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Let's Talk Synthetic Motor Oil

Viggen

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Joined
October 7, 2007
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City, State
Chicago
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Explorer XLT 4.0
I thought I would create this thread to try to clear up some misunderstandings, anecdotal evidence and the business b.s. coming from the vendors who sell synthetic motor oil. I am not a tech by any means, but I take in a lot of information that I read and hear from others, and I am also looking to get personal knowledge and experiences from those of you who read this.

When my 4.0L X turned 40,000 miles, due to its mid-life crisis or my own for that matter, I began to throw on various performance parts along with standard brakes and tires.

I started with the CAI from AEM and with a throttle body spacer from Airraid. Some people say these spacers are wastes and offer no performance gain, but I only spent 40 bucks on it, and if it does even a little, then it is worth it. I next changed out my coil pack to Accel's version and slapped on some JBA wires. The plugs came out and were replaced by Autolite iridiums with a gap at .056. Next came the ASP underdrive pulley, and finally rounded it all off with a 93 octane tune from Henson.

All these mods combined made a huge difference in the mid range, and an observable mpg increase.

The one thing I have been debating for a while is of course the oil, hence the thread here.

From what I have read and gathered from techs and regular guys is this: synthetic motor oil is nowhere close to be labled "snake oil," but is not worth the extra costs associated.

Here is what I have been exposed to:

1) Synthetic oil is great for running a clean engine (this oil doesn't get dirty) and for having extended interval oil changes. I have understood that these oil changes are good past 10,000 miles.

2) The costs associated with this is at least double (sometimes triple) that of a regular oil change.

3) There are no HP or torque gains using synthetics as many manufacturers claim. At least I have not seen independent, quantifiable evidence to make these claims.

4) I have understood that once you go synthetic, you can never go back to conventional.

5) The oil seals around your engine COULD leak with synthetic oil, but this is a remote possibility and should not deter anyone.

6) Synthetic oil will allow your engine to last longer, but frequent oil changes has the same ability.

7) Some people swear by certain brands, but I can't see too much of a difference with whichever one is being used.

8) There is no point in using blends; either use the fully synthetic or the conventional.


Am I missing anything?

I have been changing my conventional oil at approximately 4,500 miles or about 6 months. I am a city driver, and put on about 850 miles a month. As you can probably guess, I am meticulous about maintaining this thing.

As I have said before, please offer your thoughts on anything discussed here. I am looking to create a standard checklist for those who are curious.

Thanks all!
 



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Sigh....here we go again.
 












There are studies... use google my friend.

Whether the difference is worth the price is an individual choice.
 












..... I just read an article in some farmers magazine breaking down all the differences and benefits of using synthetics. Basically it comes down to synthetics coat better because the molecules are more uniform. Cars 20 years ago didn't stress oils and lubricants like todays engines that squeeze more and more from the same size engines.

Another misconception, you can interchange standard and synthetic. Most people just don't go back to standard because their engine runs smoother. 4,500 miles between oil changes on conventional oil is not " meticulous about maintaining" as many studies have shown standard oil viscosity breakdown is enormous past 3,000 miles.. You can pick up 5 quarts of Royal purple for about $30 if you catch it on sale. This stuff is rated for 12,000 miles between oil changes. So if you spend $35 on Royal purple and a quality filter you are still $10 ahead of the cheapest of oils over those 12,000 miles.
 






Well I must have missed that forum. I dont spend much time looking around here.

And spending your time going through google (which I have) just causes more headaches. You can come up with thousands of articles confirming or contradicting the various points I brought up at top. There seems to be no consensus on this.

Since you who have responded obviously spend some time here, send me some links around the site about the synthetic points I made.
 






Since you who have responded obviously spend some time here, send me some links around the site about the synthetic points I made.

The SEARCH feature will serve you well on this topic.
 






As a side not on your first point. Yes Synthetic Oil gets dirty.

As for it's use it's all a cost benefit factor for the individual.

In my explorer I drive it maybe 700 miles a month if that. Almost only highway driving.
I can get a 5 quart just of Motorcraft Synthetic blend for $13 at Wal-Mart and I filter for 4 bucks.
I have no way of justifying the added cost of synthetic oil in my Explorer.
 






This is what this post was all about. I wanted to gauge personal experience and honest thoughts on this subject, and try to filter through the stuff on the web. If I knew this site had answered all of my points and then some, I would not have made this thread; It would just be redundancy.

One of the articles I came across on google about synthetics is that, and I'm paraphrasing here, "using this will increase your HP by 10 points and torque by 15." Could the manufacturers be "assisting" this study?

As for my oil changes, I have for many years and with many different cars be changing it out at between 4000 - 4500 miles. My Ford dealership has always said I could get away with 5000 miles. My father's Maxima ( a more complex machine than an X ) requires a conservative 3750 miles. Oil breaks down as soon as you put it in and start driving, so 3000 miles is not the absolute and magical limit.

I have never had issues with changing at about 4000. Just my experience, as yours could vary. In my opinion, 3000 or 3 months is too OCD for me.

Just my thought. See, that wsn't hard.
 






My car seems happier with synthetic. I feel it running smoother and accelerating easier.

I run at the track every weekend and I did multiple mods at once so i cant tell you the true difference between conventional and synthetic, but I can tell you I felt the difference.. I will continue using synthetic.

Thats my 2 cents. and synthetic oil , around here at least, is no more expensive than conventional.
 






I use Mobil 1 sythetic, but im thinking about switching back to pennzoil or whatever i had......ever since mobil 1 i swear my trucks been acting funny.......

Plus it seems to get dirty faster and is WAY to expensive.


ahhh who cares, oil is oil, its just an SUV, not a drag car.
 












1) Synthetic oil is great for running a clean engine (this oil doesn't get dirty) and for having extended interval oil changes. I have understood that these oil changes are good past 10,000 miles.

All oil gets visually "dirty". High quality synthetic oil gets "dirty" quickly.

However, this "dirty" look has no effect on the oils ability to do its thing.

The ONLY way to determine an oil's useful life is via a UOA.

I regularly go 25-30k miles between oil changes when using Amsoil Signature series oil ( )w30 ).
 






25k - 30k interval on that stuff is amazing.

What's the "difference" you feel after throwing the syn in?
 






I have used synthetic since the tuck was new.

The feeling that I have the best possible lubrication makes it all worth while.
 






The feeling that I have the best possible lubrication makes it all worth while.

This thread feels like a Dr. Phil episode. :D
 






My Explorer is almost due for an oil change. Do I need to do anything special to switch from oil to synthetic?
 






No, you can treat it like a normal oil change.. Personally I let my old oil drain out until it was barely dripping and I had the car lifted in the front to push the oil back to the pan better. (drive on ramps)... But thats just because I'm a big guy and its tight under the mounty.

Just change it like normal.. Oh and since the synthetic is good for 8k miles (mine was atleast) You should change the oil filter after 4k miles as the filter is not made to go 8k. You wont lose much oil from the filter, just pour in the difference I'd say.

Good luck and hope you become a synthetic supporter like me, haha.

Personally I'm not strictly against conventional as I know it wont -harm- my mounty... I like the fact that the synthetic I'm running is thinner and that means less wear on my motor.. in my head at least.
 



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My Explorer is almost due for an oil change. Do I need to do anything special to switch from oil to synthetic?

It's just oil. Nothing special needed.
 






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