Engine Oil--A slippery subject

gusgus Member Posts: 254
A place where we talk about engine oils.


  • royallenroyallen Member Posts: 227
    It seems like there are 3 main issues: 1. what, if anything, besides SAE grade matters? 2. Are extended range viscosity oils (10-40 etc) good or not, is synthetic better, are additives helpful and what data are there to go by? 3. Anyone gone to the expense of installing an electric oil pump or"preoiler" to pressurize the engine oil system before starting and eliminating the dry start wear?
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioMember Posts: 851
    Royallen, I feel synthetic provides a pretty quick lubrication. I used to think about getting a pre-lube kit, but after reading about how well synthetic flows under all conditions, I don't fret anymore. Of course, a pre-lube can make changing oil a breeze, and not as messy :)

    About Amsoil from the other topic: I think that one does not have an SAE certification. I would not use it for that reason, but use any other major synthetic.
  • edwardh1edwardh1 Member Posts: 88
    What weight oil is installed in cold climates (10 or 20 below) by the "Jiffy Lube " Places?

    5w 30?
    Is there a lower weight commonly used?
  • greenml430greenml430 Member Posts: 21
    Some have a synthetic rated @ 0w30. Mobil 1 I believe it is!
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioMember Posts: 851
    I don't work for Jiffy Lube so I don't know what the definite answer is. However, the reputable places will probably put the manufacturers recommended oil in your car, unless you ask for another type.

    I highly doubt that they will use a 0w30, a weight that most manufacturers will recommend against.

    Does anyone know if they have synthetic to offer you in most places now?

    5w30 synthetic flows freely to around -40F I think. There aren't too many places where 0w30 is necessary.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Maybe Alaska...I remember they would keep the trucks running for weeks at a time rather than risk shutting them off at -55, except for quick stops for maintenance during the day.
  • sam775sam775 Member Posts: 22
    I go to Jiffy Lube. In my area they use some a nameless bulk oil if you don't ask for a particular brand. If you ask for a particular brand they charge you an extra $3 for using the bottled brand. Once, they put it in my car when I told them to use Penzoil. They replaced it for free so no biggie. They have all the factory specs in their computer system, so they follow it well. They do offer synthetic (Mobile 1) changes for somewhere around $40
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Has anyone had any experience with Jiffy Lube or similar places trying to over-sell?...you know, running into the waiting room with a tissue caked with transmission fluid and telling you it "didn't look good"...(of course not, transmission fluid doesn't look very good on tissue paper).
  • sam775sam775 Member Posts: 22
    Around twice a year they inform me I need an air filter and wiper blades. Which I already know before I go in. I kindly tell them "I know". I change that kind of stuff after they do the oil change to check and make sure my oil filter is on tight (and make sure it's a new one) and the oil is at the proper level. They run in and tell everyone something about their car.
  • mt1mt1 Member Posts: 4
    Hey wait a minute. Jiffy lube has signs all over their stores saying we use penzoil brand oil and lubricants. Now I see that I am not getting penzoil unless I ask for it and pay $3 more? I am little confused here isnt that false advertising?
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    No, they're being misleading, but they're not advertising falsely. They do use Pennzoil, but only by request, and only if you pay $3/quart extra.
  • johngenxjohngenx Member Posts: 13
    Amsoil is SAE SH rated. On the bottle label. Use exclusively in my cars. Go to:


    This excellent site will give you the skinny on synthetic oils. Amsoil's specs finish near the top. But, all synthetics work very well under extreme cold or hot conditions. (In Edmonton this year, we've had no shortage of -35 nights this winter)

    Mercedes Benz has begun factory filling some of its vehicles with Mobil 1.

  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    johngenx, thanks for posting that link!
  • bjmeyerbjmeyer Member Posts: 24
    The one near me uses, I'm pretty sure, Penzoil bulk oil. It comes in large drums, but its still Penzoil. I'll double check this when I have a chance.

    (I also think Jiffy Lube is owned by Penzoil now, so it wouldn't make much sense for them to buy oil from somewhere else.)
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioMember Posts: 851
    Large drum? That's "on tap" I believe, and is much fresher normally. Just kidding.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    That link you posted was very curious...after an exhaustive barrage of facts and figures, they essentially say

    " But of course, you need more information to REALLY judge the quality of an oil"!

    Gee, my eyes are already crossed.

    But it was interesting, thanks for posting it.
  • edwardh1edwardh1 Member Posts: 88
    My two "major name quick oil change" experiences"

    One left the screw in filler plug out where you add oil. Blew oil on engine on interstate.

    One brought me the air filter and said "we recommend these be changed every 10,000 miles". My new car at that time was having its first oil change at 3750 miles. Nice try.
  • ruking1ruking1 Member Posts: 19,826
    I have never failed to hear that from any friend that has ever used a oil change place.

    I hate to think that it is written in procedural manuals to leave the oil change plug either loose or off.
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    I was just talking with a coworker today about how the quick oil places seem to put in their own aftermarket drain plugs (with some sort of built-in drain hookup) in cars, and leave them loose! On top of that, they always seem to catch oil leaks, and then tell the customer something alarming or unbelievable (or both), like "the oil pan gasket on your two-year-old car is leaking!" Maybe the oil is residue from the last change, or a front seal leak or even a leaking pressure switch, but whatever it is, they send customers into a tizzy with that stuff!
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    I went to a highly recommended garage for an oil change once in an unfamiliar town. My father-in-law's recommendation. That should tell you something.

    After I picked it up and drove it home about 100 mi, I went to see what the oil level was. No dipstick.


    A friend of mine found a cork in place of his drain plug. I kid you not. The mechanic actually said "How the heck did that get there?"

    About the JiffyLubes, I can't bear to go in there anymore. I used to have teams of lowlifes under my direction (in a different industry), and going in there and seeing them hanging out and fooling around just made me think of the kinds of things my guys would do on the job, and that was too scary.

    Oil changes are so easy and so crucial, I've just gone back to doing my own. Gives me a chance to tune my resonating heat shields to a nice major 7th chord too.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I HAVE to do my own...who else has a 27mm wrench?
  • GTRocksGTRocks Member Posts: 48
    They'd be happy to use vise-grips for you shifty!!
  • ylockheadylockhead Member Posts: 10
    Just out of curiosity, what king of vehicle uses a 27mm wrench. I worked in a fast lube (Pit Stop) for four years (part-time when in college) and the biggest metric wrench I recall using is a 19 mm on Mazdas.
    I could tell you guys some pretty good stories about my days as a 'lube technician'. The worst I did was blow the engine of a 86 Renault Encore. Actually, that's a good thing. One less of them on our roads today...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    You mean you just beat the engine to it by a few days!

    Oh, 27mm wrench?...most Alfa Romeos...oh, yes, please use a vice grip on my two piece cast aluminum 7 quart finned oilpan....please! It won't mind, I'm sure.
  • dmkdmk Member Posts: 22
    Have had a few interesting experiences in "fast oil change" places. One time the air cleaner cover was completely off and sounded as if I inverted the air cleaner cover. Not long after that experience(which prompted me to check everything out after a change) I checked the air filter cover and it was indeed loose. It was also empty. Went back to the shop and they said "oh we must have forgot to put it back in". Back in went the OLD filter. I also had my coolant changed by one of those recycle machines(which I'll never do again) and they damaged the low coolant sensor. Went back to the shop and they said they did nothing to it and wouldn't fix it. Oh well! Bottom line, buyer beware at those fast oil changes with all those highly competent workers there.
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    My favorite quick oil change stories:
    1.A friend of mine used to work at a BMW/Porsche dealer in VA. Cars would come in with drain plugs replaced with oversized bolts or rubber plugs. And the customers wondered how the tech knew they went to "Speedy Lube"...
    2. A friend of mine was told by a quicky shop neanderthal that his coolant level was "really low". Piltdown Man had mistaken the window washer bottle for the coolant recovery tank. On a Chrysler.
    3. My favorite. Cheapskate acquaintance takes SAAB 900 to quicky joint. Pit monkey pulls drain plug, drains oil, and replaces plug. After adding @3 quarts of oil, oil overflows out the valve cover. The reason? Pit monkey had drained the transaxle.
  • ylockheadylockhead Member Posts: 10
    Here's my all-time favorite. As I mentioned before, I worked as a lube tech for a while. Here's the story. This guy comes in for an oil change with his Grand Marquis (older model). He's bitching and threatening us. Keeps telling us what a crapy oil change we did last time on his car, and so on... The kind of customer any store can do without. He yells at me "Make sure you grease the drive shaft". I looked carefully at the universal joints and along the drive shaft for nipples. There are none, so I tell him so. The old fart starts bitchin some more, telling me that his car has grease fittings on the drive shaft. To please the guy, I check again; no nipples, no grease fittings. Nothing to grease on the driveshaft. To please him, I said something like "Oh, sorry, I must have not seen those grease fittings" and proceeded to slap on some grease, making it look like I was greasing some virtual nipple. The guy keeps on bitchin: "Make sure you take both the oil plugs off. Last time, you only got the lower one". (Ford had the smart idea of straddling the oil pan over the frame, making it necessary for two oil plugs on the pan) He must of thought that I was some retard that could not tell a ball point hammer from a wrench. Of course I knew about the incredibly two plugs. Then, when I suggested that the gasket for the oil plug should be replaced (about 50 cents), he said he refused to pay for it, saying that we had broken it. Break a gasket, come on! I gave him the gasket because he was being a real [non-permissible content removed] and I didn't want more of an argument. As he went off to pay for his bill, I got a can of red spray paint and wrote [non-permissible content removed] in BIG letters on the transmission pan, figuring the guy would not find out and we would laugh at it the next time he would come back. The guy paid his bill and left. About a week later, he came back. He was holding his transmission pan in his hands. Needless to say that he was cursing. (glad I wasn't working that day). He had apparently gone to another garage to have his leaking transmission gasket changed. They removed the pan and showed it to him. Well, because of what that, I didn't get canned, but I was forced to take two weeks off work. Perfect for my summer vacation! I don't work at the lube anymore, but everyone there still remembers the incident. It has become somewhat of a classic joke and even today I still laugh about it.
    PS Sorry for the language
  • MartypaMartypa Member Posts: 50
    I had the oil changed on my van at a large well known quick oil change place. They showed me my PVC filter and told me it needed to be changed, which I declined. About two weeks later the engine began running roughly and would stall continuously. The dealer mechanic discovered that the housing for the filter was improperly replaced and that the filter got pushed into the crankcase. When I showed the 145.00 repair bill to the shop manager, the most he wuold do is offer me two free oil changes. I will never trust anybody to change my oil ever again, let alone any of those quick lube clowns!!!!!!!!!!
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJMember Posts: 3,516
    well, since we're varying from actual oil to quick lubes, here are my reasons to never use these places again (things that have either happened to me or to others who told me):

    1. Changing transmission fluid via dipstick - about as effective as changing engine oil through the dipstick

    2. Pulling one spark wire to "get the oil to circulate" as the engine coughed - no lie, that was the manager's explanation

    3. Hearing an impact wrench - outside of loosening lug nuts, there is no need for an impact wrench on any part of a vehicle

    4. Hearing "whoops" from the guy in the pit

    5. Places that offer freebies - your oil change price refelcts it somewhere. One place would hand EVERY customer the day's paper and a phone to make local calls free (it was a wired phone that came down from the ceiling). Needless to say, that same place changes your oil and gets you out now.

    6. A small place with high turnover (never seeing the same tech twice)

    7. Constantly being "upsold" to other services

    8. Constantly out of what you request (ex: specific brands of oil or fluid)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    A couple of years back, we lowered our oil change prices in order to better compete with the quickie lubes.

    For one thing, we were tired of having to explain to our customers that they needed to replace their expensive oil pan because some Rambo kid had overtightened the plug. There is also a 15 cent crush washer under that plug that should be changed every time. Instead, they over tighten the plug to compensate.

    They will then write on the work order " NOTE: YOUR OIL PAN PLUG IS STRIPPED!"

    Yep, it sure is!

    Some of these places also use oil filters of questionable quality.

    Upselling is the real name of the game, I think!

    Be careful...
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJMember Posts: 3,516

    My Dodge dealer has met the challenge as well. They will do oil changes with no appointment all morning M-F, and Thursdays til 7pm. Gasoline engines are around $20, diesels around $45. Plus, you know you always get the right filter. They feel it establishes a rapport with the customer, plus they can spot a problem and offer the CORRECT solution unlike a Q-lube, which usually can only guess.
  • aimanaiman Member Posts: 61
    In the last 8 months or so I've been changing oil for my family's car and plan to do so for the rest of my life. For me do-it-yourself oil change is the best. Believe it or not, I actually look forward to doing it (wierd, eh?).

    The 1st time I did it it took more than an hour. Afterward, I could complete everything in 30 to 40 minutes. The least fun part of the job is filling the old oil to the emptied new oil container. The most fun part is when you remove the drain plug and the old oil pours out.

    There are 2 reasons why I choose do-it-yourself oil change over taking it to a shop.

    1. I end up spending the same amount of money (about $20) as taking the car to a shop, but I end up using premium filter and higher grade oil.

    2. It's a fun experience. The more you open up the hood and get underneath your car, the more familiar you get with working with your car. I want to know about car engine as much as possible.

    PS: I don't dump used oil to the gutter. I take them to Autozone for recycling.

    my 2 sense
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    A very important point. That stuff is bad (I mean BAD) news when dumped into the ground or a storm sewer. I know this is bloody obvious to everybody here, but there are still people who do it.

    There are lots of places you can take it for recycling: garages, etc.
  • gusgus Member Posts: 254
    Excellent points being made. I think that watching for a constant staff turnover and being wary of constant upselling are good things to do. Just to clarify a few things, though:

    Changing transmission fluid via dipstick-about as effective as changing engine oil through the dipstick

    On many automatic transmissions, the dipstick is the only way to refill the transmission. Sucking fluid out of the transmission via the dipstick is not recommended.

    Hearing an impact wrench - outside of loosening lug nuts, there is no need for an impact
    wrench on any part of a vehicle

    At a quick-lube place, yes, this is true. They shouldn't use an impact for anything but the lugnuts, and that's only if they take off the tires (which they shouldn't, for a lube). Oil drain plugs on smaller cars are not meant to be tightened by anything else but a hand wrench/ratchet. In the course of doing major repair work on cars--transmission work, front end work, suspension work--a mechanic will use an impact wrench. I just say this so that people aren't scared off by a mechanic who uses an impact wrench/gun in the course of his/her normal work.

    There are lots of places you can take it for recycling: garages, etc.

    Call a garage before you take your oil in. Some places have pretty stringent green laws, which require that waste oil be free of certain chemicals. The waste oil companies will test oil for contaminants when their trucks pick oil up at a shop, and if the oil is not clean enough, the shop may end up paying a hefty fine. "My oil is not contaminated, though," you say. This may be true, and in most cases seems likely, but the fines that shops may face are enough to deter them from taking oil in from off the street.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioMember Posts: 851
    I agree that the points about doing the oil yourself are great. I can't think of any reason to let someone else do it.

    My city picks up oil on garbage day, and that is really nice.
  • joecarojoecaro Member Posts: 44
    I have changed oil in my '85 4runner for years. I bought an oil drain plug that is a valve with a spring and ball assembly and it has worked GREAT. I can't tell you how pleasant it is not to have oil running down your arm because you're not fast enough. This has been on the truck for at least 12 years, never leaked, never been replaced. Sure makes the job easy and clean.
  • anne4anne4 Member Posts: 35
    Where did you get that drain plug with a valve? I can relate to your story of having oil run down your arm AND inside your sleeve! Do all the "dregs" of the oil (and all suspended particles) drain out thru the drain valve OK?

    My other problem with changing my oil is that there's not other clearance under my new minivan to slide under the car to get to the drain plug and filter. (Filter can't be reached from above in the engine compartment.) The street curbs on my street aren't high enough to drive one side of the van up on to get clearance. So i dragged out my old driveup ramps so I could change the oil. Problem with them is that the underside of the van's bumper scraped the edge of the ramp on the way up and the way down. Now have two nice parallel scratches on the underside of the bumper. So now I either have to get different drive up ramps, or figure out how to adapt the ones I have. I'm not sure this is worth the hassle. Problem is, I don't trust the local "quick change" oil places. There is a Honda dealer close to where I work, but they use only Pennzoil dino oil. I want to use either Valvoline or Castrol. If you want them to use anything other than Pennzoil, you have to bring it in, and they charge you for their oil as well. (Can't blame them for that. I'm not trying to be "cheap" on them; I just don't want to use Pennzoil.) And who knows if the mechanic will put your oil in, anyway, instead of just taking the 5 quarts home to put in his/her own car. When the van gets 10K miles on it, I'll probably switch to Mobil 1 or Castrol synthetic.
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Some really low vehicles are still possible to squeeze under. My Civic looks impossible to slide under, but I can manage. It's tight, and the first time is a real reconnaisance mission, but now that I'm used to it, it's a piece of cake.

    Mine's too low for the ramps too.

    I'm glad you can't use the curb. It's easy for a vehicle to slide off, either onto the gutter side, or the dirt side. A heavy vehicle could squish down into soft earth and possibly hurt somebody working underneath.

    Probably the best way to lift it, if you really have to, is to invest in a hydraulic floor jack and find the proper jacking point for the whole front end. When you get it in the air, put chocks on the rears and jackstands under the front end jacking points and lower it down onto the jackstands.

    Personally, I wouldn't worry about the brand of oil (assuming a premium brand), as long as it's the highest spec. SH, SE, whatever it is. I forget.
  • ylockheadylockhead Member Posts: 10
    Try using a floor jack (with wheels). They are easy to use and quick to set up. You can buy a 2 1/2 ton floor jack for ~ 30$. You should always use blocks or stands in addition to the jack for safety. Make sure you know where the frame is on your minivan or you could cause some damage.
    One last note of caution; because of its design, a floor jack tends to move a little when lifting (it rolls forward). This is normal and necessary to keep the center of gravity in the middle of the jack. If the floor jack is used on a rought surface, it might not be able to roll properly, and this could cause it to flip or move suddenly (not good when you're under the vehicle). So be carefull, especialy when lifting a vehicle high on those jacks. Use stiff piece of plywood can help get around this problem.
  • joecarojoecaro Member Posts: 44
    I believe I got the valve from one of the mass merchandisers of auto parts, Chief, Pep Boys, Track. To tell you the truth it was so long ago I don't remember, but it wasnt a problem getting one. It drains everything completely. I go away and let it drain for a while until there is nothing dripping to make sure I get everything. A side benefit; no risk of stripping threads.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioMember Posts: 851
    Summitracing.com should have those for many popular thread sizes. There is a possibility they could leak or fail, and the engine would lose all of its oil. Although I've read that, I don't know anyone who has used one.

    My cars never fit on the ramps without scraping. So I back the car into the garage, put the ramps in front of the garage, and drive right up. This might work if the garage floor is slightly higher than the driveway.

    Some newer ramps have a lower clearance.

    I've heard horror stories about people getting crushed when ramps fail. The user is supposed to use jack stands even when using ramps.
  • anne4anne4 Member Posts: 35
    OK, I'll consider getting a floorjack. Problem is, I'd have to use it on the street in front of my house. Street slopes a bit, so I'm not sure how stable the jack would be. I do have jack stands, but there is still the problem of safely lowering the car onto the jack stands without the jack rolling. yes, I can block the rear wheels, but I'm not sure that would totally solve the problem.

    Can you really get a floor jack for $30? I thought they were way more expensive than that. Will check out Costco to see if they have one.

    Also, one last question. My Honda minivan is under warranty. To maintain the warranty, I'm supposed to have the maintenance book "stamped" whenever any of the routine maintenance is done. How do you document you did the work yourself? Do documentation requirements vary by manufacturer/ i can try call American Honda, but they never let the "great unwashed public" talk to tech reps. You usually have to talk to a general "customer service" rep who knows zip.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioMember Posts: 851
    Anne, you have no obligations to keep records in order for the warranty to still cover the vehicle. That is simply scare tactics from Honda. When I first bought an Acura, and hoped that the dealer would stamp my service book, I even left the book on the dash and they didn't bother!

    I think the idea to save your oil and other receipts IS a good one, but only to show the next owner of the vehicle. Anything you do that doesn't get you a receipt, like oiling the door hinges, just write it in the owners manual and date it. Why would you lie? Oh, who was the Washington politician that lied to his own diary? :)
  • anne4anne4 Member Posts: 35
    Or, as a co-worker of mine used habitually to say, "Why would I lie about a thing like that?"........ His second favorite line was "Trust me."
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    Document the service you perform during the warranty period. If you have a problem, your proof is one less loophole the manufacturer can employ to deny coverage.
  • arazaraz Member Posts: 27
    Wow, another hit subject. I've been doing preventive maintenance on our familiy's cars, pick-ups and boats for a few years. Have "pumped" the sumps on boats frequently because the drain plug was often out of reach in the bilge, or there was no room for a drain pan. Not all the oil was removed, but seemed that a pint or so didn't hurt. Always changed the filter. Also found that, if made to choose between one or the other, most machinery mechanics would replace the filter instead of the lubricant, and just top off the lube. On "lubrication emporiums", you're going to snicker, but in my coast to coast RV'ing, the best places I've used are WALMARTS, with the auto-centers. Never whacked on price, and got my choice of oil and filter.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioMember Posts: 851
    Pretty much. And if a contaminant didn't come out, because it was laying on the opposite side of the oil pan or such, it will get stuck soon in the new filter. I used to let it drain for a while also, but now feel a long drain time has a completely diminished return.

    Synthetic oil does a superior job of washing off internal engine parts, also.
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Of course you want to get the oil warmed up first so that all the nasty bits are in suspension.
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJMember Posts: 3,516
    An oil flush treatment is also helpful every other oil change if you notice your oil tends to be darker than you would expect. It works like coolant flush - you throw a can in the crankcase, idle your engine for about 5 minutes, then make your change. Basically, it's the detergent agents that fresh oil has, but tired oil has lost.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    You can also use cheap non-detergent oil as a quick flush...just pour it in, run at idle for a while, and flush...probably safer than oil flushing on an engine, since an oil flusher strips lubricant off the engine parts...so you don't want to be running an engine very long with only oil flush in it...but a flush properly used (with a pump hooked to a special machine) might be of benefit in an engine that undergoes extreme service conditions. It's a fairly radical service procedure, I think, not really necessary for 99% of you out there.
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