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Better oil advice for Ted from Minneapolis

I wish Tom and Ray would have given Ted from Minneapolis better advice in answer to his question on what kind of oil he should use, and when to change it.

For some reason Da Boyz seem to have an aversion to synthetic oil. Let me say this: I have a '96 Ford Windstar (yeah, yeah, I know, but I built a camper in the back that is highly useful and the thing is like the Energizer Bunny) about to turn 222,000 miles. I started putting in Mobil 1 15,000-Mile Extended Mileage synthetic oil around 130,000 miles, I change the oil and put in the best filter I can find (usually a Bosch) every 10,000 - 12,000 miles, I drive the thing at 85-90+ MPH, and it runs like a top. Never an engine problem. If I have to add a third of a quart to top up the oil in that time, it’s a lot. And the oil still looks healthy at change time.

Research the difference between regular “natural” oil and synthetic, and you’ll see synthetic is an entirely different animal with vastly superior lubricating abilities and stability. Sure, Castrol “natural” (which Tom and Ray say they use) is a good oil (I used to use it in my former '82 VW Vanagon, having to add a quart every 300 miles – that’s another story too), but to go 7,500 miles between changes, as Tom and Ray advised Ted to do, with a non-synthetic oil, I think I’d have a cow worrying what I was doing to the engine.

Additionally, especially with Minnesota winters, I think Ted would find getting his Saturn to turn over at minus 20 a lot easier with a synthetic than non-synthetic. And also more stable in Minnesota summers, as I find it here in Florida. True, a synthetic is going to cost more. The Mobil 1 Extended Mileage oil runs about $28 or $29 for five quarts (other brands of extended-mileage synthetic are equivalently priced), the Bosch filter another $12, but compared with the cost of engine repairs, how well the car runs, the preservation of the engine, and the long intervals between changes, I consider it money well spent. And if Ted is paying someone to do the changes, savings in the labor or shop cost – or just the hassle – largely balance out the higher cost of the oil with longer intervals between changes.

If I had to pick the single best discovery I’ve made in 48 years of driving and owning cars, it is synthetic oil. That’s my story, I’m stickin’ to it, and I wish Tom and Ray would come over to the Syn Side.

Sorry @Skywalker099 but I had a Ford Ranger XLT that went over 450K on dino oil alone. Your argument is a moot point with me because I only use synthetic oil if the manufacturer calls for it. I’ve also lived in Northern Maine and Fairbanks, AK where it gets very, very cold and I never used synthetic oil. My engines were just fine with dino oil. Some people buy the synthetic oil hype and others don’t. The best advice is to change the oil on a regular schedule and use the recommended weight. I’ve driven and owned cars for as long as you have and never had engine problems related to oil. Come back to dino side and save some money.

My dad had 96 Windstar. Headgasket went out at 110k. Trans died at 200k. The got a 99 Windstar and rear axle cracked so dealer “bought” it. Sample size of 2. Pretty small.

I’ve yet to see or hear of one person with a worn out street engine that was run on dino oil changed at a reasonable interval, who could say the engine would not have worn out if it had synth oil.
There is some evidence that synth can go longer intervals than dino under certain conditions (non “severe”) none of the car-makers endorse this directly.
I sold my '88 Accord to a friend after 20 years and 220k miles of dino oil.
Last time I saw it had 270k miles and had had it’s share of repairs and maintenance, but no engine trouble, was clean under the valve cover (I adjusted the valves for him), and it purred like a kitten.

But, but, but…if synthetic vs dino lets you go 6k vs 3k, or 10k vs 5k, and costs less than twice as much per oil/filter change, for identical protection, why not use it?

But, but, but…you can’t extend the oil change interval just because you switch to synthetic. That’s where people run into problems with their engines. Synthetic oil is not a miracle product that will allow you to extend your oil change interval even though that’s what they want you to believe. Don’t do it. That “identical protection” is just hype and we all know what hype tends to be.

But, but, but…I’ve done it for years and had no engine problems.

As you can tell from my original post, I’m with insightful on this one. Sure, you can run an engine on (as missileman calls it) “dino” oil, and get many miles out of an engine – probably as many as with synthetic, but with a lot more oil and filter changes – but the same way automotive technology has advanced, so has oil technology. Even a cursory bit of research into the structural differences between conventional and synthetic oils will show you why synthetic is superior, and the science of it is what convinced me.

There are differences between synthetics, and with the more basic synthetics I would be inclined to keep up with more frequent oil changes. With the extended mile syns, I may not push things to the limit (changing at 10K-12K miles versus 15K), but I see no reason (and experience and how the car runs and feels and the state of the oil backs me up on this) not to take advantage of the longer change intervals possible. In the end, changing the filter might be even more important than changing the oil, and that is part of why I don’t go past the limits I do.

As per missleman living in Northern Maine and Fairbanks, Alaska, I, too, have lived in Upstate New York (through the coldest winter then on record) and Montana (where the Windstar came from), with -29 temps, and had my share of car problems, non-starts, a burned-out starter from over-cranking, and all the rest. I wish I knew then what I know now, and while synthetic oil may not be a panacea, it will flow at a lot lower temps than will conventional oil. And I can see a real difference in oil consumption – practically none with the synthetic, whereas with a lot fewer miles I was adding noticeably more oil when I used conventional in the same engine.

Just like I say “thank goodness” whenever someone says they don’t build cars the way they used to, I’ll leave the dino oil to the dinosaurs and be happy to enter the brave new world of oil technology.

I want to add my experience with synthetic oil.

I started using synthetic oil for the same reason Ted is asking about. I started driving 36k - 50k+ a year and in 1995. I was changing my oil every 3-4 weeks. I did the math and it was cheaper to use synthetic oil, I changed my oil at 7,500 miles. I now change it at 10,000 or more. First vehicle I had was a 1990 Astro Van. We bought it new but a demo vehicle with 18,000 miles. I changed to synthetic oil at about 50,000. We drove it as a family car, with teenage learning to drive on it, rebuilt the engine do to some abuse at 276,000 miles. Then drove it another 225,000 untill it was totaled in a wreck in 2004. When we opened the engine and rebuilt it at 276,000, it look brand new inside, we only honed the cylinder, changed the rings, installed new stock crank & rod bearings, valve job on the heads.

I also had a 1989 Astro Van, that I bought used with 89,000 miles on it. I changed the oil to synthetic oil and drove it to 349,000. I pulled a trailer with it a lot and cracked a head at 225,000. When I opened the engine to replace the heads, there was no ring grove on the cylinders and the engine looked brand new. The little bit of sludge in the valve cover I cleaned with a tooth brush and solvent. I attribute that sludge to the 89,000 of regular oil before I changed it to synthetic oil.

I started working on cars when I was very young helping my Dad. I overhauled my first engine when I was 11 year old. And my dad drove it to work every day until I got my license and then I drove it to high school. When I was 18, I was making extra money overhauling engine for my friends and family. What remember the most about those engines is how dirty and sledged up those engines on regular oil were, and 100,000 was almost consider an impossible life of an engine and then you rebuilt them and they always had to be bored out, cranks and rod turned, and these people took good care of their cars changing the oil regularly.

I’ve owned several other cars that I have run on synthetic oil and family members also and all of these cares have run 225,000 - 300,000 miles.

Another feature I have noticed with synthetic oil, is the engine run cooler, especially if you carry heavy loads or pull a trailer.

I have also heard several people I’ve met over the years that have told me they never change there oil with synthetic, the just change the filer every 5,000 - 10,000 miles. Not sure I would go that far. I change my synthetic oil now at 15,000 miles.

“and put in the best filter I can find (usually a Bosch)”

Why Bosch? The best filter you could buy is Mobil-1.

BTW, Mobil 1 synthetic sells for about 14$US/(quart/liter) at the present time in Germany. Germans know engines; petroleum, not so much.

@Mechaniker: I don’t believe Walmart sells Mobil 1 oil filters, and that’s usually where I buy my oil and filters. Thus, the Bosch filter. I think I did buy a Mobil 1 filter one time when I bought the Mobil 1 oil that was on special at another outlet.

Wow, USD 14/liter for Mobil 1 in Germany. I’m not surprised, really. Here the Extended Mileage Mobile 1 is about $28 or $29 for five quarts at Walmart. So less than half the cost.

If you live in an area with extreme cold winters…then your vehicle will benefit from full synthetic. But don’t change the manufacturers oil change interval because you use synthetic.

There are advantages to synthetic…but MOST people don’t really need that extra protection.

As for filters…I’ve never heard brand-name filter killing an engine. Fram is the one filter people (usually competitors) they complain about. Fram is the #1 filter company…they sell more filters then their next 5 competitors COMBINED. If even .01% of Fram filters had problems…then there would be TENS OF THOUSANDS of engines destroyed every year. Use any good brand name filter and you’ll be fine.

As for Tom and Rays aversion to synthetic oil…When was this show firs aired? I know their views changed over the years…and they were all for synthetic oil before the show ended a couple of years ago.

I am firmly in the synthetic camp. I road raced a bone stock FWD sedan for 2 years, pulled the pan and a rod cap off as a preventive measure, looked brand new. I raced a 300 Hp small V8 coupe that regularly saw 25 minute sprint races at 245F water and 310F oil temps plus 280 rear axle temps with synthetic oil and rearend lube with no oil breakdown issues.

My OCD engineering nature documented 0.5 mpg improvement in fuel economy on a large SUV with synthetic lubricants all-'round commuting 25,000 miles a year plus some towing. I change it when the oil change light comes on. Heck, my lawnmower uses synthetic oil.

Dino oil is very good. No disrespect intended to those who use it. Synthetic is better. I think it is cheap insurance.

Yep, I just put a amsoil in my mower. Kid bought a twin blade toro unit last yr and does not like the cut. Said I could try it. Cannot believe how much deck clogs with grass crud.

The latest automotive conventional oils have to meet such high standards that they often contain some synthetic base stock.
There is no more pure “dino”, except maybe 20W-50.