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post #46 of 59 Old 03-13-2006, 4:13 PM
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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Hah, a oil thread that was almost fun...abtech had it covered though. bed.
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post #47 of 59 Old 03-13-2006, 6:46 PM
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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Originally Posted by Kuss929
Where do you find the info on ture 100% synthetic oil?
I use penzoil in my car and looked at an Amsoil bottle and I see no idication that the bottle is synthetic besides the name? Unless the POA blends have that stated on their bottles?
This is one topic that is proving hard to find the right answer (unbiased) on the internet.
Although somewhat self serving, try the Motul site. If you search around, I posted a few links to research papers and test results regarding the relative advantage of Ester based lubricants in both jet and reciprocating engines. If I remember correctly, someone commented that the papers I linked were pretty obtuse regarding the subject, but if you read the articles, it shows that Ester outperforms any other compound currently available for metal lubrication under stress.

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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

I've posted some too Kuss.

The best thing to do is probably a Google'll probably get 1e6+ hits though. bed.
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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Originally Posted by southpark460
Ok, so what's the opinion on the Repsol Racing 4T synthetic oil? Just picked some up...

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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

So is synthetic oil a renewable resource?

And then there's this asshole...
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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Originally Posted by phobiaphobe
So is synthetic oil a renewable resource?
Actually, the majority of early synthetic oil research was done by ze Germans in WWII when allied bombing and advancing troops summarily took away their dino oil supplies. bed.
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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Originally Posted by phobiaphobe
So is synthetic oil a renewable resource?
3100 4T and 300 V are made from banannas, oranges and coconuts so I would have to say yes, it's a renewable resource and has about 1% of the pollutant value of dino product when it's recycled.

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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Painfully detailed explanation of oil... specific to automotive oils (in specific conditions) but still relevant and not a bad way to kill an hour if you're bored. Emailed to me by a family member who is obsessed with oil. (petrofile)

edit: the bits on engine additives and 5w20 oil are particularly interesting.

The Alberta Engine Oil Study - Lubricants Suitable for use in Southern & Central Alberta

This study has two purposes:

(1) To determine the best engine oils & oil filters suitable for use in vehicles operated within Southern & Central Alberta – in consideration of engine and vehicle types, operating conditions, geography, ambient temperature, roadways, and seasonal climate variations.

(2) To determine oil & filter change schedules (for lubricants & filters identified above) capable of extending engine life beyond 500,000 kilometres.

Paradoxically, modern gas-fired light vehicle engines are designed with a life expectancy of 500,000 km to 750,000 km – yet, most are completely worn out (or have catastrophically failed) by 275,000 km.

Lubrication failure is the third leading cause of catastrophic engine damage (proceeded by cooling system failure and engine timing/tuning issues); however it is the primary cause of premature engine end-of-life – with simple and inexpensive maintenance attention, the engine should be the last vehicle component to wear out.

To understand our engine oil, filter and lubrication practice recommendations; dissertations on refining, base oils, additives, fabrication and blending, viscosity grades, and third-party engineering studies are contained within this paper.

Table of Contents:

· Summary
· Limitations
· Regional Considerations
· Engine Oil Functions
· Engine Oil Life
· Basestocks
· Mineral Oil Refining
· Additives
· Lubricant Fabrication
· Group-I Engine Oils
· Group-I/III Blended Basestock Engine Oils
· Group-II Engine Oils
· Group-II Plus Engine Oils
· Group-II/III Blended Basestock Engine Oils
· Group-III VHVI Synthetic Hydrocarbon Engine Oils
· Group-IV PAO Full Synthetic Engine Oils
· Group-V Organic Esters & Alkalated Naplethene Full Synthetic Engine Oils
· Group-IV/V Blended Basestock Engine Oils
· HD Engine Oil Applications
· Oil Filters
· Viscosity Grades
· After-Market Oil Additives
· New Engine Break-in Practice
· Appendix A Understanding SAE 5w40 and SAE 5w20 lubricants
· Appendix B Understanding Basestock Manufacturing
· Appendix C Understanding Absolute & Kinematic Viscosities
· Appendix D Understanding Additives
· Appendix E Understanding Product Tier Levels
· Appendix F The Irreconcilable Conflict: Wear vs Fuel Economy
· Appendix G Recommended Product Comparison Tables
· End Notes


The following is a summary of recommended products contained within this paper – only our preferred and first-choice products are listed. This summary is by no means complete, nor does it discuss exceptions. We highly recommend reading the entire paper, including the End Notes.

The engine oils, filters, change schedules, operating envelopes and engine application schedules recommended within this paper are designed to deliver an engine well past 400,000km – and in the case of Group-IV and V full synthetics; to the OEM design limit, somewhere between 500,000 and 750,000km.

New Engines – Passenger & Performance Vehicles

For new engines, after the engine break-in period, we recommend using full synthetic Mobil-1 5w30, for all-season use – a product close to being universal application engine oil. Change both oil and filter every 6 months / 8,000 kilometers – only use WIX composition cellulose/synthetic media filters. Mobil-1 is a true synthetic – a blending of Group-IV and V alkalated naplethenes, polyalphaolefins and organic esters.

As an alternative, again; after the break-in period, we found Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic 5w30 (winter) and 10w30 (summer)to beacceptable – an entry-level product; the minimum lubricant suitable for use in modern engines. Change both oil and filter every 4 months / 7,000 kilometers – using either cellulose (OEM or Baldwin) or composition cellulose/synthetic media (WIX) filters. Pennzoil Platinumis not a true synthetic – rather, a high quality Group-III VHVI synthetic hydrocarbon. Just to be clear, this is a second-choice product; Mobil-1 is preferred.

New Engines – Light Trucks (normal dust conditions)

For new truck engines (normal dust conditions), after the engine break-in period, we recommend using full synthetic Redline 5w30, for all-season use. Change the oil every 6 months / 12,500 kilometers; but change filters every 4 months / 8,000 kilometers – using only Wix composition cellulose/synthetic media filters. Redline is a true synthetic – a Group-V Polyolester.

As an alternative, again; after the break-in period, we found Amsoil 100% Synthetic Motor Oil 5w30 (winter) and 10w30 (summer)to beacceptable for use in new truck engines. Change the oil every 6 months / 12,500 kilometers; but change filters every 4 months / 8,000 kilometers – using only WIX composition cellulose/synthetic media filters. Amsoil is a true synthetic – a Group-IV polyalphaolefin. Just to be clear, this is a (close) second-choice product; Redline is preferred.

New Engines – Light Trucks (high dust conditions)

For new truck engines (high dust conditions), after the engine break-in period, we recommend using PetroCanada Duron XL Synthetic Blend 0w30 (winter) and PetroCanada Duron SAE30 (summer). Change both oil and filter every 4 months / 6,000 kilometers – using either cellulose (OEM or Baldwin) or composition cellulose/synthetic media (WIX) filters.

Older Engines – Passenger & Performance Vehicles

For older engines, defined as being more than 5 years and/or 150,000 kilometers, in good condition, that are currently not using synthetic lubricants; we recommend using PetroCanada Supreme 5w30 (winter) and 10w30 (summer).

Major Conclusions

· The inclusive cost (Oil & Filters) of all engine oils is essentially equal – further; there is no support case for the use of inexpensive, low protection coefficient, lubricants.
· All after-market oil additives degrade engine oil quality and performance – many will cause serious engine damage.
· Do not use any synthetic engine oils (Group-III/IV/V) during the engine break-in period.
· There is no universal “best’ engine oil – lubricants must match engine, service and duty requirements.


This study covers ILSAC SJ GF-2, ILSAC SL GF-3 and ILSAC SM GF-4 lubricants suitable for Gasoline Fired Engines ; in Normal or Severe Service, in Normal or Medium Duty [ii], where the manufacture specifies either SAE 5w30 or SAE 10w30 motor oil.

[i]European Engine SAE 5w40 and Ford/Honda SAE 5w20 motor oil applications are discussed separately in Appendix-A Understanding SAE5w40 and SAE5w20 Lubricants.

Regional Considerations:

Ambient temperature variations in Southern and Central Alberta are extreme, ranging from +35degC (Summer, Medicine Hat) to -35degC (Winter, Rocky Mountain House).

Regional geography (some foothills, but mostly prairie), coupled with an excellent highway system (long, flat, straight roads), and the Alberta driver’s propensity for speeding (115 km/h average highway speed); translates into lightly loaded engines operating at elevated engine speeds.

Most engine oils sold in Alberta are unsuitable for these conditions, formulated for milder climates and lower sustained engine speeds.

Engine Oil Functions:

Engine Lubrication – Defined as an essentially friction free, high temperature shear stable, free flowing, load-bearing surface between moving parts.

Corrosion Protection – Accomplished by the formation of an oxidation barrier; a highly solvent, emulsification, acid, and run-down resistant oil film; capable of coating and micro-penetrating all metallic surfaces.

Cooling – Approximately 40% of cooling relays on engine lubricant as the heat transfer medium to the engine jacket water system. A lubricants heat transfer rate and engine cleaning ability is critical to cooling (i.e. varnish acts as insulation).

Engine Oil Life:

Engine oil is considered at the end of its useful life when one of two events occurs:

(1) Permanent Basestock Shear progresses to the point the lubricant can no longer stay in grade – i.e. 5w30 shears down to a 3w17 fluid weight equivalency; resulting in lower than OEM specified bearing and journal clearances, producing rampant metal-to-metal contact, leading to significant engine wear.

Permanent Basestock Shear occurs when the chemical bonds holding oil molecules into a continuous, long-chained, plainular, and stacked stratum are irrecoverably separated.

As a model, think of the oil strata filling a 30-micron bearing/journal space as a quarter million stacked sheets of gauze – with an oil molecule at each thread crossing. As permanent shear onset progresses, molecular sheet laceration occurs - compressed dirt particles puncture several thousand layers of threads, several hundred entire sheets are torn into fragments as they abrade against hot cylinder rings and liners. For several months and thousands of kilometres, the cumulative overlapping affect of intact and fragmented sheet is sufficient to maintain separation integrity – but eventually the entire sheet strata is reduced to torn, thin and distended fragments, incapable of staying in place under any pressure – permitting regular metal to metal contact.

(2) Additive Depletion progresses to the point where one or more additives are exhausted – i.e. pour point depressant no longer exists, resulting in elevated cold-cranking kinematics viscosity, producing cold-start lubricant circulation delays, with several minutes of intermittent metal to metal contact, again; leading to significant engine wear.

Engine oil life is a proportional function of Service, Duty and Lubrication Quality – low quality and inexpensive Group-I engine oils designed exclusively for normal service and light duty seldom (within our experience) last beyond 5,000km. In contrast, ultra-high quality Group-IV and/or Group-V engine oils can easily run 12,500km in severe service, medium duty applications.


Five basestocks are used in the fabrication of engine oils. The first three are manufactured from mineral oils; the last two are manufactured from pure, fully synthetic, hydrocarbons.

The higher the group number, the higher the basestock quality - very significant, considering that 3/4of an engine oils performance is determined by basestock composition.

Group-I Solvent Refined Mineral Oil
Group-II Hydroprocessed Mineral Oil
Group-III Severely Hydroprocessed Mineral Oil (the VHVI Synthetic Hydrocarbons)
Group-IV Polyalphaolefin Full Synthetic Fluids
Group-V Organic Ester & Alkalated Naphthalene Full Synthetic Fluids

Group-IV and IV based engine oils cost several times more than Group-I and II products; but inaddition to affording better protection, they also last several times longer – effectively offsetting their increased cost. For example[iii]: Valvoline All-Climate (a Group-I) cost $3.25 per litre, requires an Oil & Filter change every 3 Months / 5,000km, equalling a $140 annual expense. Amsoil 100% Full Synthetic (a Group-IV) cost $9.75 per litre, requires an Oil & two Filter changes every 6 Month / 12,500km, equalling a $140annual expense.

Within 20% or $50 per year, all engine oils have equal operating cost. Therefore, economical and ultimate engine protection should simply be achievable by using ultra-high quality Group-IV or V based lubricants. It is not quite that simple – using Group-V diester Neo Synthetic in a high mileage engines will produce oil galley blockage; using Group-V Redline Synthetic in a brand new engine will halt the ring/liner seating process – in both cases, serious engine damage will occur.

Engine oils must be matched appropriate for their applications, including: duty, service, engine age, engine OEM design, and ambient temperature conditions – topics addressed in detail within this paper.

The single detraction to increasing quality and performance in the progression from Group-I through Group-IV based lubricants is additive solubility – it is inversely proportional to the numerical progression – a serious problem for blenders, addressed further within the Group-III VHVI Synthetic Hydrocarbon Engine Oils” section.

Mineral Oil Refining:

Most engine oils are refined from conventional oils. Selected crude oils are feed into a Fuels Still, where products ranging from Aviation Gasoline to Asphalt are produced, including still bottom distillate fractions suitable for conversion into lubrication basestocks - a three-step process.

(Step-1) These feedstocks are further refined by one of two processes: either by conventional solvent extraction or by hydrocracking.

(Step-2) After being refined, the feedstock is dewaxed by one of two processes: either by conventional refrigerant and solvent dewaxing or by hydroisomerization.

Above Illustration

Modern Hydro-Process Refining: Hydro-Cracking, Catalytic De-Waxing, and Hydro-Finishing.

(Step-3) Finally, the feedstock is sent to a finishing unit were further impurities are removed, by one of two processes: either by conventional solvent polishing or by mild hydrosurfacing.

Group-I basestocks are manufactured refined exclusively by conventional solvent refining. It is physically impossible to make any other basestock using this process.

Group-II, Group-II+, and Group-III basestocks are refined exclusively by hydroprocessing. Manufactures typically batch produce all of these basestocks in the same hydrocracker - by simply varying batch time, temperature and pressure.

Hydroprocessed refined base oils are typically 99% saturated, solvent refined base oils seldom exceed 90%.

Hydroisomerization typically removes over 95% of paraffin residuals; conventional refrigerant and solvent dewaxing is limited to 85%.

Similarly, mild hydrofinishing, or hydrosurfacing, removes far more impurities than conventional solvent finishing.

Approximately 50% of all mineral oils are refined by conventional solvent extraction, almost invariably these are refrigerant/solvent dewaxed - and usually, solvent finished, but not always; for example Valvoline 10w30 is solvent finished Group-I; while Valvoline 5w30 is a hydroprocess finished Group-I - sufficiently improved to qualify as Group-II product.

All remaining mineral oil basestocks are refined by hydroprocessing - some partial; some completely. For example, Valvoline Synthetic 10w30 (a Group-III product) uses a hydrocracked refined, refrigerant/solvent dewaxed, and solvent finished basestock.

The ultra-high quality Group-II, Group-II+ and Group-III basestocks manufactured by Chevron/Texaco, Petro-Canada, and Concoc/Phillips are fully hydroprocessed products - hydrocracked, hydroisomerized, and hydrofinished.

A detailed explanation of hydroprocess refining and full synthetic basestock manufacturing is contained in Appendix-B Understanding Basestock Manufacturing.


Finished lubricants contain approximately 20% additives, including detergents, anti-wear agents, corrosion inhibitors, pour point depressants, and viscosity indexing polymers.

Approximately 25% of an engine oils overall performance is determined by its additive quality and quantity – however, in any given lubricant grade (standard or premium), blenders use identical additive specifications. In other words, similar additives of equal quality, in equal amounts – more often than not, purchased from the same manufacture (i.e. Chevron/Texaco Oronite PARATON).

As an example: Pennzoil Multigrade extensively advertises its “Z-7” blended additives as unique and superior; similarly Mystik JT-8 Motor Oil promotes is additives – both packages are equal in function and service to those found within any other Premium Grade, Group-II, engine oil.

Still, all additive packages are NOT equal; the quality and quantity of viscosity indexing polymers and acid neutralizing agents have a significant impact on engine oil life and performance.

Viscosity Indexing Polymers

Prior to the introduction of polymers in mid-1960s, virtually all lubricants were straight-grade products (i.e. SAE30) - multi-grade lubrication was exclusively reserved for a hand full of exotic synthetics with ultra-high natural viscosity indexes. With polymers, common Group-I basestock could be inexpensively made into multi-grade lubricants. One of the first of these developed was 10W40, a 10W basestock formulated with an appropriate amount of polymers to perform like SAE10 when cold and SAE40 when hot.

Polymers were hailed as the panacea for all engine protection issues - low temperature flow and high temperature shear were simultaneously addressed in a single multi-grade that could be used year round - eliminating the need for summer and winter viscosity grade changes.

Polymers are plastics; large multi-branched, thermal responsive, molecules. When heated, they form a tight and highly tangled lattice structure – limiting oil molecule free flow, effectively increasing the lubricant’s kinamatic viscosity. When cooled, the branch structure contracts, the lattice structure vanishes – released oil molecules free flow, effectively lowering the lubricant’s kinamatic viscosity.

When subjected to extreme pressure (i.e. being forced through a journal at high temperature) they temporarily shear apart, kinematics viscosity declines as oil molecules are release, once circulated past this extreme pressure region, the lattice structure reconnects and kinamatic viscosity returns.

Above Illustration

Viscosity Indexing Polymer chains unwound (shown in color) trapping oil molecules (shows in gray); lattice-work inhibits fluid flow – mimicking an increase in absolute viscosity.

This can only happen just so may times; eventually temporary shear becomes permanent. The end result of this phenomenon is the reversion of a multi-grade lubricant back to its fundamental base oil viscosity; 10W40 is eventually sheared down to 10W oil - with catastrophic results for rings, liners, cams, and journals that depend on 30W or 40W high temperature lubrication equivalency.

In 2004 Lycoming Aircraft Corporation concluded an engineering study of aircraft engines using multi-grade and straight grade oils. Engine wear using multi-grade lubricants was twice that of straight grade lubricants - root cause analysis found polymers failed to provide true multi-grade protection; particularly at the high end spectrum. Other studies have determined that permanent shear onset occurs between 3500 and 4000 km for low-grade polymers.

There is more. In decomposition, they produce considerable amounts of sludge and plastic resins; highly undesirable, especially when subject to 300degC upper ring and liner temperatures; resin coking is the number one cause of ring sticking and breakage.

Avoid using highly polymeric dependant lubricants. Group-II lubricants have higher intrinsic viscosity indexes than Group-I, and therefore require fewer indexing agents. High end Group-III, IV and V based lubricants are generally formulated with limited amounts of high quality, shear resistant polymers. A few Group-IV and V based lubricants are constructed without any viscosity-indexing agents whatsoever (Amsoil 10w30 and Mobil-1 5w30). The greater the high/low viscosity differential, the higher the polymer content, for example: 5W50 requires more viscosity-indexing agents than 10W30. Refer to the section “Appendix D Understanding Absolute& Kinematic Viscosities” for further information related to this topic.

Acid Neutralizing Agents

These are a series of additives represented in the TBN (Total Base Neutralizing) number. As their name suggests, these act to prevent acid formation, particularly peroxides - linked to viscosity increase, suspended solid precipitation, and corrosion.

The higher the TBN number, the longer a lubricant may be used - lubricants with TBN numbers in the 10+ range are generally suitable for extended drain intervals. This includes most Group-IV and V Synthetics and Heavy Duty Engine Oils.

TBN degradation progressively occurs as contaminants enter the engine oil - from two sources: products of combustion passing between the rings and cylinder wall, or contaminants produced by internal engine oil thermal decomposition. The purer the basestock, the lower the volatility and greater the flash temperature; and the less it will be affected by internal thermal degradation. A Group-III will last approximately 50% longer in the crankcase than a Group-I with the same number; simply because it has to deal with less internally produced products.

A complete detailed listing of common additives and their function is contained in Appendix-C Understanding Additives.

Lubricant Fabrication:

All lubricants, conventional oil and full synthetic, are fabricated by blending one or more basestocks with additives.

Group-I Engine Oils:

Group-Is are poorest of all basestocks; self-oxidising, with poor hydrolytic stability, low thermal and high temperature shear stability, low flash temperatures, high volatility, poor low temperature flow properties, and abysmal coke resistance - purity is generally less than 90%; Intrinsic Viscosity Index is within the 90 through 100 range.

Finished Group-I based engine oils are poorly suited for cold weather operation - due primarily to their high residual wax content (adversely affecting low temperature flow) and high water miscibility (contributing to water/oil emulsification); neither are they suitable for hot weather operation - low flash and auto-ignition temperatures, high volatility, and high polymer content.

Group-I formulated lubricants are not suitable for use in modern gasoline fired engines. They afford the least protection, have the narrowest operating parameters, and despite their apparent low shelf price, have a long-term operating cost equal to Group-IV full synthetic lubricants.

We do not recommend the use of any lubricant fabricated from this basestock, and found no products acceptable in this category.

Operating Envelope (Group-I):

5w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -08degC through +25degC
10w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -12degC through +25degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Light Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Normal
Maximum Sustained RPM [iv]: 2500
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: No
Recommended Oil Filter: OEM or Baldwin
Oil & Filter Change Schedule: 3 Months/5,000 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $140

Group-I/III Blended Basestock Engine Oils:

Although Group-I/III blended basestock lubricants represent a 20% performance improvement over their straight Group-I counterparts, they retain most of the undesirable characteristics of the Group-Is; including: self-oxidation, high sulphur and nitrogen contends, poor coke resistance, low hydrolytic stability, and completely unspectacular high temperature shear resistance – lock-stepping its oil change interval to that of the Group-Is.

This blend is a fabrication of 20% Group-III and 80% Group-I base oils; with a resultant Intrinsic Viscosity Index ranging from 100 to 110, approximately equal to the Group-IIs – affording an approximate 3degC low temperature Operating Envelope increase over straight Group-I base oils.

They exist in the market place for three reasons:

(1) Very high Blender profit margins – averaging 60%, the highest of any engine oil class it is less expensive to use ultra-high quality $12 per litre Redline than any synthetic blend.

(2) Pure Group-I base oils are incapable of being formulated into any SAE 5wNN or SAE 0wNN engine oils of meeting the ILSAC GF-4 'SM' Standard. This has created a surplus of Group-I base oils; that without upgrading, are largely useless. Some is sent to hydro-finishing facilities, but most are sold at rock-bottom prices to blenders; where they are upgraded by blending – typically for less than $0.40 per litre. Most engine oils labeled as “Synthetic Blend” or “Semi-Synthetic” are Group-I/III blends.

(3) The consumer's propensity for self-deception - where anything advertised or labelled 'synthetic' is believed to be unquestionably superior.

We do not recommend the use of any lubricant fabricated from this basestock, and found no products acceptable in this category.

Operating Envelope (Group-I/III Blend):

5w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -15degC through +25degC
10w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -10degC through +25degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Light Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Normal
Maximum Sustained RPM: 2500
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: No
Recommended Oil Filter: OEM or Baldwin
Oil & Filter Change Schedule: 3 Months/5,000 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $170

Group-II Engine Oils:

Group-II base stocks present a 40% improvement over their Group-I counterparts, primarily due aromatic saturation and increased purity – typically above 99.9%.
Their Intrinsic Viscosity Index is within a moderately acceptable range – typically between 100 and 110.

Unlike the Group-Is, finished Group-II based engine oils are chemical stable products, characterised by intermediate miscibility, hydrolytic stability, volatility, thermal and high temperature shear stability, flash temperatures, and coke resistance.

They have a wider Operating Envelope than the Group-Is – the first class of lubricants rated for severe service (although still light duty); with a one month / 1000km longer drain interval, and a negative 5degC low temperature flow increase.

Still, these are only marginally suited for the Alberta climate; their relatively high residual wax content and lower than optimum emulsification resistance remain very real cold weather problems.

We do not recommend the use of any multi-grade lubricant fabricated from Group-II basestocks – and found no products acceptable in this category.

We recommend the use of Group-II straight-grade 30-weight engine oil (SAE 30 Only!)during the mid-summer season; for all passenger car engines in light duty and severe service, where compliance to the GM6094 (or equivalent) standard is specified; that are not using synthetic oils, that are older than 5 years and/or 150,000 km. Refer to the section “Group-II Plus Engine Oils” for more information.

Insert Graphic

Chevron/Texaco Havoline SAE 30 Motor Oil

Our Group-II preferred SAE30 product for this recommendation is:

Chevron/Texaco Havoline Motor Oil [v]SAE30 only

Operating Envelope (Group-II):

SAE30 Ambient Temperature Range: -00degC through +35degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Light Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Normal
Maximum Sustained RPM: 3000
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: No
Recommended Oil Filter: OEM or Baldwin
Oil & Filter Change Schedule: 4 Months/6,000 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $120

Group-II Plus Engine Oils:

We include all Group-II Plus basestock engine oils into the Group-II category - with an Intrinsic Viscosity Index in the 110 to 120 range; these straddle the lower end of the Group-II and Group-III gap.

Group-II Plus based engine oils are a 50% improvement over Group-Is. Compared to Group-IIs; the Plus have greater purity, thermal stability, oxidation resistance, and lower residual wax contents – translating into a 10degC wider Ambient Temperature Range. Other than a marginal sustained maximum engine speed increase, all other properties remain approximately equal.

These are excellent engine break-in lubricants for standard engines. For high-performance car engines, in light duty and severe service, where compliance to the GM4817M (or equivalent) standard is specified, refer to the section “Group-II/III Blended Engine Oils”; for light truck engines, in medium duty and severe service applications, refer to the “HD Engine Oil Applications” section.

We recommend the use Group-II Plus 5w30 (5w30 only!) lubricants during the new engine break-in period for all passenger car engines, in light duty and severe service, where compliance to the GM6094 (or equivalent) standard is specified. For more information and procedure details, refer to the New Engine Break-in” section.

We recommend Group-II Plus lubricants for all passenger car engines in light duty and severe service, where compliance to the GM6094 (or equivalent) standard is specified; that are not using synthetic oils, older than 5 years and/or 150,000 kilometres for the following reasons:

(1) Significant engine wear already occurred – precluding any long-term benefit from higher quality and more expensive synthetic engine oils – a simple matter of economics. (2) Group-II Plus engine oils are relatively risk free, unlikely to create secondary failures associated with initial use of synthetic lubricants in high-mileage engines. Refer to the section “Group-III VHVI Synthetic Hydrocarbon Engine Oils” for additional information.

Our Group-II Plus preferred products for these recommendations are:

Chevron/Texaco Havoline Motor Oil 5w30 only
PetroCanada Supreme 5w30 and 10w30

Operating Envelope (Group-II Plus):

5w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -25degC through +25degC
10w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -20degC through +30degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Light Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Severe
Maximum Sustained RPM: 3000
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: No
Recommended Oil Filter: OEM or Baldwin
Oil & Filter Change Schedule: 4 Months/6,000 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $120

Our recommendation falls short of the -35degC through +35degC ambient temperature range requirement. This can be mitigated by using engine block heaters and/or heated parking garages during the winter, and (when using multi-grade oils) limiting hot mid-summer afternoon driving, or by changing to a lightweight Group-II SAE30 during the mid-summer season. Refer to the section “Group-II Engine Oils” for additional information.

Group-II/III Blended Basestock Engine Oils:

We categorize Group-II and Group-III blended basestock engine oils as Group-II lubricants; rather arbitrarily, considering their performance fully straddles the Group-II Plus / Group-III gap, and (for the lubricants I recommend) is on par with low end Group-III VHVI Synthetics.

These are fabricated by blending approximately 25% high qualify Group-III stock with 75% lower quality Group-II base oils – with a resultant Intrinsic Viscosity Index in the 115 to 120 range, somewhat higher than the Group-II Plus lubricants.

These hold an approximate 60% overall performance improvement over the Group-Is, a wider operating envelope that Group-II Plus.

Their primary application is in low-temperature lubricants - the majority of Heavy Duty SAE 0w30 'synthetic-blend' engine oils are Group-II/III blended products – a highly cost effective method of producing relatively high quality engine oils – for medium duty applications; see the section “HD Engine Oil Applications”.

The only passenger car motor oil (that we know of) fabricated from Group-II/III blended basestocks that meets the GM4817M corvette engine specification is PetroCanada Synthetic Blend (in 5w30 only).

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PetroCanada Synthetic Blend 5w30

We recommend the use Group-II/III Blended lubricants (5w30 only!) during the new engine break-in period for all high-performance car engines, in light duty and severe service, where compliance to the GM4817M (or equivalent) standard is specified. For more information and procedure details, refer to the New Engine Break-in” section.

Our preferred Group-II/III Blended Engine oil for this recommendation is:

PetroCanada Synthetic Blend5w30 only

Operating Envelope (Group-II/III Blend):

5w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -30degC through +30degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Light Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Severe
Maximum Sustained RPM: 3000
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: Yes
Recommended Oil Filter: OEM or Baldwin
Oil & Filter Change Schedule: 4 Months/6,000 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $150

This recommendation falls 10 degrees short of meeting the Southern and Central Alberta, -35°C through +35°C ambient temperature range requirement; but can be mitigated by block heaters and heated parking garages during the winter, and limiting hot mid-afternoon driving during the summer; conditions we believe manageable during the brief break-in period.

Group-III VHVI Synthetic Hydrocarbon Engine Oils:

Group-III Very High Viscosity Index (VHVI) lubricants categorically outperform Group-I based engine oils by 100% - a significant 40 percentage point improvement over any Group-II/II+ or Group-II/III blended product.

The Intrinsic Viscosity Index of this Group is very high, numbering within the 120 to 140 range, primarily due to the full conversion of cycloparaffin rings into straight paraffin chains. Their purity, like all ultra-high quality fully hydroprocessed mineral oils, is above 99.9%.

These are chemical stable products, characterised by intermediate hydrolytic and thermal stability, moderate to low volatility, and moderate to high flash temperatures, reasonable coke resistance, and excellent low temperature flow properties.

In addition, well-formulated VHVI Synthetics are capable of meeting the critically important GM4718M Corvette Engine specification – the first class of basestocks with this capacity. In the 2005 migration from ILSAC GF-3 ‘SL’ to ILSAC GF-4 ‘SM’, most VHVI Synthetics no longer zmeet this Corvette Engine specification – we do not recommend using any VHVI product failing to meet this specification.

Group-III engine oils have additive solubility problems – paradoxically, inversely proportional to basestock purity – while Group-Is have excellent solubility properties; at the Group-III level, the ability to take additives into solution has deteriorated such that Additive Carrier Fluids must be used; and virtually ceases to exist with the Group-IVs. This changes abruptly with the Group-V diesters synthetics – these hold step-out solubility properties and are generally used as Additive Carrier Fluids in high-end Group-IV synthetic basestocks, but not always. I suspect all Group-III VHVI synthetic hydrocarbon engine oils use a high aromatic content, solvent refined mineral oil as their Additive Carrier Fluid (up to 10%), creating an inverse proportion ‘synthetic-blend’ – with a resulting quality and performance reduction. Regardless; VHVI Synthetics are impressive lubricants – analysis from Chevron/Texaco indicates they perform within 15% of the full synthetics, and are quite capable of delivering an engine to its OEM design life.

Still, I consider Group-III VHVI Synthetic lubricants to be entry-level products, the minimum engine oil acceptable for sustained used in modern new engines. For approximately the same cost, greater performance and protection (including a substantially higher service factor) can be achieved using full synthetics.

Warning! VHVI Synthetics lubricants will ultra-clean an engine; with the potential of creating seal leaks; or worse, oil gallery blockage in older engines - therefore; we advise against using these in engines over 5 years and/or 150,000 kilometres - unless, of course, the engine has previously used synthetic motor oils.

Caution! We do not recommend the use of VHVI Synthetics during the 10,000-km new engine break-in period – reduced friction will delay certainly delay ring seating, or (worst) prevent ring seating from properly occurring (i.e. permanent tilted rings).

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Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic 5w30

We recommend the use of Group-III VHVI Synthetic lubricants for all modern new engines, after (of course) the engine break-in period.

Our Group-III VHVI Synthetic Hydrocarbon preferred products for this recommendation are:

Chevron/Texaco Havoline Synthetic 5w30 and 10w30
Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic 5w30 and 10w30

Operating Envelope (Group-III VHVI Synthetics):

5w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -30degC through +30degC
10w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -25degC through +35degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Light Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Severe
Maximum Sustained RPM: 3500
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: Yes
Recommended Oil Filter: OEM or Baldwin
Oil & Filter Change Schedule: 4 Months/7,000 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $160

VHVI synthetic hydrocarbon engine oil fall negative five degrees short of meeting the Southern and Central Alberta, -35°C through +35°C ambient temperature range requirement; easily mitigated by the use of engine block heaters and/or heated parking garages during the mid-winter cold season.

Group-III XHVI Synthetic Blend Stocks

Group-III XHVI or Extra High Viscosity Index synthetic fluids are manufactured natural gas using a Gas-to-Liquid conversion commercialized by Royal Dutch Shell in 1993.

These are considered a Group-III base oil sub-class – although not manufactured from mineral oil, their LNG feedstock is a deemed a crude oil derivative.

This produces an ultra-pure paraffinic wax, which further processed by hydroisomerized into a 140+ viscosity index range finished basestock – rivaling the polyalpholefins dominance of low temperature flow, hydrolytic stability, long drain interval capacity, coke resistance, lubricity and high temperature stability spectrum. We believe they are equal in performance with the Group-IV PAOs.

Currently there are no lubricants sold in North American exclusively fabricated using this basestock – with the exception of Shell Helix 5w40 (Shell Europe) retailed at European Import dealerships – usually as their OEM specified and required engine oils.

We make no recommendations on the use of XHVI synthetics at this time. See Appendix-A Understanding SAE5w40 and SAE5w20 Lubricants

Group-IV PAO Full Synthetic Engine Oils:

As a comparison, Group-IV PAO (polyalphaolefin) based engine oils categorically outperform Group-I solvent extracted lubricants by 150%.

These are excellent lubricants – a complete step-out class of products, with considerable inherent service factors (above 150%), capable of averting catastrophic engine failure long after mineral oil based lubricants (including the Group-IIIs) have been rendered into ring/liner coke, or emulsified into rocker-arm cover sludge.

These are characterised by step-out hydrolytic stability and emulsification resistance (they are impervious to emulsification), exceptional thermal stability, high flash temperatures, low volatility, and the highest Intrinsic Viscosity Index of all base stocks – typically in the 140 to 180 range for straight produced single-grade stocks.

These are ultra-pure (100%) true synthetic base oils, synthesised by reacting ethane with alkalised benzene.

Premium formulated PAO engine oils meet the critical GM4718M Corvette Engine specification, have high TBN numbers, are approved for extended drain intervals, and require very little (if any) viscosity index polymers – for example: Amsoil 10w30 is formulated entirely without VI indexing agents.

Warning! Like the Group-III VHVI Synthetics, we advise against the initial use of these in older engines (5 years and/or 150,000km) – for all the reasons previously stated.

Caution! Like the Group-III VHIV Synthetics, we do not recommend these for use during the initial 10,000-km new engine break-in period – again, for all reasons previously stated.

Our Group-IV PAO Full Synthetic preferred products are:[vi]

· Amsoil 100% Synthetic Motor Oil
· 76 High Performance Synthetic Motor Oil

The variation and diversity of these products is considerable, and; therefore, their application and usage are considered individually.

The above graph shows the low temperature performance of VHVI and Polyalphaolefin engine oils of identical Viscosity Indexes – Organic Esters and Alkalated Naplethene exhibit similar linearity – clearly pure synthetic fluids clearly outperform VHVI synthetic hydrocarbons in the sub-zero range.

Amsoil 100% Synthetic Motor Oil

Paradoxically, considering PAO engine oils were initially developed for extreme low temperature conditions, we advise against using Amsoil 100% Synthetic Motor Oil in temperatures lower than minus 25degC.

Their 5w30 product line is formulated at the extreme upper end range of the kinamatic viscosity scale, with a far less than optimum cold-cranking kinematic viscosity: 5067cP at -25degC; where a realistic acceptable limit is less than 6000cp/-30degC. This is equivalent to a full shift-in-grade in the lower temperature range, where 5w30 resembles 10w30.

From a warm engine running protection standpoint, this is excellent – from a cold engine, cold weather starting perspective, really unacceptable. Amsoil 5w30 seems to have been formulated for the milder continental United States climate.

Still, this is not an insurmountable problem; quite capable of being mitigated by the use a heated parking garage or block heater during the mid-winter season.

Amsoil[vii] is excellent synthetic engine oils; with the highest HT Shear (3.5 compared to 3.2 average) and TBN (11.5 compared to 8.0 average) of the three – making it well suited for Medium Duty applications.

We recommend using Amsoil Group-IV PAO Synthetic all light truck medium duty and severe service applications (excluding high dust conditions); after the engine break-in period. However, this is not our first-choice product for light trucks – one does better using a Group-V PE engine oil – specifically Redline.

This will generally include all ½-ton and 3/4-ton pickup trucks regularly subject to sustained high speed driving, with heavy loads, at high ambient temperatures – a set of conditions most likely encountered when pulling trailers.

Medium duty applications (including high-dust conditions) are discussed further within the section: “HD Engine Oil Applications”.

Operating Envelope (Group-IV PAO Full Synthetic - Amsoil):

5w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -25degC through +40degC
10w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -20degC through +40degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Medium Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Severe
Maximum Sustained RPM: 4000
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: Yes
Recommended Oil Filter: WIX [viii](Composition Cellulose/Synthetic Media)
Filter Change Schedule: 6 Months/8,000 km
Oil Change Schedule: 6 Months/12,500 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $140

76 High Performance Synthetic Motor Oil

Insert Graphic

76 High Performance Synthetic 10w30 Motor Oil

This synthetic is specifically formulated for performance cars – meeting the DaimlerChrysler MS9615 (Viper) and GM4718M (Corvette) specifications. Because it is only manufactured in 10w30, its seasonal application is limited to Spring/Summer/Fall use. Its relatively low TBN (7.7) precludes long drain intervals. This is an excellent product – equalling (if not exceeding) Mobil-1 in engine protection in 10w30 application – in high load and ambient temperature conditions; it (marginally) outperforms Mobil-1.

We recommend using 76 High Performance Synthetic Motor Oil Group-IV Synthetic based lubricants for all passenger car engines and high-performance car engines, in light duty and severe service, where compliance to the GM6094 or the GM4718M (or equivalent) standards are specified (after the engine break-in period).

Additionally, we recommend it for use in light truck and SUV engines in light duty /severe service applications – limited to spring, summer, and fall (non-winter) seasonal use.
Operating Envelope (Group-IV PAO Full Synthetic 76 High Performance Synthetic Motor Oil):

10w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -25degC through +40degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Medium Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Severe
Maximum Sustained RPM: 4000
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: Yes
Recommended Oil Filter: WIX (Composition Cellulose/Synthetic Media)
Oil & Filter Change Schedule: 6 Months/8,000 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $160

Group-IV HVI PAO Synthetic Blend Stocks

Group-IV, High Viscosity Index Polyalphaolefins (HVI PAO) are specialized class of basestocks exclusively used as blending stock; exclusively manufactured by Exxon/Mobil.

These are characterized by ultra-high Intrinsic Viscosity Indexes – ranging from 500 to a staggering 30,000 – only the polyalphaolefin are capable of being manufactured in this range.

These are typically used as Viscosity Index Boosting Agents in the production Group-IV and Group-V finished engine oils – for example; 985ml of 150VI PAO base stock, injected with 15ml of 2000VI PAO blend stock, results in one litre of 178VI end product.

These exist for economic reasons and production reasons. By utilizing HVI PAO injection, blenders can fabricate their necessary VI slate of finished base oils – all from one straight produced single grade basestock.

Group-V Organic Esters & Alkalated Naplethene Full Synthetic Engine Oils:

As a comparison, Group-V PE (Polyolester) based engine oils categorically outperform Group-I solvent extracted lubricants by 150% – but in different application aspects than the Group-IVs.

Polyolester Organic Esters are characterised by all the excellent properties of PAOs with three important exceptions:

(1) Step-out high temperature shear, the highest of all lubricants – in 5w30, 3.8cP at 150degC.

(2) Step-out high temperature coke resistance; the highest of all lubricants – above 500degF.

(3) Ultra-high bearing surface friction reduction; second only to Group-V (AN) blendstocks.

Its single advantage over all other basestocks is the step-out ability to handle extreme engine heat and extreme loading. Polyolesters (PE) outperform all other lubricants, including DiEsters (DE).

Premium formulated polyolester engine oils meet the critical GM4718M Corvette Engine specification, have high TBN numbers, and use little, if any, viscosity index polymers.

Warning! Like the Group-III VHVI Synthetics and Group-IV PAO Synthetics, we advise against the initial use of these in older engines older than 5 years and/or 150,000km – for all the reasons previously stated.

Warning! Do not use PE based lubricants during initial 10,000-km new engine break-in period the initial 10,000 km new engine break-in period; the friction reduction is so great the engine will never break-in.

We recommend using Group-V POE Synthetic based lubricants for all medium duty, new engine applications (after the engine break-in period, and excluding high-dust conditions).

This will generally include all ½-ton and 3/4-ton pickup trucks regularly subject to sustained high speed driving, with heavy loads, at high ambient temperatures – a set of conditions most likely encountered when pulling trailers. Medium duty applications are discussed further within the section: “HD Engine Oil Applications”.

Group-V PE Synthetics are our first choice in light truck engine oils – where the engine is subject to medium duty and severe service.

Our preferred product in this category is Redline Synthetic 5w30.

Operating Envelope (Group-V PE Synthetic):

5w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -30degC through +40degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Medium Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Severe
Maximum Sustained RPM: 4000
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: Yes
Recommended Oil Filter: WIX (Composition Cellulose/Synthetic Media)
Filter Change Schedule: 6 Months/8,000 km
Oil Change Schedule: 6 Months/12,500 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $170

Raw Base Stock Comparative Properties

Viscosity @ 100°C (cSt.)


Viscosity @ 40°C (cSt.)


Flash Temperature (°C)


Auto-Ignition Temperature (°C)


Evaporation Loss @ 22 hours @ 150°C (%)


Oxidation &Corrosion Stability - Acid Number Increase @ 42 h @ 220°C @ 5L/h Air (mgKOH/g)


Viscosity Increase @ 42h @ 40°C (%)


Four-ball Wear Test @1 h @ 600 rpm @ 55°C @ 40 kg load Wear Scar (mm)


Di-Base Organic Esters or di-esters are (in practical terms) approximately equal in performance with Polyolester and PAO basestocks; characterised (again) by all the excellent properties of these groups, with two exceptions: on the negative side they have lower than average hydrolytic stability - approximately equal to VHVI basestocks, on the plus side; they have step-out additive solvency, and the step-out and unique ability to coat bearing surfaces with a shear stable film - useful in preventing engine wear during start-up.

These are mostly used as blendstocks rather than basestocks - the only engine oil exclusively formulated with Di-Esters is NEO Synthetic- and we do not recommend using it due to higher than normal, low temperature cold-cranking kinamatic viscosities, and poor availability.

Alkalated Naphthalene or ANs represent a staggering 100% performance increase over PAO and POE basestocks; characterised by all the excellent properties of these groups, with several significant exceptions: step-out hydrolytic stability, step-out lubricity, and step-out inherent viscosity index (above 1000!).

These are used exclusively as blendstocks rather than basestocks - no engine oil in current production uses ANs as its primary base oil.

Group-IV/V Blended Basestock Engine Oils:

As a comparison, Group-IV/V Blended based engine oils categorically outperform Group-I solvent extracted lubricants by 150% – but differ in their application for straight PAO and PE, and Di-Based Ester lubricants.

This is the only class of engine oils to fully meet the Central and Southern Alberta 70 deg C ambient temperature differential requirement, in a single viscosity grade – better, in this respect any other engine oil – subsequently, free of any seasonal temperature range planning.

The only product in this category is Mobil-1, a severe service lubricant approximately equal in performance with AmsOil and Redline - unlike these two products, it is not approved for extended drain intervals, and due to its lower kinamatic viscosity numbers, is suitable only for light duty applications. We advise against the use of Mobil-1 in light truck engines in medium duty applications – Redline, Amsoil or selected HD Engine Oils are better choices.

Make no mistake - this is an exceptional product; fabricated completely without viscosity indexing polymers, from premium Polyalphaolefin, Di-Ester, and Alkalated Napthalene blendstocks. It has the highest stay-in-grade properties of any lubricant on the market, has step-out high temperature shear stability, and despite its relative light kinamatic viscosities; has been proven to deliver engines through the 350,000 km without ANY measurable wear - and tested to 1,000,000 km on European Engines without catastrophic or terminal engine failure!

This is our first choice in passenger and performance car engine oils – it comes very close to being the universal application engine oil – suitable all passenger vehicle and many light truck / SUV applications (where the duty cycle is light).

Mobil-1 exceeds the critical GM4718M Corvette Engine specification, re-engineered in 2002 to ensure GM product seal compatibility.

Warning! Like all other Synthetics, it will ultra-clean an engine; with the potential of creating seal leaks, and/or oil gallery blockage in older engines - therefore; we advise against using in vehicles with older than 5 years and/or 150,000 km - unless, of course, the engine has been previously using a synthetic motor oil.

Warning! And, like VHIV and PAO Synthetics, we do not recommend it for use during the initial 10,000-km new engine break-in period.

We recommend Mobil-1 new light duty passenger and performance car engines; primarily due to its excellent low temperature flow and extreme engine wear protection properties.

Operating Envelopes (Group-IV/V Blend Mobil-1):

5w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -35degC through +40degC
10w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -25degC through +40degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Light Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Severe
Maximum Sustained RPM: 4000
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: Yes
Recommended Oil Filter: WIX (Composition Cellulose/Synthetic Media)
Oil & Filter Change Schedule: 6 Months/8,000 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $160

HD Engine Oil Applications:

There are two applications gas-fired engine applications for non-synthetic Heavy Duty Engine Oils – in light trucks subject to medium duty and severe service (including the break-in period), and oil consuming high-mileage vehicles.

Similar to passenger cars, the majority of Central and Southern Alberta ½ and ¾ ton trucks are driven on paved roads, lightly loaded, and at high engine speeds. Still, trucks are trucks – these vehicles are frequently subject to medium duty and severe service applications (i.e. weekend recreational trailer pulling) – and therefore; the high kinamatic viscosity Group-IV PAO (Amsoil) or Group-V PE (Redline) full synthetic lubricants are preferred over all other engine oils – but not always.

The above graph shows the relationship between TBN and RUL – where: one sees (by extrapolation) that high TBN (11.5+) Heavy Duty lubricants outlast low TBN (8.0-) passenger and performance car engine oils.

Approximately 1/3 of the Southern and Central Alberta gasoline fired light truck fleet is routinely operated at medium duty and severe service – inclusive of most work trucks used in Gas & Oil, Construction, and Agricultural sectors. These vehicles are routinely operated in extreme ambient temperatures, subject to extended idling, intermediate to heavy loading, high speed driving, and approximately 1/2 of their engine hours spent off-road, were they are subjected to high dust conditions.

Although Group-IV and V lubricants are well suited for these applications – it is the presence of dust that creates the circumstantial difference – the only effective way to remove dust from the engine oil is through an oil change – a frequency of not exceeding 4 months and/or 6,000km – negating any cost benefit associated with the use of expensive, long-drain interval, full synthetics. Group-II Plus and Group-II/III blended basestock Heavy Duty Engine Oils have many of the excellent properties associated with the full synthetics, including ultra-high TBN values and HT Shear capacity; permitting greater journal/bearing separation under load, and enhanced grit/dust envelopment – affording wear protection second only to full synthetics, within the same operating parameter.

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PetroCanada Duron SAE 30

Vendors advertise and promote higher viscosity and additive enriched “High-Mileage” engine oils for vehicles with over 75,000 kilometres – products designed to increase ring/liner sealing, increasing compression, reducing oil consumption, enhancing engine cleaning, and reversing minor seal leaks.

Amazingly, these speciality lubricants actually work – however, when comparatively tested; heavy-duty lubricants consistently outperformed high-mileage engine oils; in every category, for less than 1/3 the cost – therefore, we do not recommend using any “High-Mileage” products; an certainly not at the arbitrary mileage figure of 75,000 kilometres.

As an alternative, use heavy-duty engine oils, but only in high-mileage engines approaching the end of their life – an engine condition, not engine mileage, determination. We advise switching to HD lubricants when oil consumption consistently remains above 2 litres per 5,000 kilometres – from an engine protection standpoint, one should continue using full synthetic engine oil up to this point.

Insert Graphic

PetroCanada Duron XL 0w30

There is a class of ultra-severe service unique to short-commute vehicles operated in the winter season; where the engine seldom reaches full operating temperature – for example: vehicles driven less than 10 minutes and/or 10 km per trip in sustained sub-zero temperatures.

The unique problem is unmitigated condensation – the engine simply does produce enough sustained heat to evaporate all combustion-induced water on a trip-by-trip basis. The only way water can be removed from the engine is through an oil change.

The only engine oil remotely capable of protecting an engine under these conditions is a high TBN, low temperature rated Group-IV PAO.

D-3 0W30

For this application, Esso XD-3Extra Synthetic 0w30 is a cost-effective alternative to Amsoil 100% Synthetic Motor Oil. It has some limitations – due to its relatively high sulphated ash-content (1.48) and relatively low flash temperature (228degC), sustained use will lead to excessive combustion chamber, injector and valve seat deposits. This can be remedied via the annual use of after-market cleaning agents – the only products I recommend are Redline SL-1 Injection Cleaner, and Chevron Tecron – all other products are simply garbage.
We recommend Group-II Plus and Group-II/III Blended HD Engine Oil for all medium duty and severe service (including excess dust) applications, both during and after the engine-in period.

We recommend Group-II Plus and Group-II/III Blended HD Engine Oil for all light and medium duty, severe service, (high-mileage, oil consuming) engine applications.

We recommend the use of Esso XD-3Extra Synthetic 0w30 HD Engine Oil for light and medium light duty, severe service (high engine condensation) applications, after the engine-in period.

Our preferred Heavy-Duty products for gas-fired engine applications are:

· PetroCanada Duron SAE30
· PetroCanada Duron XL Synthetic Blend 0w30 .
· Esso XD-3Extra Synthetic 0w30l

Operating Envelopes (HD Engine Oils):

0w30 Ambient Temperature Range: -35degC through +15degC
SAE30 Ambient Temperature Range: 00degC through +35degC
Engine Duty Schedule: Medium Duty
Engine Service Schedule: Severe
Maximum Sustained RPM: 3000
Suitable for Turbo Chargers: Yes
Recommended Oil Filter: OEM or Baldwin
Oil & Filter Change Schedule: 4 Months/6,000 km
Approximate Annual Cost: $140 (Average Summer/Winter suitable products)

Oil Filters:

Filters Types

Essentially there are two types of filters defined by their filter media type: Cellulose and Composition Cellulose/Synthetic.

Cellulose media has OEM acceptable SPFE (single-pass filter efficiency) and MPFE (multi-pass filter efficiency) numbers, cellulose/synthetic composition filters have higher filtration efficiency, as illustrated in the table below:

Typical Filter Efficiencies
Standard Test Sequence Cellulose Composition Cellulose/Synthetic
(SAE J806) SPFE 85% 97%
(SAE J806) MPFE 80% 93%
(SAE J1858) 50 Micron 99% 99%
(SAE J1858) 40 Micron 97% 99%
(SAE J1858) 30 Micron 93% 99%
(SAE J1858) 25 Micron 85% 99%
(SAE J1858) 20 Micron 60% 85%
(SAE J1858) 10 Micron 40% 60%

The two SAE J806 tests use an oil-entrained mixture of 10 to 40 micron particles, deemed typical of distribution produced within a gas-fired engine, measuring range total containment capture efficiency. The single-pass test is an isolated snap-shot of what occurs very 17 seconds in a hot running engine; where the total crankcase oil content is pressed through the filter. The multi-pass test is realistic portrayal of filtration over time. Filters are imperfect traps; where some particulates pass completely through the media, others are held temporarily, then dislodged; and (fortunately) most are permanently contained; the MPFE test is considered to have higher validity of the two.

The SAE J1858 test measures the capture and containment efficiency for specific sized particles within the 10 to 50-micron range, one size at a time, in a multi-pass sequence. This is the current industry-standard test. It simply counts the number of particles passing through a filter media – if half pass through, the efficiency rating is 50%; if one-quarter pass through, the efficiency rating is 75%.

In general, cellulose media filters are standard grade products, with average overall construction and materials, nitrile rubber anti-drain back valves, nitrile rubber bypass valves - some use nylon, leaf retaining springs, metal end caps - some used cardboard, OEM acceptable filter depth and surface area. These typically retail between $4 and $9.

Above Illustration

Filter Pleat Cross Section

In general, synthetic/cellulose composition media filters are premium grade product, of superior overall construction and materials, with silicone rubber anti-drain back & bypass valves, coil retaining springs, metal end caps, uniform media pleating, enhanced filter depth and surface area. These typically retail between $6 and $24.

Filter media is NOT a single-dimension screen, where all particles greater than a screen size are blocked, and all those below are allowed to pass through. Modern filter media is a random porous material, with an approximate depth of 5 sheets of paper - massive when compared to an average size dirt particle. Some filtration occurs on the media surface (for particles above 50 microns), most occurs within the media - a phenomenon known as 'filtration-in-depth'.

As a ‘filtration-in-depth’ analogy, think as filter media as a stratum 1 mile deep with dirt particles the size of cotton balls. The filter media is a cross latticework of filter fiber ‘pockets’– uniformly distributed throughout the filter’s depth. These pockets vary from 50 to 1 micron in size, with a bell curve distribution curve – that is; the mean-average size is 25 microns, 1 and 50 micron pockets occur equally on the inlet and discharge sides of the media.

Filtration Narrative

Above Photos

Synthetic Media x 1500
Cellulose Media x 1500
Microglass Media x 1800

(with imbeded carbon)

A dirt entrained oil stream contacts the filter surface – where the smallest gap is 50 microns; immediately, 100% of all debris larger than 50 microns is filtered out; the sub-50 micron particle stream enters the filter media, encountering millions of 50 to 1 micron cross-crossed fiber traps. Thousands of carbon, soot, sludge, varnish and metal fragments flow until they are trapped within a pocket smaller than their size; 40 micron particles could be trapped in 25 micron opening; a 10 micron particle may flow completely through the media once all sub-10 micron pockets are full. In the randomness of filtration, some particles (regardless of their size) manage to find a ‘channel’ through the media – returned to the crankcase where in 17 seconds they will be re-circulated past the filter.

An ideal filter media would have sufficient surface are to contain all particle larger than 50 microns, and would have a progressively sized filter media, with 50 to 25 micron trapping on the inlet side and 25 to 5 micron trapping on the discharge side. This would ensure sufficient small particle reserve capacity to contain all particles above 10 microns.

Composition cellulose/synthetic media filters are designed and constructed for progressive size filtration – with a relatively porous cellulose media on leading edge, sandwiched with synthetic media (usually fiberglass) on the return side. Standard cellulose filters are not progressively sized – although advancements in media manufacture (notably by Baldwin) now place premium cellulose filter SPFE and MPFE not far removed from those of their composition media counterparts.

Pure synthetic media filters are still available in the market place. This is an older technology, and, despite their claims of superior filtration and long filter life, unresolved manufacturing problems exist. Pure synthetic media has a poor bending radius, media sheets are stressed or broken during the pleating process (each pleat has four 42deg bends), seriously affecting long-term filter integrity. Still, these filters have excellent filtration and flow properties, but high price (above $25) and short life spans (3 month / 5000 km max) – we do not recommend using this type of filter.

Several filter manufactures (notably WIX) are working to abolish the use of micron ratings for fluid filter classification – calculated by using a procedure called ‘mean flow pore’. There is no industry-standard SAE approved test procedure for a mean flow pore testing, rendering micron ratings meaningless, useful only as a (deceptive) marketing tool. For example; Amsoil advertises their filters as “rated to 1-micron”. A very cynical lubrication design engineer once pointed out that his furnace filter (with 1/64” gapping holes) can be “rated to 1-micron”; he was certain it was quite capable of trapping at least two or three 1-micron particles.

Above Illustration

The Ideal Filter: Coil retention spring, Metal filter end-caps, Heavy construction, Composition Cellulose/Synthetic media, Silicone gasketed PRV and ADBV valves, high surface area, and high fluid flow rate.

There is little evidence to support a case for filtration below 10 microns. Modern tight-clearance gas-fired engines typically have 15 to 50 micron crankshaft and connecting rod bearings bearing clearances. Most high performance (full synthetic) 5w30s are capable of maintaining a 30-micron oil film depth under normal operating conditions – even under severe loading, trailing oil wedge depth seldom falls below 15 microns. However, unfiltered particles accumulate over time, and at some point, when enough are present, ‘stacking’ abrasion onset will occur (For example: two 10mm particles align and scrape through a 15mm journal at 20 microns – yet another reason to change oil regularly.

Filtration Systems

There are two types of oil filtration systems, Full Flow, used on 95% of all automobiles and light trucks; and By-Pass [ix], limited to use on some European Touring Sedans.

In a full flow system, 100% of the oil pump discharge stream passes through a single oil filter. This filter must have high single-pass efficiency, low flow restriction, and the net capability to effectively remove all engine-damaging particles with each and every pass – technically unachievable parameter in current filtration technology. To ensure proper engine lubricated under abnormal operating conditions; most vehicles are engineered with a PRV (pressure-regulating valve) within the engine lubrication system. For those vehicles designed without PRVs, a bypass valve is built directly into the oil filter. Normally, these filter bypass devices remain closed, but in abnormal conditions, such as: a low temperature cold engine start, a temporary high flow demand created by high engine rpm, a partially clogged filter, or any other filter restrictive flow condition: these valves will open – discharging unfiltered oil into the engine, an infinitely preferable the alternative to oil starvation and certain catastrophic engine failure.

In a by-pass filtration system, 10% of the oil pump discharge is directed to a special ultra-high density, synthetic media (secondary) filter (usually microglass). This filter depth is (literally) measured in inches, with ultra-fine filtration properties (typically 100% at 5mm and 85% at 1mm) - in essence, nothing escapes. All by-pass filtration systems are used in conjunction with a (primary) full flow filter. Every 17 seconds, 90% of entire the crankcase content passes through the full flow filter, and every 170 seconds, through the by-pass filter. We recommend using OEM, or manufacture specifically approved, filters are recommended on by-pass filtration systems, both for the primary and secondary filters. We make no recommendation on change frequency at this time.

Oil Filter Life

Outside of structural integrity loss (i.e. internal filter collapse) an Oil Filter is considered at the end of its useful life when one of three events occurs:


Perforation Onset – Where micro-channels become established through the filter media, allowing unfiltered oil flow through the filter. Once through perforation onset begins, filter efficiency deteriorates exponentially. Once channelled, all fluids accelerate and gain kinetic energy – transforming the grit entrained unfiltered oil stream into a media cutting fluid. Remaining effective filter life is measured in hours – worse, this is a hidden failure type, preventable only through proper filter selection and adherence to engineering/design filter change schedules.

Above Graph

The inverse relationship of Lubricant Flow & Filter Efficiency: as End-of-Life approaches; efficiency increases as flow declines – the intersection point of the two curves approximates where abnormal PRV starts to occur.

The root cause of perforation is high filter differential pressure – created by media saturation coupled with a pressure relief valve malfunction (failure to open at a specified pressure). Filters with built-in by-pass valves are more prone to perforation – primary cause being poor valve design and/or higher than OEM specified relief settings.

Filter media degeneration is a function of time, temperature, and differential pressure. Although subject to considerable debate – it appears that synthetic fibre-glass/polyester media resists deterioration somewhat better than standard polymer resin treated cellulose.

2. ADBV Failure – Where the anti-drain back valve material fails due to permanent elasticity changes – resulting in seal failure. This allows a full engine oil gallery rundown on engine shutdown with a subsequent ‘dry’ engine on start-up; producing excessive engine wear.

Seal failure is a function of time, temperature and material. Standard filter nitrile seals are moderately susceptible to high temperature hardening, and have inherently poor low temperature flexibility. Premium filter silicon seals are highly resistant to thermal-set hardening, and have good low-temperature flexibility – they simply have greater long-term reliability.

Above Photo

Silicon Anti-Drain Back Valve
Purolator Pure One (Left) & Mobil-1(Right)

Particle Saturation Onset – Where the filter media becomes filled with debris to the point where filter flow drops below the OEM specified limit – filter PRV and By-Pass valves are regularly running open at this point. Filtration efficiency declines sharply simply because oil is no longer flowing through the filter.

Paradoxically, the filter is very efficient at this point, mimicking a single-dimension ultra-fine screen, increasingly trapping most particles on its surface.

Standard Cellulose media filters (which includes most OEM filters), do not come with life-expectancy ratings – however, this may be extrapolated from vehicle manufactures OEM change frequency recommendations (typically, 6Month/12,000km in light duty/normal service). Since few vehicles are driven in ‘normal’ service – the OEM recommended change frequency is far too generous.

Some composition synthetic/cellulose media filters have end-of-life ratings (typically equal in time, at twice the mileage of cellulose filters) – most manufactures simply state their filters have a ‘higher capacity’ than standard filters (meaning cellulose). While this is true, cellulose/synthetic composition media filters also trap more dirt. The net effect being both filter types reaching particle saturation capacity at the same time and mileage – that is; 6 months and/or 8,000 kilometres – this is reduced to 4 months (equal mileage) in filters with nitrile anti-drain back valves.

We recommend using premium grade Composition Synthetic/Cellulose media filter for all service and duty applications, both during and after the engine-in period.

Composition Synthetic/Cellulose media filters are our first-choice recommendation. Although they have lower through flow rates, this is fully compensated by enhanced filtration (i.e. the 100% filtration limit is moved from 50 microns (cellulose) to 25 microns (synthetic/cellulose).

Four filters were found acceptable in this category, these are:

· NAPA Gold (manufactured by and identical to WIX)
· WIX NASCAR and NAPA NASCAR (a marginal improvement of the WIX filter)

We recommend the use of premium grade Cellulose media filters where the engine oil change frequency does not exceed 4 months and/or 6000 kilometers, for all service and duty applications, both during and after the engine-in period.

Two filters were found acceptable in this category, these are:

· Baldwin
· OEM (AC Delco, Motorcraft, Mopar, Toyota, etc)

Viscosity Grade:

In the mid-1980s, General Motors conducted extensive research into the relationship between lubricant SAE viscosity and engine wear. Conventional wisdom held that as long as the lubricant flowed, the more viscous the lubricant, the better the protection – blenders launched a series of multi-grade lubricants based on this premises – the first being 20w50.

Root Cause Failure Analysis, oil analysis, engine dynamometers, temperature sensors, crankcase observation windows, and data collected from racing; told a far different story.

Premature and/or catastrophic engine failure occurred more frequently with 15w50 than 10w30; even with proper ambient temperature management – further, there was a marked horsepower decline at high engine speeds, unmitigated foaming was a regular occurrence, and “roping” was observed, where an entangled oil stream clings and builds on crank and camshafts.

Some of these failures could be explained by the quality and quantity of viscosity indexing agents used in the fabrication of 15w50 – but not all; premature failure were showing up in engines using well formulated 10w40s.

The fundamental cause of most of these problems was excessive viscosity – specifically; any lubricant with kinematics viscosities exceeding 105cSt at 40°C and/or 13cSt at 100°C and/or 4cSt at 150°C was found to be unsuitable for modern tight-clearance engines. These kinamatic viscosities are the defining upper limit of 30-weight engine oils. Higher viscosity fluids are incapable of flowing through tight journal/bearing clearances at a sufficient rate to maintain an oil-wedge under extreme pressure, nor can they flow through bearings in sufficient time and quantity to provide adequate cooling.

General Motors concluded there was no application for engine oils greater than 30-weight; leaving only four acceptable grades; 0w30, 5w30, 10w30 and SAE30 - use of anything else in a gas-fired engine shortens engine life, rob horsepower, and lower gas mileage.

By 1989, most North American manufactured cars and light trucks had "SAE 5w30 Only" clearly printed on their filler caps.

One would have expected the use of 15w50 and 10w40 to vanish – which happened, only to be replaced with an equally ludicrous array of well-advertised alternative products. Today, the newer 5w40s, 5w50s, and 20w50s maintain a cult-like following – a triumph of victim mentality over engineering [x].

We recommendation: For all [xi] Group-I, Group-II, Group-II+, Group-III VHVI synthetic hydrocarbons, and Group-IV PAO full synthetics:

· Use 5w30 during the Winter Season (mid-October through mid-April)
· Use 10w30 during the Summer Season (mid-April through mid-October)

We recommendation: For all [xii] Group-IV/V POE/AN blended full synthetics (Mobil 1) and Group-V PE Full Synthetics (Redline):

· Use 5w30 for all season year use

After-Market Oil Additives:

Every independent study of after-market oil additives arrives at the same conclusion - they simply do not work. At best, they do nothing - just take your money; but more often than not, they reduce engine oil quality, and in some cases, directly cause serious engine damage.

The reasons are simple:


The carrier fluids and additives used will almost certainly be chemically different from the installed engine oil – potentially creating a reactive, self-canceling mixture when subject to crankcase temperature and pressures. As a case in point; within minutes of introduction Lucus Oil Treatment rapidly decomposes all engine oil anti-foam agents; any continued use of this product will simply lead to catastrophic engine failure. Carrier fluids are often problematic. The most common fluid used being Group-I Solvent Refined Mineral Oil, a selection based on solely on price and solvency – without consideration of the stability problems associated with aromatics, nitrogen, sulfur and metallic salts introduction.

Above Graphic

Despite the pre-text of applied science, after-market additives are sold on the basis of plausibility – vendors count on consumer insecurity and technical ignorance.

All contain excessive amounts of additives, already contained (in sufficient amounts) within all well-formulated engine oils. Producing: Seal conditioner over-activity (leading to premature seal failure), unpredictable viscosity increases (usually by one full SAE grade), elevated low temperature pour points and depressed low temperature flow rates, lower flash temperatures and increased high temperature coking, and elevated ash-content related damage (spark plugs and valves).

· Products, such as Slick 50 Engine Treatment contain particulate Teflon. If these particles somehow manage act as they are advertised (i.e. coat bearing surfaces – which I believe is physically impossible[xiii]) this would act to reduce surface friction below the threshold for oil-wedge formation – leading to induced oil starvation, resulting in premature or catastrophic engine failure. Teflon has abysmal load bearing capacity and a non-existent film depth, an incredibly poor engine lubricant, without suspension or particle carry capacity, and absolutely no thermal capacity. Teflon particles range from 500mm to 50mm; and are quickly filtered out within the first few minutes after installation – reducing the filters net capacity and increasing filter differential pressure.

· Products advertised as “friction-fighters” are viscosity-reduction agents – mostly the technique of compound dilution; the most common hydrocarbon used is nothing more than kerosene. As an example: Wayne’s Friction Proofing is a mixture of 20% carrier fluid and pour point depressants, and 80% kerosene. Solvent degeneration occurs rapidly; again, leading to premature or catastrophic engine failure.

· Products, such as Honey Oil Treatment advertised to “halt oil consumption” contain viscosity-increasing agents – invariably these contain high viscosity base oils intended for use the fabrication of gear oils within the 75w140 range. Fortunately these are relatively insoluble and, once installed, quickly settle and spread across the crankcase bottom, where they drain out with the next oil change. A far more damaging approach is the use of products containing ultra-high polymer levels, such as STP Smoke Treatment, these creating an unpredictable viscosity grade shift. For example: an installed 5w30 will be migrated somewhere within the 5w40 / 5w90 range; depending on crankcase volume, the installed lubricants base polymer content, and polymer chemical interaction – again, all unpredictable, but certain to create poor low temperature flow problems, leading to excessive engine wear.

Within the past 4 years, all major vendors of after-market additives have been charged and found guilty of misleading and false advertising, these include:

· Valvoline Engine Treatment
· Slick 50 Engine Treatment
· STP Engine Treatment
· Dura Lube Super Engine Treatment
· Dura Lube Advanced Engine Treatment
· Motor Up Engine Treatment.
All OEM major manufactures, including Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda; specifically warn against the uses of after-market engine oil additives.

We do not recommend the use of any after-market engine oil additives, and found none to be acceptable for use – for any engine, in any condition, regardless of age or date of manufacture. Refer to the HD Engine Oil Applications” section for realistic alternatives to these after-market additives.

Warning! – Do not use any after-market engine oil additives - period.

New Engine Break-in Practice:

This is one of the most written about and controversial topics of the past 10 years [xiv]. Prior to 1985, all engines required a well-managed break-in period – for two reasons:

(1) To insure proper piston ring / cylinder liner seating. (2) To prevent excessive metal spalling and fragmentary tearing – new parts required some time under low pressure and temperature to ‘wear-in’, where ‘high’ and ‘rough’ spots would be abraded away in a controlled manner, such that secondary engine damage did not occur.

These requirements have changed dramatically as the machine technology has improved – ultra-hard steel machine tools, fully automated control, and ultra-precision milling and turning machines; have allowed machine and run-out tolerances to shrink 10 times in 20 years. Wear-in is no longer required – new part surfaces are more or less perfectly matched – ring seating requires very little intervention.

Oil analysis shows that in modern tight-clearance engines, break-in largely complete within 500 kilometers, and continues at an ever-reducing rate up to 10,000 kilometers. Modern machine assembled engines are relatively clean and debris free, but still contain some metal filings, casting residuals including caustic soda and sand, ester based cutting fluids, anti-corrosion storage films, initial start lithium greases, and solvent residuals – requiring two or more oil changes before being completely removed from an engine.

We do not recommend the use of any synthetic engine oils during the first 10,000 kilometres, synthetics (even the Group-III VHVIs) create a friction reduced environment sufficient to delay ring seating, or (worst) prevent seating from properly occurring (i.e. permanent tilted rings). We have experience of rings never seating because of the premature use of Mobil-1.

We believe new engines still require a limited break-in process, not entirely different from that contained within pre 1985 new vehicle owner manuals, as follows:

For the first 800 kilometers:

· Light Duty only
· Normal Service only
· Drive without any sudden accelerations (no full throttle starts)
· Drive without excessive vehicle loading (no trailer towing)
· Drive predominantly in ‘light’ stop-and-go traffic (the best break-in environment)
· Ensure the engine reaches full operating temperature (for each and every trip)
· Ensure high vacuum engine compression breaking occurs regularly
· Do not drive over 100 km or above 3000 rpm
· Do not drive at any constant speed (avoid freeway driving like the plague)

At 800 kilometers:

· Light Duty restriction continues
· Normal Service restriction continues
· Begin to normal driving – All other restriction are lifted

At 1,000 kilometers:

· Change engine oil & filter:
· Use PetroCanada Supreme 5w30 where GM6094M or equivalent lubricants are specified
· Use PetroCanada Synthetic Blend 5w30 where GM4817M or eqv lubricants are specified
· For medium duty and severe service engine break-in recommendations, refer to the “HD Engine Oil Applications” section.
· All Duty and Service restrictions are lifted

At 5,000 kilometers:

· Change engine oil & filter
· Use PetroCanada Supreme 5w30 where GM6094M or equivalent lubricants are specified
· Use PetroCanada Synthetic Blend 5w30 where GM4817M or eqv lubricants are specified
· For medium duty and severe service engine break-in recommendations, refer to the “HD Engine Oil Applications” section.

At 10,000 kilometers:

· Change engine oil & filter
· Begin using Synthetic Engine Oils – as per our recommendations within this paper

Appendix A Understanding SAE 5w40 and SAE 5w20 lubricants

Most European gas-fired engines specify Group-III VHVI Synthetic 5w40 engine oil. If your vehicle specifies 5w40 - this should be the ONLY viscosity grade used.

European vehicles are specifically designed for higher viscosity lubricants - with greater clearances, typically with secondary engine oil cooling, often with dual primary and bypass filtration.

Your first choice in 5w40 engine oil is the OEM recommended engine oil - these are often specifically (and sometimes exclusively) formulated for your vehicles engine. I found only two other lubricants acceptable: Mobil-1 European Formula 5w40 and 76 Lubricants Pure Synthetic Engine Oil 5w40,but ONLY if the use of than OEM lubricants is permitted by the manufacture.

Ford and Honda recommend 5w20 for year round service in most of their engines. The reasons for using lighter 5w20 lubricants are simple - lighter lubricants reduce internal oil friction (where one oil molecule collides with another); this translates into approximately one tank of gas per vehicle per year, as compared to using heavier 5w30 conventional oil.

Ford Motor Company is openly committed to environmental action, specific to the reduction of greenhouse gasses and energy resource conservation. Honda adopted 5w20 lubricants as a relatively inexpensive means of increasing fuel economy - as a method of increasing their vehicle market share.

Both manufactures have re-engineered their engines to accommodate 5w20, significantly reducing engine valve train, and piston, bearing and connecting rod clearances - and conducted extensive (apparently successful) testing.

Oh really. Serious and significant wear was found at 100,000 km, and by 250,000km the engines were essentially worn out – unacceptable: considering equivalent GM or DaimlerChrysler engines (using 5w30) are easily capable of 400,000 kilometers. Succinctly stated: 5w-20 is too light a lubricant to adequately protect an engine.

The chart (left) compares average 5w20 and 5w30 lubricants. Evidently, the kinematic viscosity of 5w20 is insufficient to maintain proper bearing surface clearances. We suspect the kinematic viscosity of standard grade 5w30 is too great to permit proper heat transfer.

Kinematic Viscosity Comparison 5w20 vs 5w30
cST at 40C
cST at 100C
cST at 150C

We believe the two listed Mobil-1 products provide the best balance between shear protection and inter-cooling heat transfer.

The impact of excessive valve train, timing chain, and ring/liner wear ultimately translated into lower fuel economy – savings realized in the first 100,000km are negated in the last 150,000km.

Unfortunately you are stuck with 5w20 during the warranty period - get caught with some other viscosity in the engine and your warranty is void. Period

We recommend using whatever OEM lubricant Ford or Honda supplies during the engine break-in period. Due to higher wear rates associated with 5w20 – full engine break-in will finish within 6,000km.

We recommend switching to a 100% full synthetic 5w20 engine oil at the 6,000km mark. Use only Redline Synthetic 5w20 or Amsoil Synthetic 5w20. Continue using these lubricants until warranty expiration.

We recommend switching to Mobil-1 Synthetic immediately after your warranty expires. Use Mobil-1 5w30 during the summer and Mobil-1 0w30 during the winter. Continue using these products for the remainder of the engines life – likely (now) to be in the 400,000km range.

Appendix B Understanding Basestock Manufacturing

The following are marginally edited excerpts from a series Machinery Lubrication Magazine publications.

Solvent Refining

By approximately 1930, solvent processing emerged as a viable technology for improving base oil performance using a fairly safe, recyclable solvent. Approximately half of the base oil in North America is currently manufactured using this route. Solvent refined base oils are commonly called Group I base oils which are characterized as those having less than 90 percent saturates (>10 percent aromatics) and more than 300 ppm sulfur.

The solvents and hardware used to manufacture solvent-refined base oils have evolved over time, but the basic strategy has not changed since 1930. The two main processing steps are: (1) Remove aromatics by solvent extraction, and (2) Remove wax by chilling and precipitation in the presence of a different solvent.

Aromatics are removed by solvent extraction to improve the lubricating quality of the oil, they make good solvents but poor-quality base oils because they are among the most reactive components in the natural lube boiling range. Oxidation of aromatics can start a chain reaction that can dramatically shorten the useful life of a base oil.

The viscosity of aromatic components in base oil also responds relatively poorly to changes in temperature. Lubricants are often designed to provide a viscosity that is low enough for good cold-weather starting and high enough to provide adequate film thickness and lubricity in hot, high-severity service. Therefore, when hot and cold performance is required, a small response to changes in temperature is desired. The lubricants industry expresses this response as the viscosity index (VI). A higher VI indicates a smaller, more favorable response to temperature. Petroleum distillates were solvent extracted to the extent necessary to match the quality (VI) of the distillate from high-quality Pennsylvania-grade crude. By definition, this distillate had a VI of 100. Distillate from low-quality Louisiana-grade crude defined the 0 point on the VI scale.

Aromatics are removed by feeding the raw lube distillate (vacuum gas oil) into a solvent extractor where it is contacted ounter-currently with a solvent. Popular choices of solvent are furfural, n-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP) and DUO-SOLTM. Solvent extraction typically removes 50 percent to 80 percent of the impurities (aromatics, polars, sulfur and nitrogen-containing species). The resulting product of solvent extraction is usually referred to as a raffinate.

The second step is solvent dewaxing. Wax is removed from the oil to keep it from crystallizing in the customer’s sump or crankcase at low temperatures. Wax is removed by first diluting the raffinate with a solvent to lower its viscosity to improve low-temperature filterability. Popular dewaxing solvents are methyl-ethyl ketone (MEK)/ toluene, MEK/methyl-isobutyl ketone or (rarely) propane. The diluted oil is then chilled to -10°C to -20°C. Wax crystals form, precipitate and are removed by filtration.

Dewaxing lowers the pour point (freezing point) of the base oil. Base oil pour point targets are set in the marketplace by competitive forces that balance the cost of incremental dewaxing with the cost of incremental additives commonly used to depress the pour point of finished lubricants. These competitive forces drive most manufacturers to a common set of targets.


Hydrotreating was developed in the 1950s and first used in base oil manufacturing in the 1960s by Amoco and others; this is a process for adding hydrogen to the base oil at temperatures above 600°F and pressures above 500 psi in the presence of a catalyst; removing impurities, and stabilizes the most reactive components in the base oil, improves color and increases the useful life of the base oil. Hydrotreating by itself is not generally sufficient to make base oil.


Above Photo
Modern Hydrotreating Facility

Hydrocracking is a more severe form of hydrotreating. In hydrocracking, the base oil feed flows over a high-activity catalyst bed at temperatures above 650°F and pressures above 1,000 psi. Feed molecules are reshaped and some are cracked into smaller molecules. Almost all of the sulfur and nitrogen are removed, and many aromatic compounds are saturated with hydrogen. Molecular reshaping occurs as isoparaffins and saturated ring compounds are formed. These compounds have high viscosity indexes (VIs) and low pour points. However, waxy compounds, chiefly normal-paraffins, are largely unaffected by hydrocracking and must be removed in a subsequent process in order to reduce the pour point. Clean fuels (diesel and jet fuel, as well as naphtha for motor gasoline) are byproducts of this process.

After World War II, predecessors to modern hydrocracking catalyst technology were imported from Germany. Chevron commercialized this technology for base oil manufacturing in 1969.

Catalytic Dewaxing and Wax Hydroisomerization

Catalytic dewaxing is a high-temperature, high-pressure process in which a catalyst selectively cracks the wax molecules present in a base oil to light products, such as gas and naphtha. Although this process is efficient, it is somewhat wasteful, as high-value wax is converted to lower value gas and light fuel. In hydroisomerization, the process is similar, but the wax is selectively converted (isomerized) into very high quality base oil. Both processes remove wax and therefore lower the pour point of the base oil, but hydroisomerization results in higher VI base oil and better yields.

The first catalytic dewaxing and wax hydroisomerization technologies were commercialized in the 1970s. Shell used wax hydroisomerization technology coupled with solvent dewaxing to manufacture extra high VI base oils in Europe. Exxon and others built similar plants in the 1990s. In the United States, Mobil used catalytic dewaxing in place of solvent dewaxing, but still coupled it with solvent extraction to manufacture conventional neutral oils. Catalytic dewaxing was a desirable improvement to solvent dewaxing especially for conventional neutral oils, because it utilized simplified operations to remove n-paraffins and waxy side chains from other molecules by cracking them into smaller molecules. This lowered the pour point of the base oil so that it flowed at low temperatures, like solvent dewaxed oils.

In 1984, Chevron combined catalytic dewaxing with hydrocracking and hydrofinishing in its Richmond California base oil plant - the first commercial demonstration of an all-hydroprocessing route for lube base oil manufacturing.

In its continued dominance of the industry, Chevron commercialized the first modern wax isomerization-dewaxing process in 1993. This was a huge improvement over earlier catalytic dewaxing because the pour point of the base oil was lowered by isomerizing (reshaping) the n-paraffins (wax) and other molecules with waxy side chains into desirable branched compounds with superior lubricating qualities rather than cracking them away. This technology breakthrough utilized Chevron’s ISODEWAXING® Catalyst to greatly improve dewaxing yields and base oil performance.


The graph (above) represents one of the fundamental problems Blenders face using Group-Is under GF-4 standards: NOACK Volatility (15 max) and CCS Viscosity (6600 max) become mutually exclusive parameters for anything lighter than 10w finished products.

The final step in modern base oil plants is hydrofinishing, which utilizes sophisticated catalysts and pressures above 1,000 psi to give a final polishing to the base oil. In essence, the few remaining impurities are converted to stable base oil molecules.

Putting it All Together

Modern hydroprocessing makes products with exceptional purity and stability due to an extremely high degree of hydrogen saturation. These products are distinctive because, unlike other base oils, they typically have no color. By combining hydrocracking, isodewaxing and hydrofinishing, molecules with poor lubricating qualities are transformed and reshaped into higher-quality base oil molecules. Pour point, VI and oxidation stability are controlled independently in the separate catalytic processing steps.

Among the many benefits of this combination of processes is greater crude oil flexibility; that is, less reliance on a narrow range of crude oils from which to make high-quality base oils. In addition, the base oil performance can become substantially independent of crude source, unlike solvent-refined base oil.

Group II - Modern Conventional Base Oils

Lubricant base oils made by modern hydroprocessing technologies show generally better performance compared to older processing routes. This prompted the American Petroleum Institute (API) to categorize base oils by composition (API Publication 1509) in 1993.

Group II base oils are differentiated from Group I base oils because they contain significantly lower levels of impurities (less than 10 percent aromatics, less than 300 ppm sulfur). They also look different. Group II oils made using modern hydroprocessing technology are so pure that they are almost colorless.

The above graph: “Universal Oxidation Test” shows Group-III and Group-IV base stocks as near-equals, clearly leading Group-I and IIs in this property related to High Temperature Thermal Stability, Coke Resistance, and Time Based RUL.

From a performance standpoint, improved purity means that the base oil and the additives in the finished product can last much longer. More specifically, the oil is more inert and forms fewer oxidation byproducts that increase base oil viscosity and deplete additives.

The modern hydroisomerization process licensed by Chevron under the name ISODEWAXING has gained acceptance rapidly since its introduction in 1993. In fact, more than 40 percent of all base oils manufactured in North America are now made using ChevronTexaco technology. The rest of the world is still dominated by Group I base oils, but Group II is making significant inroads there as well.

In the past few years, Mobil (ExxonMobil) has added to this trend by commercializing Group II base oils. Mobil Selective Dewaxing (MSDWTM) is used to make all-hydroprocessed base oils, and Exxon RHC (Raffinate Hydroconversion), an added hydroprocessing step, is used to upgrade base oil slate to a solvent-dewaxed Group II.

The graph above: “NOACK (ASTM D5800) Volatility %” shows Group-IV and Group-III base stocks as near-equals, but in clear lead of Group-II (and Group-I) base stocks. Similar to Oxidation Resistance, low Volatility translates into enhanced Coke Resistance, Thermal Stability, and Engine Oil RUL.

Solvent-dewaxed Group III base oils have been produced in Europe for more than 10 years, primarily by Shell and BP6, but some of these first-generation Group III oils do not perform as well as modern Group IIIs. Consequently, many of these older plants are now being upgraded to enable them to make Isodewaxed Group III oils.

From a processing standpoint, modern Group III base oils are manufactured by essentially the same processing route as modern Group II base oils. Higher VI is achieved by increasing hydrocracker severity or by changing to a higher VI feed.

Group III base oils are now widely available in North America because they can be manufactured in large quantities by most of the companies that currently make Group II oils. Many of these companies have started adding Group IIIs to their synthetic product lines.

Modern Group III base oils have properties which allow them to perform at high levels - in many cases matching or exceeding the performance of traditional synthetic oils.

Group IV - Traditional “Synthetic” Base Oils (PAO)

The graph above: “CCS ASTM D5293” compares inherent cold-crank kinematic viscosity, showing Group-IV PAO base stocks clearly leading in low temperature performance.

The word “synthetic” in the lubricants industry has historically been synonymous with polymerized base oils such as poly-alpha olefins (PAOs), which are made from small molecules. The first commercially viable process for making PAO was pioneered by Gulf Oil in 1951; Mobil improved this process in the 1960s.

PAOs became a major consumer-sought lubricant component when Mobil Oil began marketing its Mobil 1®. In the 15 years following introduction, the PAO market traveled a long and winding road battling a slow, steady growth and criticisms of justification for the higher cost compared to conventional oils. In the last 10 years, the PAO market significantly increased, first in Europe and then in North America, experiencing periods of double-digit growth. In part, the growth might be attributed to the stricter lubricant specifications in Europe that created a market niche for synthetics and semi-synthetic products.

The graph above: “ASTM D943” compares Turbine Oil Life of Group-I & Group-II lubricants – shows the superiority of hydro-treated base oils.

As the lucrative PAO market grew, some base oil manufacturers began using higher VI Group III feedstocks (usually byproducts from wax manufacturing) to make mineral oils with VIs that matched the PAOs. These new Group III oils were not manufactured from small molecules like traditional synthetics but they bridged the performance gap for most products at a lower cost. Therefore, some lubricant manufacturers, primarily in Europe, began replacing PAOs with these newly available Group III base oils in their synthetic engine oils. This created a controversy in the lubricants industry as some synthetic base oil producers and lubricant manufacturers believed that polymerized base oils were the only true synthetics. The most notable niche in which Group IIIs have difficulty competing with PAOs is in very low temperature applications, such as arctic lubricants, which have extremely low pour point requirements.

The trend toward globalize lubricant specifications and worldwide OEM specifications is now creating more demand for Group III base oils. This is particularly true in North America due to the controversial 1999 ruling by the National Advertising Department of the Better Business Bureau that allows Group III base oils to be considered synthetic.

Lubrication technology evolved slowly from ancient times until the 1950s. Solvent-refining technology then emerged and displaced naturally occurring petroleum distillates due to improved lubricant properties. In the 1970s and 1980s, hydroprocessing technologies, especially hydrocracking, allowed the manufacture of Group II base oils. These were recognized as a separate API category in 1993 due to their positive differentiation over previous stocks. Hydroisomerization processes convert wax to very high-quality base oil. Modern hydroisomerization technologies, such as Isodewaxing®, became widely accepted and commercialized rapidly after 1993. Widespread licensing of this technology has created an abundant supply of Group II oils that have exceptional stability and low-temperature performance relative to their Group I predecessors.

A similar trend is emerging with Group III base oils, especially those made using modern hydroisomerization. These oils provide equivalent performance to traditional PAO-based synthetic oils for most products and can be manufactured in volumes and at price points unachievable by PAO.

Group III vs. PAO (Group IV) Performance

Historically, polyalphaolefins (PAOs) have had superior performance characteristics such as viscosity index (VI), pour point, volatility and oxidation stability that could not be achieved with conventional mineral oils. With modern base oil manufacturing, VI, pour point, volatility and oxidation stability all can be independently controlled.

A modern Group III oil can actually outperform a PAO in several areas important to lubricants, such as additive solubility, lubricity and antiwear performance. Group III base oils can now rival PAO stocks in pour point, viscosity index and oxidation stability performance. Some of the key measures for finished lubricant performance where Group III must compete with Group IV include: Pour Point, Cold Crank Properties, NOACK Volatility, and Oxidation Stability.

Pour point is one property where a gap certainly exists, but pour point depressants have closed the performance gap significantly. It is important to understand that the pour point of the fully formulated lubricant (base oils plus additives) is the critical property. Base oils manufactured with modern isomerization catalysts respond well to small doses of pour point depressant additives. For example, turbine oils formulated with conventional Group II base oils (-12°C base oil pour point) are available with a formulated pour point of -36°C. Fully formulated Group III base lubricants can be made with pour points of -45°C or below.

On the other hand, in a traditional synthetic lubricant the additive package will typically degrade the pour point of the PAO blend stock, bringing the pour point of the PAO-based finished lubricant close to that made with Group III stocks. This means that Group III base oils available today can be formulated into lubricants suitable for all but the very coldest applications.

Viscosity in engine journal bearings during cold temperature startup is a key factor in determining the lowest temperature at which an engine will start. Viscosity by Cold Cranking Simulator (CCS), as measured by ASTM Method D5293, is determined under conditions similar to those experienced in engine bearings during starting. For base oils, this viscosity is determined almost entirely by viscosity and VI. Because Group III stocks typically have VIs comparable to that of 4 cSt PAO, one would expect comparable CCS performance.

If one were to blend the PAO to a 4.2 cSt viscosity, their CCS values would be virtually identical. Both have about half the CCS value of a 4 cSt Group II base stock of about 100 VI. Thus, Group III stocks work very well for formulating fuel- efficient, synthetic, multigrade engine oils in the 5W-20 to 10W-40 range. 0W-20 and 0W-30 engine oils, with their extremely low temperature performance requirements, will continue to be dominated by PAO-base fluids for the next few years.

Noack volatility of an engine oil, as measured by ASTM D5800 and similar methods, has been found to correlate with oil consumption in passenger car engines. Strict requirements for low volatility are important aspects of several recent and upcoming engine oil specifications, such as ACEA* A-3 and B-3 in Europe and International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) GF-3 and GF-4 in North America. Low volatility oils are also required for modern heavy-duty engine oils. From a blender’s perspective, Group III base oils are as effective as PAOs for achieving these low volatility requirements in engine oil applications.

Volatility is a strong function of VI. The VIs of modern Group III oils typically match or exceed PAO, so they can match the volatility of PAO VIs at a reasonable distillation cut width.

Oxidation and thermal stability are among the most important advantages that synthetics bring to the table. Better base oil stability means better additive stability and longer life. High stability is the key to making the premium-quality lubricants of the future with longer drain intervals. Here, Group III oils routinely challenge PAO performance.

The stability of modern Group III stocks is well predicted by their VI, because VI is an indication of the fraction of highly stable isoparaffinic and saturated structures in the base oil. Unlike older generation Group III stocks, which can have more than five percent aromatics, modern Group III stocks also undergo subsequent severe hydrofinishing after hydrocracking and hydroisomerization. Consequently, they have exceptional purity with aromatics levels of much less than one percent, resulting in high thermal and oxidative stability. On the other hand, PAO stability depends largely on residual olefin content, which can be present at significant levels - up to five percent. Even though PAOs have generally excellent oxidation stability, in many applications such as engine oils or high-temperature compressor oils, their performance is matched by modern, severely processed Group III base oils.

Future Trends – the XVHI Group IIIs

Looking to the future, the trend is toward lubricants and base oils with even higher purity, lower volatility and longer life. The molecular structure of base oils will be designed to provide ever higher lubrication performance. Selectivity toward desired molecular compositions will be enhanced by employing better hydroprocessing catalysts, feedstocks and process improvements.

Incredibly, one new base oil feedstock is natural gas. In this decade, we will see a new type of ultraperformance base oil derived from wax that is derived from natural gas via the Fischer-Tropsch process. The plants making these super-synthetic Group III base oils will employ the latest hydroprocessing technology.

Dubbed GTL, for gas-to-liquids, these base stocks are already being referred to as Group III+, or “Super-Group III.” ChevronTexaco’s brand name for these products is FTBOTM base oils (FT for Fischer-Tropsch). They will have VIs significantly higher than PAOs, and they will be used to make the fuel-efficient, long-life automotive and industrial oils of the future.
Other competing technologies are likely to emerge as well. New feeds for manufacturing PAOs have been proposed, and the quality of these traditional synthetic oils continues to improve. Unfortunately for PAO producers, their feedstock prices will continue to be relatively high, and the authors believe that this will relegate PAO-based lubricants to smaller, specialized markets in the future. Driven by the substantially lower price of Group III oils, the synthetic automotive lubricant market in North America is rapidly converting most of its volumes to Group III base stocks.

Selected top-tier lubricants requiring PAO will continue to coexist with Group III oils as they have for years in Europe. But widespread availability of modern Group II and III mineral oils is accelerating the rate of change in lubricant markets. New and improved base oils are helping engine and equipment manufacturers economically meet increasing demands for better, cleaner lubricants.

As base oil technology continues to evolve and improve, consumers will enjoy even greater protection of automobiles, trucks and expensive machinery such as turbines. Lubrication performance that previously was achieved only in small-volume niche applications, using PAO and other specialty stocks, is now widely available using the new generation of Group II and Group III oils.

Appendix C Understanding Absolute & Kinematic Viscosities

The following is a major excerpt from an engineering paper by Diagnetics Corporation (Tulsa, Oklahoma) primarily concerned with Newtonian vs. Kinematic fluid behavior – exploring the relationship of polymers, oxidation, surface tension, and density on fluid flow behaviors.



Viscosity stability is a necessary prerequisite to healthful operation of mechanical equipment. This paper addresses the need to include viscosity monitoring in an aggressive condition monitoring program, raises issues surrounding kinematic viscosity which might adversely affect its measurement validity as a condition monitoring tool, and introduces a new method for monitoring absolute viscosity in a field setting.

Viscosity Measurement in the Domain of Machine Condition Monitoring

Machine condition monitoring is the application of non-destructive testing techniques on a routine basis to assure machine reliability. Commonly, the measurements are carried forth in the field by operators or maintenance personnel. Machine condition monitoring activities fall into two distinct categories, proactive and predictive. Proactive monitoring activities focus upon monitoring the failure root causes of machine wear and degradation such as fluid contamination and mechanical stress. Predictive monitoring activities focus upon detecting early signs of wear and degradation such as wear and abnormal vibration. Often overlooked in the field of machine condition monitoring is the role fluid play as a primary component of a mechanical system. In nearly all mechanical systems, fluid acts as a lubricant which separates moving surfaces to reduce friction, wear and degradation. In hydraulic systems, the fluid also acts to facilitate power transfer. Fluid also acts as a carrier of dirt, heat, moisture and other contaminants so they can be removed. In whole, fluid is at least as important to proper operation of mechanical systems as any other component in the system.

The single most critical measure of a fluid's health is its viscosity. Viscosity can be defined as the "thickness" of a fluid. When system designers select a fluid for a system they must balance the need for thickness to hold up to mechanical stress due to load and pressure, with the need for thinness to facilitate pumpability and precision control. Because temperature affects fluid thickness, a relationship called the viscosity index (VI); it must also be taken into account when specifying a particular fluid for a mechanical system. In sum, the viscosity is critical to reliable operation of mechanical machinery. Because of its criticality to reliability, machine operators and maintainers must know how well their machine surfaces are being separated by the lubricant, making viscosity measurement a key proactive condition monitoring activity which should be carried forth in the field on a routine basis. Should viscosity change, action must be taken to rectify the problem. Otherwise, surface-to-surface contact and wear will ensue. Several phenomenons can result in an increase or decrease in fluid viscosity; including additive depletion, oxidation and contamination.

Many fluids are enhanced by an additive(s) comprised of long chain polymers to improve the VI. The additives are commonly referred to as VI improvers. Over the life of the fluid, these VI improvers shear as a result of agitation and mechanical stress, resulting in a change in viscosity, or more precisely, a change in the VI.

A more prevalent problem that affects viscosity is oxidation of the fluid. Oxidation of a lubricant is the degradation of chemical stability as a result of chemical or thermal reactions between the fluid and its environment. Oxidation occurs when fluid is exposed to oxidizing agents and catalysts such as oxygen, heat, moisture, chemicals, and metal debris. The effects of oxidation on a fluid include an increase in viscosity, an increase in density, an increase in acidity, and the formation of oil soluble and insoluble sludges and slimes which the affect Newtonian behavior of the fluid. The affect on the machine is poor lubrication which leads to wear, increased temperature, poor pumpability, surface damage caused by the increased acidity in the fluid, and gumming, or varnishing, of the component surfaces as the polar oxidation by-products attach themselves to component surfaces. Oxidation can be minimized by controlling its root causes. As previously stated, oxygen, heat, moisture, chemicals, and metal debris cause and facilitate oxidation. If they are controlled, oxidation is minimized. Anti-oxidation additives are commonly used to help control oxidation.

Such additives include phenols and zinc dialkyldithiophosphates (ZDDP). In reality, these additives do not inhibit the oxidative process, but rather, act as the sacrificial lamb by oxidizing in preference to the base-stock oil. Once depleted, the oxidation process continues, acting upon the base stock of the lubricant. Contamination of a fluid by air, fuel, moisture or glycol can significantly affect a fluid's viscosity. Both temporary and long term affects to the fluid can occur. For instance, moisture in a fluid will temporarily affect a fluid viscosity and result in oxidation, which will permanently increase viscosity. Additionally, because the oil and water combine, not mix, in the form of an emulsion, the discontinuous structure of the combination has a reduced load holding capability. Because viscosity can shift rapidly in mechanical systems, and because viscosity is the best all-around measure of a fluids health, aggressive condition monitoring activities should include some routine measure of fluid viscosity.

Methods for Measuring Viscosity

Most methods by which the viscosity of lubricants and hydraulic fluids are measured can be categorized as measures of absolute (dynamic) viscosity, or as measures of kinematic viscosity. The majority of oil analysis labs today utilize the kinematic methodology. Absolute measures of viscosity determine the force required to shear a fluid. Absolute viscosity is generally described in centipoise. Kinematic viscosity measures a fluids flowing characteristics resulting from the effect of gravity on its mass. Kinematic viscosity is generally described in centistokes. The following relationship is said to exist between absolute and kinematic viscosity: Kinematic Viscosity = Absolute Viscosity / Density Absolute viscosity measurement assesses a fluid's resistance to shear under high shear rate, or high force, conditions. Measurement of kinematic viscosity addresses a fluids resistance to flow under low shear rate, or low force, conditions. The fact that force, other than gravity, is not applied in measures of kinematic viscosity is an important distinction to the user interested primarily in assuring that the fluid is capable of holding up to the high shear rate condition within a piece of operating equipment. The following issues of measure validity regarding use of kinematic viscosity as a machine condition monitoring tool are raised and discussed in this paper: (1) Density, (2) Surface tension, (3) Non-Newtonian behavior

(1) Density

First, density does not apparently contribute to the measure of viscosity except as it relates to facilitating the use of kinematic viscometers. While it is important as a measure in its own right, it fails to enhance our understanding of the shear stress at a given shear rate relationship which is required to assure proper protection between moving surfaces. Also, density in the kinematic viscosity measurement is a potential source of measurement error in two ways. First, one can treat an unknown, as a known by assuming the new fluid specification provided by the manufacturer is correct and constant. Neither case is certain, or even likely. Research suggests that as a fluid oxidizes, its viscosity increases and its density increases. Also, air, chemical and particle contamination can affect the density of fluid. Density must be measured with a hydrometer or equivalent instrument to be certain of measure validity. Measurement of the additional variable further increases the likelihood of systematic error. Second, is the calculation equating kinematic viscosity to absolute viscosity divided by density? Because density increases with viscosity under oxidative conditions, both the numerator and the denominator in the formula increase simultaneously, introducing yet another unknown. Does viscosity (absolute) increase relative to density in the same manner for all fluids under varying degrees and conditions of fluid oxidation? If left unmeasured, the likelihood of systematic error is increased.

(2) Surface tension

The second area of concern is the affect of surface tension on measure validity. Surface tension is the propensity of fluid molecules to pull together on a surface to form the smallest possible area. The flow characteristics of a fluid are very much affected by surface tension. Surface tension is not fixed or reliable in field fluids. It varies over the life of the fluid and is affected by contamination. While all viscosity measures will be affected to some degree by surface tension, increasing pressure, or force, reduces, or eliminates, its impact. Force driven absolute measures of viscosity would be less severely affected by surface tension than kinematic tests, which rely solely on gravity to initiate fluid flow. The ASTM Standard Test for Basic Calibration of Master Viscometers and Viscosity Oil Standards includes a correction for surface tension. However, it is impossible to assume that surface tension is constant over the life of the fluid. It should be measured, especially when using no force applied kinematic viscometers, which cannot overcome the effects of surface tension.

(3) Non-Newtonian behavior

The error introduced by the presence of non-Newtonian fluid characteristics is the last area of concern raised in this paper. Most lubricating fluids are assumed to be Newtonian, meaning that a fluid possesses a constant, or near constant, viscosity regardless of the shear rate applied. Conversely, Non-Newtonian fluids do exhibit a change in viscosity as shear rate changes. This is central and vital to the viscosity measurement question; should viscosity measurement attempt to quantify resistance to flow or resistance to shear? For example, consider having two identical jars before you, one filled with honey, the other with mayonnaise. Imagine holding two identical spoons, one in each hand. You put one spoon in the honey, the other in the mayonnaise, and begin stirring both spoons, applying identical force and angle, in a clockwise direction. You probably imagine the honey being more difficult to stir than the mayonnaise when the shear rate is increased by turning. Now, imagine removing the spoons, picking up the two jars, one in each hand, and inverting the jars. The honey will flow out of the jar slowly, but steadily. The mayonnaise does not readily flow from the jar. In summary, the honey has a higher resistance to shear than the mayonnaise, but a lower resistance to flow.

This difference between flow resistance and shear resistance is critical to measuring viscosity in lubricants. While the flow characteristics of a fluid are important, the condition monitoring user is interested in assuring that fluids have sufficient shear resistance to maintain safe separation of component surfaces under the high shear rate conditions of operation. Most lubricants today have some additive performance enhancers, which are long chain polymer solutions that are non-Newtonian. As compared to the Newtonian base stock fluid, these polymer solutions exhibit a yield point and a reduction in viscosity as shear rate increases (Figure 1). Yield point is the minimum force, or shear rate, required to activate flow in a non-Newtonian fluid, which exhibits pseudo-plastic behavior.

Research indicates that, when new, polymer thickened oils exhibits a viscosity loss the moment shear rate is increased. The loss of viscosity continues as shear rate continues to increase. A used example of the fluid did not exhibit a viscosity loss until the shear rate reached a significantly higher level (Figure 2). Had the fluid been used to the point that the polymer solution was completely degraded; the fluid might have reached the point that no viscosity decrease was observable under normal shear rate conditions. In essence, as the polymer solution degrades, the fluid becomes more Newtonian. If viscosity is measured under gravity conditions with a minimal shear rate, as with kinematic viscosity measurements, the validity of the measure over time will vary as the Newtonian behavior vanes, especially if a yield point is observable.

The ASTM Standard Test for Kinematic Viscosity of Transparent and Opaque Liquids (and the Calculation of Dynamic Viscosity) specifically suggests that the test is designed for fluids which exhibit a viscosity which is independent of shear rate (Newtonian). True measures, versus calculated measures, of absolute viscosity overcome the majority of the shortcomings discussed about kinematic measures because they apply force during the measure.

The presence of non-Newtonian polymer solutions in the form of additives has been shown to affect viscosity measurement under different shear conditions. As the fluid's life progresses, and its additives degrade, the fluid moves toward pure Newtonian behavior. As a fluid degrades because of oxidation, long chain polymers are created in the form of sludges, slimes and resins. It is possible that the degradation of base stock fluid causes the fluid to move away from its pure Newtonian form to exhibit some non-Newtonian behavior. In sum, a new fluid with long chain polymer additives exhibits non-Newtonian behavior when new, but moves toward pure Newtonian behavior as the additive degrades. And, as the fluid degrades, it might move from exhibiting pure Newtonian behavior toward exhibition of some non-Newtonian characteristics. Or, an additive enhanced fluid may, over its life, move from exhibiting non-Newtonian behavior toward Newtonian behavior as the additives deplete, and back again toward non-Newtonian behavior as it oxidizes.
This change would indicate that Newtonian-ness of a fluid has an impact on the measure of viscosity in a variable way, which would confuse gravity driven measures of viscosity. This change would be something of a Newtonian Life Cycle (NLC). Depending upon the stage of the fluid in the NLC, a kinematic measure of viscosity would exhibit varying degrees of NLC related error.

True measures, versus calculated measures, of absolute viscosity overcome the majority of the shortcomings discussed about kinematic measures because force is applied during the measurement. The Opaque Liquids (and the ASTM Standard Test for Kinematic Viscosity of Transparent and Calculation of Dynamic Viscosity) specifically suggests that the test is designed for fluids, which exhibit a viscosity, which is independent of shear rate (Newtonian).

Kinematic measures of viscosity should be questioned with regard to their ability to determine lubricating protection in a mechanical system because of potential density error, surface tension error, and NLC related error. Through deduction, one can conclude that an absolute viscometer provides the machine condition-monitoring user with a more reliable look at the TMreal° viscosity of a lubricant. Because the condition-monitoring user depends upon measures of viscosity, and does not live in a perfect Newtonian world, the use of absolute measures of viscosity is advised. Further investigation is suggested to more fully understand the differences between the two viscosity measures when Newtonian behavior is varied, and to attempt to empirically verify the proposed notion of a Newtonian Life Cycle.

Appendix D Understanding Additives

The following is a listing of common engine oil additives, their purpose, their expected functional operation, and chemical compositions.

Antiwear and Extreme Pressure Agents

Purpose: Reduce friction and wear and prevent scoring and seizure on oil film rupture

Function: Chemical reaction with metal surface to form a film with lower shear strength than the metal, thereby preventing metal-to-metal contact – these are sacrificial metals and compounds

Composition: Zinc dithiophosphates, organic phosphates, acid phosphates, organic sulphur and chlorine compounds, sulfurized fats, sulphides and disulphides

Corrosion and Rust Inhibitors

Purpose: Prevent corrosion and rusting of metal parts in contact with the lubricant

Function: Preferential adsorption of polar constituent on metal surface to provide protective film, or neutralize corrosive acids

Composition: Zinc dithiophosphates, metal phenolates, basic metal sulfonates, fatty acids and amines


Purpose: Keep surfaces free of deposits, essential to engine cooling

Function: Chemical reaction with sludge and varnish precursors to neutralize them and keep them soluble

Composition: Metallo-organic compounds of sodium, calcium and magnesium phenolates, phosphonates and sulfonates


Purpose: Keep insoluble contaminants dispersed in the lubricant

Function: Contaminants are bonded by polar attraction to dispersant molecules, prevented from agglomerating and kept in suspension due to solubility of dispersant

Composition: Alkylsuccinimides, alkylsuccinic esters, and mannich reaction products

Friction Modifiers

Purpose: Alter coefficient of friction, reduce inter-molecular lubricant friction

Function: Preferential adsorption of surface-active materials

Composition: Organic fatty acids and amides, lard oil, high molecular weight organic phosphorus and phosphoric acid esters

Pour Point Depressant

Purpose: Enable lubricant to flow at low temperatures

Function: Modify wax crystal formation to reduce interlocking

Composition: Alkylated naphthalene and phenolic polymers, polymethacrylates, maleate/fumerate copolymer esters

Seal Swell Agent

Purpose: Swell elastomeric seals, maintain engine seal integrity

Function: Chemical reaction with elastomer to cause slight swell

Composition: Organic phosphates and aromatic hydrocarbons

Viscosity Modifier

Purpose: Reduce the rate of viscosity change with temperature

Function: Polymers expand with increasing temperature to counteract oil thinning

Composition: Polymers and copolymers of olefins, methacrylates, dienes or alkylated styrenes


Purpose: Prevent lubricant from forming a persistent foam

Function: Reduces surface tension to speed collapse of foam

Composition: Silicone polymers, organic copolymers


Purpose: Retard oxidative decomposition

Function: Decompose peroxides and terminate free-radical reactions

Composition: Zinc dithiophosphates, hindered phenols, aromatic amines, sulfurized phenols

Metal Deactivator

Purpose: Reduce catalytic effect of metals on oxidation rate

Function: Form inactive film on metal surfaces by complexing with metallic ions

Composition: Organic complexes containing nitrogen or sulfur, amines, sulfides and phosphites

Appendix E Understanding Product Tier Levels

The intent of this section is to provide insight into the array of engine oil brand names in the market place; with relationship to expected quality and performance. There is a trend by vehicle manufactures (especially the European automakers) to specify nothing less than first-tier products, inclusive of gasoline and lubricants.

Tier 1 the integrated manufactures

Engine oils bearing names such as, Chevron-Texaco, Shell, Exxon-Mobil, Esso (an Exxon-Mobil company), Conoco-Philips, 76Lubricants (a Conoco-Philips company), and PetroCanada are considered first-tier products - directly manufactured by vertically integrated, major oil companies.

These corporations own and operate everything from the oil wells to gas stations, inclusive of: oil fields, refineries, extensive lubrication research & development and engineering departments, blending plants, distribution facilities, bulk sales retail outlets, service stations and marketing organizations - further, they maintain long-term strategic alliance contracts with their respective additive suppliers - where the supplier is guaranteed a market, and the company virtually dictates every component standard and specification; including: manufacture, storage, shipping, and quality control procedures.

First-tier lubricants and gasolines are typically very well engineered and of high quality - exceeding all minimum API specifications, in compliance with stringent quality control and fabrication standards (ISO9001, ISO14001, TS16949, etc). International oil companies are acutely aware of their image, and do not attach their corporate logos and names to inferior products. In general, Tier-1 products are better than Tier-2s – but not always; for example: Redline (a Tier-2 product) is without an equal Tier-1 counterpart, outperforming all Tier-1 engine oils.

Unfortunately, Tier-1 engine lubricants are not always readily available – only a small portion of this product-line is sold in retail stores, usually limited to lower-end lubricants. In general, the only place one can purchase high-end and/or special engine oils (Synthetics, HD Engine Oils) is at a Bulk Dealership – typically only in case lots.

Tier 2 the blenders

Lubricants bearing Valvoline, Quaker State, Castrol, Amsoil, or Redline labels are classed as Tier-2 products - these companies are not vertically integrated, their assets are generally limited to blending plants, R&D and engineering facilities, and substantial marketing departments. Similar to their Tier 1 counterparts, these are high quality, well-engineered products, exceeding all minimum API specifications, with excellent quality control processes in place.

Second-tier engine oils are generally marketed through service stations, automotive, hardware, and discount chain stores. In this irrationally advertised and highly competitive retail scene - they generally enjoy a reputation, customer loyalty, and price structure unjustified by their product quality.

As an example, Valvoline Durablend offers less performance than PetroCanada Supreme but enjoys a 50 to 1 market share, retails for $1.50/litre or more, and cost less to manufacture.

Another example is Amsoil 0w30 Synthetic (a truly excellent PAO product) - it retails at $9.50/litre, while Esso XD-3 0w30 Synthetic (an equally excellent PAO product) sells for $4.25/litre.

Tier 3 the retailers

These are generally specification grade (but not always) products, carrying retailer associated band names, such as Canadian Tire's MotoMaster Formula 1 motor oil.

We do not recommend using any “no-name” and/or “house” brands (Wal-Mart, Napa, Zellers, Safeway, Canadian Tire, Co-op, and UFA).

Although usually supplied by reputable manufactures and blenders (Esso, Quaker State, Valvoline, etc), - this does NOT mean they have an equivalency to any Tier-1 or Tier-2 counterpart (i.e. same product - different label).

Retailers award contracts to fabricators with the priority being price, neither quality nor quality control - lubricants are only expected to meet minimum API specification. In general (but again, not always) there are significant base stock and additive package differences between 1st, 2nd and 3rd tier lubricants processed in the same plant, filled on the same assembly line, and bottled in containers of identical size and shape (different labels of course).

Retailers do not publish their Technical Data Sheets, therefore their product quality and performance is unknown.

There are far worse products than third-tier motor oils. Do not use any “Green” or “Re-cycled" oils. At best, these hit the very bottom of the API specifications pass rates – at worst they do not pass at all, a fact often avoided on the product label.

They contain more aromatic and residual hydrocarbons than Group-I conventional oils, typically degenerate within 45 days / 1500 km, and are anything but “Environmental Friendly”. The re-refining process (if it can be called such) is limited to atmospheric separation, filtration, and mild distillation - the resulting slurry is a heavy metal and a carcinogen rich suspension of chemically reactive Group-I through Group-V motor oils.

If you are concerned with environmental issues, consider using Organic Ester based oils (Group-IV diesters or polyolesters) – these are completely non-toxic and decompose in the presence of the bacteria ordinarily found in the environment.

Appendix F The Irreconcilable Conflict: Wear vs Fuel Economy

The section presents two sides of the argument –– pphysicists from Shell Global Solutions Automotive Lubricants Group advocate the fuel economy case; engineers from the Central Petroleum Company advocate the wear protection case.

(1) Car lubricants: fact and friction (Physics World Magazine)
Physicists are developing better oils and lubricants that promise to improve the fuel efficiency of cars and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Lubricants are essential in modern life. Car engines and gearboxes run smoothly thanks to sophisticated oils and greases, while computer hard disks rely on thin organic films to ensure that the "read/write" head can move reliably at high speeds across the recording medium. According to some analysts, however, the direct costs of friction and wear can account for nearly 10% of the gross national product (GNP) in many industrial nations. Moreover, they estimate that cost savings of up to 1% of the GNP could be achieved simply by using the right lubricant for the job.

Lubricants are remarkable fluids. During winter in Detroit, for example, the same car-engine oil has to operate reliably over temperatures ranging from -40 °C to above 250 °C - the temperature near the top piston ring. It also has to cope with pressures between 105 and 109 pascals, as well as contaminants including metal particles and soot. The final straw is that this fluid must deal reliably with these conditions every day for up to two years - the recommended time between oil changes, according to some vehicle manufacturers.

Surprisingly, one of the major driving forces behind the development of lubricants is the environment. Modern vehicles are required to emit far fewer pollutants than older cars and lorries. Indeed, the emissions from a typical modern vehicle are some 50 times lower than those manufactured in the 1960s.

Carbon dioxide is a natural by-product from the combustion of fuel and is among the most significant pollutants being targeted for reduction. Indeed, vehicles that have high fuel consumption emit large amounts of carbon dioxide. However, the European Union is taking a strong lead in tackling this problem, and has indicated that the average amount of carbon dioxide emitted by every vehicle should be reduced from today's average of 200 grams per kilometer to less than 140 grams per kilometer from 2008. This is roughly equivalent to improving the average fuel consumption from 33 to 47 miles per gallon. Such an increase would lead to big cuts in terms of carbon dioxide. In the UK alone - where there are roughly 20 million cars, each covering an average of 16 000 km every year - the total annual drop in CO2 would be about 19 million tonnes.

Clearly manufacturers are making a number of engineering changes to their vehicles to try to improve fuel economy. Less well known, however, is the fact that the fuel consumption can be significantly improved just by changing the lubricants. For example, it is possible to decrease the amount of fuel consumed by modern cars by up to 5% simply by switching from typical multi-grade oils to a "friction-modified" lubricant with a lower viscosity. This would lead to an annual CO2 drop of roughly 3 million tonnes in the UK. Remember that this figure is just for the UK and just for cars. Greater CO2 savings are clearly possible if optimized lubricants were also used in trucks and in other machinery.

Physicists are playing an increasing role in addressing the environmental problems of pollution and global warming, as well as in understanding natural climate phenomena such as El Niño. Ever-more-sophisticated experiments are revealing that lubricants are a rich source of physics, and physicists are quick to use these findings to design environmentally friendly lubricants that will help to reduce our impact on the planet. The progress that is being made in lubricant research today will undoubtedly play a part in safeguarding the natural environment for many generations to come.

(2) Motor Oils - Fuel Economy vs. Wear (Machinery Lubrication Magazine)

Conventional wisdom states that engine oils that increase fuel economy allow less friction and prolong engine life. The purpose of this article is to challenge conventional wisdom, particularly concerning modern (GF-3 ILSAC/API Starburst) engine oils.

Fuel Economy: Does Anyone Really Care?

First, we should face the fact that the American consumer does not appear to care too much about fuel economy. The No. 1 selling passenger vehicle is the Ford F-Series Pickup. Five of the top 10 best-selling vehicles are trucks, and trucks outsell cars. Some of the trucks are called sport-utility vehicles, otherwise known as SUVs, because their owners don’t want to admit they are trucks. The mass (size, weight) of these vehicles is not conducive to great fuel economy.

Additionally, consider how most vehicles are driven. Anyone accelerating slowly or driving at the speed limit to conserve energy is a danger to himself and other drivers who are in a much bigger hurry.
Auto manufacturers, on the other hand, are concerned about fuel economy. The manufacturer faces big fines if the fleet of cars it produces falls short of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements imposed upon them by the federal government.

The March to Thinner Oils

Thinner oils are being used these days for three reasons: They save fuel in test engines, the viscosity rules have changed, and manufacturers are recommending thinner grades.

The Sequence VI-B is the test used to evaluate fuel economy for the GF-3 specification. The VI-B test engine is fitted with a roller cam where the old Sequence VI test used a slider cam. The old Sequence VI test responded well to friction modifiers, but the Sequence VI-B responds to thinner oils.

The test oil’s fuel efficiency is compared to the fuel efficiency of a reference oil in the Sequence VI-B test. To pass, the test oil must improve fuel economy one to two percent, depending on viscosity grade. SAE 5W-20 must produce higher relative fuel efficiency than SAE 5W-30.
It is interesting to note that the reference oil is fully PAO synthetic SAE 5W-30. To qualify for the GF-3 Starburst, ordinary mineral oils had to beat the fuel economy of the full synthetic reference oil. (It seems there is more to fuel economy than a magic base oil.)

Another factor in fuel economy is temporary polymer shear. These polymers are additives known as viscosity index improvers (or modifiers). Polymers are plastics dissolved in oil to provide multi-viscosity characteristics. Just as some plastics are tougher, more brittle or more heat-resistant than others, different polymers have different characteristics.

Polymers are huge molecules with many branches. As they are heated, they uncoil and spread out. The branches entangle with those of other polymer molecules and trap and control many tiny oil molecules. Therefore, a relatively small amount of polymer can have a huge effect on oil viscosity.

As oil is forced between a bearing and journal, many polymers have a tendency to align with each other, somewhat like nesting spoons. When this happens, viscosity drops. Then when the oil progresses through the bearing, the polymer molecules entangle again and viscosity returns to normal. This phenomenon is referred to as temporary shear.
Because the Sequence VI-B test responds to reductions in viscosity, oil formulators rely on polymer shear to pass the test. A shear stable polymer makes passing the GF-3 fuel economy test much more challenging.
New rules defining the cold-flow requirements of SAE viscosity grades (SAE J300) became effective in June 2001. The auto manufacturers were afraid that modern injection systems might allow the engine to start at temperatures lower than the oil could flow into the oil pump. Consequently, the new rules had a thinning effect on oil.

The auto manufacturers now recommend thinner oils for their vehicles than in the past. Years ago, SAE 10W-40 was the most commonly recommended viscosity grade, later migrating to SAE 10W-30. SAE 5W-30 is most popular now, but Ford and Honda recommend SAE 5W-20. It is likely that more widespread adoption of SAE 5W-20 and other thin oils may occur to help comply with CAFE requirements.

Because of the change in cold-flow requirements and the fuel economy test pushing formulators toward the bottom of the viscosity grade, today’s SAE 10W-30 oils are more like yesterday’s (GF-1 spec) SAE 5W-30 oils. On top of that, there is a trend toward auto manufacturers recommending thinner grades. This seems ridiculous. SUVs and trucks, with their inherently less-efficient four-wheel drive and brick-wall aerodynamics, need powerful, gas-guzzling engines to move their mass around in a hurry. In response, auto manufacturers recommend using thin oils to save fuel. Incredible!

Viscosity and Wear

Thinner oils have less drag, and therefore less friction and wear. Right? Perhaps in the test engine or engines that experience normal operation. But somewhat thicker oils may offer more protection for more severe operations such as driving through mountains, pulling a boat, dusty conditions, short trips, high rpm, overloading, overheating and overcooling.

Any abrasive particles equal to or larger than the oil film thickness will cause wear. Filters are necessary to keep contaminants small. The other side of the equation is oil film thickness. Thicker oil films can accommodate larger contaminants.

Temperature has a big effect on viscosity and film thickness. As a point of reference, one SAE grade increase in viscosity is necessary to overcome the influence of a 20°F increase in engine temperature. At a given reference point, there is approximately a 20°F. difference between viscosity grades SAE 30, 40 and 50. SAE 20 is somewhat closer to 30 than the other jumps, because SAE 30 must be 30°F higher than SAE 20 to be roughly the equivalent viscosity.
In other words, an SAE 20 at 190°F is about the same kinematic viscosity as an SAE 30 at 220°F, which is about the same viscosity as an SAE 40 at 240°F. This approximation works well in the 190°F to 260°F temperature range. One might be surprised at the slight amount of difference between straight viscosity vs. multi-viscosity oils with the same back number (for example, SAE 30, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30).

If a SAE 50 oil at 260°F is as thin as a SAE 20 oil at 190°F, imagine how thin the oil film becomes when you are using an SAE 5W-20 and your engine overheats. When an engine overheats, the oil film becomes dangerously thin and can rupture.
Ford is bumping up against its CAFE requirements and recommends SAE 5W-20 oil for most of its engines in the United States. It claims SAE 5W-20 is optimal for fuel efficiency and wear.

To determine if SAE 5W-20 oils provide the same level of protection as SAE 5W-30 oils, Dagenham Motors in England, one of the largest Ford dealers in Europe, was consulted. SAE 5W-30 is required for warranty purposes in England, and SAE 5W-20 is not even available. If SAE 5W-20 were better for both fuel economy and wear, why would Ford not recommend it for its same engines in Europe?

Antiwear Property Changes

Another change that occurred in passenger car motor oils with GF-2 and GF-3 is a more stringent limit on phosphorus, which is part of the zinc phosphate (ZDDP) antiwear additive. The auto manufacturers are concerned that phosphorus will deposit on surfaces of the catalytic converter and shorten its life.

This is a complicated issue, and the deposits depend on the specific ZDDP chemistry and the finished oil formulation. The industry was unsuccessful in designing an engine test for an oil’s catalytic converter deposit forming tendencies. Therefore, the auto manufacturers set an arbitrary limit for motor oil of 0.1 percent phosphorus.

Antiwear additives are important in the absence of a hydrodynamic film, such as in the valve train.

The antiwear additives are activated by frictional heat, which causes them to react with the hot surface and form a chemical barrier to wear.

The mechanism by which phosphorus deposits form on catalytic converter surfaces is not fully understood. It does not correlate directly with oil volatility or oil consumption. On the other hand, if engine wear causes oil consumption to increase, the risk of forming phosphorus deposits in the converter would increase dramatically. It seems that preventing wear and oil consumption should be a priority.
In the past, oil formulators could make a premium product by simply adding more ZDDP. A similar move today would result in an oil formulation that would not support new car warranties.

Short-term Thinking

As wear increases, the efficiency of an engine declines. Valve train wear slightly changes valve timing and movement. Ring and liner wear affect compression. The wear hurts fuel efficiency and power output by an imperceptible amount at first, but then the difference in fuel economy between an SAE 10W-30 and SAE 5W-20 is hardly noticeable. Efficiency continues to decline as wear progresses. Perhaps optimizing wear protection is the way to reduce fuel consumption over the life of the engine.

Certainly engines that have experienced significant ring and liner wear benefit from thicker oils. Thicker oil gains results in compression increases, performance improvements and reduced oil consumption.

High-mileage oils are a relatively new category of passenger car motor oils. These products typically contain more detergent/ dispersant and antiwear additives than new car oils. They typically contain a seal swell agent and are available in thicker viscosity grades than most new cars recommend. “High mileage” seems to be defined by “as soon as your car is out of warranty.”

What To Use

Although thinner oils with less antiwear additive outperform more robust products in the 96-hour fuel economy test, it is not clear that such products save fuel over the useful life of the engine.

Every fluid is a compromise. Oils recommended by the auto manufacturers seem to compromise protection from wear under severe conditions to gain fuel economy and catalyst durability. It is important to recognize that to use a product that offers more protection from wear will most likely compromise your warranty. Thicker oils also compromise cold temperature flow, which may be of concern depending upon climate and season.

The best protection against wear is probably a product that is a little thicker (such as SAE 10W-30 or 15W-40) [xv]and has more antiwear additives than the oils that support the warranty. The best oil for your vehicle depends on your driving habits, the age of your engine and the climate you drive in, but it is not necessarily the type of oil specified in the owner’s manual or stamped on the dipstick.

Appendix G Recommended Product Comparison Tables

We recommend the use of 20 different engine oils, in various viscosity, grade, and base stock composition, depending on their application – once again; no single engine oil will suffice for all engines under every running condition.

With few exceptions, all data comes directly from the manufactures data sheets – data within gray-shaded cells is either extrapolated from similar products, of was obtained from other reliable sources – regardless; it may be considered (approximately) accurate. In cases where data was simply not available – a ‘No Data” entry is used

For Mobil-1, both the ILSAC-GF3/SL and ILSAC-GF4/SM specification products are listed. For all other lubricants, only the current listed product standard is listed.

Conspicuously absent for our list of recommended engine oils (as compared to the January 2004 release of this paper) are the entire Quaker State and Castrol product lines. Despite compliance to GM4817M in their high end Group-III VHVI engine oils; and some apparently high performance Group-II and/or possible Group-II+ products – neither publish sufficient specification data to proceed with any sort of recommendation.

Absent from this paper is the Valvoline, FormulaShell and PetroCanada lineup of Group-III VHVI Synthetic Hydrocarbon engine oils – these (under the ILSAC-GF4/SM specification) no longer meet the critical GM4718M corvette engine requirements. Many Group-II and II+ engine oils failed to meet our low temperature flow limits – under API “SM”, low temperature flow points have risen as between 5 and 8 degrees, as compared to API “SL” compliant lubricants.

Two spreadsheet applications were written to assess the quality and performance of engine oils in a non-subjective manner (EO_Comparision_III and EO_ Effectiveness_III); neither of which is included within this summary document. Unlike the spring 2003 & January 2004 releases of this paper – we did not use any vendor driven product comparison data. Our conclusion being that vendors and manufactures only test against specific products, specifications, and operating conditions they are certain they will appear to be superior – often using arcane test procedures (i.e. the Four-Ball Wear Test) and/or obsolete specifications, and/or against competitor products no longer being manufactured.

The filter table includes an assessment of 16 commonly available filters, ranked in order of their performance. Amsoil, Mobil-1 and K&N filters are ranked “N/A” – we do not recommend using these filters for the following reasons:

· Amsoil filters are truly excellent filters – specifically made for Amsoil by Baldwin; resembling the Baldwin Severe Service line for HD truck engines. Our “N/A” rating simply has to do with price – typically between $18 and $24, several times more than other equivalent filters.

· Mobil-1, despite its otherwise excellent performance, suffers from end-seal crimp failure, as high as 1/3 of used filters were found to be passing unfiltered oil, in some cases the leakage rate (under pressure) resulted in a complete filtration loss.

· K&N filters are performance racing filters – designed to provide maximum flow at the cost of filtration – not a problem in racing where filter and oil life is changes occur at the end of a days racing – however; not acceptable where oil and filter changes are measured in months and thousands of kilometers.

We do not recommend the use of any filter ranking less than 10 – equal to that of General Motors OEM filter, the AC Delco Duraguard – approximately equal in construction, quality and performance to other OEM filters, such as Ford Motorcraft, Daimler-Chrysler Mopar, Honda, Toyota, and other European and Pacific Rim vehicle manufactures.

End_of_File_EO_Thesis_III_JDLewis_21Dec2005_Releas e_ 2.1

End Notes:

This study does not address any diesel engine lubrication requirement – we advise against any extrapolation of data, recommendations, or conclusions within this paper for Diesel Engine applications.

[ii] Service and Duty are separate, non-interchangeable terms. Service refers to external & internal engine operating conditions; Duty refers to nature of engine loading. There are two Service categories: Normal– moderate ambient temperatures, limited short trips and stop & go traffic, predominately highway miles; Severe – extreme ambient temperatures, predominately short trips and stop & go traffic, limited highway miles. There are three Duty cycles: Light – lightly engine loading, moderate rpm, typically less than at 80% OEM design; Moderate – moderate engine loading, extreme high/low rpm, typically at 80% to 100% OEM design; Heavy – heavy engine loading, extreme high/low rpm, typically at 100% to 115% of OEM design.

[iii] Based on vehicle driven 25,000 kilometers per annum, a 5-liter crankcase capacity, with an oil filter cost of $8.00 (cellulose) and $9.00 (composition cellulose/synthetic) – parts only, excluding labor.

[iv] “Maximum Sustained RPM” is defined within this paper as the OEM designed engine speed at (normal) and (maximum) expressway cruising speeds – defined as 125 km/hr. We have rated engine oils from 2500 to 4000 rpm – engine oil should be selected on the basis of 125 km/hr testing – this does not mean an engine cannot be operated beyond its OEM designed ‘normal’ engine speed by using a higher RPM rated lubricant.

[i][v]Chevron/Texaco Havoline and Chevron Supreme product lines are identical – for every Havoline engine oil there is a corresponding Supreme product – for brevity, only Havoline products are mentioned in this paper.

[vi]In addition to Esso XD-3 Extra 0w30, a full synthetic HD Engine Oil. Applications for this product are covered in the "HD Engine Oil Applications" section.

[vii]Amsoil undermines its credibility with exaggerated claims, particularly in comparative product testing – carefully staging products, standards (often arcane) and operating conditions where it is certain to appear superior.

[viii]Napa Gold and Wix filters are absolutely identical and retail for the same price – equally recommended is Dana Corporation’s NASCAR filter line – sold under the Napa NASCAR and Wix NASCAR band names. Kralinator filters are also identical to Wix.

[ix]By-Pass filter systems are extensively used on Heavy Duty Diesel Truck Engines.

[x] In 2001 Pennzoil/Quaker State studied product purchases by individuals changing oil in their personal vehicles – finding they were twice as likely to install higher than OEM recommended viscosity lubricants than professional mechanics – rationalized by a succession gamut of beliefs from: 'built-in-obsolesce' through 'engineer stupidity' through 'miracle' oils and additives, ending with fierce brand loyalty.

[xi] Excluding Heavy Duty Products - refer to section "HD Engine Oil Applications" for specific recommendations.

[xii] Mobil-1 10w30 is formulated with higher levels of detergents and seal conditioning agents intended for use in pre-2000 engines, OEM specified for the use of 10w30 only - unless so specified, we recommend against the use of 10w30. Unique only to Redline, the HT Shear ratings for 5w30 and 10w30 are equal, affording greater high temperature protection coefficient than any mineral oil 40-weigh product (including Group-III Synthetics).

[xiii] Ford Engineering concluded Slick 50 does nothing – the conditions required to plate Teflon to metal can not be achieved in an engine; Teflon coating requires an absolutely clean, high temperature surface, in a vacuum chamber. The story gets worse; the Friction Coefficient of Teflon is actually greater than Mineral Oil – and; if the Teflon somehow managed to fill in 'craters' in the steel – this would include cylinder wall honings, precluding piston ring sealing.

[xiv] The arguments are from credible sources; ranging from the Light Aircraft Industry’s stance that only a rigorously applied break-in schedule will ensure OEM designed engine life, to ExxonMobil Corporation declaration that new engines no longer require any special effort – and that the use of factory filled full synthetics is preferred; Redline disagrees; contending the use of full synthetics during this period will permanently arrest the ring seating process.

[xv] We specifically advise against the use of 15w40 in any Gasoline Fired engine

And then there's this asshole...
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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Interesting read, but pretty much totally outdated regarding the current round of Ester based products which have superior cold weather performance compared to both pure PAO and blends. They also didn't test a single contemporary 100% Ester based product, in fact there is an ANSI class group for 100% ester that isn't even mentioned although it has been around for nearly 20 years . . .

lubrinerd is more like it . . .

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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Yes outdated but a good explanation of different grades of oil.


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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

another interesting read:
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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Sorry I am not letting this one die.
I have been reading all kinds of websites and articles as of late.
This synthetic thing is a complex field only made more difficult with the marketing side of things.
It is very similar to natural and artificial flavouring.
You can synthesize natural flavouring or you can use 100% natural extracts to make artificial flavouring.
The same goes with POA's. You can synthesize them from ethylene or extract it from oil. It is still the same material but you acquired them from different routes. However for marketing if you have any POA's in your oil you can call it synthetic.

Esters as far as I know are only made synthetically however I find it hard to believe that they do not exist somewhere naturally. (Too small a quantity or too difficult to isolate). As far as I can tell so far Motul, Redline and VP are the only companies to have an ester based oils.

I guest the only real factor to look at is the oils physical properties and lab tests to determine what you want. The only definite in the oil industry is to not go by what you see on the TV or adds.

This is the type of information available on the web.

Is SynPower a full synthetic? Is SynPower motor oil PAO or ester based? Does it require a special filter?

Yes, SynPower is 100% synthetic. Synpower uses a proprietary combination of various types of synthetic base oils to obtain optimum performance.
No, a special oil filter is not required with Synpower.

Crazy response. Are they running for the oval office?

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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Well just like ethylene is a natural occuring gas (from plants), Esters are developed from the natural oils found in several fruits, so they are natural, just not dino based.

You can add Silkolene and actually Castrol to that list (although the Ester based Castrol is ~ 35.00 per liter and doesn't perform very well, all things considered).

If you actually speak to someone at Mobil that knows what they are talking about, you will find that all Mobil 1 products use dino based PAOs along with quite a few other dino based additives in their base package.

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Re: synthetic or semi synthetic oil for 929RR?

Originally Posted by timace
i have a quastion what kind of motorcycle oil do you guys use? synthetic or semi synthetic? Is there a top oil for the fireblade like castrol ore others?
I want to use a semi synthetic from valvoline Durablend 10W40....
My research has shown the following:
Bike oil should be used - not car oil, since the bike oils do not have friction modifiers which can make your clutch slip. Fully synthetic oils give the ultimate protection, resistance to sludge, varnish, etc. They are however very expensive, and unless you race or spend a lot of time on the track, you will not be getting the full advantage of these oils since you won't be working your engine hard enough to utalise their extra qualities. I also know of some clutches still slipping on the fully synthetic bike oils.
A semi-synthetic oil will give more than enough protection for any road riding (plus the odd track-days) and is much more cost-effective.
I suggest using an appropriate oil grade to suit your climate. I use a 15W50 since I regularly ride in 30 deg. C temps. The thinner oils such as the 10W40 is better suited to cooler climates (it goes VERY thin in very hot weather).

I hope this helps!!
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