Synthetic Oil Advantages

Synthetic Oil May Be The Best Motor Oil
For Your Class C Motorhome

The many synthetic oil advantages over traditional non-synthetic oil is well documented, but not well understood. Synthetic oil has been around since the early 1970s and has been proven to extend drain intervals. (A drain interval is the length of time between oil changes.) The longer that you can extend a drain interval, the more cost effective the oil becomes, and you will have less environmental impact issues.

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Let's get a bit of history under out belt, and then we will better understand how significant the synthetic oil advantages are when used in our modern high performance engines.

At the turn of the 20th century and up until the mid 1930's the oil used in automobiles was primitive by today's standards. In fact, the average drain interval was between 500 and 1000 miles.

Filters were non-existent to primitive. The viscosity on an oil was fixed. Therefore, oil changes were dictated by the seasons due to the change in the ambient temperature.

It was not until the 1930's that improved filtration and oil additive technology was developed. This state of the art technology allowed drain intervals to increase to between 2000 to 3000 miles.

The 3000 mile oil change has not increased significantly since that time. Oil has improved, but drain intervals have remained the same. We are talking 80 years without an increase in drain intervals!

The war effort of the 1940's produced the formulation of multi-grade oil that stabilized the drain intervals at today's levels. For the first time, an oil change could extend through a cold to a hot season. This solidified the 3000 mile oil drain interval and freed us from the seasonal oil changes.

A Synthetic Oil Comparison Of Amsoil And Other Top Manufacturers May Open Your Eyes

However, with the introduction of synthetic oil by AMSOIL in the early 1970s, there developed a significant synthetic oil advantage over traditional non-synthetic oil. AMSOIL claims a drain interval of 25000 miles. They have stood behind this claim for over 30 years. It should be noted that some traditional oil manufacturers have stretched the oil change interval to 5,000 miles, but this is still 1/5 the time achieved by AMSOIL.

There are also manufacturers that are now using a computer monitoring system to tell the owner/operator when to change the oil. This system analyzes the oil; and when it determines that the engine oil is no longer suitable for lubrication, it signals the operator to change the oil. I'm thinking that this is a good tool to maximize the synthetic oil advantage.

So, What's The Deal With The 3000 And 5000 Miles Lubricant Oil Change?

Interestingly enough, when the other major oil manufacturers got into synthetic oil production they still recommended that the automobile owner abide by the manufacturers' recommended oil change schedule. Most auto makers want you to change the oil every 3000 to 5000 miles.

So, what's the deal? Are we to listen to the automotive side of the house that feels very safe limiting oil drain intervals to less than 5000 miles? The auto manufacturers certainly feel justified in this. Warranties are expensive and everyone wants to keep costs down.

AMSOIL has shown that synthetic oil advantages
have extended oil drain intervals significantly. But it would appear that the automotive manufacturers and major oil companies
have other priorities.

Marc Graham, who is president of Pennzoil-Quaker State-owned Jiffy Lube International, was quoted in a 2001 Lubricants World interview as saying, "At [PQS] we use a number internally that if we [shortened the drain interval] by 100 miles [for each car serviced], it would mean an additional $20 million in revenue for the company." He also explained that "if we could move our customers to get one more oil change per year, it's worth $294 million for the oil change alone and $441 million in revenue, when you include the ancillary products and services customers typically buy along with the oil change." The above quote speaks for itself.

There Are Concerns With The Use Of
Synthetic Lubricant Oil

So, what is keeping us from benefiting from the obvious synthetic oil advantages when it comes to protecting our very expensive Class C Motorhomes? Let's look at some myths that may help clear up things a bit.

  • Can synthetic oil damage seals?

      No: The composition of seals will cause problems for traditional non-synthetic oil and synthetic oil. This is overcome by using additives specifically designed to control hardening and shrinkage. This is a disadvantage that must be overcome by all petroleum based products. Therefore, additives must be introduced into both types of oils.

  • Synthetic oil has too little viscose and will not stay in the engine.

      No: All SAE grade oil has to adhere to the Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (EOLCS). Therefore, a 5W-30 in traditional non-synthetic oil will be the same as a 5W-30 in synthetic oil. Basically, the viscosity in these oils will be the same. If the synthetic oil is “too runny”, it could not claim to have a SAE 5W-30 capability.

  • You will use more synthetic oil per mile driven

      No: When used in a mechanically stable engine… ones that are not leaking, synthetic oil advantages begin to show themselves. Because synthetics have a more consistent molecule size, they are a more stable oil... there are no lighter oils to burn off.

      This also causes a better sealing characteristic between the piston and the rings. Essentially, the uniformed sized molecules (synlubes) do not allow for sludge build-up that results in heat retention. If you have less heat, you will have less sludge. Therefore, you will use less oil.

  • Petroleum products will not mix with synthetic products.

      No: Synthetic oil is a petroleum product. It is just more refined than traditional non-synthetic oil. As a rule of thumb, however, you should never mix oils. If you are using Valvoline 10W-30W, then you should only top off with Valvoline 10W-30W.

      The same holds true for any synthetic oil you may use. This is due to the various oil additives that are put into any oil. When you mix oil types, you may have conflict in your additives that could be detrimental to your engine.

  • Synthetic oil is hard to find

      No: All parts supply stores carry a wide variety of synthetic oils. Every major oil manufacturer now has acknowledged the significant synthetic oil advantage over traditional non-synthetic oil.

  • Synthetic lubricants produce sludge.

      No. A major synthetic oil advantage is that it is a better designed oil than traditional non-synthetic oil. Refer to the above statement... You will use less synthetic oil per mile driven.

      However, a certain amount of sludge build-up can also be generated by having an inferior filtration system. This is a problem with all oil. To get the maximum performance, proper filtration is a must.

  • Synthetic oil will damage a catalytic converter and/or the oxygen sensor.

      No. Synthetic oil and traditional non-synthetic oil, in reality, are very similar in that they will not damage either a catalytic converter or an oxygen sensor.

  • Synthetics void warranties.

      No. All synthetic oil meets current American Petroleum Institute (API) standards. Therefore no automotive manufacturer bans their use. In fact, some manufacturers are acknowledging the synthetic oil advantages by having it be Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) on new model cars and trucks. As an example, you can buy OEM synthetic oil like Ford Motorcraft Synthetic oil.

  • Synthetics last forever.

      No: Synthetic oil is similar to non-synthetic oil in that there are a variety of qualities available in the market. The best synthetic oil will last a long time, but ALL oil will degrade eventually. It is a question of out of control by-products causing this problem.

      This manifests itself in moisture and acids wearing down the various additives. Topping off your oil help re-establish and replenish these additives. For very long extended drain intervals, it would be a good idea to have your oil analyzed.

  • Synthetics are too expensive.

      No. There are a couple of ways to look at this. If you extend drain intervals, you can see an immediate reduction in the cost of oil maintenance.

      However, another area of savings would be the superior protection that is gained by using a good synthetic oil. If you can keep your engine healthy and running well for another 100,000 miles, then these synthetic oil advantages become obvious.

      There are also savings in fuel economy, and the piece of mind knowing that you are lessening the chance of having an engine breakdown along the side of the road.

How Does The Use Of Synthetic Lubricant Oil
Help Our Environment?

Let's look a little further into the synthetic oil advantages and how they relate to the positive effects that an extended oil drain will have on the environment.

Unfortunately, many people think of motorhomes as being gross polluters. This issue can be easily debunked, but I'm not going there on this page. I only bring this subject up to point out a very narrow aspect of pollution that can easily be avoided.

In the United States, the number one polluter of our fresh water is motor oil. The Environmental Protection Agency claims that "Improperly disposed used oil is the largest single source of oil pollution fouling our nation's waters."

Well, that's a pretty clear statement! The API says this adds "up to 200 million gallons of used motor oil... dumped every year down sewers drains or in the ground." API also reminds us, too, that "A single quart of oil can foul thousands of gallons of water".

Let's look at the above quotes a little bit. I'm sure that there is motor oil pollution getting into our water. I'm not sure how the exact amount can be determined, but I'm not a statistician. I will say that 200 million gallons seems to be a bit much. I remember reading somewhere the 98.5% of the time statistics are just made up!

I'm 65 years old, and way back in 1970 I saw a person change his oil by dumping it down a drain. That was just once a long time ago, and even then it was looked down upon. Some things just don't make sense.

Anyway, most people, especially motorhome owners, have their rigs professionally serviced. I do change my own oil, but I recycle it through the county.

Unfortunately there is the perception out there that motorhomes pollute. What I want to point out is that if we can extend our drain intervals with the use of a good synthetic oil, maybe we can help present a positive side to the concerned environmental citizen.

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