Amsoil 0W-30 -- The great oil study
And why you should use it

(Part 1 of 2) (Part #1 - Data Only)

This information is provided as is. Feel free to interpret it as you see fit. It is for your own personal evaluation. The technical data is accurate to the best of my knowledge and is provided by the manufacturer and/or producer of the products in writing with few exceptions. If you have questions concerning this information, it is suggested you solicit expert opinion/s for confirmation before following any advice offered or using any of this information in whole or in part. The writer will explain some of the various technical "properties" for those readers not familiar with the terms.

Technical data will be furnished for the following "fully" synthetic oils (not listed in any particular order): Castrol "Syntech", Red Line, NEO, Mobil 1, Havoline "Formula 3 Synthetic", Quaker State "Synchron", Amsoil, Pennzoil "Performax 100 Synthetic" and Union 76 "76 NASCAR Synthetic".

Data will also be given for a single "blended" oil (mineral/petroleum and synthetic): Havoline "Formula 3 Synthetic Blend" as well as three pure mineral/petroleum oils: Havoline "Formula 3", Pennzoil "P7" and Pennzoil "Long Life". Also included is Mobil's Delvac 1 synthetic oil mostly used in diesel engines but favored by some for gas use. You will also see a Castrol 5W-40 synthetic oil which is available exclusively to VW and Audi dealers.

For the sake of time and space, abbreviations will be used to identify the oils and should be self explanatory; (example: AMS is Amsoil, HAV is Havoline and MOB is Mobil 1, etc.). In the few cases where the blended oil and the pure mineral/petroleum oils are listed, the following identification will be used; (HAV-B is Havoline Blended), (HAV-P is Havoline Petroleum), (P7 is Pennzoil with P7) and PEN-LL is Pennzoil Long-Life).

In the data you will see "N/A" which indicates the data was Not Available.

Not all SAE Viscosity Grades offered by the oil manufacturers/producers are listed. Only the grades which are considered common and popular. All oils are API Service Classification SJ or SJ/SH and the data is the most recent available.

Viscosity Grades listed will be: 0W-30, 5W-30, 5W-40, 5W-50, 10W-30, 10W-40, 15W-40 and 15W-50. There will be five categories of data, for each oil in the grade with explanations of the categories after the data results or on another posting. The categories will be: "VI" - Viscosity Index, HT/HS - High Temperature/High Shear, "WEAR" - 4-Ball Scar Test, "ASH" - Ash Content and "FLASH" - Flash Point in degrees F.

Grade: 0W-30

VI: AMS-188, CAS-181, MOB-176
HT/HS: AMS-3.5, CAS-3.1, MOB-3.4
WEAR: AMS-.39, CAS-.47, MOB-.45
FLASH: AMS-460, CAS-410, MOB-460

Grade: 5W-30

VI: AMS-197, CAS-172, HAV-160, MOB-162, NEO-170, PEN-166, QS-151, RED-165, P7-160, HAV-P-159
HT/HS: AMS-3.5, CAS-3.0, HAV-3.07, MOB-3.35, NEO-3.3, PEN-3.3, QS-3.2, RED-3.6, P7-3.1, HAV-P-3.2
WEAR: AMS.35, Balance of oils-N/A.
ASH: CAS-.93, NEO-.64, QS-1.1, HAV-P-.85, Balance of oils-N/A.
FLASH: AMS-442, CAS-455, HAV-468, MOB-445, NEO-430, PEN-435, QS-435, RED-455, P7-420, HAV-P-410

GRADE: 5W-40

VI: CAS-175, HAV-161, MOB-DEL-180
HT/HS: CAS-4.5, HAV-4.0, MOB-DEL-4.1
WEAR: All oils-N/A.
ASH: CAS-.90, HAV-1.1, MOB-DEL-1.3
FLASH: CAS-405, HAV-453, MOB-DEL-446

Grade: 5W-50

VI: CAS-180, PEN-176, QS-177
HT/HS: CAS-4.8, PEN-4.46, QS-4.6
WEAR: All oils-N/A.
ASH: CAS-.93, PEN-N/A, QS- <1.0
FLASH: CAS-465, PEN-447, QS-457

Grade: 10W-30

VI: AMS-177, CAS-161, HAV-148, MOB-147, NEO-185, PEN-146, QS-148, RED-150, UNI-146, HAV-B-144, P7-140, HAV-P-142
HT/HS: AMS-3.5, CAS-3.3, HAV-3.23, MOB-3.4, NEO-3.4, PEN-3.3, QS-3.2, RED-3.6, UNI-3.4, HAV-B-3.25, P7-3.2, HAV-P-3.2
WEAR: AMS-.35, Balance of oils-N/A.
ASH: HAV-1.1, MOB-.93, NEO-1.03, QS- <1.0, UNI-1.1, HAV-B-.85, HAV-P-.85, Balance of oils-N/A.
FLASH: AMS-446, CAS-455, HAV-482, MOB-470, NEO-470, PEN-460F, QS-440, RED-475, UNI-480, HAV-B-425, HAV-P-420

Grade: 10W-40

VI: AMS-183, CAS-168, NEO-185, RED-167, P7-153, HAV-P-154
HT/HS: AMS-3.93, CAS-4.3, NEO-N/A, RED-4.7, P7-3.7, HAV-P-3.9
WEAR: AMS-.40, Balance of oils-N/A.
ASH: CAS-.93, NEO-.64, HAV-P-.85, Balance of oils-N/A.
FLASH: AMS-450, CAS-455, NEO-470, RED-495, P7-415, HAV-P-420

Grade: 15W-40

AMS: NEO-180, RED-155, PEN-LL-145
HT/HS: NEON/A, RED-5.5, PEN-LL-145
WEAR: RED-.22, Balance of oils-N/A.
ASH: NEO-1.12, RED-N/A, PEN-LL-1.4
FLASH: NEO-470, RED-495, PEN-LL-425

Grade: 15W-50

VI: MOB-160, RED-166
WEAR: All oils-N/A.
ASH: All oils-N/A.
FLASH: MOB-473, RED-503

(END OF DATA) Part 1 of 2.

Bob ///M3

This is Part 2 of the oil study:

It is safe to say all modern engine oils are good; the mineral/petroleum oils, the "blended" and of course the synthetic oils. The synthetic oils are without a doubt the best. They do cost more, but they offer more too.

First, lets explain "viscosity" and "grade". Viscosity is a measure of the "flowability" of an oil. More specifically, it is the property of an oil to develop and maintain a certain amount of shearing stress dependent on flow, and then to offer continued resistance to flow. Thicker oils generally have a higher viscosity, and thinner oils a lower viscosity. This is the most important property for an engine. An oil with too low a viscosity can shear and lose film strength at high temperatures. An oil with too high a viscosity may not pump to the proper parts at low temperatures and the film may tear at high RPMs.

Explaining the numbers in the data:

"Viscosity Index" (ASTM D-2270) is an imperical number indicating the rate of change in viscosity of an oil within a given temperature range. HIGHER numbers indicate a low change, lower numbers indicate a relatively large change. The HIGHER the number the better. This is one major property of an oil that keeps the bearings happy! These numbers can ONLY be compared within a viscosity range. It is not an indication of how well the oil resists thermal breakdown.

HT/HS or "High Temperature/High Shear" (ASTM D-4683) is an rating that determines the oils stability in a high temperature, high stress conditions. The oil's ability to withstand shearing and tearing is very important especially in a high RPM engine. The oil's ability to protect bearings, cylinder walls and rings, connecting rod bearings, main bearings, cam lobes and lifters, etc. is vital to an engine. For an oil to pass the ASTM D-4683, an oil must have a protective viscosity of 2.9 cP at 302 degrees F. The HIGHER the number the better!

"Wear" is a "Four Ball Wear Test" (ASTM D-4172 and others) that is used to determine how a particular oil protects against surface scaring. Most tests are run using a 40kg weight at 75 degrees C rotating at either 1,200 rpm or 1,800 rpm for 1 hour. The depth of scare produced by this tests determines the oils wear test rating. Unfortunately, this test procedure is not required of most engine oils today and few producers still use the tests and publish their results. However, Amsoil and Red Line are proud of their "scar" test data and gladly offer it. A few other producers also have the data available for some of their oils. Look for oils that carry a SMALLER scar depth!

"Ash" (ASTM D-874) is the percentage of solid material sulfated ash (by weight) which is left when the oil burns. A high ash content will tend to form more sludge and deposits in the engine. Low ash content also seems to promote long valve life. Look for oils with a LOW ash content. Less than 1% maximum and the lower the better.

"Flash" (ASTM D-92) is the temperature at which an oil gives off vapors that can be ignited with a flame held over the oil. The lower the flash point the greater the tendency for the oil to suffer vaporization loss at high temperatures and to burn off on hot cylinder walls and pistons. The flash point can be an indicator of the quality of the base stock oil used. The HIGHER the flash point the better! 400 F is the minimum to prevent possible high consumption. The flash points shown in the data are in F.

I could have listed the various oil's zinc content, pour points, pumpability points, evaporation volatility, cold-cranking rating, corrosion fighting qualities, and so on but I felt the main topics were enough to raise an eyebrow.

So much for the data listed. Now for a few other interesting bits of information about engines oils.

Did you know that oil has a Ph? If the pH is too far out of wack, galvanic corrosion can eat things up! It's no different than a swimming pool's water becoming un-balanced at eating at the metallic parts of the pump, etc. In an engine, there is a microscopic variation of this called "fretting corrosion" that can get to parts that are in contact but move very little under quite a bit of pressure. That is what gives the odd stain patterns on shafts and surfaces that are together a long time. The pH of the oil is really affected by the water it picks up because water will react with gasses to form acids. That is why lots of short trips are bad, lots of blow-by and gasses and lots of moisture that does not have time to be driven out.

Oil starts a bit on the "basic" side and gets more acidic over time. I think they assume that most cars get a fair number of short trips. This is a bit of a problem for a farm tractor that doesn't get used too much since a "basic" pH will corrode aluminum and an acid will corrode zinc and iron. Ideally you could keep "half worn" oil all the time but you can't. Maybe this is truly a justification for not changing oil too frequently!

Did you know that an oil's "film strength" refers to the amount of pressure required to force out a film of oil from between two pieces of flat metal? The higher the film strength, the more protection is provided to such parts as piston rings, timing chain, cams, lifters and rocker arms...wherever the lubricate is not under oil-system pressure. Synthetic oils routinely exhibit a nominal film strength of well over 3,000 psi, while petroleum oils average somewhat less than 500 psi! The result is more protection between between moving parts with synthetic oils versus mineral/petroleum.

Did you know that contrary to what many take for granted, higher viscosity in and of itself does not translate into better engine protection. Extensive testing has shown the opposite to be in fact true. As long as a lower-viscosity oil is formulated to resist evaporation and provide high film strength, this lighter oil will actually deliver ,ore complete protection to the engine parts, since its more rapid circulation delivers both better lubrication per se, and far better cooling characteristics... a critical advantage, given that oil flow furnishes up to 30% of an engine's cooling requirements. In short, don't be too concerned with the relatively lower viscosity ratings of some synthetic oils. Synthetics are a whole different ball game from yesteryear's petroleums.

Did you know that our engines have temperatures in this range (F)?:

Upper Cylinder Wall 300-500
Exhaust Valve 1200-1500
Piston Crown 700-800
Hydraulic Valve Lifter 250-300
Crankcase 200-300
Top Piston Ring 300-650
Exhaust Gases 500-1000
Combustion Chamber 3000-5000
Coolant Jacket 165-230
Connecting Rod Bearings 200-375
Main Bearings 200-350

Other factors to consider when selecting an oil are the possible use of a light weight fast flowing oil to help prevent dry start-up damage even in warm climates. If you have an oil cooled turbocharger, look for a high flash point oil so coking of the oil will be reduced.

I might add that Red Line Oil Company was the most helpful in finding good quality information. They were also extremely proud of their oils in regard to still being effective at reduced friction (coefficient of friction) even after their oils had been used for 15,000 miles, comparing them to unused oils of other brands. Obviously the used oils had a certain amount of hydrocarbons in them which will cause extra wear. They are also the only oil producer I ran across that tests their oils under moderate loads (40g) and heavy loads (160g) in the wear tests and constantly compare their oils to other brands.

I would also like to say that all the engineers I spoke with at the various companies were more than willing to offer whatever help they could.

In closing I realize a lot of the information is actually too much information but hopefully those who enjoy this type of thing will get something out of it. I know I have. I have learned a lot more than I ever dreamed I would, however I'll be the first to admit, there's much, much more!

Like I said earlier, take this information for what's it's worth and good luck in your search for the best oil for your car's engine.....

Bob ///M3

This is another post that was made as a follow up to the two part engine oil study.

After analyzing all the data and discussing different oil properties and related subjects (that were not part of my "oil study") with some of the engineers at a few of the oil companies, I have made up my mind which oil I will be using in the M3.
My viscosity grade choices were the 0W-30, 5W-30, 5W-40, 10W-30 and 10W-40 oils. My "short list" choice of product manufacturers were Amsoil, Redline and Mobil.

I have elected to use Amsoil's 0W-30 oil.

The reasons for my choice are many.

In discussions with Mr. Darren Wallace (Technical Design Engineer and Chemist) of Amsoil Company, he suggested strongly I use the 0W-30 in the M3 for street and track. His suggestion rather surprised me! I asked him, "track too" and he said "most definitely." I will only lightly attempt to explain why he made his suggestion to me.

He explained that BMW engines, as are most others, had very tight engine tolerances for their bearings, etc. He said using the Amsoil 0W-30 would protect these bearings (and the entire engine) better than ANY 30 weight grade oil they have ever tested, including their other 30 weight multi-vis grade oils they offer. The anti-wear additive package for this 0W-30 oil, he said, is simply the best they have ever seen! The chemical make-up of the other Amsoil oils don't allow this same anti-wear package to be used. He also explained this particular oil is better at dealing with the contaminents (hydrocarbons left from combustion), dirt and corrosion, etc. than the other oils.

He said using the 0W-30 would offer unheard of protection at dry start-up where the anti-wear properties, only found in Amsoil's 0W-30, would virtually eliminate the metal-on-metal damage incurred when first cranking up an engine. He further explained that damage results whenever an engine is first cranked up, even if the ambient temperature is 100 degrees F.

There is much more to the anti-wear abilities of this "one oil" but I won't attempt to even try to cover it all. He did admit that no other oil that they have in their line of products, as good as they all are, has the characteristics, properties, abilities, traits and technology that the 0W-30 does. In fact, the way he put it was, "the Amsoil 0W-30 could be five years ahead of the competition!"

He also added that all 0W oils are more expensive to produce and this is the reason most other synthetic oil producers don't offer 0W oils. In the future, he said, this will change in his opinion.

Mr. Wallace further said that this oil is highly recommended not only for street use in the M3 but also in the most demanding and continuous high rpm, high temperature, high abuse conditions! He explained many SCCA entries (and other forms of racing) are using it. And that the oil's film-strength, shear/tear properties, anti-wiping protection, lubricating ability, engine cooling, etc. are the best.

Keep in mind that the second number of an oil's viscosity grade (30 in this case) is the steady weight of the oil when at 100 degrees C (212 degrees F) and it compares with any other 30 weight grade oil, in thickness, regardless whether it's a 0W-30, 5W-30 or 10W-30. This is a A.S.E standard test which must be passed to be called a particular viscosity grade oil. (Don't let the "0W" verses the more common 5W or 10W confuse you.) This particular oil's ability to remain a 30 weight oil in very abusive engine temperatures at well over 150 degrees C (302 degrees F) allows it to be a strong and safe oil for street, strip and track.

He explained that using a heavier weight oil is not necessary or desired "unless" the engine is built losely (with wide bearing tolerances) which BMW's engine's are not. Also, he stated that car manufacturer's recommendations for using a heavier "petroleum" based oil such as 15W-40 or 15W-50 was only recommended because of the protection those petroleum weight oils could offer. Using lighter synthetic oils in lieu of heavier petroleum based oils offers "more" engine protection while also offering better wear protection too. It's a win-win situation.

Anyway, for those who have asked me about which oil I intend on using in my M3, I have made my choice!

Bob ///M3



Amsoil Oil Study by the Great Bob ///M3