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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • Sometimes this "oil talk" reminds me of medieval monks arguing about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin.

    Who worries these days about "28% fewer piston deposits" or oil flow at -35F?

    I mean, when you start your car in the morning, are you really all thinking "oh, man, I hope the oil I put in last week will prevent piston deposits over the next 400,000 miles". :P

    You open the owner's manual, you read what it says, you put that into your engine, and you're done for the next 10 years---that's the experience of the vast number of drivers of modern automobiles.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    edited February 2013
    Well, that sure brought this all to a screeching halt.

    Not sure what kind of response you were looking for. This is just an article on a consumer (automotive) web site. It's not meant to be a product specification, or a contract, or a statement of work (SOW).

    The language in some owner's manuals suggests that using an oil other than the one specified by the manufacturer will void the car's warranty. This is not the case, says Thom Smith, Valvoline's vice president of branded lubricant technology

    I fully agree with that. Owner's manuals are full of terms like "recommend", which in my mind means it's not required. If it's required, than the owners manual ought to say so, with wording such as "the owner SHALL use 5W-20 oil that is labeled to meet the Dexos specification", or "it is required that the owner...".
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    You open the owner's manual, you read what it says, you put that into your engine, and you're done for the next 10 years---that's the experience of the vast number of drivers of modern automobiles.

    Totally agree, and exactly what does it say?

    From Search Auto Parts.com....

    The 2011 Buick Lucerne owner's manual contains this warning: "Use only engine oil that is approved to the dexos specification or an equivalent engine oil of the appropriate viscosity grade. Engine oils approved to the dexos specification will show the dexos symbol on the container. Failure to use the recommended engine oil or equivalent can result in engine damage not covered by the vehicle warranty."

    Greg Martin, director, policy and Washington communications, General Motors Corp., says if a GM car owner does not use motor oil that meets the dexos spec, GM would be free not to cover repairs for those issues under the new vehicle or parts limited warranties. "This is true across the industry," he adds. "This has been true for years. This is legal under Magnuson-Moss."


    The trick now is exactly what is or is not "equivelant"?

    Who worries these days about "28% fewer piston deposits" or oil flow at -35F?

    Oh just GM, Ford, Honda and Chrysler to name a few......
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,267
    Oil flow at -35F? Yeah, that's something I'm concerned about, too, along with at least another 100,000 of us sub-arctic (and arctic) dwellers.

    The cold flow properties of lubricants ranks #1 on my list when looking for compatible fluids for my vehicles.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    equivalent engine oil of the appropriate viscosity grade.

    The trick now is exactly what is or is not "equivelant"?

    Seems to me GM left the door open to using a non-Dexos branded oil.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Oil flow at -35F? Yeah, that's something I'm concerned about, too

    Let's keep this focused on the specs. It is a very important specification for GM, as well as Ford and Chrysler approved products. GM and Ford have reduced bearing clearances and can prove that at cold temperatures during start-up the shearing stress on the oil can fracture the oil molecules, rendering the oil unable to perform all of its other requirements. By reducing the pumping requirements the oil is protected from this stress.

    So again, its a very important specification. Do the Valvoline products listed meet that requirement of the specification or not?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Seems to me GM left the door open to using a non-Dexos branded oil

    Some want you to think that way, but that isn't what it said.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,011
    edited February 2013
    It's not a big deal to me; I run LL-01 oil in my BMWs while they are under warranty, after which I might change to a different oil. The LL-01 Mobil 1 0W-40 seems to work well in M42 engine in my 318ti- but less so in the M54 in my son's X3 2.5. I run Rotella T6 in it, and based on UOAs the T6 appears to working just as well or better at 150,000 miles. Per Blackstone Labs:

    Universal averages for BMW's M54 I-6 are based on about 6,400 miles on the oil. You ran this oil 8,352 miles, and wear read at or below average across the board. That's the best indication we know of that an engine is in good mechanical shape internally.

    Note that every oil I've run in that truck shows a TBN of 1.0 or less by 10,000 miles. So much for following the SI system's @16,000 mile OCI...

    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: 43,626
    edited February 2013
    Neither GM nor any other automaker can void your warranty because you can't prove which oil you put in---first of all, GM or any other automaker would have to prove that the engine failed due to an oil problem. If the oil filler tube is found lying n the bottom of the pan, or the oil pan baffles are broken, or the head is cracked, then GM has the problem to explain that this was due to the oil not being spec'd to 35F below? Yeah, that'll really fly in court.

    Fractured oil molecules at sub-zero temperatures? Now who on earth has to deal with that except NASA maybe? Does anyone really think that 99.99999% of the world has to even worry about this?
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,912
    An old friend of mine from my Anchorage days used Amsoil synthetic and changed that every 3,500 miles "because that's when most of the molecular tails broke off".

    And this talk about "You open the owner's manual, you read what it says, you put that into your engine, and you're done for the next 10 years".

    I'll have you know I change my oil once a year whether it needs it or not. Usually. :P

    Next, GM will be putting nanobits in the Dexos stuff so they can sample the oil and scan for the identifiers.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Neither GM nor any other automaker can void your warranty because you can't prove which oil you put in---first of all, GM or any other automaker would have to prove that the engine failed due to an oil problem

    These are the kinds of statements that I was expecting to get back.
    Denial, Anger, Negotiation, and finally resigned acceptance as the instructor put it are the emotions that must be dealt with if people are to learn how things have changed.

    Are you in favor of properly educated consumers, or against them being properly educated? If you don't care about them being properly educated about this subject, then go ahead and continue to argue with me. If making sure they know how to make informed choices is important then you can (and should) spend some time and investigate and find out for yourself, as well as listen to exactly what I am saying.

    You cannot trust what you have always believed in the past anymore.

    Fractured oil molecules at sub-zero temperatures?

    Yep, they can prove it and that proof would reveal that a product was used that wasn't equivelant to the specification. The question is "will they"?

    The bigger issue that people use to cloud this has to do with warranties. You can mistreat the vehicle and have the engine get through the warranty period without a failure. But that doesn't mean that problems haven't been occurring. This is about protecting the vehicle for its full lifespan, not just the warranty period.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    It's not a big deal to me; I run LL-01 oil in my BMWs while they are under warranty, after which I might change to a different oil. The LL-01 Mobil 1 0W-40 seems to work well in M42 engine in my 318ti- but less so in the M54 in my son's X3 2.5. I run Rotella T6 in it, and based on UOAs the T6 appears to working just as well or better at 150,000 miles. Per Blackstone Labs

    You are of course following the manufacturers specs, exactly as you should. If you get a chance, look at the ILSAC part of the specs for those products. To meet BMW's spec, those products do not meet ILSAC. ILSAC is too thin for BMW.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,912
    This is about protecting the vehicle for its full lifespan, not just the warranty period.

    Those are different time periods?

    Kidding aside, what it a "full lifespan"? From stuff I've read, Ford designs its parts to last ten years (I don't recall a mileage number, but since most people drive 12 to 15k a year, that would correlate to 150,000 miles).
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    edited February 2013
    All this reminds me of the old saying....

    "Measure it with a micrometer, then split it with an axe.".

    That isn't to say I don't follow (nor do I suggest others not follow) the manufacturer-approved lubricants for a vehicle, because that's exactly what I do... For me, I can (and do) purchase oil from my BMW dealer cheaper than I can at Walmart... Seems like a no-brainier to me. I do vary, however, in trusting ANY motor oil to last 15K miles. Fortunately, I don't put nearly that amount of miles on any of my vehicles in a year, and I change my oil annually, at a minimum. For me, problem solved.

    Cardoc, IMO, and I mean this with the utmost respect, if people were required to get into the specifics at the level you're headed towards, there simply wouldn't be an automotive market in existence.

    The existence of quickie oil change lube joints pretty much proves that there (at least, up until now) is a fair amount of tolerance in what the average car's lifetime is being viewed as acceptable by the driving, car-owning public.

    That isn't to say that owners couldn't get more miles out of their engine by using more precise lubricants, but it does say that, for the vast majority, what they're doing is enough to satisfy their expectations.

    Now, the future may be an entirely different bag, but I suspect we'll start seeing tons of lawsuits against quickie-lubes if it turns out to be a significant issue.

    The level of precision one expects is all relative... A mathematician calculating the trajectory of a comet may insist on taking his calculations to 100 points right of the decimal point, but for the rest of us, we'll just take him at his word when he says the comet isn't going to take out the planet... We don't need to do the same calculation.

    I don't mean to sound "flip" about this at all, it's just that 99.9999% of the population accepts "good enough" as OK. I can understand your frustration, but lets face it... If the car gets someone where they want to go, when they want to go there, its good enough for just about everybody.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    About twenty years today is the average full projected lifespan. That's 200-300 thousand miles and it includes the emissions system too.

    Yes a lot of parts are designed to make it ten years at the minimum. That means they should last well beyond that "on average".
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,442
    edited February 2013
    According to USA TODAY, the average age of cars on the road is around 11 years today.

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/autos/story/2012-01-17/cars-trucks-age-polk- - /52613102/1

    What isn't addressed in the article is how many owners have the average car for 11 years.

    According to the article below, the average ownership of new cars is in the 6 or 7 year time frame, or even less...

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2012/11/07/nine-cars-americans-keep-longes- t/

    Frankly, I doubt few car owners really car much about what lifespan is left in a vehicle once they trade it...
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    That isn't to say I don't follow (nor do I suggest others not follow) the manufacturer-approved lubricants for a vehicle, because that's exactly what I do

    I hope you won't mind me pointing out another contradiction.

    For me, I can (and do) purchase oil from my BMW dealer cheaper than I can at Walmart... Seems like a no-brainier to me. I do vary, however, in trusting ANY motor oil to last 15K miles.

    There are two distinct camps here. Those who follow the manufacturers specs, and those who are doing their best to try and argue against doing that. As sure as they are trying to assert that people don't have to follow GM's spec, aren't they also saying that you shouldn't have to follow BMW's? After all it makes no sense for it to work one way, but not the other, does it?

    Cardoc, IMO, and I mean this with the utmost respect, if people were required to get into the specifics at the level you're headed towards, there simply wouldn't be an automotive market in existence

    I'm not sure I follow you here. The cars and their specs are indeed getting to be this complicated. That's why people need to listen to those who are getting the training that they need in order to do the job correctly. I'd rather make the effort for the consumers to understand the specs and the details involved then to have them have to deal with the consequences some day in the future. Keep in mind, we aren't talking only about the engines, that's a part of it. We are also talking about the emissions components. Expensive emissions components.

    The existence of quickie oil change lube joints pretty much proves that there (at least, up until now) is a fair amount of tolerance in what the average car's lifetime is being viewed as acceptable by the driving, car-owning public.

    So I guess GM's aren't having timing chain concerns, nor oil consumption concerns, after all there is no proof that anything bad is happening, right?. These concerns BTW are not limited to GM, but there are a number of forum complaints that can be referenced right here on Edmunds. These problems are real, and they are primarily the result of the use of products that failed to meet the GM specs, and/or service interval issues.

    Now, the future may be an entirely different bag, but I suspect we'll start seeing tons of lawsuits against quickie-lubes if it turns out to be a significant issue.

    Not until the consumers realize what the possibilities are. For now they are only hearing denial about the need to meet the manufacturers specs. Don't you think it would be better for everyone to get up to speed now, instead of having the nightmare happen first?
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,011
    What isn't addressed in the article is how many owners have the average car for 11 years.

    Well, I bought the 318ti new in November 1995, the 1999 Wrangler in May 2002, and the 2004 X3 in November 2005. I don't ever plan to sell the ti or the Jeep, and I plan to keep the X3 until my son graduates from college in 2017. I'd hang on to my 1975 2002, but I have too many cars in the driveway right now so it will have to go... :(

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

  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Frankly, I doubt few car owners really car much about what lifespan is left in a vehicle once they trade it...

    What happens to the trade in value if a group of cars are known to suffer expensive repairs?

    How is the second owners opinion affected if he/she finds out a car that they are interested in buying wasn't serviced correctly?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    I bought my Ranger in Oct' 93. My Explorer in 2002, My Mustang in 08 (2007) and my Escape in 2012 (2010). Yea the driveway is a little full too. I'll be giving one of them away (the Ranger) to a niece here in a few more months.
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