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92 explorer engine siezed after synthetic change

bigboyboles8

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City, State
Houston, TX
Year, Model & Trim Level
'92 XLT 4.0 V6
Yea... so about 3 months ago I went all out and replaced all of the sparkplugs with platinum 4s and all new performance wires. Then went and put a k&n air filter on it, and flushed the radiator. Then I decided why stop there might as well change the oil.... well heres the problem, I have 140,000 miles on my 92 explorer, I changed the origional oil to synthetic, since changing the oil there was a tapping/clanging on the inside of the engine. It really sounded like the pistons were hitting something or the lifters just werent lifting... I had no Idea what was going on... I asked a mechanic and he told me that the change to synthetic probably caused this, and after much research I found that the 92 explorers are known to have problems with their lifters not lifting if the oil becomes too thin, and synthetics are known to be less viscous than standard oils. Anyways long story short I tried to replace the oil back to standard oil and it continued the banging (and when I say banging I mean wakeup the neighbors banging) I tried driving around the block and giving it some throttle to try to get the lifter working again and about 1 mile from home the piston siezed... Now I have a truck that I cant even get to turn over, and I dont know what to do. My friend suggested force turning the crankshaft with a long wrench to move the piston... I mean it couldnt hurt the current situation. Anyways I just felt like sharing this little "horror" story of mine, and maybe someone has a suggestion?:D :salute:
 



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synthetic by itself will NOT seize your engine... synthetic is actually better for it. using the wrong weight MAY cause some of the issues you said (lifters collapsing), but unless you used something like 0w20, i seriously dont think it would. there may be other issues there i think
 






another thing... before you try turning over the engine, pull all the spark plugs out, so that w/e is stuck in the cylinder has somewhere to go when the piston comes up
 






Seems like I remember reading somewhere that if the engine was not originally ran with synthetic oil, that switching to synthetic oil was a bad plan. You could have hydro lock but that doesn't explain the banging. If you pull out the spark plugs and gasoline shoots out of one or more of the cylinders then you had hydro lock. The only way I know to unseize an engine is to use diesel fuel in the cylinders. Sorry about your bad luck. I think the synthetic oil is to easy to get given the amount of damage it can supposedly do to an engine.
 






that sucks man. my 94 x when i first got it was always changed at a oil place. since ive owned it all i use is the syn-blend motorcraft 5w20 and motorcraft oil filter. i have heard tho that it is bad to switch from conventional to synthetics. but my buddys 92 ranger did the same thing yur x is doing... all he did was:
1)pull all the plugs
2) fill each piston with a good shot of penetrating oil.
3) let it sit a day or night then spryed the pistons again then let it sit overnight but...
4)also pulled the valve covers off and checked lifters and so on but lightly coated lifters , springs and all that junk with pen oil too..
5) b4 he tried anything he did another oil change back to conventional oil
6)then too a breaker bar with a socket and was able to turn the motor over slowly
7).put it back to gether and now its good to go. his lifter was stuck thats prob yur noise too.

caution: you may need to repeat the steps if its really bad

hope it help you out man
 






hydrolocking doesnt only have to be gas... hydrolock is when fluid is in the cylinder, and you cannot compress liquid. so it "locks" the engine. it could be gas, coolant, oil, water. and synth oil does not cause damage. that is all old wives tails. if that where true, why would performance engines (corvette, saleen s7, ford gt, lamborghini, ferrari, ect...) use synthetic? simply because it is better. just my 2 cents, as ive said before, engines can also live long happy lives on regular oil as well, but it is wrong to blame problems on synthetic.
 






It's not synthetic oil by itself, but when you switch from conventional to synthetic. It could still be a wives tale for all I know. I've never used synthetic so I don't know much about it.
 






Oil pressure?

In my opinion it is extremely unlikely that synthetic oil caused your engine to seize. Your mileage (140,000) is fairly low for a 1992 model. How often was the oil/filter changed prior to the switch to synthetic oil? I suspect that you have a significant amount of sludge in the engine. A more likely scenario is that your oil pressure was low due to sludge blocking the return oil passages and your oil pump went dry. Did you prefill the new oil filter when you replaced the old one? Did you install a quality oil filter?

If your engine seized from lack of oil or pressure then the bearings are probably destroyed and the piston skirts skuffed. An engine rebuild or replacement would be required.

I suggest that you remove all of the spark plugs and note their condition. Stuff dry paper towels in the spark plug wells. Then attempt to rotate the engine using a breaker bar and socket installed on the crankshaft damper bolt. If the engine will not rotate at all then it is probably seized and must be torn down. If it rotates any fluid that is pushed out of the spark plug openings will be captured by the towels allowing you to determine if it is coolant or oil.
 






Yea... so about 3 months ago I went all out and replaced all of the sparkplugs with platinum 4s and all new performance wires. Then went and put a k&n air filter on it, and flushed the radiator. Then I decided why stop there might as well change the oil.... well heres the problem, I have 140,000 miles on my 92 explorer, I changed the origional oil to synthetic, since changing the oil there was a tapping/clanging on the inside of the engine. It really sounded like the pistons were hitting something or the lifters just werent lifting... I had no Idea what was going on... I asked a mechanic and he told me that the change to synthetic probably caused this, and after much research I found that the 92 explorers are known to have problems with their lifters not lifting if the oil becomes too thin, and synthetics are known to be less viscous than standard oils. Anyways long story short I tried to replace the oil back to standard oil and it continued the banging (and when I say banging I mean wakeup the neighbors banging) I tried driving around the block and giving it some throttle to try to get the lifter working again and about 1 mile from home the piston siezed... Now I have a truck that I cant even get to turn over, and I dont know what to do. My friend suggested force turning the crankshaft with a long wrench to move the piston... I mean it couldnt hurt the current situation. Anyways I just felt like sharing this little "horror" story of mine, and maybe someone has a suggestion?:D :salute:


Couple of things to note here. A 10W30 synthetic oil is not less viscous than a 10W30 dino oil, and synthetic oil is actually better at holding up against viscosity breakdown than dino oil at high temperatures and over time.

If the lifters have partially collapsed, they will not cause the engine to seize up, they will cause a rattle and maybe a lack of power, but it won't seize the engine.

If the motor has been maintained properly (correct interval of oil changes, proper oil used, oil level checked and verified, etc) and wasn't gunked up, I would suspect that you had an oil pump going out, and this caused your failure. If the engine wasn't properly maintained, then I agree with 2000StreetRod that sludge may have blocked up the oil passages and led to a low pressure condition.

How often was the oil changed in the motor and what grade of oil was used?
 






I could post a long rant about synthetic not harming engines, and the fact there is no harm switching to and from synthetic, then list facts, figures, but......


Edjumakate yourselves.

www.bobistheoilguy.com
 






One thing synthetics do is clean well...if you had sludge in the engine..the synthetic change would begin to break it down and it would get caught in places you don't want it..as well as in the filter..always better in a synthetic change to use a blend, then synthetic and change it frequently for a couple of times...
 






One thing synthetics do is clean well...if you had sludge in the engine..the synthetic change would begin to break it down and it would get caught in places you don't want it..as well as in the filter..always better in a synthetic change to use a blend, then synthetic and change it frequently for a couple of times...

No.

That is wrong.

Visit the site I posted, and read up.

Going by your logic, whenever you change oil, you should only change part of it at a time, so your engine doesnt have to adjust to too much NEW oil at once. Also, make sure you dump a little dirt in that filter, so your engine doesnt have to deal with all that increased oil flow if your filter is particularly old or clogged. Your engine does not know the difference between the oils, your engine does not need to be weaned. Lubrication is lubrication.

Synthetic does no better a job of breaking down sludge than any other type of oil, whether it is dino oil, or blends. It is the additives that break down sludge, such as detergents...... There are of course other additives that perform this function, but for our purposes, you dont need to know specifics. The amount of additives and the performance of an oil can be estimated by the group of oils (ie, group II, group III, group IV, and so on) they fall into, and their api rating, though this is an old guide and not very informative, it should get you started down the path of oil enlightenment.

Synthetic blend means NOTHING. A synthetic blend could be anything from 1 drop of synthetic per gallon of dino oil, to a 50/50 mix, all the way up to 99.99999999999999% synthetic. Synthetic blend is a marketing tool used on dumb consumers.

THE ONLY THING synthetic does better than blends or dino oils is maintaining molecular integrity, and holding additives in suspension; this means it lasts longer and is less susceptible to breakdown at higher temps or due to changes in heat cycles or over time.

In all my years selling oil or working as a mechanic, I have heard every dumb old wives tale. I cannot understand why people choose to persist in spreading old wives tales, or guessing, when they can easily access credible, correct information. Especially when said information is provided to them.
 






...If this guys engine was pristine before the change it would not be an issue, but since it seized...chances are it had oiling problems...chances are there will be sludge in the oil pump and screen...chances are that the oil condition had something to do with it..but your passion is great...

Hmm...lets agree to disagree...here is a quote from a mobil oil tech site

Question:
Should Engines be Flushed When Converting to Synthetic Oil
Should you "flush" an engine prior to converting to synthetic oil? The engine has 40,000 miles on it.
-- Frank Tubbs, Saint Joseph, MO

Answer:
You do not need to flush your engine prior to converting to Mobil 1 fully synthetic oil. However, if your vehicle has been poorly maintained, ExxonMobil suggests a relatively short first oil change interval (3000 - 5000 miles) with Mobil 1. The special cleaning agents inside all Mobil 1 formulations will help reduce sludge and deposits. To ensure that these deposits leave the engine quickly, a short first oil change interval is recommended. If the vehicle was severely neglected, a second short change interval may be warranted.

Another:
Question:
Switching From Conventional Motor Oil to Mobil 1
There seems to be confusion about how to make the switch from conventional motor to synthetic. I am a do-it-yourselfer. Could you provide instructions?
-- Joe D., Miami, FL

Answer:
The instructions are very easy to follow: Simply change the oil as you would normally. Any “confusion” is just myth. You can switch from conventional motor oil to Mobil 1 synthetic (and back again, if you want), without following any special procedures.

The only exception to this is with a higher-mileage engine that has never used synthetic motor oil, or with an engine that has used conventional motor oil and been poorly maintained. In these cases, you should still follow the same basic oil-change procedures (drain the old oil, remove the old oil filter, put in new Mobil 1 and put on a new oil filter), but you should follow a regimen of one or two shortened oil-change intervals. For instance, let’s say that your regular oil change interval is 5,000 miles. If you’re switching to Mobil 1 under the circumstances mentioned above, make your next Mobil 1 oil change in 2,500 miles, your third Mobil 1 oil change 3,500 miles after that, and then follow your normal 5,000 mile oil-change interval. The reasoning behind this staggered interval is that a high-mileage engine, or one that has seen infrequent oil changes, will likely have a considerable build-up of sludge and deposits. Mobil 1 will help clean the engine as you drive, but it will have to work much harder in a very “dirty” engine, and so it is best to change the oil more frequently for those first few thousand miles. After that, you can rest assured that Mobil 1 is continuing to keep your engine running clean and well lubricated for mile after mile.
 






...140,000 miles...

you sure it's 140k and not 240k?

By the way you describe it, i'm saying you got hydrolocked somewhere, oil got blocked up and couldn't lubricate everything, and you got some gnarly rod knock.
 






...If this guys engine was pristine before the change it would not be an issue, but since it seized...chances are it had oiling problems...chances are there will be sludge in the oil pump and screen...chances are that the oil condition had something to do with it..but your passion is great...

Hmm...lets agree to disagree...here is a quote from a mobil oil tech site

Question:
Should Engines be Flushed When Converting to Synthetic Oil
Should you "flush" an engine prior to converting to synthetic oil? The engine has 40,000 miles on it.
-- Frank Tubbs, Saint Joseph, MO

Answer:
You do not need to flush your engine prior to converting to Mobil 1 fully synthetic oil. However, if your vehicle has been poorly maintained, ExxonMobil suggests a relatively short first oil change interval (3000 - 5000 miles) with Mobil 1. The special cleaning agents inside all Mobil 1 formulations will help reduce sludge and deposits. To ensure that these deposits leave the engine quickly, a short first oil change interval is recommended. If the vehicle was severely neglected, a second short change interval may be warranted.

Another:
Question:
Switching From Conventional Motor Oil to Mobil 1
There seems to be confusion about how to make the switch from conventional motor to synthetic. I am a do-it-yourselfer. Could you provide instructions?
-- Joe D., Miami, FL

Answer:
The instructions are very easy to follow: Simply change the oil as you would normally. Any “confusion” is just myth. You can switch from conventional motor oil to Mobil 1 synthetic (and back again, if you want), without following any special procedures.

The only exception to this is with a higher-mileage engine that has never used synthetic motor oil, or with an engine that has used conventional motor oil and been poorly maintained. In these cases, you should still follow the same basic oil-change procedures (drain the old oil, remove the old oil filter, put in new Mobil 1 and put on a new oil filter), but you should follow a regimen of one or two shortened oil-change intervals. For instance, let’s say that your regular oil change interval is 5,000 miles. If you’re switching to Mobil 1 under the circumstances mentioned above, make your next Mobil 1 oil change in 2,500 miles, your third Mobil 1 oil change 3,500 miles after that, and then follow your normal 5,000 mile oil-change interval. The reasoning behind this staggered interval is that a high-mileage engine, or one that has seen infrequent oil changes, will likely have a considerable build-up of sludge and deposits. Mobil 1 will help clean the engine as you drive, but it will have to work much harder in a very “dirty” engine, and so it is best to change the oil more frequently for those first few thousand miles. After that, you can rest assured that Mobil 1 is continuing to keep your engine running clean and well lubricated for mile after mile.

The reason behind those responses is attributed to their high level of detergents and their formulation created to "break down the sludge". Also, it is so you buy more mobil 1. I can give you a link to one of those intake tornado websites that suggest spending 70 bucks on one, but that doesn't make it true. Remember, companies want to sell you a product, therefore, they will use information that makes their product look good, and makes you buy more of their product.

With a conventional oil under similar circumstances, you should do the same as what as suggested with the mobil 1 synthetic.

For a third time in this thread, I suggest you get correct information from an unbiased source, and I suggest you understand the information you are posting. Searching the internet for something that in a way supports a comment you made without understanding what you are posting is not helping you or anyone else know more about oil.

The oil condition likely had nothing to do with his engine failure. The engine condition was the culprit, or it the failure may have even just been a coincidence. Perhaps he put the wrong length plugs in the truck and the pistons hit them, perhaps he left the washers off the plugs, perhaps the tune-up was just enough to cause the engine to work well enough to push those worn parts over the edge, perhaps the oil pump lost it's prime due to wear and could only offer intermittent oil pressure, maybe it was just a worn bearing that finally spun, or maybe he had the plug wires in the wrong order, and washed out a cylinder, or just had nasty pre-ignition on a cylinder. I couldnt say for sure without disassembling the engine and inspecting it. What I can say for sure is that you are wrong, and that you need to do some research and understand what you are reading before you disagree further or make any other speculation.

GO DO SOME READING ON THE SITE I POSTED. It is a very good source for unbiased information, and there are many members there that know more about oil than any human being will EVER need to know.

To the OP, the mystery could be solved rather quickly by pulling the plugs, the valve covers, and the oil pan, the timing cover, and actually looking at what is inside of the engine.
 






Was it the oil or not we will never know tell the motor is torn down? I would venture to say it was most likely let go many times in the oil change department and had a big slug build up. then with a good oil that was high in cleaners was put in it broke down the slug but not in a diluted state but some of it as chucks and then some of that plugged the oil pick up and that in turn created a starvation of oil condition that then started the destruction of the said motor.

Now pull all plugs and try to turn it over after looking at the plugs and only if they show no signs of hydro lock. If they showed nothing try to turn it over by hand and with towel in the plug holes see if you do get any fluids. If you do not then its time to pull the heads or at lest on and the oil pan. Or you can pull just the pan and get a good idea. check the oil for metal partials or fluids that should not be there then if need be pull a rod or main cap or two and look over the bearings if there wiped out you know the motor is gone if it seams like one cylinder well you can pull that head and you can replace that piston ring and bearing as long as things are still in spec. but remember to cut that ridge at the top of the hole or you can forget about getting the piston out.

I family member blew a motor by dumping some STP into there motor when it was cold and not running then started it up . The STP acted like a plug on the oil pick up screen and the motor went from lack of oil even with a full 5 orts in it. But that’s my shade tree thoughts.
 






Yanno... nobody seems to be asking the OBVIOUS question here... what "part number" oil filter did you use? Maybe he was supplied the incorrect filter by the "zit faced parts guy that was too busy to ACTUALLY look up the correct filter because he was too busy looking at naked women on the internet". An incorrect oil filter WILL tear up an engine in a BIG hurry.
 






My 99 was the epitome of no maintenance... I drained the oil when I brought it home on a hook and it flowed out in chunks... I added more oil after letting it drain for 8 hours and the new oil looked black on the dipstick so I drained it.. IT came out in chunks... After adding fuel to the engine to run it I found I had no oil pressure so I dropped the pan and found this...Gnarly, right???

Well after cleaning this crap out of the pan and valve covers, I started running synthetic oil and 16k later the engine is running just fine... There have been no issues thus far...

If changing to synthetic oil then going back caused a seizure the engine was on its way out anyway IMHO...Either the engine suddenly lost oil pressure through sludge clogging the pump screen, a defective oil filter, bearing or lifter, or straight up lack of lubrication caused your engine to consume itself...

It is obvious the bottom end of the 4 liter ohv is a tough ole bird...If my X can survive running without oil for periods of 1-2 minutes as I sorted out the other problems this truck had and the problems it saw for the first 151k of its life and the last 16k miles I have put on it in the last year, it can survive running synthetic oil...

Sorry to hear that engine locked up...Are you planning to tear it down and rebuild or replace?
 

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I work on the GM 8.2l fuel pinchers all the time, and we switch from synthetic to convetional all the time.. What we do is before we swicth to a snythetic, we do an oil change, to some cheap oil, and add in ATF. Run that for about a day or so, then change again to the syn. Never had an issue at all, and thats on a almost 20 year old engine.
 



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Ok so... first, a little back story... my uncle who passed with cancer about a year ago gave me his truck, and he has had it since I believe 92. I was told that it was kept up with and had the oil changed everytime the sticker date came up. (I cannot prove this because I did not own the truck) he was having problems with overheating and would use hose water to fill the radiator (which is why I flushed the radiator and filled it up with antifreeze) as for the oil filter I looked it up myself at autozone and made sure it was the same size as the previous, however I did not prefill it with oil before I replaced it, I did lube the gasket with the new oil though. The oil was penzoil platinum and was said to break down most engine sludge within the next oil change, I should have read up before jumping headfirst to the synthetic however I didnt. Also the oil filter was just a fram high mileage oil filter, I couldnt give you a part number right now however. I do agree with those of mentioning something about the oil pump, it makes sense and seems to go with the issue, but I have not checked as of yet. Last I heard you have to lift the engine to pull off the oil pan and to check the oil pump, I do not have an engine lift or a mechanic friend to do this so im not sure how to check the oil pump.
 






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