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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,448
    edited March 2013
    I started giving this question some thought, so I decided to look it up in the car owner's manual. This is what it says...

    Engine Oil Selection

    For best performance and maximum protection for turbocharged engines under all types of operating conditions, the manufacturer recommends synthetic engine oils that are API Certified and meet the requirements of Chrysler Material Standard MS-10896.


    Engine Oil Viscosity (SAE Grade)

    SAE 5W-40 full synthetic engine oil is recommended for all operating temperatures. This engine oil improves low temperature starting and vehicle fuel economy.

    Lubricants which do not have both the engine oil certification mark and the correct SAE viscosity grade number should not be used.

    The engine oil filler cap also shows the recommended engine oil viscosity for your engine. For information on engine oil filler cap location, refer to “Engine Compartment” in “Maintaining Your Vehicle” for further information.


    Looking at the question, from a purely "requirements .vs. suggestions" POV, it seems clear that Fiat wants owners to use 5W-40 only, and gives no other option.

    It would have been nice for the manual to go a step farther and elaborate (for perhaps a paragraph) why only this weight oil was acceptable.

    Pity the poor guy who needs a quart (the engine only holds 4 quarts) and can't find the exact oil. Decision time... Walk or chance a damaged engine by using an alternative lubricant.

    Although I doubt a short driving distance on 5W-30 oil that otherwise met all the specifications would be excessively harmful to the engine...
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    I guess that the real point of my question was whether that specification was written by engineers or lawyers. :P

    "This engine oil improves low temperature starting and vehicle fuel economy. "

    Well any multi-grade synthetic would pretty much do that....so that's not a good enough reason...and if it has the required oil certification mark, then I can't see the harm if you were in a pinch to add oil.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    But it doesn't say that "SAE 5W-40 full synthetic" is required - only that it's recommended.

    Again, from your owners manual, "Lubricants which do not have both the engine oil certification mark and the correct SAE viscosity grade number should not be used".

    Should is not a contractually binding statement - it make the clause that follows optional. The authors of the owner's manual should have used the phrase "shall not" instead of "should not".
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,981
    edited March 2013
    Hm, the manual also says (in the Fluids, Lubricants and Genuine Parts section):

    Use API Certified SAE 5W-40 Full Synthetic Engine Oil, meeting the
    requirements of Chrysler Material Standard MS-10896. Refer to your
    engine oil filler cap for correct SAE grade.

    That's from the Abarth manual I grabbed online; you can check the other ones here. (The 1.4l Turbo looks to be the same in the 500 manual, while the non-turbo has "recommended" language for a different spec 5W30).
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,019
    edited March 2013
    According to their web sites, Castrol, Pennzoil, Valvoline, and XOM do not make a suitable oil for the Abarth.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,448
    edited March 2013
    According to their web sites, Castrol, Pennzoil, Valvoline, and XOM do not make a suitable oil for the Abarth.

    That's Funny... Check out the recommended oil in the "oil change instructions" in the link below....

    Looks a lot like a Pennzoil product.

    http://www.fiat500usa.com/2012/09/fiat-500-abarth-oil-change.html

    And some wonder how, something that on the surface should be relatively simple, can end up being so dang confusing...
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,019
    For nearly twenty years I've used a really good outdoor power equipment shop to service my two ZTR mowers. One mower uses a B&S Intek twin, the other a Kawasaki FH twin. Both manufacturers approve multi-viscosity oils as well as synthetic. I asked the shop about using synthetic and they said no problem, but that they preferred that I provide it. So a new guy comes to pick up the mowers; he sees the bottles of Mobil 1 in the footboards and says "You know that's not the right oil- you are only supposed to use straight 30 weight." I told him that I got the recommendations off the manufacturer's web sites and that the oils were approved. "News to me." he says...

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,981
    I'm pretty sure that's not an official Fiat website though.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,019
    Exactly; everyone is assuming that Pennzoil Ultra 5W-40 is the correct oil- but Pennzoil does not list Chrysler MS-10896 approval on any of their Product Data Sheets.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,448
    edited March 2013
    I think you're right, but in the footnotes at the bottom of the oil change instructions they cite as sources are Fiat, Chrysler and the Fiat Abarth Repair manual.

    About 1/2 way down the page, there is a disclaimer that the site isn't associated with Fiat, but you really have to be searching for it in order to find it,

    The point I was attempting to make was that it isn't enough just to just take what appears to be an authoritative reference as fact, but one must really verify anything that isn't absolutely certified as manufacturer recommendations and requirements.

    I can easily see how many would confuse www.fiat500usa.com as a manufacturer-sponsored web-site and reference. Perhaps Fiat should insist that this site clearly denote its not a manufacturer sponsored site.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,448
    edited March 2013
    everyone is assuming that Pennzoil Ultra 5W-40 is the correct oil- but Pennzoil does not list Chrysler MS-10896 approval on any of their Product Data Sheets.

    From the little bit of searching I've done, I can't find any manufacturer offering oil conforming to the MS-10896 spec. I wonder what is so unique in the refining/additive process that causes it to be so rare.

    After reading several other Fiat based forum comments, several posters have claimed the Pennzoil 5w-40 shown in the earlier linked oil change instructional page is the exact oil their Fiat dealers use for Abarth oil changes in their dealerships.

    I guess I'm glad I don't have an Abarth...
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,981
    It's a bit more clear on their forum at the bottom, but I'm surprised that Fiat isn't complaining to them too. I didn't see the disclaimer halfway down the main page at all.

    Meanwhile we're back to wondering how much effort will people take to verify the manufacturer spec vs simply picking up a jug of 5W30 at Walmart.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    I have to freak out every time someone puts an oil filter in my MINI, since they make two types and if you use the wrong one, that's bad, really bad. So I have to examine the filter before I give them permission to use it. The oil? If it's full synthetic and a name brand, then ....whatever 5w30 they have.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,448
    edited March 2013
    Meanwhile we're back to wondering how much effort will people take to verify the manufacturer spec vs simply picking up a jug of 5W30 at Walmart.

    Agreed...

    One thing seems sure... Over the next couple of years, we're going to see if the Abarth indeed requires a very unique oil, or if it isn't such a necessary requirement after all.

    From spending about 30 minutes in forums on the subject of oil changes in Fiat Abarths, it would appear there are quite a few that aren't worried about using lubricants that don't meet the Chrysler spec.

    In fact, many posters don't even use the correct weight oil...

    "Parts is parts..." seems to be the order of the day...
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,448
    I forget what year model your Mini is (my wife has an 05 non-S convertible), but I suspect that as long as you change the oil somewhat frequently, and don't try to get 15K miles between oil changes, you'll probably never have a lubrication-related issue, as long as you continue to use the correct filter and a reputable synthetic oil.

    You're far more apt to see dual-mass flywheel issues on your S model.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,019
    "Parts is parts..." seems to be the order of the day...

    Some people thought the same thaing on the BMW boards and didn't use BMW coolant- then they wondered why they were plagued with premature cooling system failures. I'm sure that more than a few fools will pour whatever they have into their Abarth's cooling system as well- never mind that Fiat specs an OAT coolant...

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    Oh the flywheel "Chewbacca" noise? I got that already. I just live with it. I'm not spending $2200 to fix a squeak.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,019
    OK, I just found this: Pennzoil Ultra Euro 5W-40 PDS

    So I stand corrected- it apparently is approved for the Abarth...

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,981
    edited March 2013
    Funny that it's already changed though -- "Chrysler MS-12991 (replaces references to MS-10896)".

    So what happens if you can only find a jug labeled MS-10896? Shouldn't you really be using the latest and greatest? :shades:

    I'll have to get new reading glasses to keep up with all of the fine print on this stuff.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,448
    That's dated January 2013, so its relatively new.

    Still, I'd like to have some general idea of exactly what is unique in the Chrysler specs...
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