder, the first piston ring and wall of the piston does not burn. The large masses of metal do not give temperature to be pushed up prior to the beginning fire. Therefore, unburned fuel will be rejected in an exhaust pipe. Someone will tell that this amount very little. But the sea consists from the drops! Thereat the American designers have located the first ring, as it is possible above. Now it gets into combustion zone. The oil that accumulates on this ring at piston move to the top dead center is burn too. I am sure that you know, that after combustion of oil forms an ash (not sulphate). It is solid rest. This rest, accruing on a piston ring, plays a part of abrasive that reduce a wear. Besides you know, that the detergency, dispersancy, total base number etc. are directly depend on amount of ash. Engines designers and oils manufacturers are come to an accommodation - ashy additives so much to not cause abrasive wear, but not so much for long life. European engine manufacturers (and Japanese too) have pulled down the upper compression ring below, so that it did not fall in combustion zone. The oil on it does not burn, therefore and will not be to form of the abrasive rest. It is possible to raise ash content in oil together with increasing TBN, detergents, dispersants and so on. With increase of these performances is increase endurance of engine oil usage also. Therefore at usage of the AMERICAN oil in the AMERICAN engines the drain interval is less, than at usage of EUROPEAN oils in EUROPEAN engines. I am sure you can to view independently alternative versions of oils and engines. As to base oils and additives, they are practically identical in Europe and USA. There are only minor differences. Unfortunately bulk of post does not allow prolonging. If for somebody interesting prolongation I shall be on contact. Yours faithfully, Mikhail
In the US, the economical aspect of selling oil and related services (which mean a large number of jobs), outweigh environmental concerns and efforts to conserve resources. Otherwise, the 3000 mile oil change interval would not be as freely perpetuated. We're a society that lives to a good part by providing services. It's really all we do anymore, and it will cost us. However, I do believe that things are slowly changing, and I bet we will see a 100k mile service interval (including first oil change) in the not too distant future. [ August 14, 2003, 07:44 PM: Message edited by: moribundman ]
Yes, I too have comented about high ring land and short piston skirts. The high top ring location is purley for emmisions. This causes alot of oil consumption issues. It will also increase the chance of ring land breaking and ring breakage. This is becomeing more common again.
Where does the quote come from? The main problem with his reasoning is that many of the engines sold here are European or Japanese made. Are the piston rings really nearer the top of the piston for US destined engines made elsewhere?
Here's a short skirt. I guess the ring looks a bit high too. This is a Honda motorcycle piston.  -
Jay, you are right, most of the engines we see here on european models are the same as overseas, the only difference we can rarely see is in additional emission equipment for US versions. More and more of these manufacturers call for extended oil intervals. Japanese manufacturers not only make most of their US market cars here but also design them with US market in mind, including the engines. I don't think they see any benefits in extended drain intervals in this market, none of them requires or even recommends synthetic oils. This is something I still can't understand, especially since many of them push environment protection slogans in their advertising. [ August 14, 2003, 09:24 PM: Message edited by: F1Crazy ]
Buster you are exactly right. And this practice has many benefits. It not only reduces emmisions, but it also increases fuel mileage, while the short skirted pistons reduce internal friction. How else can a certain 300 HP American engine get 28 -30 MPG! The solution to some of these problems is to keep the rings freed up. Two main culprits here, conservative driving style and overfilling crankcase. Please see posts about checking oil levels when cold or hot and how to follow the manufacturers recommendations to the letter. A couple of other factors influence oil drain intervals. Like the design of the cam followers and the design of the oil pump, both major shear points for oil. This is one reason that GM reprograms the oil life indicators used on their vehicles with every major engine redesign. They design engines for longer and longer drain periods given the design constraints imposed upon them by govt. And Jay, I don't find it too far fetched to imagine that certain Japanese or other foriegn engines might be specifically design for export markets. Heck, many of them are made here anyway, they could use specific tooling, design and materials easily.
Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, since when is 12,000 miles NOT an extended drain interval? That's the design alogarithm for a 2000+ Northstar (or 1 year). A 1999 will go to 7,500 or 12 months under ideal conditions. Of course the manual states this as well as the fact that you should go by the oil life indicator. The indicator considers many factors, number of cold starts, oil temp/rpm, hours spent at "hot soak", type of driving, etc. This lets the engine determine the severity of service so you don't need to think about it. As they say "your actual mileage may vary". 3000 mile intervals is just folklore or something left over from the 60's.
You have to remember that the 3K oil change eminated from the use of leaded gasoline and point-style ignitions. lead woud go past rings and contaminate the oil, and the point style ignition wasn' the best at making a spark. also since engines are not using unleaded, oil quality is better, and engines are tighter-made, 12k is not really an extended change. Look at the UOA's of some of the oils here at that mileage. [Cool]
With all due respect to Mikhail this is very good information, but for those of us who are not fluid in the terms and issues the accent is tough to understand. Is anyone interested in restating these points in common American english for us common folks? JohnBrowning?
That is a great post, Mikhail. The engineering you call out in your post is very relevant and goes to show that conventional (recieved) wisdom does not solve all problems. I shall consider the points you have brought up, I think they are crucial in the selection for drain point. Thank you.
I think some of it has to do with the fact that oil is 99 cents / qt. here and so there hasn't been a thrust towards extended drain intervals. Why go longer when you can get fresh oil in there for a whole $15-20. Whereas in Europe oils are twice the price or more, so why change it unneccesarily. Secondly, that is why ACEA formed and there are VW and M-B specs...most U.S. oil can't make grade (pardon the pun) and so we see things like, Toyota sludge, M-B lawsuits, etc., etc....
Dr T makes a very good point that maybe oil industry here is part of the situation. They produce the cheapest oil they can to keep their profit margins knowing buying patterns of US customers. Many car manufacturers don't recommend extended drain intervals because they know that most oils on the market are not suited for that. They would have to recommend certain oils and they don't wanna do that unless they have a marketing agreement with oil company.
Good Point Dr. T, I'm sure that has something to do with it. G.W.Bush and Cheney I'm sure are happy with that, but thats another story. [Roll Eyes]
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