By on April 30, 2014


Two hundred thousand miles.

It’s a beautiful moment for many a car owner.

As for me? Well, I admit that I cheated when I saw that number flash by in my wife’s car back in March. Like many an enthusiast, I had bought it used and was planning on keeping her daily driver for the long haul.

The question for me was, “How long would the long haul be?”  Since I buy, fix and sell a lot of vehicles, and have deeply imbibed the fluids of wisdom at the Bob Is The Oil Guy web site, I decided to live my life on the wild side.

I performed an oil analysis.

What I got back was a smorgasbord of technical information, and one pithy summation that went like this.

“STEVE – 200,000 miles? Please! This engine’s still a spring chicken. Metals look great here, so assuming she’s still running well and you’re not having any problems, then there is nothing about this sample that seems troublesome at all. Averages are based on about 7,600 miles on the oil. You could run your oil a bit longer, for sure. The TBN is kind of getting low (it’s down to 1.4 and 1.0 or less is low), but the TBN tends to drop more slowly the more use an oil sees, so it might hang on at this level for a while. The viscosity was fine assuming you used a 5W/20. Try 9k miles.”

I loved the spring chicken part. Boy that made my day. However that whole TBN remark threw me for a loop.

And what in the heck was a TBN in the first place? The BAD number???

Well, that’s when my quest for knowledge became a great big time suck. I went here, and later here. It was that second “here” which truly opened my eyes to what that TBN comment actually meant, and why I probably don’t want to delve any deeper into the inner workings of motor oil.

My engine was great. Case closed.  Barring any unusual events, I was good to go for many more miles. I could extend my oil interval to 9,000 miles from 6,000 miles with a synthetic blend. Or maybe I could do a full 15k with a high performance full-synthetic engineered for longevity.

Mobil 1 EP? Amsoil? Deep Purple? Sorry.

The sad fact is that my wife drives a common-as-kudzu Prius with a light foot, and enough driving distance for the engine to always warm up. The local shop charges $20 for a synthetic blend and a quality filter. My net savings would be maybe $5 if I did it myself once a year with synthetic (her car holds a little less than 4 quarts.)

I spent $25 to figure all this out. So much ado about nothing. It was time to take the thermometer out of the motor oil, and worry about one less thing in my life.

My technical results are highlighted here.  In the world where enthusiasts have to deal with the economics of keeping a car for a long time, an oil analysis can help you answer the uncertainties of a valvetrain’s health. But chances are, if your oil is regularly changed and you use products that are API-certified, there are better ways to spend your money.

If your car quits, chances are it won’t be your oil’s fault.




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64 Comments on “Hammer Time: What’s In Your Oil?...”

  • avatar

    TBN as you now know, is Total Base Number, the additive package that’s remaining in the oil. When it’s gone, as I understand it, your oil isn’t able to protect as it should. So for long drain intervals, run your oil until the TBN is low but not gone.

    I use the Blackstone services fairly often. They are great folks and have taught me a lot about my cars, motorcycles, and the oil inside. Keeping oil for 10k? Usually not an issue. Keeping oil in the crankcase for more than two years on a motorcycle that sees little use? Contrary to what I had believed, it wasn’t a problem.

    I have a sample on my desk (for my Prius) as I type this…

    When the results come back, it’s kind of fun and always interesting, unless you just bought a questionable vehicle, and are worried about what it will reveal. My old Bimmer had high sodium levels that were suspicious. I ran some clean European Blend Mobil 1 through it for a quick 3000 miles, and then again, and this took care of leveling out the sodium. I wouldnt have known any of this without their service.

    In my opinion, it’s a great service and well worth the $30 if you’re into your cars and want to know what’s going on inside the engine.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    You’re right about that. The only anecdotes I every hear about catastrophic engine failure are because somebody’s engine became “lubricationally challenged” after 1) drain plug wasn’t tight and fell out or 2) peculiar circumstances lead to a hole being produced in the oil pan.

    But overall? If you’re reading this web site, you’re probably interested in cars, and if you’re interested in cars, an oil change is something you do.

    ON THE OTHER HAND…it’s the other things that add up. The electrical gremlins, rust, an assortment of $300 repairs that add up to a point where the combined cost of repairs exceeds a certain point of the vehicle’s value.

    • 0 avatar

      Electrics and transmission (automatic transmissions) troubles have gotten rid of every car I’ve owned, usually at the 100K mile mark. The block and the heads don’t worry me very much. It’s all the other stuff that’s attached to it that’s gonna getcha.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. It’s unlikely that a blown engine will send the car off to the crusher. Faulty transmission, perhaps, but accident damage or multiple mechanical problems (i.e., the car has depreciated to $500 but needs a new suspension, brakes, and tires all at the same time) are more likely.

      • 0 avatar

        I have to ask, what is the year, make and model of the vehicles that you have had to get rid of at 100,000 miles? I only ask so I know which ones to avoid, especially if that sort of thing is common on those particular models.

    • 0 avatar

      Its always been rust for me. Mileage is never the issue time seems to be. 15 – 18 years and the rust does the car in. I always buy manual transmissions so I can’t speak for how long autos last. But never any major engine work.

      Last four have been: 1977 Ford Van 18 years 250,000 miles; 1987 Merkur XR4Ti 16 years 280,000 miles, 1990 Mustang 19 years 150,000 miles; 2000 Lincoln LS still going, but rusty at 170,000 miles; 2009 Ranger still going 30,000 miles.

  • avatar

    I had analysis done on my BMW just for giggles as well. For me, BMWs 18K full interval would be perfectly fine per Blackstone. Nearly all highway use, full synthetic, and the car holds almost 8 quarts. But they are willing to change it annually, and so will I once the freebies are up, only because it gives me a chance to look around underneath once a year. I’m only putting 8-9K a year on the car.

    I DIY because it is easier for me to do so on my lift at home that to bother to take it somewhere.

    I’ve owned lots of cars with 150-250K on them. The secret to happiness is to not let the car nickel and dime you. Do everything that will need doing all at once, and 200K will be no different than 50K. Maintenance is key, and maintenance is not just oil changes.

  • avatar

    Periodically I go out to BITOG just for giggles and to read about people’s excessive oil changing habits. I read that the proper break-in procedure, per unnamed BITOG user, is to change the oil within 100 miles the first time and then again at 1000 miles and every 3000 after that.

    I’m not that excessive, but I tend to go 5-7. My car has one of those oil change reminder thingies, but I’ve never gone far enough to make it go off. I usually hit the dealer about 6000 miles.

    Side thought: what’s your opinion about all the random fluids that people buy to run through their engines to clean the injectors, improve horsepower, and any number of other uses? Are they really that useful or is it a bunch of voodoo magic that doesn’t do anything real. I’m thinking Seafoam and other similar items (is there something called Liquid Tune-up? I can’t recall).

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve had good success using Techron to clean the injectors on a ’91 Ford Aerostar van, about 15 years ago. Nothing I’ve owned since then has needed any sort of cleaning.

      I can’t see how any chemical compound you introduce into a car’s intake could possibly stick around long enough to remove any carbon deposits. If your gasoline has enough of the right kinds of compounds, maybe their constant presence in the intake system can get something done, but something like Seafoam would be through the system so quickly that it wouldn’t have any meaningful effect. Carbon deposits are hard and it’s going to take some effort to get them out.

    • 0 avatar

      I change oil every 10000 with the VW approved 502/504/507 oil depending on the car (I currently have cars that require each type). I figure the engineers know what they’re doing and since VW has been requiring 10000 mile changes with synthetic since the early 2000s, it must be okay. I’ve never done an oil analysis but have wanted to so maybe I will at some point since engine information can be fun.

      Also, I know that Lubromoly’s “Diesel Purge” works well for higher mileage diesels. Really works well on early TDIs and apparently also works well on old Mercedes diesels. Don’t know if I’d run it in a modern TDI though with their crazy fuel systems.

  • avatar

    Some of those Amsoil vendors give me a laugh on BTOG website. One seller had an Odyessy that he had to add oil between changes and then would gloat about Honda powertrains and the analysis results!

    I could see if you picked up V8 Taurus SHO and find out they had a batch of bad cam shafts and wanted to monitor, but to fret over oil cahange interval in a modern day car with oil life monitor like my Verano 2.0T, which I can replace for less than $1,800.00 for a used engine, is not something worried about. More concerned with other fluid changes like flushing the brake fluid and the manual transmission fluid.

  • avatar

    I’ve always preferred Mobil 1 oil, and that all I run in my 4 0 now. I use the extended performance full synthetic blend, and the oil looks brand new after 5000 miles, even though I change it anyways then, with 144000 miles on the motor. For filters I like to stick with mobil 1, bosch, or wix. Fram filters are terrible, in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar

      But, my friends love amsoil and i think the stuff is great as well, just hard to find and pretty pricey

    • 0 avatar

      If you are changing your Mobil One at 5000 miles you are throwing money away; the oil looks brand new because it essentially IS brand new. Unless you are operating in an extreme climate or a very severe service Mobil One is good for at least triple the miles you are using as a change interval.

      For reference, commercial trucks now run synthetic oils to 75,000 miles in a much more demanding application than virtually any car. Some industrial engines use 20,0000 hours as the synthetic oil change interval.

      If you are going to change oil at 5000 miles you might as well use conventional oil. Donate the money you save to charity.

      • 0 avatar

        I run Valvoline conventional in my commuter and the other vehicles I cherish.

        I run the cheapest oil I can find for my ’03 Silverado pick-up which, admitedly, is the red-headed stepchild of the cars in my stable. The Vortec doesn’t mind, either. Hasn’t had so much as a wash or vacuum in the last 4 years and sits in the cul-de-sac 99% of the time. Lol. I don’t think its ever had so much as a tune up in the past 100k miles. And its at 175k now, rusty rockers and all.

        Wifey’s Benzy takes “special” Mobil One Synthetic and goes something like 10K +/-before telling me it wants its oil changed. Per MB, it rquires that particuliar oil because it meets MB Spec, along with the other foray of recommended MB Spec replacement parts when those instances arise. (Mercedes calls it “meeting specifications”, I call it all clever marketing/partnerships.)

        Valvoline is best, IMHO. Why? I was always told that by numerous mechanics in my circle, thats why. I have yet to hear anything bad. Historically, I’ve just always ran Valvoline.

        Royal Purple might be overkill for a DD, from what I understand.

        By the way: I change my “orle” every 3K. No thanks on the 5k tip. No thanks.

  • avatar

    I second the comment about the Amsoil folks. I have a buddy that sells it and swears by it. I told him point blank that using the Amsoil transmission fluid in his 1st Gen CR-V automatic is a recipe for disaster. Hondas = OEM fluids ONLY except for engine oil, even down to the coolant. Anyway, at about 210K miles, which for a Honda 4spd auto/4cyl is NOTHING, he told me he was having shifting issues. I said “do a 3x fluid change with Honda OEM and it might sort itself out. I have no idea how the story ended, but I can tell you how it started; with the non OEM fluid!

    Back to the original story; every 5-7K miles, depending on how the car is driven, full synthetic that’s bought on sale and a decent filter which is anything but Fram. I shoot for Mobil1 if it’s in the ballpark on price, and amazingly, if you keep an eye out, it is.

    • 0 avatar

      I hate to break your bubble, but after reading hundreds of pages of transmission threads on the Odyssey and Acura forums, you want to know what I’m running in our 2001 Odyssey? The cheapest, generic Dextron III fluid (Sam’s club, $26 for a 12-quart case) that I can find, plus a little bit of Lubegard black (friction modifier).

      It’s been working perfectly for going on two years and 40K miles now, and the fluid is still bright pink, with no shifting issues.

      The bottom line after all of the reading was this: Honda transmission failures were due to design issues, not the type of fluid used. Even those changing their transmission fluid every other oil change with the Honda stuff still had failures.

      I couldn’t stomach the 3x fluid change using $9/quart Honda fluid either.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        redmondjp, I’ve used Walmart Supertech Dexron III for a short time in a 99 Honda Accord with a similar B7XA automatic as part of a fluid exchange cleaning. In my opinion, the shifts with Dexron III were soft with a little extra slip with clutch engagement. Found this chart on Bob Is The Oil Guy showing the specs for the various transmission fluids and Honda Z-1 and Dexron III are not that similar.

        The bottles of Walmart Mercon V claim to meet the Honda spec, but I wasn’t willing to risk using it to save $40. However, If I was going to be cheap I’d probably use the cheap Mercon V which is closer to the correct viscosity and only slightly more expensive than the cheapest Dexron III.

        • 0 avatar

          The Lubegard black friction modifier is the key in making the Dex III ‘equivalent’ to the Honda fluid.

          I have a number of friends who are mechanics at independent repair shops, and you’d be surprised at how many of them have one 55-gallon drum of Dex III in the back and add the appropriate additives to use in various makes of cars.

      • 0 avatar

        Not bursting my bubble. Your car, you choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Don Mynack

      OEM fluid is nothing but a synthetic with a different label on it. There is no special magical ingredient to it, other than sometimes a different color dye so they can tell if you have been running it for warranty purposes.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s with all the Fram hate? I’ve put 190K on a Toyota pickup and 189K on a jeep Cherokee using Fram filters and Castrol. I understand most of the B&B don’t like them, but I’ve never had any problems with them.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    The only issue I have with BITOG is that everyone is just too damn anal.

    As for the valuable information I find by taking a peek there at least once a week?


  • avatar

    Apologies – Completely off topic
    Mr. Lang, I had a good laugh at the comments in your Yahoo article, but I have to wonder, why you post articles for people that can’t understand that just because their favorite brand X isn’t listed that your findings of most reliable car aren’t incorrect?
    I’m pretty sure every Subaru forum on the web found out about your article and came on to deride you for not seeing how “great” they are… Because of the (and I quote) “love”.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      The funny thing is they do have a point.

      One brand, any brand, can yield an unbeatable reliability record thanks to the vagaries of chance.

      That guy who has experienced 500,000+ miles of trouble-free ownership with his Range Rovers is out there. No joke. He really is…

      The only problem is he believes those Christamas lights in front of his dash are simply advice. No joke. It’s amazing what common folks regard as reliable, which is why the study is using experts to evaluate the vehicles instead of owners.

      Thick skin is a prerequisite if you are going to travel down the road of ranking brands, teams, countries, organizations…. loyalty can have a blinding effect. The responses of enthusiasts don’t bother me so much because I realize that everyone has their own biases and prejudices.

      At least they didn’t stone me…

      • 0 avatar

        “Thick skin is a prerequisite if you are going to travel down the road of ranking brands, teams, countries, organizations…. loyalty can have a blinding effect”

        Most definately, I’ve almost developed a perverse enjoyment of the hummer hate myself, it reinforces my love of them, and further it drives new people to research them when the attention is so hate filled. People are willing to make hate speech on anything they don’t know, but when they only know one side of the story, like I assume 90% of the commentors did, they will always protect what they know, whether it is fact or outright bologna.

        The commentors there aren’t car people, but they sure are willing to make sure their opinion is the right one, facts be damned. That, I’m sure is just people that yahoo answers attract, which migrate to other stories.

  • avatar

    As for this article, good stuff as always.
    I tend to use valvoline full synthetic with Wix filter, or on the older vehicles without cats, I alternate between the above and high zinc racing oil for the camshaft.

  • avatar

    I have read from the above posts of people running additional miles on synthetic oil. I own a 5.7 Hemi and the on board computer tells me when to change oil. My guess is the oil change message is based upon miles, for every 3,500, I get the message. Anyway, I use Quaker State 5W20 synthetic, and the changed oil is always black, unlike the many writers who claim their oil looks almost like it came out of the can. My question, is a Hemi that hard on oil or is there an issue like defective piston rings or leaky injector(s) that trashs the oil so fast? The car only has 18k miles on it and was purchased new.

    • 0 avatar

      The oil chagne indicator is based on a large variety of inputs like total engine revolutions, load, temperature etc. It’s actually quite a complex algorithm. If the indicator is telling you to change the oil at 3500 miles, there’s something about the way the vehicle is being operated that is resulting in this interval. The fact that the oil appears dirty at this mileage is likely a good indicator of this.

      The Hemis aren’t particularly harder on oil than any other engine. They do need good clean oil of the proper viscosity to ensure your multisplacement system (if you have an automatic trans) works correctly. Drivers of Hemis, however, tend to be harder on oil.

      • 0 avatar

        I only live 4 miles from my work or 12 minutes depending upon how you look at things. Would that not be enough time for the engine to warm up? Thus, making the oil dirty? I don’t drive hard, for my tires have at least another 30K or more left on them. I have an auto trans, due to the person I am married to possess two X chromosomes. (If I purchased a stick, I would find my gears in pieces at the bottom of the transmission.)

        • 0 avatar

          Absolutely! You are in the ‘severe service’ category, as your oil never has a chance to warm up and boil off all of the moisture and fuel that gets past the rings.

          You should be using the cheapest non-synthetic oil you can find, and change it every 2-3K miles.

          Using a synthetic oil is a complete waste of money under these circumstances, as the moisture and fuel still build up and contaminate the oil. These contaminants must be removed, either by regularly getting the oil hot enough, for a long enough period to boil them off, or by frequent oil changes.

    • 0 avatar

      I have the same engine as you, and at the recommendation of the blogging community, I installed an oil catch can. Apparently the PCV system on the Hemi passes a rather large amount of unclean vapor back to be reburned. After installing the can, my oil would be cleaner, but by no means would it “look like new.”

    • 0 avatar

      I have the 5.7 Hemi in my 2005 Durango and I change the Mobil One every 10,000 miles; the oil looks pretty clean when it comes out and I probably could stretch my change intervals to 15k without noticing any difference.

      However, when I drive it each trip racks up at least 50 miles, and I also use in on highway trips where the cruise control is set at about 75 (2000 rpm). The engine is never worked very hard and gets run at operating temperature so moisture and contaminates get cooked off and/or filtered out.

      Those short trips may be hard on your oil. But 3500 miles sounds odd.

  • avatar

    I have the same engine as you, and at the recommendation of the blogging community, I installed an oil catch can. Apparently the PCV system on the Hemi passes a rather large amount of unclean vapor back to be reburned. After installing the can, my oil would be cleaner, but by no means would it “look like new.”

  • avatar

    People obsess about oil and filters way too much.

    In 1980, my father bought a new lawn mower with a 3.5HP Briggs engine. It was my job to maintain that mower from the beginning. The mower was used about 20 hours a year. At the end of each season, I’d drain the oil/gas, clean the air filter and plug. At the beginning of the next season, I’d refill with fresh oil. I bought the cheapest house brand oil I could find.

    That mower was used for 22 years before the deck rotted out…the engine still ran well. I removed the engine and put it on a shelf hoping I could find another use for it. At this point the engine had about 440 hours on it.

    A couple of years ago, I was cleaning out the garage and found that engine. I was going to pitch it in the trash when I decided to take it apart first to inspect it. I was astonished by what I found.

    After disassembling the engine, I found that there was still a very faint cross hatch pattern visible on the cylinder wall. There were still faint machine marks on the crank journals, and the valve tappets had just about polished in. The worst I found was that the backs of the valves were loaded up with crud. After 440 hours that engine was just about broken in.

    As for cars, in 30 years of driving, I’ve never had an internal engine failure of any type.

    Change oil regularly, and always use a fresh filter and you’ll be fine. Don’t make yourself crazy of this brand or that brand, just make sure the you buy an oil with the required SAE rating.

    • 0 avatar

      skor – – –

      You said, “People obsess about oil and filters way too much.” and “After disassembling the engine, I found that there was still a very faint cross hatch pattern visible on the cylinder wall.”

      Boy, did that ever strike a chord.

      Had a friend with two ’57 Chevy’s. One, he beat up and hardly did anything to, except change the oil regularly. The other, he became a fanatic about (it was a beautiful show car). At 50K miles, he pulled the engine, and tore it apart, with parts laying all over a white bed sheet on his garage floor. He personally cleaned and measured every part, and put the whole thing together again. Made him feel better.

      They both lasted 200K miles, except the one that he didn’t tear apart had high cylinder compression! (^_^)..


    • 0 avatar

      I’ve gone through a few lawn mowers in my lifetime. The first one was a Sears with a Tecumseh engine. It eventually got down on power and started running poorly, which I attributed to a lack of compression. After it got too weak and I had replaced it, I took it apart to see if I could find out what had failed, plus I’d never seen a flathead engine from the inside before. There was nothing noticeably wrong in that engine, so I just assumed the rings were no longer sealing well.

      The second one that failed was a Honda with an overhead cam engine. It lasted nine seasons before it was too weak to do a good job. I did a postmortem as well, same result, everything looked good, even that plastic camshaft. I suspect what kills lawnmower engines is dust. The Tecumseh engine had a smallish foam filter, and the Honda had a paper one that was always getting clogged. I assume that the cylinder bores suffered from the dust and eventually lost compression.

      I’ve seen exactly one engine need internal repairs for lack of an oil change. This one was a 1978 Mazda GLC with about 75,000 miles, and during its lifespan the oil had been changed once. The dirty oil wore out the cam chain tensioner. We replaced that and advised the customer to get his oil changed twice a year, and after that, we never heard from him again.

  • avatar

    There is some evidence out there that turbo Subarus are one type of car for which a 3,000 mile oil change interval is probably not a bad idea. I use Shell Rotella T6 in my WRX, and so far it’s at 140,000 miles and behaving nicely, even at 18 psi of boost.

    • 0 avatar

      I used that diesel motor oil, T6, in my wet clutch motorcycle. At 5K mile intervals the bike is running great at 60K miles and the non-additive is great for wt clutches where today’s modern oils are not wet clutch friendly.

  • avatar

    When it comes to oil I tend to use Castrol GTX or Pennzoil the most…I used Peak oil ONCE and I don’t plan on using it again, it wasn’t pretty when it came time for the next oil change.

    • 0 avatar

      I started using Castrol in 1972 while stationed in Germany with the US Air Force and have been using it ever since in all my gasoline engines, cars, bikes, lawnmowers, AC generators, 4-cycle weed eaters, etc.

      For my three cars I use Castrol 5W-30 and change the oil and oil filter every 3K-5K miles.

      For Diesel engines I favor Shell Rotella 15W-40 since every Big Rig I have ever rented and driven used it. I also use 15W-40 Rotella in my newly-rebuilt Wacker 75KW generator and change the oil every 24 hours, which comes to about every six months unless we have a long-lasting power failure.

      Granted, this maintenance schedule can get a bit costly at times but good quality oil and frequent changes sure prevent disappointments and even more costly repairs.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My 2001 Elantra also turned over 200k in March. The engine and AT are bulletproof; it’s the rust that will eventually kill it (possibly very soon).

    I used to be in the “Mobil 1 only” cult – not any more. Now I use a variety of synthetics in my newer cars, and Rotella T5 in the Elantra, and I’ve been migrating to the cheaper filters, too.

    Anyway, the automatic transmission is far more important to stay after than the engine oil.

    PS: This is a discussion EV drivers don’t have. :)

  • avatar

    I recently sold my ’96 Contour V6 after 208k miles of service, still running strong. I used Mobil 1 5W-30 ($37 for six quarts from Costco) and NAPA gold filters, and changed it every 7500 miles.

    But… the engine was leaking oil from everywhere. With today’s machining tolerances and modern lubricants, it’s not the internal wear and tear that kills a high mileage engine. It is the disintegrating seals and gaskets. Not worth the money to pull the engine and replace all that stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve had a couple of friends with the same issue. I think that it’s the soft parts that are going to send old cars to the scrapper in areas where rust is not an issue, things like gaskets, plastic cooling system parts, worn seats, cracked dashes, porous A/C and coolant hoses, and the like.

      I once though of replacing all the coolant and heater hoses in my old car. A quality set of hoses was more than $500 from the aftermarket, and it would have taken a number of hours to change them all. I suspect to replace the A/C hoses, the dryer, and then recharge the system would have been approaching $1000.

  • avatar

    Steve, have you changed the ATF in the CVT recently?

  • avatar

    Auto manufacturers do not warranty engines run beyond recommended oil changes. Doesn’t matter synthetics or not.
    Additives are about 1/3 of a quart of oil. While synthetic oil will retain lubrication properties for many miles beyond recommended, the additives will not.
    Premium filters taking oil contaminants below 20 microns is cheap insurance.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    This which oil to use conundrum is enough to give you a headache.

    I use Napa gold filters and there house brand synthetic blend, mostly because they have the oil change special on filter and oil. No issues to date. I change the oil annually on my three rigs. Mileage varies from 1k annually to about 10k annual. The oil looks the same no matter which drain it comes from.

    I have only trashed one motor in my life, despite my argument to my dad at the time 21 years ago, I am certain I was using the 5.0 in a fashion that it was not engineered for. Lot of fun though…

  • avatar

    I consider Blackstone to be a great resource. The first oil analysis on our now departed Civic revealed insanely high amounts of silicon in the oil. Blackstone, at the time, suggested that the culprit was sand creeping into the intake air. Seeing as though I’m religious about basic maintenance, I suspected that the shop I was using was somehow allowing desert dust to creep into their fresh oil supply. So, I did the next oil change myself, using a good quality oil from a sealed bottle. Low and behold, the silicon levels returned to normal by the next analysis, and stayed that way.

  • avatar

    My take has always been that what oil is in your engine is less important than how much oil is in your engine and how often it is changed. I’ve seen and heard of lots of engines failing because people didn’t change the oil or keep the oil topped up and I’ve taken a number of engines well over 100k miles on plain old Castrol GTX.
    That said, I have noticed my air-cooled motorcycle has run a bit cooler on Napa synthetic than Castrol.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    Someone commenting on TTAC once theorized that the super anal oil and additive guys on BITOG are that way because they are incompetent mechanics who can’t really do much of anything besides change the oil, so they REALLY play up their oil “expertise”. Whoever you are, you’re a genius.

    Me, I don’t change the oil on my own anymore. Usually I spill it all over. I take it to mechanics for oil and do all of the more expensive stuff and heavy maintenance myself.

    As far as internal engine failure, the only kind I ever see is head gaskets bombing and 90% of the time it’s due to the cooling system screwing up and the driver ignoring the temp gauge and massively overheating it.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed…for the few bucks that I’m gonna save changing the oil myself, it isn’t worth the hassle anymore. I still change it on my bikes because I like doing it. I get a kick out of reading the oil threads on the automotive/bike forums that I belong too….people get so worked up, like discussions on politics or religion.

      Personally, I buy whatever synthetic happens to be on sale. Maintaining the proper frequency, without being wasteful, is far more important than whatever brand you use….despite the marketing claptrap.

  • avatar
    George B

    Steve, how important is oil quality and frequency of changing the oil for avoiding valve deposits on gasoline direct injection engines? I’ve wondered how gasoline and oil quality affects the formation of valve deposits.

    • 0 avatar

      I would hope that very little oil winds up in the combustion chamber.

      • 0 avatar

        Some of it ends up there regardless, via your PCV system and the intake manifold.

        Reading the comment above about a PCV catch can – that is not a new idea – I got one off of a car in the junkyard back in the 1980s. It used a glass mayonnaise jar and it was full of a thoroughly disgusting goop – an emulsion of oil & water and other contaminants.

        • 0 avatar

          That may have been why it was in the junkyard.

          My wife has a new Explorer, has about 7500 miles on it. I pulled the dipstick the other day just to check, and the oil level had barely budged. My previous ride, with 127,000 miles on it, was getting to where it required a quart of oil after about 3500 miles. I’d put half a quart in to get it to its oil change interval of 5000 miles.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Oil analysis is an interesting idea, and probably makes sense if you’re the second or third owner, for all I know.

    There seem to be two camps among auto enthusiasts when it comes to oil: those who know little to nothing and base their buying habits solely on price or brand, and those willing to start fierce disagreements on the net.

    I fall into the former camp. I switched from 5w30 to 10w60 based on what seemed to be the more popular sentiment on, and perhaps unsurprisingly, oil consumption has decreased. Analysis probably wouldn’t help much because only a couple brands sell 10w60.

  • avatar

    For what it’s worth, back in the ’90’s “Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords” magazine did a rear wheel dyno test on a very mildly modified 5.0 Mustang, getting about 200 rwhp with all dino fluids. They then changed the engine oil, power steering fluid, manual transmission fluid, and differential fluid to all synthetic, and got 5 more rwhp.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    People who purchase oil that has a higher specification than is listed in your operators manual are wasting money.

    The only time you will benefit by using these oils is if your vehicle is being used in extreme conditions, ie, racing.

    Don’t waste your money, there are people who out there smarter than you who do know what oils, fluids and lubricants are required for your vehicle.

    Why second guess and waste money. Use that money to take your wife out to dinner more often and maybe the next car you want which is really fancy she’ll let you buy.

    Butter up and lubricate your wife, you’ll get better value.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ve only seen two engines internally ruined:

    1. My friend’s Dodge Intrepid 2.7, which spun a bearing at 70k miles. No surprise there.

    2. My other friend’s 95 (?) Buick 3.8, which spun a bearing when the plastic timing gear teeth sheared off, traveled to the oil pan, and he restarted the engine after repairing it without cleaning out the pan. This car had about 80k miles.

    Better oil wouldn’t have saved them, but better engineering might have.

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