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Synthetic vs. Dino (long)

Old 01-Jun-2006, 01:04 AM
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Synthetic vs. Dino (long)

I don't dispute that a lot of folks can run their machines for many years with satisfying results with dino oil. We all choose what we like. I found the following post (now almost 4 years old) on the internet. I have posted it here because I thought it was well written, and gives solid information. I have NOT edited out the name of the synthetic oil he is using. There are obviously a number of "decent" synthetics out there, although, I believe the one I represent outperforms them all ... (he said with a grin and a hint of humility) The author is using Mobil 1 (there, I said it). You will notice that the service intervals for Amsoil are much longer than Mobil 1 suggests. I'm not saying the writings of the author are "the gospel according to Amsoil", but his comments, suggestions, and results seem to make a lot of sense.

I hope you find it interesting ...

__________________________________________________ _


Today's topic seems to be motor oil related. I am a NASA Engineer at
Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. My field of work is
Tribology which is the study of friction, wear, and lubrication. In our
spare time, our group collects and tests different motor oils using the
Shell Four Ball tester. This tester tests the extreme pressure properties
of oils. These areas in a motor are cam to lifter contacts, valve stem to
guild, and piston skirts. Over the years we have found synthetic bases oils
to out perform mineral based oils by a large margin. We test the oils new,
after 1000 miles, 2000 miles, and up to 10,000 miles. In a nut shell, we
found that synthetic oils have better wear properties after being run 10,000
miles then mineral grade oils new.

Do not run a multi grade oil (10w-30) more then 1000 to 2000 miles -
depending on your driving habits.

This is because a 10w30 oil starts its life as a 10 weight oil and large
polymer chains are added to get the 30 rating. These chains break down very
quickly which produces small chains with an open electron charge at the
ends. These ends attract grim and form sludge.

Do not run synthetics in a new rebuild. A new engine needs the added
friction allowed by mineral oils to set the rings properly. Chevy found
this out on the corvette. These cars came from the factory with Mobil 1 and
owners brought them back because of smoking and oil consumption (rings did
not seat). Run a good single weight oil for the first 2000 miles. We found
Havaline 30 to be a good mineral oil - in fact we use it for our standard.

The reason some synthetics can safely be run for 10,000 miles is because the
additive package is well engineered to isolate grim and hold it in
suspension. This also is why synthetic oils are expensive. You know - you get what
you pay for.

Roadster deserves the best - run synthetic oils.

Part 2:

I listed multi grade oil break down at 1000 to 2000 miles. This is for the
junk oils found at circle K for a dollar. A good name brand oil will last
3000 miles without too much break down. This is for mineral grade oils -
synthetic oils meet government viscosity tests for ratings without adding
thickeners like polymer chains.

Guys here at work run synthetics in motors that have 140,000 to 170,000
miles on them without any more oil consumption them normal. I believe that
you will get a slight increase in consumption in older motors because the
synthetic are very slippery and can get by old rings easier. In these cases
going to a 15w-50 may help, but this is not a reason not to use synthetics.
Older motors need the extra protection. At running temperature a synthetic
will maintain its viscosity, where a mineral oil viscosity is DRASTICALLY

A test on how well synthetics work at different temperature can be done in
your home. Get a quart of your favorite mineral oil and a quart of a
synthetic. Put a cup a each oil in a glass or paper cup and stick in the
freezer over night. In the morning try and pour the oils out. Next test:
DO THIS OUTSIDE. On an old camp stove put a of the synthetic oil in an
old frying pan and put it on the stove on the highest heat setting. Cook
for 30 minutes. Now cook your oil for 30 minutes. At this point you will
see why you cooked the synthetic first. As the oil cooks pour some out to
see the changes in viscosity between the oils.

Part 3:

The question of change intervals and synthetic oil has come up. As a side
at work we run oil tests using the Shell Four Ball test rig. This tester
was developed by Shell oil to test the extreme wear properties of motor oils
- cams, piston skirts etc. It consists of three, = inch ***** held in a
triangular pattern in a cup with oil heated to 165 degrees. A forth ball is
lowered to the center of the three ***** and loaded to 40 KG. The ball is
then rotated 600 RPM for one hour. After the test the wear scar is measured
on the three stationary *****. The bigger the scar the lower the extreme
wear property of the oil is. We use Havoline 30 wt for a base line. We use
this oil because engineers from the past liked this oil, so we have a large
data base.

Looking at data shows new Havoline 30 wt has a wear scar of .0165 inches.
New Mobil 1 has a .0145 inch scar. May not seem like a lot of difference,
but it is. Havoline 30 at 3000 miles has a wear scar of .020 inches and
Mobil 1 at 4000 miles has a .0164 scar. Remember - the bigger the badder.
3000 miles is as long as anyone was willing to run Havoline 30 wt, so its
data stops here. Mobil 1 at 6000 miles is .0167, at 8000 miles is .0188,
and at 10,000 miles is .0194. So, at 10,000 miles Mobil 1 has better
lubrication properties in the critical areas in your motor then a good 30
wt at 3,000 miles. All mineral oils follow Havoline pretty close - major brands. Some off
brands have a .020 wear scar new. Multi-grades generally have a larger wear
scar as well. This data was from a 5.0 Ford Mustang. Every motor will be
slightly different, but not much.

So, synthetic can handle long run intervals. But, that is part of the
story. You have contaminates to deal with. This is where the additive
package comes in play. This is the expensive part of oils and the reason
synthetics are high priced. Because of the long run intervals of synthetic,
they must have a vastly superior additive package - and they do. Proof of
this is to take 3000 mile dino oil and look at it in a glass jar - then do
the same for Mobil 1. The Mobil 1 will look new compared to the dino oil.
I run Mobil 1 in my new cars to the longest manufactures oil change interval
- usually 7000 miles. This will keep the warranty happy. In my Roadster I
change it once a year regardless of mileage. I run my Roadster about 5000
miles a year. Most people at work run synthetics and do the same. We have
a bunch of cars in the lot that have over 200,000 miles on them and going

I run 10w-30 synthetic in my new Roadster motors (after break-in). Older
motors get 15w-50 because the tolerances are larger. Because synthetics
don't thin down like mineral oils do at temperature, I would be careful
running 15w-50 in a motor with a high volume oil pump. By doing so you may
run into cavitation problems - oil gage jumping wildly. Drag racers
experience this often at high RPM. Drop a wt and it will clear up.

Testing another "magic" oil additive today. It looks and smells like
linseed oil! This should be fun. Additives are another subject all
together. Another day, but never tested a good one - none- zip - zero -
don't waste your money.

Sorry for being soo long. I like synthetics (obviously). If you have been
to the conferences, seen all the tests and data, and read the lubrication
journals you would run nothing other then synthetics.



imported_Cam Stableford is offline  
Old 01-Jun-2006, 01:32 AM
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Just for fun, here's how Amsoil compares to other brands of petroleum, blends, and synthetics.

With the "four ball test" frame of reference above, these are industry standardized tests. In other words, regardless of who does the testing, the results should be the same.

You'll notice that the "four ball test" wear scar for Havoline, in the Amsoil published information is identical to the results found by the above author.


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