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My second oil analysis

wtdwtd Member Posts: 96
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
I just got back the results from the second oil analysis done on my 98 chevy ext-cab Z-71. Blackstone labs did the analysis. Truck has a 5.7L V-8. I used 5W-30 Mobil 1 and a AC-Delco UPF52 filter. Truck had 37,536 miles on it at time of analysis and oil had 3,076 miles on it. I added no oil during this change.

My results are in the first column and universal averages in the parenthesis. Third set of numbers are my last analysis results with 5,069 miles on the oil. Here is what they wrote in the comments section.

WAYNE: Nice improvement in wear and silicon. Both are still a little high in this oil, though the improvement is a good indication that your engine is on its way to being normal. The oil was free of any harmful contaminates. The viscosity was good for a 5W/30. Lead and silicon still need to drop quite a bit before we will consider them normal. A normal lead reading would be 10 ppm or less(comparing to the iron level). Suggest resampling in another 3,000 miles and check your air filter. If wear drops down to average, you may be able to run the next oil longer.

Aluminum 4 (8) 4
chromium 3 (2) 2
iron 18 (43) 17
copper 3 (24) 6
lead 18 (19) 55
tin 4 (4) 6
molybdenum 3 (41) 3
nickel 0 (1) 1
manganese 0 (2) 1
silver 0 (0) 0
titanium 0 (0) 0
vanadium 0 (0) 0
boron 52 (41) 49
silicon 27 (15) 46
sodium 5 (24) 6
calcium 917 (1472) 804
magnesium 1476 (602) 1339
phosphorus 600 (827) 582
zinc 742 (994) 752
barium 0 (2) 0

SUS viscosity @210 F 56.7 (55-61) 62.3
flashpoint in F 420 (>365) 395
fuel % <0.5 (<2.0) <0.5
antifreeze % 0.0 (0) 0.0
water % 0.0 (<0.05) 0.0
insolubles % 0.4 (<0.6) 0.4

This analysis is much better on the points that were a concern on last analysis but the oil also had about 2,000 less miles on it. Most of the miles on this current sample were stop and go driving compared to mostly highway miles on last sample. I'm not sure why they are still concerned about the lead level as its lower than the universal average but they may be going by my average.

I'm still not sure what the deal is with the higher than normal silicon levels. I installed a new high capacity AC-Delco paper filter after the last analysis. I can't tell if there is dust in the intake tube or if its the white stuff they put in the mouth of the new filter. All intake tube seals and connections look good. Surely the sealant used on my intake manifold gasket replacement 13,000 miles ago would be gone by now.

I'm definatly happier about this result compared to the last one but I'm still doubtful about doing extended oil changes with Mobil 1.



  • zr2randozr2rando Member Posts: 391
    Remember a NEW air filter lets more fine dust through than a slightly dirty one does. After the filter gets a little dirty the dirt helps do the filtering,,,so to speak,,,eventually it doesn't let anything through and then it starts blocking air.
    see ya
  • brorjacebrorjace Member Posts: 588
    Well, WTD, at least you know you're not hurting your truck. Still, why pay for an oil that's 3 times more expensive if after using it for 3,000 miles you are only getting 'normal' levels of wear?

    So what are you doing? Sticking with Mobil 1 for another change? Switching brands? Please keep us posted <== pun intended. >;^)

    Oh, and I agree with Rando on the air filter. Next test should prove a little better ... until it gets too restrictive with fine particles and then the vacuum will pull air in past the seals (leaking) and your silicon level will begin to rise again.

    --- Bror Jace
  • armtdmarmtdm Member Posts: 2,057
    Your numbers are fantastic. Where the lab gets off saying your lead is too high is beyond me, especially as it decrease considerably since the last one. . Their averages are only idicators and only if they are averages compiled from the same exact engines. However, I am sure that their averages are a composite. Further, the iron is great, really low. If you were getting dirt in there the iron ppm would sky rocket. The silicon level in not high. You are not getting abnormal dirt in the system, all metals would skyrocket! The flag point for many labs is 30-35 ppm for silicon, you are under that. Further, Mobil 1 may have silicon in the base (Amsoil has about 15ppm in the base oil), labs cannot determine the type of silicon, ie., an additive versus dirt. Thus, your 27 ppm may be much less depending on the base of Mobil 1. Further, the additives mean nothing in their averages. Mobil 1 does not use Moly for example yet they have the nerve to post an ave for Moly whioch implies to the reader that this is a bad sample.

    Your results are excellent, get another opinion please, these guys are misleading you.

    Interpretiation of lab results is trend analysis. They are interpreting it more of ABSOLUTE analysis. Your trend is fantastic. Get a second opinion!

    Sorry, these guys are not providing you with a good interpretation.
  • wtdwtd Member Posts: 96
    well, Brorjace since I had a few jugs of the Mobil 1 still left, I'm going to use it all up before I decide to change or not. I have Mobil 1 in it now.
  • brorjacebrorjace Member Posts: 588
    wtd, I tend to agree with Armtdm about Blackstone being over-cautious ... unless you made a typo in the lead readings. They seem dead on with their universal averages.

    I just wouldn't use the word "fantastic" to characterize the results. I would reserve that word for a special occasion ... like those results with a 7,500 mile interval.

    Again, if I'm paying extra for synthetic (currently about 3 times more per quart), I would expect nearly every one of those categories to be below the universal averages after only 3,000 miles.

    Is that asking too much, armtdm? You do more analysis than any of us here ... and have over a longer period of time. I understand the idea of trend analysis because different brands of engines wear differently and different brands of oils use different additives which can muck up the averages but what if an oil, engine and interval combo consistently shows higher-than-average wear and fails suddenly before 100,000 miles?

    --- Bror Jace
  • armtdmarmtdm Member Posts: 2,057
    the universal averages you speak of are based upon your engine (ie: 3.8 L GM pushrod V6 under your driving conditions and climate etc. ) and not a composite of the GM 3.5 and Toyota 3.0 etc.etc. I honestly do not believe any lab has a database large enough to have wear data on a specific engine. That would be an unbelievable task and not enough individual auto owners bother with analysis to even build such a database. As such, I think they are using composite wear averages and that is where my problem lies. The averages are meaningless compared to your specific engine.

    If one believes the wear is too high for any engine with a certain oil and change interval and they wish better results then shorten the interval and/or change oil etc. The primary purpose of analysis is to establish the interval (your own trend ) you are most happy with for wear. (Every engine wears differently) The second is, after let us say three reports, the fourth comes back and shows abnormal changes in certain areas, then you are correct in saying hey, I have a problem., You have established a trend (by using the same oil and change interval) and now know that something is not right. By the third analysis you have established the trend for your specific engine under your driving conditions. You are now the expert on your engine and the lab averages are worthless (which I think they are anyway) .

    Now, using an expensive synthetic you would hope the wear numbers would be smaller. Well, should be especially if you are using the same interval as dino. A 3000 mile change on dino and synthetic should have lower numbers for the synthetic. However, at 7,500 miles your synthetic may have the same wear numbers as dino at 3000. To me, that is great news and the synthetic has served its purpose. It sounds like to me that you want the synthetic to show much better numbers at 7,500-10,000 then dino at 3000. Not sure that is a feasible quest.

    Obviously the best wear would be every 1000-2000 miles but how much longer life would we get, no one knows. One has to seek the comfort level. Of the five cars I now maintain each one has a different wear trend. I could consturct an average from the five but would it be any good? No, it is the ave for the specific engien that I am looking for. Construction metals differ between engines, tolerances are different, lubrication systems are different and operatince conditions are different.

    One more question, what if an engine showed larger or more wear from the beginning (compared to averages) and never changed and died at 100,000. Would you have done anything differently. You are sort of stuck with that engine unless you wish to do more frequent changes to combat the higher wear.

    A long post, sorry
  • wtdwtd Member Posts: 96
    First of all, what could have caused the lead readings to go from 55ppm to 18ppm. Even taking into consideration the milage difference, it is still a big drop. Do you think the first sample could have gotton lead contamination from somewhere? I doubt my bearings would suddenly stop wearing that abruptly.

    I'm not sure I agree about the air filter. at the time of my first analysis, my air filter had about 19,000 miles on it and still looked clean and the air filter indicator was still green and I still had high silicon levels. This time my air filter had about 5,000 miles on it and I got less silicon contamination even taking into consideration the milage difference.

    I'm still undecided about whether I should stick with Mobil 1 or go back to a conventional oil. I'm not feeling real confident that I'm getting my money's worth with the Mobil 1. I'm tempted to try an oil change or two with Mobil conventional or their synthetic blend and see if the analysis is much different. I wish I had done a couple of analysis's when I was running Mobil conventional so I had something to compare to. I've thought about trying Amsoil or Redline but don't really want to have to order oil and would prefer something I can get locally.

    What would you consider to be one of the best conventional oils out there these days? I haven't compared the typical data sheets for conventional oil in years.

    Thanks again for your input and information.

  • armtdmarmtdm Member Posts: 2,057
    Well, some lead contamination can be due to lead in the gas. I know, not supposed to be there and not sure that it ever is. On one car I have a very high copper reading but like your lead it is decreasing. Could be in the manufacturing process one little burr did not get machined down and is wearing down causing the increased wear metal etc. I honestly think that from now on, the engine had finished wearing in, your levels will be very normal. As to alternatives, well, Wal Mart sells what they say is a full synthetic for $2.97/quart so if you wished to keep with synthetic or try dino Mobil or Havoline. Several say Chevron dino and synthetic are excellent also. By trying a dino for 3000 miles and compare the results to the Mobil 1 you can determine if you are getting your money's worth..
  • brorjacebrorjace Member Posts: 588
    armtdm, I see what you are saying about the trend analysis and there's little one can do if you think your numbers are too high ... i.e., higher than "universal" numbers. I suppose you could change oil brands and use shorter intervals but that's about it.

    As for the dino vs. synthetic results, I'm perfectly happy with my Red Line results with 7,200 miles on the sample. It looked comparable to an 'average' oil (probably a lot of synthetics in that average) in an 'average' 4 cylinder gas motor (probably some racers and other serious import hot rodders in that sample) for 3,100 miles. This is especially true when you factor out some of the elevated lead number which I've heard from a couple different sources is normal for Hondas/Acuras.

    I know that if I used a $4.50-per-quart synthetic oil for only 3,000 miles and got merely average results, I'd be at least a little disappointed.

    wtd, There could be a number of possible explanations for your higher lead levels. I've touched on them here and there previously but let me sum them all up for you again and everyone else can see them and comment if they wish:

    Theory 1) GM's quality level has dropped. Rando lost one of their V6s before 100,000 miles despite regular maintenance with a 10W30 oil. They may think that their tried-and-true small-block-Chevy-based designs are awfully robust and likely to outlive the rest of the vehicle. So, why put them together meticulously? This might account for strong traces of sand (silica) left in the block after assembly, misaligned bores and journals which might cause excessive bearing wear. This approach is also likely to cause a few engines to fail outright before they reach the 100,000 mile mark (and we've seen examples of this).

    Theory 2) Mobil 1 isn't as good as most people think. They were too cute by half thinking their tri-synthetic base oil blend is SO GOSH DARN GOOD that they could appease the auto manufacturers and EPA with a marginal EP additive package and using longer-then-3,000-mile drain intervals, causes excessive wear.

    Theory 3) (Something like armtdm's and my Theory 1 above) The engine wasn't through breaking in yet even though the vehicle had 20,000 miles on it. If you keep testing using the same oil, and the levels of lead and silicon continue to drop, this would be my pick of the three.

    wtd, if you don't want to go to a boutique/specialty oil that you have to mail-order, I'd be tempted to use Valvoline Max-Life. Its base oil is comparable to Castrol Syntec (should we call it "Megasaurus Oil" ??) and they claim an extra-strong additive package. I don't believe their MSDS sheets are available on-line anymore but you could call them and have one sent to you. I suppose you could just go the regular dino (SL) route. My favorite two brands are Valvoline, and more recently, Chevron. Their base oils are paraffinic and probably good to very good and last I checked, they had twice the ZDDP of Mobil 1 (1.5%).

    BUT, if someone were to post that the latest formulations of Havoline, Pennzoil, Quaker State, etc ... were just as good, they might be right. As I said in another thread, the ever-tightening standards are allowing less creative approaches to formulating lubricants, especially using processed mineral oils. >;^)

    --- Bror Jace
  • zr2randozr2rando Member Posts: 391
    Can you imagine how I would have felt if I had bought an extended warranty which expired at 100k and then that happened?
    By the way, I had the Chevy service manager check the old engine to see if he saw anything to give me any suggestions on what I did wrong. He said the engine was totally clean inside, no indication of any overheating (varnish) or any crud buildup anywhere, he saw no evidence that showed any lack of good routine maintenance (also saw the book I keep, I track every tank of gas for fuel mileage and every repair and any notes about any repair..). He tried to get Chevy to help me on the cost of the new reman engine and they would have nothing to do with it.
    I only used Castrol GTX 10w30 on that one because of Castrol's past reputation,,,,didn't help me on that one though...(I know probably just bad luck)
    I'm using Havoline now, I don't have any oil analysis done (other than the fact that I visually verify it goes in clear and comes out black-then I cut up the filter!!), I just change every 3k like I always have...
    see ya
  • wtdwtd Member Posts: 96
    Brorjace & Armtdm,
    I hope theory #3 is the one that is happening although I would think that my engine would have been broken in long before now. I used 4 quarts of mobil conventional and 1 quart of Mobil 1 in the engine untill I hit about 14,000 miles and than converted to all Mobil 1. Maybe this delayed the breaking in process.

    You may remember me posting that I talked to a guy in Mobil's technical dept. He wanted to look at some things on my last analysis and the new one when I got it. I faxed both reports to him and he called today but I missed the call since I was at work but he left his number for me to call back. I won't get to call him untill Tuesday but I am curious to see what he has to say. I'll keep you guys posted on what he tells me.

  • gator36gator36 Member Posts: 294
    If in doubt, give them a call, I did.

    I was specifically interested in the averages. The averages are based on the model
    engine. I cannot speak for the Vortec 5.7 but the information on the 5.3 is based on
    all 5.3 liter motors that have had samples and the average number of miles is approximately
    7,500 miles per sample. The people I talked to there were more than happy to go over my
    sample history and discuss it in detail.

    For a database of oil samples and keeping a running history, it would not take too much
    disk space and based on the "server" class machines coming out these days it is easy to
    have enough space for thousands of samples.

    Walter (gator36)
  • wtdwtd Member Posts: 96
    I called the guy in Mobil's tech department to whom I had faxed the two oil analysis's. He agreed that the 3,000 mile sample looked pretty good and didn't have any explanations why the 5,000 sample was alot worse in certain areas and why the viscosity was out of normal range. He said that since it looked like that I was going to have to change oil every 3,000 miles using Mobil 1, I should just switch over to a conventional oil since it wasn't really cost effective to use the synthetic.

    I'm going to use up the Mobil 1 I currently have and then probably run conventional and see what kind of results I get.

    At this point, I'm not really sure what to think about off the shelf brands of synthetics and Mobil 1 in particular.

  • armtdmarmtdm Member Posts: 2,057
    Okay, Blackstone says that the averages are based upon that model engine. Okay, first, is it by year as engines can change internal parts/manufacturing process between years (as Toyota did with their V6 in 97) , second, they did not tell you how may samples in the database per model. They could have 5 or 5000 and that makes one hell of a diff. I guess that I am saying that 99.9% of auto drivers (not fleet etc) do not have oil analysis so how many possible samples can Blackstone have on my 3.8 L SC GM V6 model year 2000???? I would bet not even a handful and of course they would have to use Blackstone labs?

    Averages, IMHO have to be taken with a huge grain of salt.
  • gator36gator36 Member Posts: 294
    On Blackstone labs, The sample population at the time was approximately 157. I do not remember for sure but it was based on roughly 157 different engines. Now if you really want to get into the statistics. Then we need to ask what the mean and standard deviation is in order to get accurate information. I do not think anyone is looking at their sample and saying that
    my iron is 2 ppm over the average and saying Oh MY GOD!. Oil samples are a good measure
    of how your engine is doing only over several samples. If you have the money and do it every
    oil change, then you have excellent documentation as to the health and service of your motor.
    For some of those who have the engine knock and worry about it, it can be cheap peace of mind.
    Overall I was very impressed with the knowledge and thoroughness of the people at Blackstone
    and definitely will send them future business. I will say this about them, a call to them
    definitely gleans more information than the dialog that is written on the report.

  • armtdmarmtdm Member Posts: 2,057
    The dialogue is poor from all labs and unfortunately many people take the numbers verbatim wheras they need a lot of interpretation.

    My concern about Blackstone is that they seem to have a negative response to Mobil 1 and I am jsut curious as to the lab ownership. Independent or oil company conglomerate owned?
This discussion has been closed.