By on July 23, 2015

engine oil. Shutterstock user Africa Studio

Greg writes:

Sajeev, first let me thank you for your interesting article on Mazda rust last year. Ultimately I bought the Accord, which to me seemed to have the superior (and quite lovely) stick shift, even though the Mazda is reputed superior in that department.

I decided for kicks and giggles to get my oil tested by Blackstone, and I thought this might be a potential article for Piston Slap (not my adventure, but the practice of having it done).

It wasn’t as complete a report as one might hope, because my mechanic forgot to draw the sample and dumped the oil in the barrel. All I could forward to Blackstone was a few drops from the oil filter. But they were able to test that small sample, except for the flashpoint and viscosity.

Here’s the report in PDF form.

Of interest:

  1. The metals are about 10x the average level of metals (chrome, copper, aluminum, molybdenum, etc.) in most cars. Blackstone said this is the breaking in process, but this is the first time I’ve seen real data on the “wearing in” or “breaking in” of a car.
  2. The TBN (total base number) was 2.1, over the 1.0 minimum suggested by Blackstone, after 8,200 miles. Apparently engine oils are made to lean to the base side and as they get used the base number declines and in the extreme case will become acidic. I did some research on this and the TBN of the OEM Honda oil was apparently about 8.1 when new (just sleuthing around to see what Honda used) and the TBN of the Mobil 1 synethetic 0-20W is about 8.8. If you get the long-lasting or extended use formula (whatever they call it) it has a TBN of about 12 when new but you’re going up to something like 5-30, which is not the recommended oil for this Accord.

For $40 I think it was a useful thing to do. It put my mind to rest about my practice of changing my oil 2x a year, and it seems like something one should do in the first year or two of ownership and again in the car’s elder years when it can diagnose various kinds of engine degradation. Apparently oil testing is a competitive industry, but the usual customer is a fleet owner who is looking at a significant operating cost in oil changes.

Sajeev concludes:

I am glad these oil report services exist as they do make folks feel more comfortable and help ensure a healthy motor. As we’ve learned from many vehicles (here and here, for starters) over the last 15+ years, doing whatever the owner’s manual recommends isn’t necessarily the right move.

Blackstone’s recommendation to extend your oil change intervals to 9,000 miles makes sense, considering their analysis and the fact that this Honda isn’t known to be a sludge bucket.

Off to you, Best and Brightest!

[Image: Shutterstock user Africa Studio]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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61 Comments on “Piston Slap: Reporting on The Oil Report...”


  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Oil subjects on turbo Subaru forums are like tipping threads on Fark.com.
    Someone posts something asking about oil, then someone says “search” or something sarcastic. Then the floodgates open and you have to imagine most of the people replying would happily punch each other in the face over the subject.

    I’ve had one analysis done on my Legacy as based on the front page of the main forum short blocks are seemingly wear items in our cars. Mine came out great, which was a huge relief even though I have about half the miles most folks are seeing issues.

    Blackstone makes it easy to do and the information they send is more thorough than I expected.

    #YNANSB

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    Here’s how I test my oil:
    Is it present?
    Is it still a liquid?
    Is it black or a shade of brown?
    Does it smell like gasoline or antifreeze?
    Do my fingers bleed when I rub it between them?

    Just saved forty bucks.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    So you paid 40$ to learn just following the Honda maintenance minder would give you the same result for free?
    My CRV minder sends me to my $35 (dealer) oil service after about 9K miles.

    And your sample from the filter is not good. Of course it contains more metal and particles….. You should be concerned if it didn’t. A sample from the sump would have given you fewer particles. Because you know, the fliter filtered it out as the name implies :)

    Your lab probably added 2% inaccuracy, sample taking added possiblyly inaccuracy in hundreds of %. Like the air filter, it shows you all the dirt that did NOT get into the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      @Herr – on the flip side, it only took one analysis from Blackstone to tell me that my BMW X3’s “recommended” oil interval of nearly 15,000 miles was _far_ too long.

      I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a data junkie. I like to get a baseline, and take a sample every few years. But doing so has taught me to trust the car, NOT the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        How long was that interval, in terms of time? I’m about to change the oil on my sister’s X3 and it seems a shame to drain 7 quarts of Amsoil after only 6k miles, but it’s been in there for a year of city driving and that includes a Canadian winter.

        The M1 0W-40 I picked up for it was on sale for a good price, so I won’t feel as bad about draining that next year, likely with low mileage again.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          As I replied below – current BMW OCI is “when the computer says”, 1yr, or 10K miles, whichever happens first. M1 0w40 meets the BMW spec for playing nicely with the computer algorithm.

          Amsoil? Who knows, they never submit anything for testing anywhere. Maybe it is great, maybe it isn’t, it certainly is expensive. I just use M1 in almost everything.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I don’t hold Amsoil in higher regard than other major oil brands, it’s just that I’ve always associated it with extended drain intervals, so it seems strange that the only time I’ve drained a sump of Amsoil will be with only 6k miles on it. She had it done at Great Canadian Oil Change or something last year, and apparently that’s what the place liked to use for German vehicles. I’m not sure why. I’d think they could have installed Castrol or M1 for less cost and charged her the same, but maybe they have some deal with Amsoil. It was still a lot cheaper than the BMW dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        But was the computer actually going to let you GO the entire 15K? That is just the maximum, it can call for a change well before that based on driving conditions and the oil quality sensor. And it is not necessarily linear. I have had oil analysis done several times on my 328i and find that it agrees quite well with BMWs recommendations even before they shortened it. But I am an aberration – my car does zero commuting, almost all highway miles. The current OCI for most of the lineup is “when the computer says” or 1yr, or 10K miles, whichever comes first. So mine gets one a year, at ~6K the past couple years.

        I think the owner’s manual recommendations are generally just fine (with exceptions – Saab shot themselves in the foot with the original 9-5 but good) – but most people need to realize that they should be going by the “severe service” OCI schedule, as that is what an awful lot of cars that see short trip commute to work use are doing.

        • 0 avatar
          fvfvsix

          @rpn453 – about 15 months.

          @KRhodes – The first interval started at 15K, the second (IIRC) started somewhere around 12K…

          I’ve just been in the habit of changing the oil after 7500mi myself without resetting the indicator, so it’s always made it to the end of the intervals before requesting an oil change. When the indicator flipped, I’d take it into the dealer for the “free” oil service.

          So, in short – I’ve never really let the OCI adjust itself because it gets fresh oil halfway through an interval.

          At four years old, I think the OCI in the car is now at 11K, which I can live with. Since I only do about 8K/yr on the X3 anymore, I will just change once per year going forward.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I’ll just limit the OCI to a year to be safe.

            I had a look under the oil cap and everything still looked very clean in there. It’s an ’07 with only 80k miles.

            I just paid CDN$58 for a liter of the transfer case fluid at the dealer for that thing. By far my most expensive liter of oil I’ve ever purchased. I figure it’s due to the cost of smuggling in a container printed in German and English rather than the legally required French and English.

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        Your data is only as good as sampling. Measuring oil from filter will show all the stuff the filter filteted.

        Like measuring cleanliness of your home by looking into the vacuum bag.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Seems to me people in the US are obsessed with oil changes.
    Just do what manufacturer recommends…after all they know the car and added safety margins.

    Many cars never get air fliter changed, tranny fluid replaced, brake fluid brakes etc. But the owner changes oil ever 3K miles like that would make up for the other negligence. I’m sure if the person askin woul have spent $20 on a brake fluid eater tester, it would be more useful.

    I’m not saying you should ignore engine oil, but overdoing it doesnt help your car. If you follow manufacturer recommendations there is no real chance of failure due to oil. Focus on all things most people neglect.

    • 0 avatar
      adamiata

      It’s hard to trust the manufacturer’s oil change recommendation when your idea of long-term reliability is different from their’s. They want me to buy a new car sooner, rather than later while I want mine to last 200K+ miles.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        There’s also a marketing component of Total Cost to Own metrics built into the extended intervals. For the cost of the cheap insurance an oil change provides, it doesn’t hurt to change it earlier than the minder. The main issue with relying on the minder is that most vehicles don’t have an oil level sensor and it is the owner’s responsibility to check the level. After 9000 miles, most engines will have consumed a measurable amount of oil. People often run it low waiting for the light to come on because of course next to no one ever checks their oil between changes.

        $20-$30 twice a year for the average person is f*ck all in the grand scheme of operating a vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          On a side note, it’s completely asinine a car that will warn you of a tire, low on air, will not tell you if you’re about to stall and fukk up the engine from low oil.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        20 weight oils and extended manufacturer intervals have been widespread for a decade now. To hear the BITOG people talk about it the scrapyards should be full of otherwise good 200K cars with ruined motors.

        Hasn’t happened yet and the otherwise good 200K car hasn’t happened either.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Subaru prescribes a short, 3750 interval (or at least they did). They also say that is fine for a car to consume a quart every 1000-1200 miles. So by the time you change your oil at the manufacturer’s interval you might be dry.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Denver

        The factory recommended Subaru interval since at least 2011 has been either 6,000 or 7,500 miles. Of course, this makes it even worse – if you never check your oil, you will have burned up 6 or 7 out of the 5 quarts that are in there!

        It’s true that Subaru claims that up to a quart/1,000 miles is “normal” (in other words they won’t pay to fix it) but that doesn’t mean that is how much the average Subaru consumes. 1,000 miles/quart is out at the extreme tail of the “normal” range – most Subarus consume far less.

        Yes, if you never check your oil and wait until the oil change and you have an engine that burns oil, you may well run it dry. That’s why you are supposed to check your oil.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      For sure on the brake fluid. It should be flushed every 3 years. I wonder how many people stick to that schedule? When it comes to your life I’d say the brakes are way more important then the engine.

      I’ve used Mobil 1 synthetic for years in all my vehicles. It gets changed every 8K. I had a VW Passat (B5) with the 1.8T which is a known for “sludge” issue but I had no engine related problems for 8 years and 100K miles. In the same time period 4 window regulators failed in typical VeeDub fashion. So go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      When I grew up, changing your oil every 3000 miles was the best preventative maintenance you could perform on your car. This was true outside of the US too.

      Today, cars and oil are different. Some habits die hard.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    An oil change interval of six months and less than 10k miles isn’t even worth questioning these days. I don’t see this analysis being worthwhile for much more than personal entertainment. Nothing wrong with that though, and if you were concerned that your engine may be disintegrating already then I suppose it buys peace of mind for a reasonable price.

  • avatar

    Nothing wrong with anyone measuring the degradation of the motor oil in their vehicle, as well as having a measure of the particle content in the oil. Even if its not a regular practice, it provided this individual a “level of additional comfort”.

    Trucking fleets perform oil analysis on a regular basis to have a better estimate of the longevity of the engine.

    An old school premise was to replace the oil in the manual transmission, differential, and obvious the motor after a break in period to replace the oil with increased break in metal particles with fresh oil and extend the life of the various components.

    Again old school, a magnetic oil pan drain plug, transmission plug, and many old school differentials had a magnet in the cover to pick up metal shavings.

    Interesting “Mobil 1 synthetic 0-20W is about 8.8. If you get the long-lasting or extended use formula (whatever they call it) it has a TBN of about 12 when new but you’re going up to something like 5-30, which is not the recommended oil for this Accord.” We all know that engines with use have larger clearances and a higher viscosity oil is usually beneficial.

    On a different note many newer vehicles will tell the owner the remaining oil life. Other vehicles have an oil level indicator, to advise the owner.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Yup, I surely do remember those old-school early fluid changes (usually around 1,000 miles).

      Choosing a slightly higher viscosity can benefit a reasonably old and worn engine, but of course it can be possible to overdo it. Thin oil flows better from the pump, up the galleys and to the moving parts it’s supposed to lubricate. That might make a difference in a cold engine that you just started (although startup wear and tear isn’t the scary bugbear you’d think it is from reading too many Slick 50 advertizements). Thin oil is better at drains from the head back down to the sump, but again, not really a significant issue in regular service. All this varies with detail design differences so it’s not a hard and fast rule.

  • avatar
    Wade.Moeller

    Spectral Oil Analysis Programs, or SOAP, originated in the aviation industry to monitor the health of turbine engines. You don’t change the oil often in a turbine, you just pull the oil filter screen to check for physical contaminants, take a SOAP sample and top up the oil tank. Do that every 25-50 hours of operation and you get to see the exact wear rates of everything the oil touches because while the oil might burn off, the worn metal stays. And the type of metal tells you what is wearing. Chromium are bearings, iron would be a shaft, silicon means sand has gotten in, nickel means the chrome has worn off the bearings, copper means the nickel has also worn off the bearings and that’s why it exploded.

    Doing an oil sample at each oil change for a reciprocating engine is looked at as somewhat foolish since you are changing the oil and thus getting just a snapshot of the engine wear. With just a snapshot, you don’t know if a high number is normal wear or sudden pre-failure wear.

    A SOAP sample for a car engine is only really useful to determine your oil change intervals. If you read the manual, there will be two values for recommended oil changes. One for normal duty and one for severe duty. The manual has rough guidelines for those two duty cycles, but it’s just a guess as to your personal duty cycle. Live in a desert region? That’s severe duty. Live in NYC? That’s also severe duty. Drive your kids to school, sports and the grocery store and never see a speed over 35? That ultra severe duty.

    And even then the manual isn’t always right. Look at all the sludged engines that have been reported in the last 20 years, about when manufacturers moved away from 3000 mile oil changes. Some owners caused that issue, other owners followed the manual perfectly and still got sludged.

    Get a SOAP sample every year/4 oil changes and call it done. You’ll see if the manual is lying to you or if that service interval is anywhere near accurate. Maybe you’ll find you aren’t even close to using up all the goody in that oil and save yourself a couple $tarbuck$.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      You make some good points. But if the sample is taken from the filter, it is meaningless.

      And in an airplane or ship you take a sample to avoid a huge oil chamge. Here he spent $40 to save on a $30 oil change?

      Can’t find the article, but years ago CR took NYC taxi motors apart and mradured them out. Thete was no difference between 3K an 6K interval cars. And those were old cars. If Nyc taxi duty is not severe….

      The maintenance minder is good enough an uses cold starts, temps, dirt sensir etc.

      And changing the oilt to avoid checking the level? Really? How is driving tothe shop, waiting for 30 minutes and paying mor convenient than checking the level?

      • 0 avatar
        Wade.Moeller

        Not $40 to save on a $30 oil change. $40 to save on the next 3 years or more of oil changes.

        Speaking of NYC Taxis, have you seen the pics of a head for a Ford Escape Hybrid with 500k miles? Clean as a whistle. NYC Taxi service is not really severe because they run for most of a day, every day. That will keep an engine clean and wear to a minimum because the oil is always well circulated and hot.

        Not sure where you got the bit about changing oil vs. checking the oil.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The best way you can run a car is to just never shut it off. In college I worked for a courier service that ran late ’80s Ford Escorts. Utter pieces of crap, but guess what, if you run them in three shifts 24×7 except for bank holidays, you can run them for 500K+! In less than three years. They only changed the oil about every 10-12K miles, with the absolute garbage cheapest by the drum bulk oil the fleet mechanic could find. While they could still get them, they bought Escort diesels – those would do 800K. A three year old Escort with 500K on it is an experience.

      • 0 avatar
        wstarvingteacher

        I’m having to search my memory banks but I remember reading about the NY Taxis. IIRC they were chevy 2.8 engines. Petroleum engines changed every 3k. Mobil 1 changed at some periodicity, I think 6k, and mobil one that was not changed but just topped off when needed. There was no difference in wear with the Mobil 1 test cars and the most wear was the 3k petroleum oil. Obviously there was salesmanship involved here. I am sure the experiment was underwritten by Mobil which mades it as independent and trustworthy as what has been written about/by amsoil.

        BTW does anyone have actual knowledge as to how well the amsoil aux filter works that is supposed to make the oil (with testing) run forever. I am naturally suspicious but believed in slick 50 way back when and synthetic oils now.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Regular oil analysis is of most benefit for early diagnosis of potentially catastrophic engine problems. One example is a coolant leak into the crankcase. Detecting antifreeze in the oil while the level is too low to cause damage alerts the owner to fix the leak before he has to rebuild the engine. A sudden increase in bearing metals would be a warning of incipient bearing failure.

  • avatar
    ant

    At the trucking company that I work for, they replace the oil filter @30k miles, then change out the oil and filter @60k.

    Takes about 5-6 months to get there, with the miles I drive.

    They came to this schedule by sending in samples to get tested.

    This seems like a lot of miles to me, but what do I know. Truck has over 900k miles on it now, and runs as good -if not better- as it did new.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      What is your oil capacity?

      • 0 avatar
        ant

        not sure.

        4, or 5 gallons I think.

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          Most class 8 (semi) trucks hold 40 – 44 quarts, or 10+ gallons. You get a lot more longevity with that kind of capacity, plus most trucks use a thicker 15w-40 blend than passenger cars.

          Due to engine size, load, rpm’s,duty cycle,etc there is no real point in comparing the oil use in a heavy duty diesel truck vs. a gasoline car engine.

          FWIW my rule of thumb for non-commercial vehicles is manufacturers suggested standard service oil change intervals with dino oil, 2x for synthetic. Any more frequent than that is just being anal retentive.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            This is one big reason that BMW can spec a pretty long interval – the 3.0L motors hold nearly 8 quarts of oil from a dry fill, 7ish on a change. The sixes in the olden days held 5. The extra is for longevity, not lubrication per se.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The question remains, is it cheaper to just rebuild the engine a bit prematurely and save thousands from minimal servicing? Trucking companies have it down to science. Changing the oil before 30K miles seems overkill on modern car engines. 40 to 50K seems about right. It’s not the same oil after all those miles due to the oil that’s added along the way. And if you’re using synthetic oil, extend it even further.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        He is talking about an over-the-road tractor-trailer not a passenger car.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Yeah I know what he’s taking about. And it’s the kind of use that’s more similar to abuse. And what if the passenger car or pickup is a diesel too??

          Oil is normally changed too often. Way too often. People would rather error on the side of caution, and that’s fine for most. But there’s a better way to go. Or just keep doing what you’ve been doing.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @fvfvsix – You don’t really need to check your oil with 10K (or less) mile “intervals”, but I do. No big deal. Mind you, I’m not topping it off with used oil. Synthetic.

            The increased wear my engines see, is theoretical until I see otherwise. Besides, with normal service intervals, today’s engines far outlive the cars they’re in. How much ‘meat’ are you leaving on the table? Your current car will probably switch hands a couple more times before the end of its life, with the original factory engine still purring like a kitten.

          • 0 avatar
            fvfvsix

            @DenverMike – by my math, I’m leaving about $70 on the table for the Japanese makes, and roughly $150 for the Germans every 30K miles.

            I’m okay with that.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        @DenverMike – on a modern, turbocharged motor with a sump smaller than 10 quarts, you’d be running some serious risks doing changes at 30K intervals. Both the turboed motors I own burn about a quart every 15,000 miles. You’d be at half capacity in a MINI cooper by the time you hit 30K.

      • 0 avatar
        PandaBear

        5 gallons for 30k miles is the same as 1 gallon for 6k miles. You have to factor in the sump capacity when you say how long it last.

        As far as I know, no car company recommends more than 15k miles oil change, even with 8 quart sump and Euro spec synthetic.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Back in 2oo1 on my new Chev truck I cut open the filter and was shocked at all the shiny metal that was in there. By the third change all was normal and no engine problems at 80000 miles.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I don’t drive a lot these days. In an earlier time, it was every 5 thousand KLM’s {3000} miles. Today, the Mustang is done yearly in the spring. With the Impala, its spring and fall.

    I’m an old guy, and maintenance is ingrained in my soul. Nothing will ever change my mind, on the importance of regular “oil changes”. That, and keeping kids off my lawn

  • avatar
    ajla

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/piston-slap-sucking-fluid-changes

    I am insane. Oil changes by the “severe duty” schedule. Annual partial transmission fluid and coolant changes. Brake fluid, differential, and more complete transmission/coolant changes every three years.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      OK, this partly answers the question I was going to ask.

      So how many of the *rest* of the B&B actually do other fluid changes- transmission or transaxle (partial or full), differential and/or transfer case as applicable, brake fluid, power steering (partial, just replacing what’s in the reservoir), and coolant?

      Other than ajla and myself, that is…

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        For any car I plan to keep, I sure do. My 4yo 36K BMW has had three brake fluid changes (I just do it when I swap summer to winter tires and the wheels are off anyway), two diff oil changes, two transmission oil changes (manual tranny) and will get the coolant changed this fall. The engine oil, tranny and diff oils were changed at 3K miles when it got off the boat from Europe, then again at ~30K. Engine oil annually since. I’ve done the power steering once, and will do it again this fall. I also keep it on a battery tender when I am away for work for more than a few days. I basically follow the same factory maintenance regime that let my folks ’83 528e go over 250K for them. And it is still on the road, I see it around town.

        My Range Rover got everything changed when I bought it two years ago. Will get coolant again (3/4 anyway) on Saturday when I change the water pump. Will probably change the oil while I am at it, it’s about due.

        Spitfire gets engine oil every other year (M1) along with the brake fluid, transmission and diff oil every 4-5 along with the coolant. But it goes <1000 miles a year.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        I bought a Panther from the OO last year at 185K miles, and records that look like it was well-taken care of, almost pampered for things like oil changes.

        Now do a syn blend 5W-30 every 6K miles. I do some grocery and church runs, mixed in with some fastish and longer runs. Use the electronic lock to keep it running if just going to the convenience store a mile away, to keep from shutting it off til the round trip is over.

        Am planning to do a brakefluid change at next brake work, which sounds like it will be front pads, and maybe rotors, as I think they put in chap aftermarket front rotors, that feel a little wavy on hard braking from speed.

        Jury still out on trans fluid; have heard it is good, others have said it can disrupt the seals, etc, and make more problems. The AT fluid looks, feels and smells clean, so I am not in a hurry.

        Will probably do the differential in the next year or so, especially if I start towing mowing and light snow removal equipment for my son.

        Will wait on powersteering til somoe component needs work, and will probably change it out completely at that point.

        The coolant is the one I am most concerned about. Planning on learning how to bleed the system, then will flush it in my driveway, thoroughly. Though I hear distilled is better, I am having a hard time buying into fifty to a hundred bucks worth of distilled water, and don’t have a pump mechanism to recycle it, though I will keep an eye out for one.

        Otherwise, just flush hard with a garden hose, then drain four or five gallons of distilled through the system, and then fill 50-50 distilled and Ford recommended coolant.

        I hope and believe this more or less middle of the road maintenance philosophy will enable my Panther to be another high miler.

        And BTW, will change the spark plugs, O2 sensors, EGR etc, and clean the MAF sensor over the next two years, as the mood strikes me, to get them all renewed by around 200K +/- for a run at a possible ‘nother 200K. But at about 12K/yr, I will be having my eyesight and reflexes needing testing by the time I would hit 400K.

        But if I hold up and the car holds up, I may either drop in another 4.6 Mod motor, or try to do a swap using a more modern Ford motor, when I start to see articles about what will swap…would like more power more than better mileage, perhaps make it a bit of a sleeper while renovating the drivetrain.

        Perhaps unrealistic, but I would like to drop a Mustang engine in it, not a real monster, but maybe something like the EcoBoost V6 and a newer trans to match up with it. Maybe get fifty to a hundred percent more horses, would settle for the bottom of that range in exchange for a broad torque curve and a lot of legs out of the tranny. All depends on how the current drivetrain holds up, how I hold up, how the econoomy and my son’s business hold up, and how much modders start dropping newer drivetrains into Panthers.

        But it would be nice to look the part of an old geezer in a Panther, but be able to rip asphalt up with the thing on demand.

        And yes, I know I haven’t grown up yet, I’m just growing older. But I am enjoying my childhood better than I enjoyed the first one, so if you don’t approve of a geezer pushing a whip with a lot of horses under the hood, you can BIOYA, for all I care…so don’t even start with why would an older driver want to drive a car like that. If you don’t know, you will never understand. But if you do, maybe we’ll run into each other at an antique car show or Cars and Coffee, over in the non-garage-and-trailer-queen section.

        But the one thing I will do in aAny case is rotate my fluids (except possibly the tranny) but on a conservative schedule, combining care with economy for hopefully a sweet spot in the process.

        But damn this crappy commenting software…it tells me I am logged in but when I go to post, it tells me to log in. Not as annoying as Disqus, but getting there.

        Though when I logged out and back in, I saw something new that looks like a new and improved forum front end. Could it be?

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I did UOA a couple times in my life. It is useful to see if your out of warranty car has engine problem (i.e. coolant contamination aka head gasket or leaky air filter), and it is fun to see how far are you from the edge of a cliff when you push your oil further than manual recommendation (i.e. wear metal and TBN).

    Other than that, it is not that useful.

  • avatar
    MBella

    I stopped trusting used oil analysis places afte several experiences. At the dealer I work at, we had to send oil samples for testing from three failed engines. All three came back saying the oil was good, that the viscosity was still 5w-40, and that there were no contaminants. One engine was full with an “engine flush” product, one was full with diesel exhaust fluid, and one was from an engine that had no services done everything in 50,000 miles. These engines all had spectacular engine failures, but the oil was all good according to the lab. I would recommend following the manufacturers recommendation, with a minimum of an annual oil change.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      +1

      Sample taking and the lack of care in labs make testing useless fo average driver.

      Newer cars have maintenance minders that work well. It is just oil…. change ad required and check level and it will be good.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        “Newer cars have maintenance minders that work well. It is just oil…. change ad required and check level and it will be good.”

        I wonder if maintenance minders know whether you are using conventional oil versus extended life synthetic oil (and filter). I think most just keep track of when you start and stop the engine, and perhaps track rpm. Do any do some kind of oil analysis?

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          In order for an oil life algorithm to be meaningful, you need to use an oil that meets the manufacturers specifications. For example, BMW LL-01. Oil that meets that spec is pretty commonly available, and includes Mobil 1 5w40. GM has the various flavors of “Dexos”. The oil life algorithm is calibrated to that particular spec.

          BMW (and I am sure some others) use an oil quality sensor in conjunction with the algorithm, it is a combined unit with the oil level sensor. IIRC, it measures the changing electrical conductivity of the oil as the additive package is used up and contaminants increase.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          No, most don’t know the oil — they assume you’re using juice which meets manufacturer’s specs.

          Never have heard a bad word about Blackstone, and they say that the oil-life monitors in Hondas are about as good as they come.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Denver Mike–I usually change my oil before 3k even though you are probably correct in your assessment. I am a little obsessive about the maintenance. My 99 S-10 has 105k miles on it and the oil never gets very dirty. You are probably right the engine will outlast the truck because I have never burned oil in my S-10 and it is a fairly smooth engine for an I-4. I use Castrol GTX 5w30 in the S-10 and Mobil I 5w30 in the 2008 Isuzu with 29k miles on it. The 2013 CRV uses a synthetic blend 0w20 which is a very light oil. I have recently been changing my own oil except on the CRV which when the warranty runs out I will switch the CRV to Mobil I 0w20.

  • avatar
    gn842

    I didn’t realize my note to Sajeev would constitute the substance of the article or I would have written it a bit differently. One of the reasons why I wanted to get the oil tested was that the Honda uses 0-20 weight and I was concerned that something like 5-30 or 10-30 might be a better choice. As it happens 0-20 stands up to the use I put on the car. I’m not interested in changing the oil at 9k as 2x per year (roughly 6 to 8k on average) is my usual routine, and what I wanted to do was validate my usual routine with the lighter oil.

    An additional reason for getting the oil tested was that I was in correspondence with a Honda Accord owner in Canada who has been having problems with gasoline getting into his oil in cold weather, and I was worried that I would have the same issue. His dipstick levels actually rise as a result of this problem. I don’t know if his problem is unique or widespread but so far I haven’t seen it. He has had the engine replaced.

    Oils designed for durability have a higher TBN than the 0-20 synthetic but it seems that the 0-20 is just fine. I’m not looking to extend the oil changes to one year and beyond because I agree that it is wise to keep tabs on the oil levels and changing the oil twice a year is affordable to me. It’s also affordable to me to get the oil tested I’ve blown forty bucks on things that were a good deal less interesting to me.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    And one more data point, one for a Panther, in honor of Sajeev, who helped to hone my Panther love. I believe my assertion about oil weight in the modular motor OHC V8’s is correct. I will not give detailed references, but will name my sources.

    The 4.6L V8 originally came with a recommendation to use 5W-30 oil. Later FoMoCo changed that to 5W-20. But cutting to the chase, this was done mostly to placate our CAFE masters, gaining miniscule mpg savings. A certain knowledgeable member of the B&B may have knowledge of a different version of this story, but I believe I have seen some fairly convincing docs showing that, with a moderately large dollar-denominated gun pointed to its corporate head, Ford elected to roll over from the 30 to the 20 number. And I believe it is probably “good enough” to use the 5W-20, but the 5W-30 provides a bit more protection. I haven’t ever seen a source that says that the new spec is good for the engine in any way other than fractional mpg.

    A former Ford engineer who later worked for NASCAR as an engineer stated that fact, and posted some links to support it. And he said that while most motors do not get used hard enough to create a problem, for him, the 5W-30 was a bit better from the standpoint of engine protection, and that he personally would continue to run it in his 4.6L V8.

    And I am doing the same…I change the oil on my Panther every 6K miles, based on the fact that there are some short hops, but I try to time the engine to at least get the motor and the oil well warmed up to prevent sludge, and the oil still looks and feels clean at 6K.

    While I intend to use one of the more or less all-inclusive FoMoCo services one of these times, which with discounts are around $30, my wife prefers that we save about ten bucks, and go for the $20 chain corner shop changes. Never Jiffy Lube after a dim bulb poured oil into the clutch inspection hole on the bell housing of a Rabbit, but Tires Plus (a Firestone sub), Mr. Tire, that sort of thing.

    And I watch them like a hawk, and mark the filter to make sure it got changed.

    Use a Kendall syn blend, 5 qts. With my driving patterns that works out to about two changes a year, perhaps a bit more if we take a distant vacation. My other local chain store uses Valvoline. Indications are from what I have seen on BITOG and elsewhere that both are at least solid choices.

    YMMV, but this seems like a good decent drill for the Panther. At least it still purrs for me when I rev it and when a put a bit of shoe to it every now and then.

    Runs a bit quicker too with a Superchips 87 octane tune. Would like the hotter tune, but hate to work a 200K engine too hard. Just wanted a little more acceleration and some firmer shifts, which I got.

    But it is a good car, and I feel I am treating it well with that interval and that grade and brand of oil. Not that I couldn’t just spend another $50 a year plus or minus to change it every 3K, but I just don’t see evidence that it does any measurable good.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      A lot of Toyota engines started out approved for 5w30 but allowed (or maybe recommended, cleared, whatever) 5w20 by a technical service bulletin a few years ago.

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