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  1. #1
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    Compulsive Oil Changers Cause More Engine Wear

    Paradise Garage recently completed the first phase of their Synthetic Oil Life Study using Mobil 1 and Amsoil, and are currently retesting Mobil 1. Some of their results are counterintuitive(can I really damage my engine by changing the oil?!), and others relect the fact that the playing field has been radically altered, to the point that the old mantra -- change your oil every 3000-4000 -- qualifies as extreme overkill.

    To quote: "Engine wear actually decreases as oil ages. This has also been substantiated in testing conducted by Ford Motor Co. and ConocoPhillips, and reported in SAE Technical Paper 2003-01-3119. What this means is that compulsive oil changers are actually causing more engine wear than the people who let their engine's oil get some age on it." See the Interpreting Wear Metals section of the Mobil 1 Test Results page on the website for further analysis.

    Their basic conclusion regarding Mobil 1: "18,000 miles later, it was showing its age but was still hard at work protecting the engine." Their preliminary recommendations: "Based on the results we've got here, we'd recommend 8,000 miles between oil changes on an engine that uses no oil at all, perhaps 10,000 miles on an engine that uses some oil, and 15,000 miles or beyond with a filter change every 5,000 miles. This, of course, isn't any kind of guarantee, and you must evaluate for yourself what your engine requires. One thing we're pretty sure about though: 3,000-mile intervals is a huge waste of resources...Indeed, one is forced to wonder whether an engine with a high-quality PAO synthetic combined with a bypass filtration system and regular filter changes would ever need its oil changed at all."

    A key observation: "Topping up the crankcase is a critical component of extended oil change intervals, and frequent filter changes are most likely the key to extreme-length intervals. The cumulative effect of even minor top-ups, let alone a filter change, substantially increases the longevity of the oil." And two caveats (from me): DON'T TRY THIS WITH CHEAP FILTERS, and NOT ALL SYNTHETICS ARE CREATED EQUAL.

    Thanks to Climrgrl for originally pointing out this site, and to FM for his informed thoughts on this subject in another thread. I don't know if he concurs entirely with the Paradise Garage recommendations, but I'm sure he'll let us know.

    http://neptune.spacebears.com/cars/stories/mobil1.html

    PS -- I was tempted to summarize an excellent and comprehensive article on synthetic oils from another website, but I've probably lost most of my readers already (perhaps I'll start another thread later). For now, one conclusion drawn from the results of a 60,000 mile study of taxicabs using Amsoil in Chevy engines: "the level of protection was such that those engines in which the original synthetic oil was run for the entire duration of the (60,000-mile) test showed less wear than did the Control Group vehicles using premium, 10W-40 petroleum oil and 3,000-mile drain intervals." It's a Brave New World.

    http://www.mr2.com/TEXT/synth_oil.txt



















  2. #2
    JZ 2005 X3 2.5L 6 sp
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    definitely food for thought.

    supports my 7500 mile interval suggestion!

  3. #3
    FM
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    Re: Compulsive Oil Changers Cause More Engine Wear

    What do I feel? At this point I do not agree and am a bit supicious regarding the statement that fresh oil seemingly does not protect as well as oil that has been somewhat used. I would be much more receptive of a mechanism of action could be proposed as to why this would be true. If it is true, it would seem there might be a market for "pre-broken-in" oil, run through a process which simulates whatever happens in an engine that seemingly "improves" the protective qualities of the oil.

    However, I am alway open to new data and will order a copy of the SAE paper to see if it really does say what the Paradise Garage people say it does.

    At $12 bucks a copy (I no longer have free access to SAE papers), I am ordering it snail mail so it might be a couple weeks before i get it and have a chance to read it.

    So until then, label me skeptical, but open minded.

    As I noted earlier, the BMW engines have a greater oil capacity than typical of other engines with similar displacement, so extending the interval to 7,500 miles or so (after the first oil change) might be quite reasonable. But I remain quite skeptical of these 15,000-20,000 mile intervals, and extremely skeptical of the concept that oil which is somehwat used protects better than new oil.

    But if there is hard data which shows this, I will change my opinion.

  4. #4
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    Re: Compulsive Oil Changers Cause More Engine Wear

    I'm sitting on 13,500 miles and no oil service yet... I decided to wait it out with A LOT of discussion with my service dept. and sales dept. at my dealer. They say wait, the vehcile was tested and made for it. If I break down or harm something, I'll let you all know. Probably will have the first one done in 3-4 weeks.My ride: Jet Black '04 X3 3.0, 6 speed manual, premium pkg, sport pkg, Xenon headlights, privacy glass, Sirius satellite radio, universal transceiver (compass/garage door opener), Stealth Bulbs, Chrome Tailpipe trim, Mud flaps and all weather floor mats. More to come...

  5. #5
    gaeleegirl
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    Thanks for posting this


    It does seem counter-intuitive that frequent oil changes would actually inhibit, rather than enhance, engine life but I'd love it if I could justify less frequent expenditures!

    Thanks all for bringing this up and hashing it out.

  6. #6
    Irv
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    I'm with you

    On another board a few years back this issue of old oil lubricating better was brought up. Someone who was actually a chem eng in the lubricants field replied that this was due to minute metal particles from wear having a micro-lubrication effect. He also said the additive package was far more important to engine wear overall, and said for enthusiast drivers, even running the best synthetic, keeping oil in your crankcase for more than 7500 miles was foolish thriftiness.

    I'd postulate this - no one ever caused enough wear to their engines with frequent oil changes to shorten its life by even 1000 miles in 200,000 miles.

    Personally, if I'm going through the mess to change the oil filter the oil is getting changed too. I generally go 5000 miles, give or take. I'm not looking to get every last mile out of oil on a $15K engine.

    Lots of oddly thrifty people on this board. Buy a $40K car and then try to save a few bucks on 89 octane gas and extending oil change intervals. Somehow it doesn't add up.

  7. #7
    Irv
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    The dealer is right

    Whether or not you care to follow BMW's recommendation is another matter. The engineers may have been given the directive, with free maintenance and all, to specify the longest possible drain intervals. Cool, if you're leasing or only keep a car for a few years, or less than 100K miles. Most Bimmer drivers, in other words. Whether you take matters into your hands is up to you. If an oil change makes you feel better do one. I do, and I ignore BMW and the dealers. I also change BMW's "lifetime" transmission and differential fluids too. My car, my choice.

  8. #8
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    No doubt

    Good point, my car my choice, we see it in almost every post in any board.
    $$$ is not an issue, I'll pay to have it changed everyday if that what te manual and my service dept suggests (how gullable am I?). I guess my point is, I read that manual, talked in depth with my service dept., found that after 10K, no problems, so I'll follow instructions to 15K.
    My last BMW went for 113K miles, drove like a champ, changing the oil at 5K miles ('93 318i), as suggested by my service dept. I can't say that I'll keep my X3 to that many miles, but it is paid for in full from the day I picked it up. No leases, loans, etc here...
    I'm suprised the dealer doesn't say to come in every 2 months! My guys are honest, share information and want me to have a great experience, not just buy cars and spend money on service and accessories.
    Best of luck to all of us, enjoy the ride and spread the X3 gospel!My ride: Jet Black '04 X3 3.0, 6 speed manual, premium pkg, sport pkg, Xenon headlights, privacy glass, Sirius satellite radio, universal transceiver (compass/garage door opener), Stealth Bulbs, Chrome Tailpipe trim, Mud flaps and all weather floor mats. More to come...

  9. #9
    gaeleegirl
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    Compulsive Oil Changer here


    I have a '92 Mazda Miata with 160,000 miles on it. The car has had the oil changed every 3K miles and the only mechanical problems in that time have been due to wear (brake pads, tires, etc.). If that is the experience I earn from having been diligent about the small stuff, sign me up to be dilegent about the small stuff again.

    Like you, I paid cash for the X3 anticipating owning it for many years.

    BTW, CD posted a suggested maintenace and fluid replacement schedule for those of us who plan to own for extended periods. Can't find it. Does anyone else have it?

  10. #10
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    Perhaps 8000 Is The New Conservative Benchmark

    for oil and filter changes. While the data available remains limited -- one study does not by itself make new science -- I believe we could easily get a consensus of knowlegeable engineers that high quality synthetic oil at least doubles the performance of petroleum oil (I would conjecture that the real result would be quadruples or quintuples the performance). If we want to establish a conservative benchmark, it should provide an enormous margin of safety, and I would suggest that based on the still developing information available, 8000 (plus or minus) is about right.

    By the way, I didn't really convey the flavor of the Paradise Garage website to those who may not have looked at it in depth. It is clear that they did not expect the synthetics to perform nearly as well as they did, and it is also apparent that they are striving to be scrupulously honest and scientifically rigorous in their reporting, their aim being simply to determine the performance parameters of a couple of very important automotive lubricants. They're just a bunch of automotive fanatics who want to know how good the stuff is (or isn't).

    Regarding the older oil/less engine wear issue, they simply reported the data, without speculating about the cause. I am not skeptical about it, because the data speaks for itself, but I am looking forward to hearing more about it after FM has the opportunity to review the technical papers on the subject.

    If it is indeed true, then shouldn't the conservatives among us opt for a slightly longer interval than might otherwise be acceptable? Can the case be made that waiting 8000 miles will be better for your engine than changing at 3000-5000 miles? Irv wrote this one off as likely to be inconsequential, but the argument would be that the wear rate is lower after the first few thousand miles, and that the oil is still well within its performance parameters at 8000 miles, so the cumulative effect of premature oil changes would be more engine wear when compared to the engine with longer oil change intervals. The jury is seemingly still out on this one, but I have a feeling... Don't forget the 60,000 mile taxicab study.

    It can be difficult to process and accept technological leaps, and it takes a long time for good, reliable information to find its way to the consumer (even smart ones, like many BMW drivers). It is good to remain skeptical, but it is also good, as FM says, to keep an open mind. My sense is that this stuff is really, really good - a major step forward in automotive lubrication.

    And I don't think it has anything to do with money for a lot of us. Going in for service is an annoyance for those who don't do their own oil changes, and I personally would rather spend my time driving or doing a million other things (e.g., discussing the finer points of American culture with gaeleegirl and Irv) than changing my oil more often, whether myself or at a shop.


  11. #11
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    The study did have a kicker - oil filter changes.

    All of the long term vehicles in this study had special oil filtration systems that allowed for filter changes at far more frequent intervals than the oil changes themselves. For most car engines in the real world changing the filter without draining the oil is going to be an interesting challenge. While some engines do have the filter on top (like the Audi 4.2l V8), most are down at the bottom and can really only be changed after the oil has been drained.

  12. #12
    mike
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    Re: Perhaps 8000 Is The New Conservative Benchmark

    The problem with this line of thinking is that you really won't know what effect your oil change habits have until it is too late - maybe around 100-150,000 or so.

    My guess is that BMW came up with their interval with the goals of minimizing the cost of the included maintenance, while making sure the engine survives the warranty period without problems.

    Which may be different from your goal of making the engine run 200-300,000 miles without problems.

    There is no way I am going 15,000 miles between changes, regardless of what BMW says. Even if I give back the car when the lease is over, I would like the "next guy" to have a properly maintained car to drive.

  13. #13
    gaeleegirl
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    Found it--CD's suggested maintenance schedule


    Is as follows:

    for the long term X3 ownership:

    synthetic oil changes 2 times ayear or every 6,000 miles

    brake & clutch fluid flush every year

    coolent antifreeze change every 2-3rd year

    micro-filter for heating/air conditioning every year or sooner if operating in dusty area - very easy to remove at base of windsheild
    inside engine compartment

    look at engine air filter same as micro-filter

    cleaning, detailing, washing any salt, dirt, mud , out of wheel wells
    now , not later.

  14. #14
    C.D,iesel
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    mguhler - do you OWN ? ,

    ... or LEASE your X3 ??
    Therin lies yer answer.

  15. #15
    FM
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    Re: Compulsive Oil Changer here

    "I have a '92 Mazda Miata with 160,000 miles on it."

    While it doesn't necessarily "prove" anything, it is interesting that generally, when you read about people with high-mileage trouble-free engines (yours, my 194,000 mile explorer, a friend with a BMW K100RS with more than 230,00 miles on the engine, etc.), it seems they all say "frequent oil changes," not "I use synthetic, so I only changed the oil every 12,000 miles."

    Perhaps it is just a correlation, rahter than cause and effect, as people who take good care of their cars and give them good maintenance may have a natural tendency for frequent oil changes.

    But I doubt it.

    So I'll ask. Is there anyone out there with a trouble-free engine over 150,000 miles, which had oil changes intervals every 10,000 miles or more?

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    I've used Mobil 1 in all my cars for over 15 years

    In all of them, including my current E32 and my wife's 02 CRV, I change/changed oil and filter once a year or approx. 10000 miles; whichever comes first. (I only put about 7000 to 8000 miles a year on my E32; so it's been once a year).

    I have NEVER had an engine problem with ANY of the vehicles. As a matter of fact only a couple of the cars burned any oil at all (i.e. I don't/didn't have to top up).

    Included are Volvos, Saabs, Hondas, BMWs.

    I agree that changing more often is overkill and a waste of $$.Larry, Albany, NY
    94 740i

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    Yes, 2 Volvos, 2 Saabs, 2 Hondas..

    with over 200,000 on each with no mechanical probs. and Mobil 1 every 10000 miles or so.Larry, Albany, NY
    94 740i

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    I would definitely add...

    Transmission and differential(s) fluid changes. Depending on the vehicle I do mine annually or once every two years. These assemblies endure high temps, involve metal-to-metal contact, are unfiltered, and BMW usually uses low fluid capacities. The rest of CD's list sounds like what I do.

  19. #19
    FM
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    Re: I've used Mobil 1 in all my cars for over 15 years

    So, what's the mileage on the engines?

  20. #20
    FM
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    Re: Yes, 2 Volvos, 2 Saabs, 2 Hondas..

    WOW! You drive a lot. That's over 1.2 million miles!

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