Mostly Mechanical

Auto & Truck Oils, Lubes & Filters – Separating Technology from Hype

Petroleum Oil Marketing to Gullible Consumers

I recently found this example of how extensively big-oil substitutes marketing deception for actual performance and test data. Here’s what is being passed off as “Product Specs” direct from Valvoline’s website on MaxLife:

“Product Specs

MaxLife is formulated with extra anti-wear additives to exceed the engine protection requirements of ILSAC GF-3 and GF-4, and API SL/SM standards and is safe for use in new and rebuilt engines, and will not void new car warranties.”

That’s it.  Believe it or not, those are supposed to be “product specs”. I also noticed that the description of MaxLife includes this wording “The synthetic blend formula…”   But in their FAQ’s they have this specific Q&A:

“Is MaxLife motor oil a synthetic product?

No. MaxLife is made with premium base oils and special components to help slow the aging process of a vehicle’s engine.”

Clever, huh? They tell us it’s synthetic, but they also clarify by telling us it’s not. So then maybe it’s not really false advertising after all?

But then in another MaxLife FAQ, are these gems, listed as #7 and #10:

“Has MaxLife always been a synthetic blend?

MaxLife Synthetic Blend motor oil is actually the same product as regular MaxLife. MaxLife has always been a synthetic blend oil; we just now label the product that way. It is the same oil as before. As long as you have used MaxLife, you have used synthetic blended oil.”

Why is there no mileage limit given on MaxLife Synthetic motor oil? Mobil 1 says 15,000 miles and Amsoil says 25,000 miles?

Valvoline recommends following the oil change intervals recommended in your owner’s manual no matter what type of oil you use. Most manufacturers recommend every 3-months/3,000 miles.

So Valvoline is deliberately continuing the same give-me-money 3,000 mile oil change scam that GM and California have organized to end. And sorry, but what manufacturer recommends a 3,000 mile engine oil drain interval? GM’s OLS system averages 8,500 mile oil changes, and that assumes mediocre API Licensed petroleum.

A brief background is important for the majority of Americans who have no idea about the petroleum oil scam of the decade: It is only legal in America to sell Group III (hydrocracked petroleum) oil as “synthetic”, and the shelves are full of these supposed Big-Oil “synthetics”. Why? Because their studies showed that after 25 years of effort Amsoil had succeeded in bringing the synthetic-oil-market growth to critical mass, and demand was beginning to take off. Since a growing number of their customers were willing to pay big dollars for synthetics in order to save money and gain much better performance and value, Big Oil needed a solution. So in 1999 they flexed U.S. muscles, quietly redefining “synthetic”  in order to deceive the public and cash in on the profits. 

So with the new definition of a “synthetic” being a Group III (petroleum) as background, I have to conclude that MaxLife is only a Group II, perhaps with some synthetic additives (they claim 30% synthetic in one spot): that’s as mediocre as oil can get and still (barely) pass the API minimums. Clear and factual information? Comparative test data? Forget about it.

The Treasury Department teaches that you have to know what real money is, in order to spot a counterfeit.  So because most people have never seen one, here’s a real motor oil product data page.  And here’s my idea of comparative engine oil test data.  Keep in mind that those are the industry benchmark ASTM tests that all the oil companies use  – but to the public it’s as if they don’t even exist. Only one oil company publishes meaningful test results, they’re done by the same certified independent labs that do much of the API testing, and in over 30 years of publishing results against named engine oils with embarrasing performance gaps, they’ve never once been accused of falsified data. (Hmmm.)

In conclusion, here’s my translation out of Valvoline marketing-hype into reality:
All oils that meet any minimum requirements will “help slow the aging process” more than canola oil, but you can feel good about using our run-of-the-mill-mineral-oil because we’ve studied how the magic “synthetic” word, combined with our copy writing and label-designing skills, can give you warm emotional fuzzies about paying too much money for it.

Suggestion: don’t be a gullible consumer. If you educate yourself you can triple your remaining vehicle life. The million mile van used the best synthetic lubes and nanofiber filtration technology, and is still running strong on the original untouched transmission with 150,000 mile synthetic tranny fluid changes.

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May 28, 2009 Posted by | Amsoil, Engine Air Filtration, Filtration Technologies, Lubrication Oils & Fluids, Petroleum Oil, Synthetic Oil, Vehicle Maintenance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yes Lubrication Has a Silver Bullet – the Gold Standard

Will the real lubrication expert please stand up? I often find that I’m a bit of an “odd duck out” in engineering because I have a different philosophy, perhaps an expert’s philosophy of excellence. Most engineers seem to find respect in being “vendor neutral” generalists who are content when things are working — the classic “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. They say essentially “a lot of companies make good products, and you just need one that works for you”. To me, that’s a lazy cop-out that often carries “vendor neutrality” nearly to the point of customer/consumer abuse. Because there often ARE products of superior performance by exceptional design. If you understand and use superior products effectively, they can deliver BIG performance advantages, and synthetic lubricants are one of those areas.

Yes, learning to evaluate and compare design and performance takes a lot of work. You have to learn your field well, you have to analyze constantly, and you have to suspect everything. And yes, being an advocate for one or two products can make an engineering expert sound like a biased salesman. But I think a genuine expert has his greatest value in researching and identifying the “benchmark” performance standards, and recommending and applying them properly for the greatest customer benefit. I think it’s an engineer’s job to deliver the highest performance/value possible. I’ve done that repeatedly in multiple industries and processes, and have always been able to deliver a strong competitive advantage – usually at least an 80% improvement over what “experts” say is possible.

One paperclip is usually as good as another, and when they aren’t it doesn’t matter. But the more complex the field, the more likely that there is a world technology leader that brings stunning performance and great value to the table. In lubrication fluid and filtration performance, AMSOIL is that leader. We’ve seen it “up close and personal” in our own vehicles, it reflects what the test data and oil analysis reveal, and we know that when you understand the benefits of AMSOIL synthetic lube and filter technologies, you’ll see big benefits for your vehicles and equipment.

Marketing is worthless. AMSOIL is about performance… about data… about being least expensive to use and providing the greatest protection at the same time. That’s real value. I became an AMSOIL dealer because I recognized the best synthetic oils and the cost savings they bring. Amsoil has 25,000 and 35,000 mile oils that when you finally change them are still outperforming most oils when they’re first poured out of their bottles. Hey, show me a better or more cost-effective engine oil than AMSOIL, and I’ll recommend it. Show me a better filter than nanofiber technology, and I’ll recommend it. But my experience says you’ll waste a lot of time looking. Other companies could technically do what Amsoil does, but they won’t — because giving their customers the best value and highest performance possible is the Golden Rule, which takes too much talented dedication and is a violation of their corporate business strategy.

I recently got this e-mail from Tom, an engineer:
Brian, I’m thinking that you’ll have such a field day with the following article (Mark Barnes, “Is There a Lubrication Silver Bullet?” Machinery Lubrication Magazine. January 2006), that I was bound and determined to send it to you . . .can you let me know what you think of it?

My response:

Tom –
Yeh, that’s an interesting article alright. I’d say that if they are going to take “Noria’s strict vendor neutral policy” seriously, Mr. Barnes and a couple of cohorts ought to sign up as Amsoil Dealers and go to Amsoil U. They seem to try hard to be objective, but wow – when you’re smack dab in the middle of billions of dollars of international oil company influence, backed by years of anti-synthetic propaganda, I don’t see how neutral they can be if they don’t get the inside perspective of the one company who has most defined synthetics and has battled big-oil agendas for decades.

At the same time, I’ve seen this scenario before from people considered true experts in their field. Perhaps I’m reading too much into his comments, but it sure sounds familiar. Try this on for size:
About 2-3 years ago I took a new seminar on Global Process Control from one of the most recognized international engineering consultants in the field. 25+ yrs experience, client list history probably as long as your leg, on at least three continents. Yet I saw some serious inaccuracies in his perspectives for one particular high-visibility process – he was taking the entire range of the most expensive high-volume equipment in the industry, and saying it was all a waste of money and low-balling it’s value and performance as a whole. “Throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

Over dinner that night, I asked him if all his bad equipment experiences hadn’t been with the two specific widely-advertised household-name brands, and he said yes. I told him that’s the reason why I’ve tested but never selected their equipment – they’re mostly marketing hype jobs with a lot of problems, limitations and quirks, as he had basically pointed out. Then I asked him if he had ever worked with two other lower-profile and lower volume brands which were my top two standards for benchmark performance levels. He looked at me quizzically and said “no”.

I told him something like this: Ed, you and I are great engineers who come from completely different worlds. But for three years, I walked in your shoes a little as the miracle worker they asked to come in ASAP. You need to understand that as a high-performance consultant, you’re never urgently called in to see how great someone’s processes are working. You’re never called in to optimize a process that’s already working real well, but they are curious if it’s possible to improve the performance by another 80%, or if 2% is all they can hope for. These other guys have great performing equipment that’s capable of high performance advantages if you know how to use it, but you never see any of it in your customers – they all call you because they bought crap that doesn’t work and they need you to perform a 15 minute miracle because they’re losing thousands or millions of dollars an hour. The companies I’ve worked for will never call you because their processes run rings around their competitors, far better than anything they’ve ever done before, and they’re optimized to be very profitable and stable. And I gave him an example from one of my automotive launches for Ford, so stunning that he found it hard to believe my numbers: 20% faster than possible, at a defect rate at least 70% below what the suppliers thought was possible. As a favor, I called a plant engineer and verified my memory.

Well, he took that to heart. And the next day he said, you know, what you’ve accomplished for companies is very impressive. But you need to realize that none of the customers I work with have an engineer trained in these processes – much less a good one. They don’t need to buy fancy equipment that makes it easier for them to screw up more things, because they’ll never get the potential out of it.

Several months later I found that on his website he had changed his tune and was applauding a company whose equipment actually performed well.
Can you see what I’m getting at?

In the article, Mr. Barnes says “What about synthetics? What about fuel economy and extended oil drains – it is assumed that I have a preference. Again, my response is the same: I own a newer model car, so I don’t need to be concerned with high-mileage issues. I am fortunate to live in a temperate climate where I am not forced to start my car when it’s -40°F. Most of my driving is on highway (mostly to and from the airport, given how much traveling I do!), and I do not own a boat or trailer to tow uphill on weekends. Therefore, I’m content to change my oil every 5,000 miles as my owners manual recommends. And lastly, I do not race my car in the passing lane (I guess I’m getting old!).

Based on these factors, I choose a brandname, 5W30 mineral oil, which again meets the API and SAE requirements for my vehicle. [Oops – by the API’s own admission, those requirements are minimums only.] That is not to say that you should not use any other oil type, or that synthetics or high-mileage formulations are gimmicks – they’re not. If you live in a colder climate, wish to extend oil drains, have an older car, have a high RPM motorcycle or have particularly severe duty, you may choose to spend the money to upgrade. For me, this doesn’t make sense. By ensuring I maintain my vehicle properly (tire pressure, timing etc.), I can achieve better fuel economy than I can by switching from one oil brand to another.”

Yes, but that distracts from the fact that a 5-10% fuel economy bump when using AMSOIL synthetic oils is an extra boost, in addition to normal proper maintenance. It also ignores the savings of money, and savings of 80% in time and natural resources that you get with 25,000 mile oil changes instead of 5,000 miles. And it ignores the benefits of minimum 70% wear rate reductions which triple the remaining life of an engine.

Look at the last three sentences that conclude his article:
“If you know an application is having lubrication issues, instead of opening the Yellow Pages to look for the next lubricant supplier to invite through the revolving purchasing door, look in the mirror and ask yourself: “Is my lubrication program – areas that I can control such as correct application, cleanliness and storage – up to par?” Is looking for a silver bullet really the answer?”

Here’s a guy (Mark Barnes) that is clearly a seasoned expert but is not focused on high performance cost-savings, because with every customer he’s dealing with the high costs of basic ignorance, or poor practices that create mistakes waiting to happen, or maybe the aftermath of incompetent lube sales guys. I can almost guarantee he’s been in companies whose new maintenance lube guy pumped the wrong grease into 10 different $3,000 motor bearings and they all failed within a day. (That’s why the equipment manufacturers use the grease they do in their bearings: it’s not the best choice, but it IS the one that will sell more motors or rebuild parts when standard greases chemically interact with theirs and pour out of the bearings.) It’s those customers with serious problems that bring him in, because they’re desperate and they heard this guy can help.

And he’s going to buy a new vehicle when his current one has 80,000 or 120,000 miles on it, and he sees no advantage to synthetics because as he admits early in the article, he’s never taken as hard a look at it as his customers assume he has. None of them understands that he doesn’t know his subject matter when he’s talking about synthetic engine oils, or that while his advice works it is FAR from optimal in either cost or performance.

– Brian

A big challenge for both experts and students is data. What data exists, where do you find it, and is it valid? Most lubrication “experts” have never learned to sift through these questions, and data can be hard to come by unless you generate it yourself – which takes lots of time, and requires additional experience and skills. I occasionally see the claim in online forums that Amsoil has no performance data, which is pathetically hilarious because Amsoil has been the King of published data for decades – publishing not only their performance but also the performance of their competition who won’t tell their customers their ASTM test results. Either people can’t find AMSOIL data because they don’t look very hard, or they just listen to others who say there is no data. Mr. Barnes’ expertise is evidently grease, but if he downloaded the Gear Lube White Paper comparison of gear lubes, he might find a clue as to how Amsoil’s greases perform in comparison to conventional petroleum embarrassments.

Another claim is that Amsoil data can’t be trusted because they are the ones who publish it. Several funny problems with that claim: first, they are publishing ASTM test results from certified labs that are used by many oil companies, so if their data isn’t good then neither is any API or SAE data; second, AMSOIL is the only one who publishes test data (even when Exxon-Mobil was asked point-blank for ASTM test data on Mobil 1 vs AMSOIL, they provided nothing but marketing sleight-of-hand); third, although published data claims are legally wide open to false advertising lawsuits, and AMSOIL has huge competitors with deep petro pockets, AMSOIL has never been the subject of even one accusation of false advertising – even though they often publish test results right on their packaging, naming competitive oils. So the decades of legal inaction from AMSOIL’s competition is actual proof that AMSOIL’s test data is accurate.

What Mr. Barnes and Noria seem to miss, steeped in the decades of mediocre petroleum products and synthetic dis-information campaigns, is that the petro companies have a barely-get-by-for-the-specific-application approach, in order to maximize profits. That is reflected in many areas, including the clever API Licensing restrictions which don’t allow high-performance synthetics, and the engine sequence tests. (Fortunately, owners manuals and warranties are based on meeting API/SAE Service Grades, not on being Licensed to display a trademark.)

See, Amsoil’s approach, to engineer the highest possible performance, is the odd duck out. When AMSOIL ran one of their synthetic engine oils through a API Sequence IIIF and had them extend it to triple length, and it flatlined 40% below the failure threshold, the lab boys were stunned – the history of the engine stand had never seen anything like it. To me that makes it rather obvious why Amsoil isn’t going to waste time whining about the API locking them out of Licensing unless they dumb down their product content and performance to the mediocre levels of high petroleum profits.

The ironic thing about Mr. Barnes’ article title is that Amsoil strives to be that Lubrication Silver Bullet — that seems to be their endless mission, and they do it well. To hear Saab experts tell it, AMSOIL is the best Silver Bullet there is to combat fatal sludge formation in sludge-prone engines that cannot stomach API licensed petroleum products, which matches his definition of a Silver Bullet as “a magical weapon, especially one that instantly solves a long-standing problem”.

So from one lubrication expert to another, I’d say that yes, there is a Lubrication Silver Bullet that can stop wear in its’ tracks, lower operating temperatures, lower maintenance costs, use less energy to operate, not allow sludge and varnish buildup, maintain turbochargers in like-new condition, and double or triple equipment life with maximum-performance synthetic lubrication and nanofiber filtration technology. AMSOIL does seem a lot like a Silver Bullet. But in the world of lubrication engineering, you find many who call AMSOIL the Gold Standard.

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Amsoil, Fuel Economy, Lubrication Oils & Fluids, Synthetic Oil, Vehicle Maintenance | , , , , | Leave a comment

How to pick an aftermarket air intake filter that removes dust?

The ads all sound great, but what’s the bare truth?  Most consumers have no idea how to identify and separate marketing smoke-blowers from engineered excellent performance.  So, I’m going to tell you.

Several manufacturers of aftermarket air intake filters make great-sounding claims about how well their engine air intake filters remove the fine, sandy grit that causes engine wear.  It’s good they’re at least making some claims, because most of the worst performers just ignore the issue of wear particles that pass through their filters.  (That’s a consumer hint – don’t buy filters that don’t even attempt to tell you how well they perform.) But how great do those filters really perform in removing dust wear particles? 

One company boasts an ISO 5011 test stand with certified performance that’s “testing to the highest standards”.  Sounds great.  Another uses filter media designed Nanofiber web overlaid on standard cellulose substratewith 5 layers of progressive filtering that’s 99.4% efficient, and “so revolutionary that we applied for and received a patent.”  These filters are probably better than the OEM and OEM-style paper filters.  But what’s the best performance?  As an automotive engineer, I’m adamant in recommending nanofiber filtration technology that’s 98.7% efficient at 2 microns, and 100% efficient at 3 microns.  But 99.4% looks like a better number than 98.7%, right?  So why do I recommend something that appears to be worse performance, and how do I know that nanofiber technology is really better?  Stick with me a couple of minutes to sweep away the fogs of consumer deception, and I’ll explain.

There are four things that count in air filtration:  flow volume, holding capacity, and filtration particle size at a specific efficiency.

  1. Flow Volume.  Some companies focus exclusively on flow volume. 
    Three things to beware:
    – Flow volume at what pressure drop? 
    – What’s your engine’s maximum airflow?  Any flow beyond what your engine can use is useless to you.  In racing or pulling applications with modified vehicles, a high pressure drop (because of high air flow volume) can often collapse the filter.  The engine-damaging results are expensive. 
    – Very low pressure drop at very high flow usually means that at least 50% of meaningful wear particles are passing right through into your engine.
  2. Holding capacity.  How much particulate will the filter hold before the pressure drop across the filter is measureably reducing your fuel economy or power?  In the case of oiled-cotton-gauze filters, how much particulate will the filter hold before it’s passing nearly all the wear particles into your engine?  (The classic answer is “not much”.)
  3. Filtration Particle Size.  The accepted engineering rule of thumb is that damaging wear particles are those with a size of 5 to 25 microns.  Filtering smaller ones is icing on the cake.  Claiming filter performance efficiency on particles larger than 20 microns is a warning sign that the filter performance is very poor.
  4. Filtration Efficiency.  This is listed as a percentage, which refers to what percent of a certain size of particles are captured by the filter.  Beware: in order for either the particle-size or efficiency to have ANY meaning at all, you MUST know both numbers.  Any company who quotes one without the other is simply trying to deceive you, and generally implies that their real performance in removing wear particles is average to poor.

  So that’s the bottom line.  What matters is that AMSOIL’s Ea line of nanofiber air filters is 98.7% efficient at 2 microns.  According to an SAE research paper, that level of filtration reduces particle-based engine wear to levels so low that it is difficult to detect any wear.

What about certified ISO testing?  That’s all legitimately potentially impressive, but “the devil’s in the details”.  What’s the particle size at what efficiency percentage?  They don’t tell you, so you have to figure it out.  That’s pretty tough if you aren’t a trained engineer… and not very convenient for consumers!  For example, an “SAE  Coarse Dust Test” uses A4, and if you look at a typical sample of certified test dust (sent to me by a filter company that advertises their ISO testing), you find that more than 85% of the test dust is larger than 10 microns, less than 35% is smaller than 20 microns in size, and particles that are 5 microns or smaller are less than 10% of the dust. So, “coarse dust” does a poor job in both representing typical driving exposure, AND in representing the 5 to 25 micron wear-particle range that is so critical to your engine.

So what does that mean?  A couple of very important things. 
First, “coarse” test dust is exactly that, and it’s not going to tell you much other than that you have a filter.  It’s a good test of how well your filter will work in a baja race if you’re eating a lot of dust kicked up in front of you.  But is that what you’re doing?  If they really wanted to test and demonstrate meaningful performance, they would use “fine” test dust. 
Secondly, it means that when they do comparison “side by side” “apples to apples” testing against a much better filter, like a nanofiber media, their filter performance can look very good – even identical.  Because as the coarse dust builds up on their coarse filter, the classic “dust cake” forms, enabling the filter to take out much smaller particles than it otherwise could. If they tested it with fine dust, the results would be very different.

AMSOIL doesn’t play games.  Ea filters are tested with fine dust by the most respected certified filtration test lab in the nation, and they publish the particle size and efficiency together with flow and capacity data.  They tell us everything, nothing hidden.  No-one else does that.  15 times the dust holding capacity of oiled gauze filters, at an identical (very low) 0.5 inches of pressure drop.  And just try to beat 98.7% at 2 microns.  Ain’t gonna happen.M1A1 Abrams main battle tank in a cloud of dust

By the way, nanofiber filters don’t use oil, are quickly re-cleanable and re-useable, and are also cheaper to use than any other filter solution.  Yeh.  Use nanofiber and win on time, win on cost, win on performance.  Who can beat that?

The U.S. Army must agree with me, because nanofiber filtration technology is what the M1A1 Abrams battle tank has been using for more than a decade. 

April 4, 2008 Posted by | Amsoil, Diesel, Diesels, Engine Air Filtration, Filtration Technologies, Vehicle Maintenance | , , , | 6 Comments

Differential Fluids, Differential Covers, and Towing.

OK, what’s the real scoop on differentials?  What do aftermarket differential covers do for you?  Should you buy one or make it yourself?  When should you worry about it?  When do you need a temperature gauge for your differential?  Those questions and more came up in a recent online user forum, and the experts’ answers were excellent.  If you do any towing, I believe this information is critical for you.

OEM’s agree that to maximize your differential life you need to do your first fluid change at 5,000 miles, and lubrication and drivetrain engineers will add that a high-performance synthetic is the best and longest-lasting choice.  Maybe you’ve heard that, but what synthetic should you choose?  Remarkably, there are downright embarrassing differences in the tested performance of gear lubes on the market.   In fact, using the wrong one in a towing application will probably take your differential into early failure.   You can download a free research study detailing the performance testing of 14 name-brand gear lubes.  Think it doesn’t matter much?  On the contrary, we found it very disturbing that over half of the name-brand gear lubes failed one or more of the standard performance tests.

That study is also excellent because at the beginning, as background, it outlines the results of operating-temperature studies done on differentials in towing applications.  The information from those studies is eye-opening.  So enjoy.  And remember, your entire vehicle and towing load rests on TWO GEAR TEETH in your differential: your gear lube choice is critical !

February 25, 2008 Posted by | Amsoil, Diesel, Diesels, Fleet, Lubrication Oils & Fluids, Vehicle Maintenance | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beware Auto Service Shops – an oil change can hurt you!

Imagine this: you think your car was serviced – but actually you got stiffed.   Months or years later you pay repair costs  because of that maintenance work that wasn’t done!  Will you even realize what happenned?  Probably not.  Maybe you’re convinced that you were cheated.  Can you prove it?  Probably not, unless you’ve got it on video… what a great idea.  An NBC news team loaded up two vehicles with hidden cameras to find out what would happen when they took them in to nine different Jiffy Lube locations for service work.   Guess what?  In 5 of 9 shops – the MAJORITY of those auto service centers – workers DIDN’T do work that they were paid for: a fuel filter wasn’t changed; a transmission fluid exchange never happened.  That’s fraud, at a shocking level.  When an employee was asked, confidentially, whether this happens a lot, they said “every day”.  The full eye-opening report is here, as it was presented on the evening news:  Is Your Mechanic Cheating?

As an automotive engineer, I can assure you that not all Jiffy Lubes are this bad.  But I can also assure you that there are other vehicle service centers who are just as bad or worse than what you saw in that news segment.  Some places will break your vehicle in order to charge you for a repair.  Other places will fix a $5 problem, then charge you $500 for some part and repair that you didn’t need and they didn’t do.  What does this mean to you as a customer?  How can you protect yourself?   I have some recommendations for you on how to handle your vehicle maintenance.  I can recommend them strongly because they’re exactly what I do myself on my own vehicles:

  1. Strongly consider changing your own engine oil & oil filter.  It’s not hard, you’ll know it’s done right, you won’t get the cheapest possible oil out of their bulk tank, and you won’t be putting your vehicle in “harms way” several times a year with someone you really don’t know.  Further, changing your own oil & filter is much easier if you use modern PAO synthetic engine oil and nanofiber filter technology, instead of the 30-year-old petroleum and paper technologies that the oil companies, auto service centers, quick lubes, and vehicle OEM’s want you to use.   How easy?  One year, 25,000 mile oil changes.  Typical benefits to the technologies?  It’s cheaper per year, you’ll probably gain 5-10% in fuel economy (saving cash AND natural resources – a valuable combination), you reduce engine oil use an estimated 87% (saving natural resources) and you reduce your vehicle’s wear rate by 70% or more.  Details on converting your vehicle.
    Note: if you don’t want to change your oil, you can buy the high-tech oil and filters and take them in to most shops/dealerships and have them changed for a $5 to $15 charge.  If you take in your own oil and filters, it sends a clear message to the service shop that you know what you’re doing and take your maintenance seriously.
  2. Consider adding an oil bypass filter.     The nation’s best and most profitable commercial fleet and equipment maintenance managers use this secret, combined with oil analysis.  With premium filter construction and nanofiber media, today’s bypass filters will eliminate over 90% of the normal engine wear that occurs from abrasive particles, tripling vehicle mileage life.  Meanwhile, by using the best PAO-design engine oils, you eliminate the need to change your motor oil.  So your maintenance gets REALLY EASY.  How easy?  Just change your full-flow filter annually or every 25,000 miles, and your bypass filter every 2  yrs or 60,000 miles.  DIY types will find that the installation of the “bypass” (or partial-flow) filter is simple, or you can have a good auto mechanic do the installation.  Depending on experience and vehicle, expect the installation to take 2 to 3 hours.  4 hours if you’re slow, easily distracted, very detailed, not in a hurry, and want to take pictures of the installation.  Note: if you do this, you will also want to send an oil sample in to a testing lab at least annually to verify the condition of your engine and oil for maintenance and vehicle warranty purposes – costing about $20-25 per sample test.   
  3. Take your vehicle maintenance seriously: take it only to somewhere that you know does good work.  You wouldn’t drop your child off at the cheapest care center that had an opening, without doing some leg work.  Doesn’t your mechanical “baby” deserve some consideration, too?  Check out the shop and the mechanic.  How long have they been in business?   Is the mechanic certified, and how long has he been in the area?  Ask someone who knows reputations in the area for their recommendation.  I have three shops in my area that I will recommend to people, because I am confident that they have the expertise and reputation that means they will strive to do the job and do it right.
  4. Remember the hint in the video about filters: by marking the filter with a permanent marker yourself, you can easily verify that they did change that air/oil/fuel filter – rather than doing nothing or just wiping it clean to look like it was changed.
  5. If you get in a “tight spot” and need work done by a place that you don’t know, there are some secrets that will help you.   The two keys are to ask questions and to handle the parts.  Here are some ideas:  ask to see what the new parts or filters look like that they will be installing, write down the part numbers from the boxes and physically HANDLE and examine the parts.  If the parts are a little dirty or greasy, even better – and you can wash your hands in their restroom or wash-up sink.  (They know that most customers don’t know much about vehicle maintenance and that those who do, often don’t pay attention.  So if you handle the parts and ask questions, it sends a message that you have done some of your own maintenance work, may much know more about your vehicle maintenance than what they suspect, and that you are very concerned that it is done right.  This is exactly what you want them to think – that they are at risk for being found out if they try to cheat you.)
    If they are vehicle parts (not just a filter), point to one or two key features and ask them which connection that is, or what type of connector, or where does that connector go to, or how does the part work?  You could even say something like “I’ve seen these before, but I’m curious, how does this actually work?” or “what does this actually do?”  Other good questions: “this seems like it’s in pretty good (or really bad) shape – how long are these supposed to last?  Do you see this very often?  What’s your opinion of that design compared to the Ford/Chrysler approach? (…yeh, that’s what I’ve heard)”  Tell them you want to see the part they take off your vehicle, and want them to physically show you where it’s located & how it’s mounted.   (They will usually accomodate your request, though they may have a policy against allowing customers in the service area.  If they decline, you MIGHT want to say that you understand the whole insurance bit, but you’re uneasy about using a repair shop that won’t let you see what they’re doing to their vehicle.)  

I don’t like to lie, but if you’re concerned about the shop or don’t know them, you might share that your brother/uncle/friend/father/boyfriend is a certified master mechanic in another town/state who used to train mechanics in the military and whenever he can’t do the work for you and doesn’t know the mechanic, he always makes you show them exactly what work was done so that they can inspect it… he likes to protect you & his friends, but you also suspect that he likes finding and reporting fraudulent mechanic work because it gives him more business…  you get the idea. 

Following these ideas will help you maximize your vehicle life, minimize your maintenance costs, and protect yourself even when you have no idea if the service shop is reputable or what they’re really doing to your vehicle.

December 5, 2006 Posted by | Filtration Technologies, Lubrication Oils & Fluids, Vehicle Maintenance | 2 Comments

CJ-4 Diesel Oils only for 2007 & later models – they’re NOT for earlier diesels!

DO NOT use CJ-4 oil in vehicles prior to 2007 models, unless you want increased wear and more frequent oil changes: because the 2006 and earlier models do not have diesel particulate filters (DPF’s), they do not need the restricted formulation of these CJ-4 oils. 

Amsoil’s new DEO oil is a premium 5W-40 synthetic diesel engine oil that is certainly among the best examples of the new CJ-4 emissions-spec oils.   In fact, it’s one of the only examples: most oil companies still don’t have a CJ-4 diesel engine oil formulation, much less have it available in the U.S. market as of October 2006.  Even more kudos to Amsoil, because their CJ-4 oil performance is still better than most CI-4+ oils, and because it’s proven – it has already logged over 12 million fleet miles.

To be fair, this article title isn’t completely true:  if you’re changing your fleet over to Amsoil and take it all to CJ-4 so that you can be certain of always using a DPF-compatible oil, you are still getting a better performing oil across your entire fleet than your current petroleum CI-4+ oil.  So don’t take me wrong.  

But while this CJ-4 oil is the best that Amsoil can formulate within the specification requirements, and it is the best performer available in this group, the CJ-4 spec does compromise oil performance with brand-new limitations on the oil additive contents.   This is why Amsoil only recommends DEO “for use according to the longest service interval established by the engine, vehicle or equipment manufacturer”: there is concern that the additive package cannot handle the dramatically extended (25,000+ mile) drain intervals with the conservative safety margins that Amsoil’s other diesel oils are designed for.   Oil sampling analysis will be a more essential element than ever before in fleet management for 2007+ diesels.  

So in 2006 and earlier model diesels, always use the 15W-40 (AME) or the high-fuel-efficiency 5W-30 (HDD) if your goal is to maximize fuel economy and engine life while minimizing your maintenance costs.  Amsoil will NOT be discontinuing these CI-4+ oils anytime in the foreseeable future.

Which oil should you use for 2006 and earlier diesel models?

The two best choices on the market – per the published technical performance test data, field fleet testing, and product warranty – are the Amsoil 15W-40 Premium Heavy Duty Diesel & Marine oil (product code AME), or the Amsoil Series 3000 5W-30 Heavy Duty Diesel Motor Oil (product HDD).  Despite your owner’s manual recommendation of a 15W-40 oil, your PowerStroke/Duramax/Cummins/Volvo/Caterpillar engine – like nearly all engines – is designed to use a 30-weight oil.  The 15W-40 recommendation is not based on engine design, but on the assumption that 40-weight petroleum oils will often “shear back” to a 30-weight oil in diesels, and if you use a 30-weight oil that shears back to a 20-weight oil you will have wear problems (or worse).  Of course, AMSOIL’s full PAO synthetic HDD formulation will maintain viscosity as long as you are using it as recommended in a healthy engine (no fuel getting in the oil, for example) – so your engine will enjoy year-round benefit from the 30-weight oil it was designed for. 

 

Both oils are 25,000 mile oils that outperform every other available diesel oil on the market, and are LESS EXPENSIVE to use because of those extended drain intervals.  Both oils are also superb performers in gasoline engines.  Either oil will work well for you, but my best recommendation is for you to make an informed choice based on your specific needs.  Here are some suggestions to help you:

 

        For this Application…                                         Pick this oil:

             Fuel Economy                                           Series 3000 5W-30 (HDD)

    Cold Temperature Performance                             Series 3000 5W-30 (HDD)

    All-fleet oil for home/farm/garden                          Series 3000 5W-30 (HDD)

            Lowest oil usage                                              15W-40 (AME)

          OTR Freight Hauling                                 5W-30 (HDD) – or 15W-40 (AME)*

       All-fleet oil for class 3-8                              15W-40 (AME) – or 5W-30 (HDD)*

All-purpose oil for logging/heavy-construction                    15W-40 (AME)*

 

*While it is difficult to compare them, Engineers generally agree the thicker 15W-40 (AME) will provide slightly more wear protection than 5W-30 (HDD) in extremely heavy applications, particularly off-road/gravel/rock-crawling applications where drivetrains are subject to heavy torsional shock-loading.  However, for highway/city mileage, HDD fuel economy savings probably exceed savings from reduced wear with AME – if there is any reduced wear at all with AME in highway/city driving.

More diesel info here

October 23, 2006 Posted by | Diesels, Lubrication Oils & Fluids, Vehicle Maintenance | 5 Comments