(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.
VI: AMS-188, CAS-181, MOB-176
HT/HS: AMS-3.5, CAS-3.1,
WEAR: AMS-.39, CAS-.47, MOB-.45
ASH: AMS-N/A, CAS-.93,
FLASH: AMS-460, CAS-410, MOB-460
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
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
VI: CAS-175, HAV-161, MOB-DEL-180
WEAR: All oils-N/A.
ASH: CAS-.90, HAV-1.1,
FLASH: CAS-405, HAV-453, MOB-DEL-446
VI: CAS-180, PEN-176, QS-177
WEAR: All oils-N/A.
ASH: CAS-.93, PEN-N/A, QS-
FLASH: CAS-465, PEN-447, QS-457
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
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
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,
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.
AMS-450, CAS-455, NEO-470, RED-495, P7-415, HAV-P-420
AMS: NEO-180, RED-155, PEN-LL-145
HT/HS: NEON/A, RED-5.5, PEN-LL-145
WEAR: RED-.22, Balance of
ASH: NEO-1.12, RED-N/A, PEN-LL-1.4
HT/HS: MOB-N/A, RED-5.6
WEAR: All oils-N/A.
FLASH: MOB-473, RED-503
(END OF DATA) Part 1 of 2.
This is Part 2 of the
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
"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.
"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.
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
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
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
Exhaust Valve 1200-1500
Piston Crown 700-800
Valve Lifter 250-300
Top Piston Ring 300-650
Exhaust Gases 500-1000
Combustion Chamber 3000-5000
Connecting Rod Bearings 200-375
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
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.
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
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
This is another post
that was made as a follow up to the two part engine oil
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
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!"
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.
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
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!