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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,014
    San Francisco taxis change the brakes every 6 weeks on average!

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  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,491
    I thought this story would be relevant to our recent discussion on oil; I've been thinking of picking up an Abarth so I've been monitoring one of the Fiat 500 forums. It turns out that the Abarth and the 500 Turbo spec a 5W-40 synthetic, while non-turbo 500s takes any SN 5W-30. An Abarth owner was worried that his dealer had used 5W-30 instead of the 5W-40 synthetic and posted his concerns. The following is one "expert" response:

    It must be true.. Its on the internets...

    Want answers??? Call an oil manufacturer. They HAVE all the facts. They will be more than happy to help a customer.

    Most people that post stuff are reposters. I.. Myself have been an engine repair and builder for 30 years. I have been to seminars and shows to learn about oil and its differences between regular oil and synthetic. I also know the effects of oils and ethanol and methanol. (I am also the Crew chief for a NASA Spec E30 car and a Chumpcar, and a back up crew for a Porsche 993 NASA GT3 car.)
    The only thing that makes an oil synthetic is that the amount of additives exceeds a certain percentage. Its still all oil.

    Want to make your own synthetic oil?? Change your oil. First thing you put in, 1/2 qt of transmission fluid. Then top off with the motor oil of your choice. The amount of detergents and additives in the trans fluid will make the oil"synthetic" by the rules. Before you get all bothered.. This is what we did on cars back in the days of straight oils and engines with coking problems. One customer had Dodge trucks that they bought new and sold with 350,000 on them. (With the unopened factory engines)
    I now only do this on turbo engines that aren't water cooled turbos. (Castrol GTX does a great job of keeping engines clean inside.)
    Heck.. you can use vegetable oil if you can find a way to stabilize it. (You know.. by additives.. and you make a synthetic oil)
    So... Fear not.. your car is going to be OK. Your turbo is safe. (I have experience in this stuff.)


    Unbelievable...

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,014
    edited March 2013
    The man is daft but he does bring up (unintentionally) an interesting question.

    Does anyone actually believe that every Fiat Abarth engine that gets 5w-30 instead of 5w-40 is going to blow up before the owner gets home? Or ever for that matter?

    Is a Fiat engine so narrowly engineered that this could possibly matter?

    Jes' wondering.... :P

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,329
    edited March 2013
    Is a Fiat engine so narrowly engineered that this could possibly matter?


    Yes
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited March 2013
    Fiat500USA (not an official site) says "The engine equipping the 2012 Fiat 500 is jewel like."

    I like the YouTube commenter - "just another part that will break down it cost a arm and a leg to fix."

    Not to mention the added expense of the Rolex oil. :P
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,014
    that tells me zilch about why it MUST have 40w instead of 30w oil however.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,329
    The following is one "expert" response:

    Unbelievable...


    What's so unbelievable? That someone who clearly doesn't have a clue is so sure of himself? Having watched the "Brakes" posts over the last few days I couldn't decide if I should even bother putting a response up on this forum anymore. Everyone was so sure of themselves, they were all totally correct, right?

    The facts are, I could rip most of the brakes responses to shreds because of how incorrect they are, but I find myself wondering why bother? Go look at the how to "Do a Set of Brakes" article here in Edmunds written by Dan Edmunds and Phillip Reed. What they wrote there doesn't describe "how to do brakes", what they described is known as a "Pad Slap" and those result in a better than a 70% comeback ratio in a shop environment. But anyone who reads that garbage as well as some of the recent posts here could take any of it as valid information. Especially when some of the perceptions that were voiced while commonly accepted, are totally false.

    I have a quote. "Anyone can do brakes,,,,,,,, INCORRECTLY". I use it all of the time when I do a brakes class and that helps the students as the class moves forward and all of the incorrect habits that they learned from others that need changed get exposed. Then they are more open to accepting the routines that will allow them to efficiently deal with the challenges that the new technology in the cars creates. During the class one of the goals is to get them to realize how easy it is to get an "easy" job wrong.

    We can add to my quote about brakes this one about fluids. "Anyone can choose an engine oil product that will fail to meet a vehicles specs today". Ron's article here in Edmunds failed to correctly inform the readers about that too. Shifty's uncertainty about exactly why a specific product is required is sufficient proof that more education is critical all the way across the board. Just like the brakes posts here, I can easily set the records straight but if real education doesn't take place to back me up, then I'd just be wasting more of my time.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,329
    that tells me zilch about why it MUST have 40w instead of 30w oil however

    So what kind of an effort are you willing to make to gain the training required to have the answer?
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,491
    Again, I don't see why using a manufacturer's oil spec is a big deal. I assume-correctly or not-that the manufacturer knows what oils are most suitable for their products. And in almost every case, oil that meets the manufacturer's spec is readily available. It may cost a bit more, but so what?

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,014
    I don't need training Doc. I don't need an education. I just need a video that explains in two sentences why this electro/hydraulic system MUST have 5-40W oil.

    I bet you don't even know. Aren't you curious?

    Why slap me for being curious? :P

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited March 2013
    Again, I don't see why using a manufacturer's oil spec is a big deal. I assume-correctly or not-that the manufacturer knows what oils are most suitable for their products. And in almost every case, oil that meets the manufacturer's spec is readily available. It may cost a bit more, but so what?


    Whether or not the manufacturer knows what oils are most suitable for their products, at least from a legal standpoint, becomes irrelevant if a consumer uses non-approved lubricants and has problems, especially during the warranty period. What IS relevant is that the manufacturer IS on the hook for damages if the consumer has completely followed the manufacturer's designated lubricants and maintenance schedule.

    I make this distinction only to suggest that, in any case where a consumer elects to think his knowledge is superior to what the manufacturer recommends, and uses alternative, non-approved lubricants, more than likely he will be on his own if and when repairs are necessary due to lubrication failure.

    In the case of my BMW products, I can purchase the exact factory specified oil from my local BMW/Mini dealer cheaper than I can purchase the Mobil 1 alternative that is on the BMW "approved" lubricants list from my local Walmart.

    Why would I use anything else?
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,443
    edited March 2013
    I got 4,000 miles on my brand spanking new 2012 Honda Civic lx lease. Dealership says bring it in every 5,000 miles for oil change. Jiffy Boob wants it every 3,000 miles. Oil life monitor is at 70%. I know what I will do.But, what would you do. :confuse:
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,329
    Why slap me for being curious?

    Not for being curious, for being dismissive of the manufacturers requirements. The way I read what you wrote there doesn't suggest curiosity. Then when you write this;

    I don't need training Doc. I don't need an education. I just need a video that explains in two sentences why this electro/hydraulic system MUST have 5-40W oil.

    It goes beyond just the SAE viscosity ratings. The anti-foaming requirements of the oil can't be understated with this system. Just think about how fast everything has to work in order to open and close the intake valve, 2mm, three times during a single intake stroke in order to reduce pumping losses. And then turn around and do a full 11mm opening for 215 degrees of crank rotation during a hard acceleration over 5000 rpm. How fast does that valve have to open, and how fast does the oil have to flow back out of the actuator to allow it to be closed? The pressure on the "camshaft" and the hydraulic pump needs an oil thick enough to protect them, and yet it has to be thin enough to flow very quickly. The SAE viscosity ratings aren't sufficient to ensure that a consumers product choice will meet those needs. The API and ILSAC requirements aren't sufficient to ensure the anti foaming characteristics that the engine requires will be met.

    So it's not just about the oil being a 5W40, its about it getting the O.E's approval, and we haven't even begun to consider the other demands on the oil such as controlling deposits, cooling components, and still manage to protect the emissions system. You must consider all of the vehicles needs, not just how well the crank and bearings are protected from wear.

    I bet you don't even know.

    There are four classes that I have been presenting over the last three years that all go towards enhancing professional technicians awareness of the demands of the valve train designs and emission systems that are in use today. Between Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI), Variable Valve Timing (VVT), Variable Valve Lift (VVL), and now Fiat's Multiair technicians comprehension of the engine oil requirements have taken a significant turn. We need everyone else to also keep pace too, otherwise consumers won't be able to tell who really knows about their cars, and who's just blowing smoke.

    And with all of that I have on my side of the ledger I have to put up with you saying, "I bet you don't even know". What are you trying to really say when you wrote that? Are you just assuming that because you don't make a real effort to keep up that no one else does either?

    Aren't you curious?

    As far as my own curiosity, I satisfy that with daily doses of training, real training. There's well over 100 hours of study that go into prepping for each new eight hour class that I present. I have everything that Fiat has put out there to date about their multiair system at my finger tips so that I can answer the techs questions while we introduce them to these new systems.

    I don't need training Doc. I don't need an education.

    The reality is we all require continuous updates in our training if we are to advise the consumers correctly about how to care for their vehicles. Simply assuming that we know everything that we need to based on our past "experience" isn't enough anymore. That's one of the reasons why today when someone who isn't in the trade "anymore" (if ever) starts throwing around opinions they make a lot of mistakes with even the simplest of topics. When these published mistakes are at odds with how things really are, it becomes even harder to help the consumers understand and trust the top technicians.

    Instead of asking me right now, how about ask Ron and his department why they haven't been getting the readers up to date with the changes. Ask him why he has allowed that dexos article to still stand and continue to lead to more confusion. Maybe they can talk to Fiat and make your video for you and then we will start to make progress.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,329
    I know what I will do. But, what would you do

    Glad you asked.

    I got 4,000 miles on my brand spanking new 2012 Honda Civic lx lease.

    First, I'd never lease. It's a huge waste of money for transportation.

    Dealership says bring it in every 5,000 miles for oil change. Jiffy Boob wants it every 3,000 miles

    While I don't approve of the entire quick lube facet, I wouldn't look down my nose at them like that. They serve a purpose and a need. FWIW Jiffy LUBE corporation doesn't reccomend 3000 miles on your new car. They have been attending training and have a very up to date system that supplies their store personell with the manufacturers service intervals and vehicle specs. It would be niave to think that all of the stores follow all of the rules and training, but it would be just as bad to think that most of the people active in this thread have as much or more training and comprehension as their employees do.

    As far as when does you car need serviced? What does your owners manual say, and has your OLM(oil life monitor) indicated that it's time for service yet?

    Oil life monitor is at 70%.

    Then you don't need to service it yet. You could choose to if you wanted, but its not required. Now the question is, when should you finally do that first oil change? Do you really want to go 10,000 miles on the original oil? Personally I would not. I'd probably let the monitor only go down to about 40% the first time. But after that, I'd let it run down to 10% +/- and as long as I'm using the correct product everything should be good to go.

    Keep advised, you do need to check and add oil between changes as the engine requires.

    BTW, I'd be changing it myself when it was due... ;)
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,443
    Why slap me for being curious?

    Not for being curious, for being dismissive of the manufacturers requirements

    I would like to chime in on that and give shifty a good slap too... being dismissive of manufacturers requirements. The nerve! :P

    Never seen anybody get the better of ole shifty in these parts... till you showed up cardoc. :sick:

    Nobody never got the better of me neither. :cry:
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,443
    edited March 2013
    First, I'd never lease. It's a huge waste of money for transportation

    Well, you're a bit off topic on that one.... Mr. Lease Doctor. :confuse:

    But, I never really thought I would lease a car. Certainly not cost advantageous as compared to the alternatives But, in this particular instance, it was was the better choice.

    While I don't approve of the entire quick lube facet, I wouldn't look down my nose at them like that.

    JiffyBoob is just a funny term of endearment I use. They provide a speedy/jiffy service to people who don't like hanging around dealerships.
    But, actually, from what you wrote in previous posts, I was quite certain you did look down your nose at them. :confuse:

    when should you finally do that first oil change?

    I was going to go 5,000 miles. Didn't mention at first, but first oil change is free at 5,000 miles. I'm guessing dealership does this to encourage me to have regular intervals of 5k miles changes. Which will provide them double the profit of a 10k mile interval.

    There is no maintenance schedule in my owners manual. The car has a "Maintenance Minder Information Display". Which I must admit, is difficult to accept. After years of being told oil change every 3k miles, transmission fluid change every 3k miles, brake fluid replacement every 2 years, you know oil is getting dirty when it start turning black etc etc... it's like throw all of that out the window. Everything you do now, your car tells you to do. I just don't fully trust the technology.

    The Oil life indicator was on my 1999 Buick Regal, which I didn't pay attention to. Did oil changes every 4-5k miles. I don't know, it just seems that deep down I would be abusing my car if I didn't change the oil every 5k miles. You can't blame me for that... can you? :cry:
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Jiffy LUBE corporation doesn't reccomend 3000 miles on your new car. They have been attending training

    I'm sure it was the training and not the lawsuits that convinced them. :shades: (Lube Report)

    Of course we all drive under severe conditions so we all need to change our oil every 3,000 miles. ;)
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,443
    edited March 2013
    BTW, I'd be changing it myself when it was due

    When I was a few pounds lighter, I could just slide under my Buick and change the oil. Those are what my kids call "the olden days". :blush:

    These days after buying the oil and filter at Autozone, it's still about 10 bucks more than having it done at dealership. Of course you have no guarantee that it is being done properly at dealerhip. You don't have that sense of accomplishment. But, you also don't have the oily hands and busted up knuckles. :sick:
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,443
    Of course we all drive under severe conditions so we all need to change our oil every 3,000 miles

    No kidding. The Kia dealership in my area handed me their maintence guide at my first visit. They use it for all their new and preowned vehicles. It says that for our area you should use the "SEVERE CONDITIONS" maintenance schedule. And that failure to do so may void the warranty.

    They should be getting away from the mileage intervals with more and more cars having the Maintenance Minder Information Displays.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,329
    But, actually, from what you wrote in previous posts, I was quite certain you did look down your nose at them.

    I don't like the fact that they take a considerable percentage of the potential vehicle visits and make what used to be a viable entry level position working alongside a master technician now be little more than a dead end job. Their emergence has contributed to the very real shortage of qualified technicians today. JMHO
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,329
    Never seen anybody get the better of ole shifty in these parts... till you showed up cardoc.

    I got more than thirty five years of real world experience under my belt and the benefit of having constantly worked to improve my education that whole time. I've worked harder, and studied more (average 20+ hours a week) than I can realistically demonstrate in these forums. Yet, I'll be the first to tell you that today I have more training ahead of me than I have already gotten to date. Everything simply keeps changing that fast. Nobody can keep up with all of it, there just aren't enough hours in the day. But I still keep trying.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I'd probably let the monitor only go down to about 40% the first time. But after that, I'd let it run down to 10% +/- and as long as I'm using the correct product everything should be good to go.

    According to the oil life monitor on our 2007 Lacrosse, I can go 12,000 miles between oil changes, using the required dino oil.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,491
    No kidding. The Kia dealership in my area handed me their maintence guide at my first visit. They use it for all their new and preowned vehicles. It says that for our area you should use the "SEVERE CONDITIONS" maintenance schedule. And that failure to do so may void the warranty.

    After our friend's experience with his voided Hyundai warranty I have no desire to own either a Hyundai or a Kia. Ever since I was in Jr. High I've been partial to European cars, so I'll probably stick with them until they send me to the nursing home- but I will keep my TJ- the last real Jeep(just kidding).

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,014
    edited March 2013
    So what you're saying is that the viscosity rating is not the primary operative in the oil required for the Fiat engine? That was exactly what I was saying. :P

    I have studied this system---it doesn't strike me as that complex or critical at all. I think it was intelligently designed to be rather "fail safe" than fussy-wussy like some variable valve train systems.

    I may write to Fiat about it--it's quite interesting.

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    I got 4,000 miles on my brand spanking new 2012 Honda Civic lx lease. Dealership says bring it in every 5,000 miles for oil change. Jiffy Boob wants it every 3,000 miles. Oil life monitor is at 70%. I know what I will do.But, what would you do.

    Personally, I'd follow the manufacturer's service recommendations, as Cardoc suggested he would do.

    The dealership has a profit motive in mind in its recommendation, but they also know changing oil more frequently than required rarely, if ever, causes any problems, unless the tech gets sloppy and forgets a critical step, like not tightening the drain plug.

    Same for Jiffy Lube.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    But, I never really thought I would lease a car. Certainly not cost advantageous as compared to the alternatives But, in this particular instance, it was was the better choice.

    From an individual usage position, its difficult for me to see how leasing can be financially advantageous. Certain short-term needs might make it viable, just as renting an apartment for a year might be a better financial decision than buying, depending on the specifics of one's circumstances. Overall, I would say those cases are fairly rare.

    On the other hand, having the ability to write-off lease costs can be a plus in a business-use arrangement, so its at least possible, in theory, to be a better deal financially for a business-oriented lease.

    Personally, I've never leased a car.
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,443
    From an individual usage position, its difficult for me to see how leasing can be financially advantageous

    Well, I said it was a better choice for me at that particular time. I've always deferred the new car experience to my wife, and bought cars 4 or 5 years old.

    With very little down and a low monthly payment... I can drive a brand new car (YA ME!) with full warranty. No out of pocket expenses for mechanical break downs, don't expect any with Honda anyhow. And when the lease is up at the end of 3 years, I can turn it in and walk away if not 100% satisfied... or I can buy it at its residual value.
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyPosts: 5,443
    edited March 2013
    Personally I would not. I'd probably let the monitor only go down to about 40% the first time. But after that, I'd let it run down to 10% +/- and as long as I'm using the correct product everything should be good to go

    One thing we have all heard quite a bit in the past, is to change the oil at the recommended intervals to maintain the warranty (usually every 5-7,500 miles). If your oil life monitor says to change the oil roughly every 10k miles, what proof do you have that you changed it when the car tells you to?

    Does the cars computer store that information? i.e When oil change recommended and when oil change completed. What happens if you forget to resert the oil life monitor? Seems like a loophole a lot of dealerships,and or manufactureers, could use to get out of paying for warranty work.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited March 2013
    Even better, never change the oil but reset the monitor every 3,000 miles with your code reader gizmo. :shades:
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    One thing we have all heard quite a bit in the past, is to change the oil at the recommended intervals to maintain the warranty (usually every 5-7,500 miles). If your oil life monitor says to change the oil roughly every 10k miles, what proof do you have that you changed it when the car tells you to?

    If your dealer services the car, the dealership records are your proof. If an Indy does the work, your service receipts are your proof.

    If you do it, your dated receipts for oil/filter are your proof. That's been an acceptable body of evidence for years.

    If it goes to litigation, an oil analysis by some outfit like Blackstone can provide evidence on the quality of the oil.
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