Do I need synthetic oil

piddlerdad3August 15, 2005

i just spent quite a bit of time researching oil filters, and have read some forum information from Bob Is the Oil Guy. I'm thinking I'll stick with either Quaker State or Valvoline 5W-30 for the cars in question. I have a 2000 model Honda Odyssey van, and a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am my teenage son drives.

We do city driving in semi-harsh conditions due to normal traffic lights, some rush hour traffic, but nothing severe. The van sees 15,000 per year. The Grand Am sees about 8-10K per year. I've been changing the oil at 5,000 or 6,000 miles along with the oil filter in each vehicle.

I live in the Dallas area (warm climate). Do i need to change anything?

Thanks, dennis

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IMO, the oil should be changed every 3 to 4 months, synthetic is necessary for high performance machines(turbos for one)..
Harsh conditions are running the engine cold without at least 3 to 4 times of warm operation..In other words, 20 minute trips rather than 5 minute hops..

Oil sludging does have its home in very cold climes...

Maybe the Dallas heat would necessitate a synthetic...

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 11:26AM
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I use Mobil 1 in my vehicles '99 Acura 3.2 TL and '00 Honda Odyssey. I go with 5k intervals. If I was you I would either shorten the change intervals or go synthetic. If I was using conventional oil I would be changing at 3k intervals.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 11:51AM
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I think we change oil way to often. Waste of money and resources. These are modern engines and oil has been improved greatly over the years. There was a study done with NY taxi cabs and it found that there wasnt more engine wear in the engines that went longer between oil changes. When is the last time you heard of someones engine blowing up due to dirty oil? I go 5-6k on oil changes and never had a problem.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 12:52PM
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I run "good" quality multi grade regular oil and have gotten 200,000 miles on a high reving 4cly engine without it needing any internal repairs, it does not burn oil, well maybe a half quart in 4000 miles.

I have two new vehicles, one a 2004 Subaru and one a 2005 Chevy, both 4cly. I am using Castrol brand regular oil. I'll change at least twice a year on low mileage cars, that is a car that runs under 7000 annualy. On older cars I use 20W50 in the summer, but use 5 or 10W30 all the time in the new machines. I think the only value of this is thin oil in the summer is slightly better gasoline mileage, at I hope no loss in lubrication when the ambient is 100 degrees.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 1:00PM
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I read an article in Consumer Reports about certain vehicles being susceptible to oil sludge (various makes, models, years). They stressed the importance of changing the oil at the recommended intervals and keeping all the records, in case oil sludge resulted in costly engine repairs. The manufacturers all have different requirements for proof that the oil was changed enough, thus not due to maintenance negligence. I change my own oil and filter, so not sure if that would suffice, but my cars are all fairly old, so it doesn't matter for me, since they're way beyond any warranty periods. But for newer vehicles, it could become very important.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 1:54PM
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Actually, the test I read of New York taxicabs was one Consumer Reports did some years ago. In that test they found that the ones with the extended oil change internals (7,500 miles) needed more engine repairs than those with the short (3,000 miles) change intervals.

It's a matter of the law of diminishing returns. The carmakers set 7,500 as the "normal" change interval, figuring that in most cases, that's often enough to keep the engine in good health for a reasonable lifespan. If you change it every 3,000 instead, that's going to mean the engine's running with cleaner oil than it would have been if you changed it at 7,500. Of course, if you changed it at 1,500 miles the oil would be cleaner still. But how clean is clean enough? At some point the whole car -- body, transmission, suspension, steering, etc. -- is going to wear out. If you change the oil every week the engine might run forever, but what good would it do when the rest of the car is no good?

I think for most people 3,000 to 6,000 miles between changes is a pretty reasonable compromise. On lower mileage vehicles I'd tend toward the low end of that range, while I'd feel okay at the high end if the vehicle is driven mostly on longer trips and covers the miles more quickly. Synthetic oil is fine, but no manufacturer that I know of states that it's okay to run synthetic for longer than regular oil. Some do specify that synthetic oil should be used in certain models, however.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 4:56PM
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The Consumer Reports article on sludge that Reekola referred to was a different one from the one I mentioned about the taxicabs. The sludge article was just in the last couple months. I agree that people with newer cars, especially those apparently susceptible to this sludge problem such as some Toyota models, need to keep careful records and receipts of oil changes. In some of these cases, the manufacturers have agreed to repair the engines even after the original warranty has expired if the owner could produce records of oil changes that met the owners manual recommendations.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 6:43PM
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from the article I was talking about...........

None of the tested oils proved better than the others in our tests. There may be small differences that our tests didn't reveal, but unless you typically drive under more severe conditions than a New York cab does, you won't go wrong if you shop strictly by price or availability. Buy the viscosity grade recommended in your owner's manual, and look for the starburst emblem. Even the expensive synthetics (typically, $3 or $4 a quart) worked no better than conventional motor oils in our taxi tests, but they're worth considering for extreme driving conditions high ambient temperatures and high engine load or very cold temperatures.

On the basis of our test results, we think that the commonly recommended 3,000-mile oil-change interval is conservative. For 'normal' service, 7,500-mile intervals (or the recommendation in your owner's manual) should be fine. Change the oil at least that often to protect your engine and maintain your warranty. Even for the severe service experienced by the taxis in our tests a 6,000- mile interval was adequate. But some severe service - frequent cold starts and short trips, dusty conditions, trailer towing - may require a shorter interval. Note, too, that special engines such as diesels and turbos, which we didn't test, may need more frequent oil changes.

We don't recommend stretching the change interval beyond the automaker's recommendations, no matter what oil you use. Engine combustion contaminants could eventually build up and harm engine parts.

As for STP Oil Treatment, STP Engine Treatment, and Slick 50 Engine Treatment, our advice is simple: If you use an oil with the starburst symbol, you don't need them.

Here is a link that might be useful: cab study

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 7:25PM
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What we need is Synthetic gas!!!!!!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 11:46PM
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All, thanks for the information about the oil. based on my cars, where i live, etc. i'm sticking with conventional oil and changing every 5-6K miles.

oh, about the synthetic gas, my wife says i make plenty of that already. Lots of bran does wonders to cut cholestrol and increases global warming levels at the same time!

take care, dennis

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 6:26PM
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True severe or harsh service is when the car is run without ever reaching operating temperatures for a good period of time.Another example is baking the oil due to excessive heat (high performance, racing, towing a trailer - all without a good oil cooler..

Then the condensation stays in the engine, the next thing that results is sludge - over a period of time - particularly during the very cold months.

And the change intervals of 7.5 to 10.0K miles are ridiculous for most car owners, with all their "short hops".....
The engine designer should write the service criteria , not the marketers...

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 1:13PM
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