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Synthetic Oil for Oil Changes

 
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wojobattier wojobattier
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 06/05
Posted: 06/08/05
07:03 AM

To the group:

hey guys, i'm brand new to the forum here, i'm getting ready to purchase a new Honda Civic and i wanted to find out some information on the benefits of using synthetic oil versus regular oil in the engine. I know it'll be more expensive to do it, but i wanted to find out if anybody could tell me the solid benefits to using a synthetic oil over the regular motor oil, if there are any, and also to point out the good and bad brands to look out for. Thanks for the help guys, appreciate it.

 

CrunchyCookie CrunchyCookie
User | Posts: 153 | Joined: 01/05
Posted: 06/08/05
09:53 AM

Synthetic oil has long shared spotlight space. Claims center around its higher protective abilities and longer wear; most experts say it’s more about the former than the latter. Synthetic’s specialties are to withstand extreme driving and extreme temperatures since its chemical construction is less prone to solidifying in winter and has a higher boiling point in heat (400 degrees instead of 300, says one source). As a side benefit, some have found that synthetic oil lowers octane requirements, possibly because its lower rate of carbon deposits prevents pre-ignition from happening. One extensive test by Amsoil supposedly revealed that cars that run for 60,000 miles on the same batch of synthetic oil end up with less engine wear than cars that run 60,000 miles with regular oil changed every 3,000 miles. Amsoil is one of the major oil companies, so make of that what you will.

In sum, everyone agrees that synthetic basically does everything better, but for the vast majority of drivers who drive normal cars normally in normal conditions, the typically quadrupled cost of the oil ($5 per quart) exceeds the usually minor benefits.

Note: when buying a new car, wait until the first oil change to switch to synthetic. Except for cars designed to run on it in the first place, doing so immediately may interfere with the break-in process by preventing the normal wear that allows piston rings to seat properly. Lastly, watch out for half-hearted blend products that misleadingly use “synthetic” or “syntec” as part of their names when they’re really petroleum-based in nature.

As for additives, there seems to be exactly three opinions floating around: they’re useless, they’re harmful, or they’re a scam. The hard-to-fault logic at the base of it all is that if oil companies knew of a chemical that would greatly enhance their oil, they would have added it themselves. At the next level, some have found that some additives wage war with the oil (never a good idea), and certain additives like STP Oil Treatment have the effect of increasing the viscosity of the oil, which isn’t a step up but a sidestep – a pointless one in the wrong direction.

The bottom line for the average Joe? Check your oil every month. Change it twice a year – thrice if you’re feeling cautious – using the weight type specified by your owner’s manual. Look for the starburst symbol, nevermind the brand, and forget about synthetic. Put a new filter on while you’re at it. And don’t add additives.
 

wtsang wtsang
User | Posts: 125 | Joined: 01/05
Posted: 06/08/05
04:59 PM

The general consensus is that synthetic oils are indeed better than conventional motor oil, mainly that it reduces internal friction better than normal oil, can withstand more heat an cold extremes and as a result, can be run in engines longer before needing to be changed.  The previous reply by Crunchy Cookie may mislead you into thinking that Castrol "Syntec" is not a true 100% synthetic, but it is.  He probably wasn't thinking of Castrol Syntec in particular when he threw out that phrase.  I believe there is a Castrol Syntec Blend though which is not 100%.  I always run full synthetics in my cars and I would not use anything except synthetics.  Mobil 1 is by far one of the most popular and reliable brands of synthetic oil.  You can find it a quite decent prices at warehouse places like Costco, I think I get it for $32 a case, it's often even less when Walmart has them on sale.  Amsoil is also very highly regarded but harder to get and more expensive as is Shell Helix which is used by Ferrari.  My M3 uses Castrol TWS Synthetic from the factory.  

wojobattier wojobattier
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 06/05
Posted: 06/08/05
07:34 PM

Thanks for the responses guys, i really appreciate it. A couple more questions came up for me while i was reading your responses, see if you can help me out.

1. Both of you mentioned that you can go longer on a synthetic oil change interval rather than a regular oil interval. My question is, How long between oil changes with synthetic oil should i wait to keep optimum performance, which is the main reason why i'm thinking about doing this.

2. With synthetic oil being on a longer interval, what's the deal with the oil filter that gets changed at the same time, do most normal oil filters have the quality that i need to be able to be changed when i change the synthetic oil at a longer interval, or are there better oil filters that need to be used ??

That's all for now, i know my posts probably paint me at being a newbie to taking care of cars, actually it's quite the opposite, i've worked on my used car that i have now for several years and i'm good at doing maintenance on it, it's just with going to a brand new car, i wanted to get the heads up on the synthetic oil benefits because i'm used to using regular motor oil in my used car that's about to go. Thanks for all your help, i appreciate it.

 

wtsang wtsang
User | Posts: 125 | Joined: 01/05
Posted: 06/09/05
09:58 AM

If you are concerned about getting the best performance and best engine protection, change your oil every 3,000 - 5,000. Synthetic can indeed go longer and maintain a better level of lubrication, but the main reason for changing your oil is because it gets really dirty. And in this aspect synthetic is no different from conventional oil. If your oil gets too many particles in it, you will start harming your engine. Most particles are generated from the intake air flow, a little bit from natural engine wear and internal combustion by products. This doesn't change no matter what oil you use. If you live in a very dusty or polluted region, you will need to change your oil more often. So if you care about getting the best performance and keeping your engine in top shape, use synthetic for it's superior lubrication and safety margin, but also change it at regular intervals. Don't cut corners by trying to change your oil less frequently just because it's synthetic. You can, but if you care about your car, why? I changed my oil every 3000 on my '94 Supra with Mobil 1. My '03 M3 reccomended service interval is about 12,000 miles between every oil change, but I still change it every 3,000 - 5,000.

As far as oil filters go, I've always stuck with the manufacturer's filters. I have heard that Mobil 1 & Amsoil make good quality oil filters though. A lot depends on your car and the manufacturer. With my Supra we found that the filter Toyota provided for their Lexus V8 engines had the best filtering element and flow characteristics, and conveniently, fit perfectly on the Supra.  

CrunchyCookie CrunchyCookie
User | Posts: 153 | Joined: 01/05
Posted: 06/09/05
11:33 AM

Methinks that's total overkill. Even with crappy oil, 3,000 miles is unnecessary; with synthetic it's absurd. For normal people on normal oil, every expert recommends several months between changes. Typical manufacturer recommendation is 6 months or 7,500 miles. I just do it every June and December to keep things simple. And when I watch the oil drain, it's still a not-too-shabby shade of light brown.

Yes, synthetic will accumulate just as much crap over any given period of time, but the reason it lasts longer is because the stuff it's made of is more resistant and durable.
Oh yeah, one more cool thing about synthetics are how they sticks to engine parts, so you get less engine wear on cold starts after your car hasn't done jack for the past few hours.

If the main motive is to take longer breaks between oil changes, synthetic isn't worth it. In Europe, where a lot of people use synthetic, they go about a year between changes (meaning half as often as you should with regular oil), but synthetic costs four times as much, so you'd be paying double. (Well, a little less than double, since you also save on labor.) Go synthetic if you drive like a madman and/or live in Arizona/Antarctica.

As for filters, I think most manuals say you only need a new filter at every other oil change. Yet just about every oil change service comes with a filter swap anyway.
 

cthinker cthinker
New User | Posts: 5 | Joined: 08/05
Posted: 08/09/05
07:39 PM

I read some scary stuff in this thread.

As a general rule of thumb, motor oil should be changed before the manufactures recommended interval. Generally, the Manufacture prints intervals of what is called “Normal Driving Conditions”. But what is considered “Normal Driving Conditions” to the manufacture is not generally normal. Most people drive under sever driving conditions. So if your manual recommends 5000 or 7500 miles between oil changes, then you may still need it changed at 3000 miles.  

I am currently working in a quick oil change place but I am also a licensed technician with years of experience. We recommend 3000 miles even with Mobil 1 Synthetic oil. In fact, I even looked all over to see Mobil mileage recommendation. But was unsuccessful. My understanding is Mobil even recommends according the manufacture’s specs.  

The reason we recommend 3000 is because we do not know each customers driving habits, and if asking the customer whom many times do not even know what veichle they drive, they think they drive normal driving conditions even though they may drive through a congested city such as Ann Arbor, MI with 5 min trips and come in for their oil change on a cold engine. Fact is, customer generally always thinks they drive normal conditions.  

Also, as far as the 3000 miles, its 3000 miles or 3 months. What ever comes first. And yes, this is important. Your oil breaks down. And once you start getting combustion byproducts in your oil, the oil starts breaking down. This is because the by products produce harmful chemicals that break down the oil. So doing two oil changes a year on conventional oil is not a safe situation. Not only that, it does take its toll on your oil filter as well.

The oil filter should be changed “every” oil change. This filter gets clogged. It’s cheap. And when the filter gets clogged it lets dirty oil circulate by allowing it through the bypass valve.  

 

wtsang wtsang
User | Posts: 125 | Joined: 01/05
Posted: 08/10/05
10:14 AM

Good info cthinker.  I too have not seen evidence that changing oil only twice a year, or using the same filter over multiple changes is a good idea.  I have seen quite the opposite, though arguably this has been in cars whos engines probably undergo more stress than your common engine (turbo I6 and high revving I6).  In forums for the Supra and M3, ppl have done analysis of oil filters and their oil.  In many cases the oil filters either totally clog up or the elements inside are falling apart by the oil change time.

I think what leads to a lot of the false impression that you can reuse oil filters and only need to change your oil once or twice a year is that the detrimental effects are not immediately noticeable for a typical car and car owner.  The damaging effects build up over time, and even then, loss of power, low compression, poor mileage, is not something a typical person can easily quantify.  They probably attribute those things to just the car is getting old.  But in reality it's not that the car is old, it's just poorly maintained.  

 

cthinker cthinker
New User | Posts: 5 | Joined: 08/05
Posted: 08/10/05
05:43 PM

Well a textbook example came in the shop today.  

I forgot what veichle it was, but it was one of the minivans.  

Anyways, the customer pulled up and wanted an oil change and oil system cleaner. He asked us if we did them. Usually it’s me recommending to the customer. Well he explained that it was his wife’s car and she hasn’t took care of it. It was making some knocking noises. Apparently it just started doing this. So the husband brought it in. Apparently it wasn’t changed in over a year. And she puts 100 miles to and from work a day teaching. So were probably talking 20,000 miles plus on the oil. I pulled the dipstick and it was sludge and had literally chunks. He started it up and we ran it. Normally we do it for 3 or 4 min, but cause the condition I did it much longer. It knocked pretty good all the way through the cleaning. I explained to him that it probably wont clean it enough, suggested some other options such as Mobil synthetic cause of the added cleaners, maybe coming in at 1500 miles for the next oil change or sooner and clean it again, and even recommended a competitor as they have some hot cleaning chemical, but it’s pricy.

I ran the engine until I was comfortable in knowing we broke must everything up by checking the dipstick. Then we changed it. Yes, the stuff we had actually did a great job breaking it up, much better then I expected. But of course, it looked like it still needed a oil change once we where done. Im sure driving maybe a day or two and bringing it in again and repeating the process would have probably helped, however, I recommended the other cleaning option instead it was that bad.  

As far as the engine noise, it was still their. I’m sure the image is in need of a rebuild, and I think the customer has come to terms with that, but he will probably try those alternatives first. But ultimately, the oil wasn’t changed, and now the fact is, severe permanent engine damage has resulted.

This was the worst I have ever seen engine oil in the field, though I have heard of it much worse. And replacing a engine at 47,000 miles is simply a matter of neglect.  

 

 

USMCGAGT USMCGAGT
New User | Posts: 15 | Joined: 08/05
Posted: 08/10/05
06:07 PM

You would be safe running a regular oil in the car, I'd save the synthetics (and the inflated price) for when you get some mileage on it (75K plus), it's the way I've always done it, and it works like a champ. Learned that trick from my grandfather, who has a '78 Dodge truck, 318, with 450,000 miles on it that runs like the day it left the factory.


And as for oil filters, I have yet to have a problem with Fram. They work rather well, and are easy to remove when the time comes, unlike some from AC Delco and Motorcraft. I had to get the oil filter threads "refreshed" one time with a Motorcraft, had to use a screwdriver to get it off, and for some crazy reason, the threads were off on the new filter, making it leak. It went on just fine, but had probably a 1/16" gap on one side......not pretty.

Just my opinion.  

cthinker cthinker
New User | Posts: 5 | Joined: 08/05
Posted: 08/11/05
07:03 PM

Well the synthetics are really much supiorer. Is it worth the added expense? Well that’s something for the customer to decide. Me, myself, I believe so.  

As far as which is safer, theirs nothing wrong with running synthetic. Theirs no danger. Yes, it can dislodge sludge and such preventing a gasket leak, but it is much better and safer then conventional oil. And actually, its best to start right away. Why put added wear on an engine, Id rather it be protected from the start. Once the wear is done, then that’s where you run into the problem is it worth the expense or should we run conventiaonl and just rebuild and then synthetic.

We have a customer that comes in weekly for an oil change, Almost at the 500,000 mark, I think he’s got another oil change or two to go. He was just in today. But when I talked to him before, if it was the same customer, we ran synthetic for a long time, then went to conventional.  

As far as filters go. Any filter will come off hard if it’s over tightened and easy if not. Plus age, heat, and oiling the seal has a lot to do with it. But just using one bran of filter one time shouldn’t be the cause of the threads being destroyed. And yes, any filter can be defective. We use Might brand. Who supplied them, no clue. But they work, and occasionally, theirs a bad filter. But this is found putting it on.  

 

terigox terigox
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 09/05
Posted: 09/04/05
07:07 AM

Hi everyone, New here and saw some good info in this thread Emotion 1 I would just like to pose another question related to this... when switching to a synthetic oil on a new car, after the initial break in on a SAE oil, is there a recommened process for making the actual switch?

For instance, should the old oil just be drained out, the synthetic added, and driven as normal... should the old drained, synthetic added, driven for 1,000 miles, then changed again? I'm just trying to pinpoint the best and safest process for the overall cleanest transition!

Any input you guys can provide would be great Emotion 1
 

meanolfart meanolfart
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 09/05
Posted: 09/06/05
05:24 AM


To All:

I am new to the forum, but I have a follow up question to one posted by terigox.
If synthetic oil does in fact last longer that conventional oils why couldn't you go
7500 miles between changes, but change oil filter at 3000?
THX
MOF

 

terigox terigox
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 09/05
Posted: 09/10/05
08:42 PM

meanolfart wrote:

 
To All:

I am new to the forum, but I have a follow up question to one posted by terigox.
If synthetic oil does in fact last longer that conventional oils why couldn't you go
7500 miles between changes, but change oil filter at 3000?
THX
MOF  



I guess you could, from what I have read most people have been changing the filters still the same time as the oil, at about 5,000 miles for most new cars. I found some good synthetic oil readings here (http://www.mobil1.com/USA-English/MotorOil/Synthetics/Synthetic_Oils_FAQs.aspx) at Exxon Mobil's website for Mobil1. I have about 1,00 miles on my car, and am going to wait until about 3,000 then switch over to Mobil1 Synthetic using a FRAM filterEmotion 1 So we'll see how it does!
 

charger69 charger69
New User | Posts: 8 | Joined: 05/05
Posted: 09/30/05
10:37 PM

There is a website www.bobistheoilguy.com that has tons of information.
I personally have a number of muscle cars, offroad vehicles, and newer cars and I use Mobil 1 (synthetic) in all of them.  I live in the middle of the desert in S. California where the temperature get into the 120's in the summer (and that's in the shade!).  The main reason that I use the synthetic oil is for the cold start up protection and the prolonged breakdown period.  Regular oil does not provide lubrication when it is first cranked, whereas synthetic does.
I personally change the oil as recommended in the owners manual for the car ( 3-5K miles) and the oil still looks great, but then again, I also break in a new car under 50 mph for the first 100 miles despite the claim that it is not necessary anymore.  

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