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The New 5W-20 grade - Good or Bad for your engine

americanflagamericanflag Posts: 400
edited March 24 in Honda
5W-20 grade oil, and Mobil 1 has a synthetic 0W-20 on the way in March 2003. Some say 5W-20 is too thin to protect the engine, and that the manufacturers are recommending it because it improves gas mileage slightly. On the other hand, I have heard the opinion that the thinner oil gets into the cylinders of these engines faster and better than a heavier grade would, and Ford says it will void the warranty if you use a grade other than 5W-20 when this grade is called for. What are your opinions?


  • edwardn1edwardn1 Posts: 103
    ...then who do you trust? You go to the manuf. owners manual for everything from ATF to proper gas to use. Heck I remember a few years back when people were saying that the newly recommended 10w30 was way too thin and to use only 20w50. People really said that in the 80's. The best advice is follow your owners manual.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,350
    Just seems like putting oily water in the engine.

    But I reccomend to my customers that they follow Honda's reccomendations. I'm sure they know what they are doing!
  • When I did my first oil change, I went to a quick change place that put in 10W-30. I noticed the engine sounded like it ran smoother. Then I saw that the engine called for 5W-20, so I took it to the dealer and got the oil changed to 5W-20. I swear the engine sounds different now, louder, grindier... almost like when my oil would get thin when I would go too long between oil changes on my old Honda. That is a bit distressing...
  • kinleykinley Posts: 854
    Specifications section cost me over 11 hundred dollars. It stated you don't have to check the rear axle lubricant until 100,000 miles. Before 100,000 miles the whine began and the Ford Service Manager said the fluid had turned to foam.

    The owners manual is now regarded as just a guide, not a bible. After confronting a Ford Customer Service Rep I received 50% of my cost as their "goodwill" gesture.
  • I have been advised by a source that I trust, that the use of 5W-20 motor oil in Ford Corporation products is advisory, and not mandatory to maintain the warranty. My source, who is in the automotive parts and supply business, contacted a local Ford Corporation dealership service facility (without divulging my identity!) and requested the information. He sells parts and supplies to this Ford shop. They told him that 5W-30 was fully satisfactory, but that was the only acceptable substitution.
  • bretfrazbretfraz Posts: 2,021
    No way I'd ever put 5W-20 in my engine. None. The reason Ford is mandating 5W-20 is to improve their CAFE and to follow up on assurances made by Bill Ford that his company would be more environmentally sensitive. IMNSHO, its nothing more than a political decision with some business benefits. Ain't no benefit to a Ford vehicle owner AFAIK.

    Honda is doing it for similar reasons. Honda as a company has always been a leader in fuel economy and emissions technology. It's part of their core business values. So the use of 5W-20 fits perfectly into their global corporate image.

    I'm sure the product quality of the 5W-20's is fine. But there is no long term, real world proof that it will protect an engine over the long haul. Oil weights like 5W-30, 10W-30 and 15W-40 have been tested and proven over the years.

    Besides, its not like Ford redesigned all their engines to work best with 5W-20, is it? The 4.6's and 5.4's and 3.0 Duratec's and 2.0 Zetec's were running just fine on 5W-30 and 10W-30. Now all of a sudden they can only run 5W-20? I ain't buyin' it unless I see documented proof of the engine mods.
  • zr2randozr2rando Posts: 391
    What you choose to do after warranty may be different than during warranty as well. Some mfgrs may help with major cost problems shortly after warranty is up, but they are not under any obligation to do it.
    Far as I'm concerned, after warranty the vehicle is mine and running thin "CAFE" rated oils is much further down on my "to do" list than running thicker "ENGINE PROTECTING" oil is. Warranty period is a very short part of the life of vehicles that I have owned/currently own.
    A person who leases a vehicle is much less concerned with longterm protection than a person who expects at least 200k miles, mfgrs know that leases make a high percentage of vehicles now driving around...they also know that most people don't keep vehicles for that long (due to wrecks/trade-in every 2 years, whatever the reason).
    Each of us has our own priorities...
    Happy holidays!
  • tbonertboner Posts: 402
    To go along with your question about whether the engines are changed or not, I believe there is a Ford bulletin that suggests 5W20 is ok for older engines going back to 92 or 93.

    I saw it over at if you are interested in looking at it.

    I posted the text of it over at

    Bottom line, this tells me it probably has nothing to do with closer tolerances and everything to do with better fuel economy.


  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    That's all. I'd use 5W30 unless climate conditions call for other selections.
  • void the warranty if another grade is used? Wouldn't they only do this if they were concerned about damage to the engine? Or why don't hey say 5W-30 optional in the owners manual?
  • tbonertboner Posts: 402
    I found a copy of the bulletin. Maybe someone from Ford can tell us if this is current, true, etc.

    02-1-9 Engine Oil - Oil Recommendations

    Page: 1/2

    Article No.



    1992-2002 CROWN VICTORIA
    1993-1994 TEMPO
    1993-1997 THUNDERBIRD
    1995-2000 CONTOUR
    1998-2002 ESCORT ZX2
    2000-2002 FOCUS
    1993-1996 BRONCO
    1993-1997 AEROSTAR
    1993-2002 E SERIES, F-150, RANGER
    1995-2002 WINDSTAR
    1997-1999 F-250 LD
    1997-2001 EXPLORER
    1997-2002 EXPEDITION
    2000-2002 EXCURSION
    2001-2002 ESCAPE

    1991-2002 TOWN CAR
    1993-1998 MARK VIII
    1993-2002 CONTINENTAL
    2000-2002 LS
    1998-2002 NAVIGATOR

    1992-2002 GRAND MARQUIS
    1993-1994 TOPAZ
    1993-1997 COUGAR
    1993-1999 TRACER
    1993-2002 SABLE
    1995-2000 MYSTIQUE
    1999-2002 COUGAR
    1997-2001 MOUNTAINEER

    This article is being republished in its entirety to update the vehicle models, engines and years affected.


    Ford Motor Company now recommends SAE 5W-20 viscosity grade for servicing most gasoline and flexible fueled vehicles.

    All 2001 and 2002 vehicles where SAE 5W-20 is specified should be serviced at the recommended oil change intervals using SAE 5W-20. This oil is an improved formulation to improve fuel economy.

    Testing has validated this viscosity grade can be used in many previous model year vehicles. It is recommended ALL vehicles on the following Vehicle Application Listing be service with SAE 5W-20.

    All 2001-2002 vehicles other than those listed in the "Exception 2001 Vehicles" or "Exception 2002 Vehicles" chart are being filled with SAE 5W-20 motor oil at the factory and should also be serviced with SAE 5W-20 oil.

    02-1-9 Engine Oil - Oil Recommendations

    Veh. App. Listing Approved For SAE 5W-20 Motor Oil

    ^ 1993-1996 1.9L Escort/Tracer

    ^ 1995-2000 2.0L Zetec Contour/Mystique

    ^ 1999-2002 2.0L Cougar

    ^ 1997-2002 2.0L Escort/Tracer

    ^ 1998-2002 2.0L Escort ZX2

    ^ 2000-2002 2.0L Focus

    ^ 2001-2002 2.0L Escape

    ^ 1993-1997 2.3L Ranger

    ^ 1993-1994 2.3L Mustang

    ^ 1993-1994 2.3L Tempo/Topaz

    ^ 1998-2001 2.5L Ranger

    ^ 1995-2000 2.5L Contour/Mystique

    ^ 1999-2002 2.5L Cougar

    ^ 2001-2002 3.0L 4V Escape

    ^ 1996-2001 3.0L 4V Taurus/Sable

    ^ 1993-2002 3.0L (Vulcan) Aerostar/Ranger,

    ^ Taurus/Sable (Flexible Fuel and Gas)

    ^ 1995-2000 3.0L (Vulcan) Windstar

    ^ 1993-1994 3.0L (Vulcan) Tempo/Topaz

    ^ 2000-2002 3.0L 4V Lincoln LS

    ^ 1995-2002 3.8L Windstar

    ^ 1993-1997 3.8L Taurus/Sable,

    ^ Thunderbird/Cougar, Continental

    ^ 1994-2002 3.8L Mustang

    ^ 2002-2002 3.9L 4V Lincoln LS

    ^ 1997-2002 4.2L (SPI) F-150 (under 8500 GVW
    only), E-Series

    ^ 1996-2002 4.6L 2V Mustang

    ^ 1992-2002 4.6L Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis

    ^ 1991-2002 4.6L Town Car

    ^ 1994-1997 4.6L 2V Thunderbird/Cougar

    ^ 1996-2002 4.6L 4V Mustang Cobra

    ^ 1995-2002 4.6L 4V Continental

    ^ 1993-1998 4.6L 4V Mark VIII

    ^ 1997-2002 4.6L 2V Triton F-150/250 (under 8500
    GVW only), E-Series, Expedition

    ^ 1993-1999 4.9L E-Series, F-Series

    ^ 1993-1995 5.0L Mustang/Mustang Cobra

    ^ 1993-1993 5.0L Thunderbird/Cougar

    ^ 1997-2001 5.0L Explorer/Mountaineer

    ^ 1993-1996 5.0L E-Series, F-Series, Bronco

    ^ 2000-2002 5.4L Excursion

    ^ 1998-2002 5.4L 2V/4V Navigator

    ^ 1997-2002 5.4L 2V F-1501250 (under 8500
    GVW only), Expedition, E-Series, E-350

    ^ 1993-1997 5.8L F-Series, Bronco

    ^ 1993-1996 5.8L E-Series

    ^ 2000-2002 6.8L Excursion

    ^ 1997-2002 6.8L E-Series, E-350

    ^ 1999-2002 6.8L Super Duty F-Series 250
    HD/350/450/550 Motorhome

    ^ 1993-1998 7.5L All Vehicles


  • As far as I can determine, Ford is not threatening anything concerning the warranty. I believe that the question is being left more or less open, to keep the air pollution Nazis quiet, while not really imposing the new "standard" on customers. Just today, I spoke directly to a supervisor in a Ford dealership shop. We talked at length, and I must say he never actually committed himself to either side of whether or not Ford would refuse warranty coverage if 5W-30 was used. The closest he came was to say that the corporation types would have the opportunity to refuse, if the records they reviewed showed the use of 5W-30. He never suggested that anyone would attempt to prove (by chemical analysis) that 5W-30 had actually been used.
    Has there ever yet been a case in which a car owner has been refused warranty coverage in a circumstance of the customer not using the prescribed oil? I suggest that the next case will be the first case.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    but for lack of maintenance.
  • would use 5W-20 in his own Ford vehicle? That might tell us something.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    they get free cars and the maintenance is covered on a payout just like a regular warranty operation. He doesn't care what oil they use.
  • I have an '03 Accord. I don't think Honda would recommend using 5W20 just to gain a couple tenths of an MPG in the CAFE numbers. Honda has a reputation they've build over the last 20+ years of long lasting engines. Recommending 5W20 just for CAFE even if it would hurt long term engine reliability would be the dumbest move in the world. If that were the case then eventually Honda's engine reputation will start taking hits when it turns out engines don't last as long as they used to.

    I think it's likely that with improvements in manufacturing technology that tighter tolerance engines can be produced, thus allowing a thinner oil to be used.

    Until it's proved otherwise, I'd trust the owners manual.
  • vidtechvidtech Posts: 212
    today's engines have smaller tollerances than they did ten years ago.that thick,cold goopy oil that was used in the past has a harder time getting into these smaller areas.if you deviate from the manual,don't go crying to the dealer because your 45,000 mile engine begins to make noise.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,350
    Call for 0-20 motor oil!
  • tbonertboner Posts: 402
    Did you read what I posted from Ford. They are recommending 5W20 oil for engines going back to 1991 or 1992.

    I'm not sure your tolerance argument really holds water (or 5W20)

    Now, I'm sure you will be fine using this oil under normal conditions for 100K miles.

    But then I'm not normal, LOL

  • 200,000? Also, Mobil 1 is currently developing a 0W-20 synthetic that will be approved by Ford for its vehicles calling for 5W-20, this new oil should be available in March 2003. I saw your post on the Ford recommendations, T, that was interesting.
This discussion has been closed.