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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Oil Quality and Change Interval

oil TBN viscosity

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#1 OFFLINE   fbov

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:43 AM

I've been using synthetic oil since the early 1980's, and had great results with extended change intervals in my Volvos, up to 330K miles. But those were used cars, purchased sans warranty, so there was no expectation of a bail out if I screwed up. With a new car, my first goal is to meet warranty service requirements for the life of the warranty, but this also provides an opportunity for some baselining - what does the oil look like chemically when the engine calls for a change? Does the grade used (synthetic vs blend) make a difference? (I had always used full synth., but Ford uses blend unless you ask and pay.)

 

Blackstone Labs offers an oil assay service. Kits are free, $25 for the analysis when you send the oil in. I added $10 for a TBN measurement, as TBN is a measure of oil life remaining. (See the two links for details) I sent my first sample at 15,880 miles, and got it changed at 16,061 (today) for $35. Oil had been changed at 5,626, so this represents the full 10K mile interval. The service receipt from 5626 miles listed "XO*5W20*QSP OIL - ENGINE" which today's service writer identified as "blend" oil (part synthetic, part dino-juice). He installed blend as well.

 

Here's the start data.

Attached File  PORTER-013114.pdf   17.38KB   56 downloads

 

I won't read you the comments, but I see two key results:

- there are a lot of wear products (Al, Cu, Fe, Mg, Si are high) consistent with a new engine.

- the TBN is very low; this oil is worn out.

 

I paid the premium for TBN, and I'm glad I did. We'll see what 25K brings!

 

If anyone else does an oil assay, post it and lets see if there's a pattern!

 

And if we have any petroleum experts, here's a soapbox... give us your insights (technical, not Honda).

 

HAve fun,

Frank

 

PS IMHO, the easy way to do this (if you're not changing oil yourself) is with an oil extraction pump. Blackstone Labs sells a manual pump that looks quite nice for $30, but I got one of these. (Note: this method for oil changes has drawbacks unless you've got a hard-to-drain locations, like inboard motorboats.)  Slip the inlet hose down the dip stick tube, and pump a few ounces into the bottle. As close to "no mess" as you get when motor oil is involved...

 

 

 

 


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#2 OFFLINE   Plus 3 Golfer

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 02:06 PM

I've also been using full synthetic in all my cars since late '70s.  I've owned mostly MB and VW diesels and used Mobil Delvac 1 in my early diesels.  There was virtually no access to lab testing back then as there is now to do Used Oil Analysis (UOA).  I gradually increased my OCI in my early diesels from every 3k to around 10k adding about a quart of makeup oil every 2-3k miles.  When I got rid of my 1978 and 1982 diesels they had 250k and 275k miles and compression was still well within spec.  No wear evident on the cams. The only thing I ever did to the engine was put an offset woodruff key in the 1982 (chain was stretching) to better adjust timing.  The biggest difference I noticed with synthetic vs dino oil was starting in the winter in PA and my initial 5 miles or so until the engine warmed up.  Within 1/2 mile of my home I had a steep hill that I could only get up to about 40 mph (due to curve) before I started climbing.  My speed would fall to less than 30 mph in my '78 with dino oil while with synthetic I could maintain 40 mph up the hill floored.  I haven't kept any gas cars quite that long.  I'm a fan of synthetic oil but not UOAs as I have been doing research on this subject for many recent years wanting to ensure longevity of my recent diesels.

 

TBN is the most relevant number not wear metals. Your TBN is low but you don't know what it started out at. Also, read this on variability in TBN testing. I did a quick search and couldn't find anyone that tested virgin QSP for TBN.  I'd look for an oil with higher initial TBN.  I really don't think much of Blackstone or any labs comments.  They are canned and offer little value.  IMO, the labs are in the business to make money and will promote continued UOAs with their comments by putting a little apprehension in the comments.  

 

As far as comparing wear metals to averages, wear rates decrease as oil ages (more miles).  Ford participated in a study a few years ago (when I have time I'll see if I can find it) on a taxi fleet.  The bottom line was that more frequent oil changes resulted in more ppm wear.  The reason is believed to be due to the detergents in new oil stripping the protective boundary layer (which one wants between surfaces) and then when the detergents are depleted (within a few k miles), the boundary protection is built back up (I'm not a tribologist so likely not using proper terms).  So, by changing oil more frequently one is operating their engine with less "protection" more of the time than one that is changing their oil less frequently.

 

Many car owners believe that UOAs are a proactive way to catch and correct likely failures down the road.  Below are a few quotes and links.  IMO, the best use of UOAs are to optimize ones OCI (hopefully extending it) by monitoring TBN.  The benefits of extending OCI are both environmental and economical but at $35 a pop, that's a lot of $ to make up by extending OCI.

From AVLAB:

The bottom line is that for proper evaluation of oil sample analysis results, one can not simply look 

at the measured PPM value and make any valid judgment at all. The engine model, cylinder 
type, time since overhaul (or new), and oil hours must be factored in. Nor can "average" values 
be used as purported by other oil analysis companies.
 
From Doug Hillary (from my research in the past on UOAs, this summarizes my conclusions of the research):
UOAs are a great tool in the Management of any machinery that uses liquid lubricants. Unfortunately, their real value is often misunderstood by those who contribute to BITOG.

Firstly, it is important to realize that you get what you pay for. The most common forms of UOA are limited in their scope. It is a case of if you pay more you get more. So my comments here relate primarily to the “simple” UOAs – the cornerstone of those appearing on BITOG

Secondly, it is easy to assume that by carrying out a UOA you will be able to determine how quickly the engine is wearing out. As well, if you change lubricant Brands you will be able to compare the wear metal uptake results and then make a balanced best lubricant choice to make your engine last longer.

Sadly that logic is seriously flawed.

Single pass (random) UOAs will provide some information regarding wear metals but unless you have a history of your engine’s performance up to around 1 million miles the results are simply that – UOA results! As an example a limit of 150ppm of Iron is a reality – after say 100k it means the lubricant should be changed and all is well. But what is the situation if you have 150ppm of Iron at 5k? Where would you look what would or could you do? So UOAs are really a diagnostic tool – one of many!

The other parts of the UOA Report will be much more valuable to you – it will tell you about the CONDITION of the lubricant and its suitability for further use. This will enable you to get the maximum safe use from the lubricant saving a valuable resource in the process.

 

 

 

 


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#3 OFFLINE   hybridbear

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 08:35 PM

Interesting! I'd think that the amount of metal in the oil would be a good indicator of doing shorter oil change intervals early on in engine life.



#4 OFFLINE   Tdefny

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 07:55 AM

Great thread. Thank you for the info Frank. I did my first oil change a bit early to get the metal shavings out and I might do the same on the second one bases on your test results. The test really gives some good info.
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#5 OFFLINE   fbov

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 02:36 PM

Thanks for the interest, gents!

 

My thought process is best captured by Plus 3's last quote:

"... This will enable you to get the maximum safe use from the lubricant saving a valuable resource in the process."

 

I'm expecting to keep this car for a long time. I missed the first oil change (not my car yet), so right now, my sample is N=1 so I know nothing yet. I'm looking for trends. Here's what I expect

- metals will drop as the engine breaks in.

- TBN @ oil change will remain low as long as I use FoMoCo Blend oil and test when the car says it's time: a repeatable result.

 

The real surprise in the first test was TBN; the oil was really worn out. I've installed the same FoMoCo blend as used the first time, so we'll see how it does a second time. Then I'll try FoMoCo synthetic, then commercial brands as I do plan to change my own oil,and I'm curious what's going to work best.  

 

One of the expectations for a hybrid is that oil should last longer because the ICE isn't running as much, and when it is, it's running cooler, so the oil suffers less thermal stress compared with a conventional car. All true for the oil, but what about the engine? Cold oil is thick oil which doesn't flow well, so it doens't get to where it's needed. Cold engines have greater blow-by, increasing contaminants in the oil. They wear more, increasing metals in the oil. In many ways, hybrid oil is always in severe service - lots of short trips on a cold engine.

 

That's what makes TBN - total base number - significant. We're talking "base" as in pH - the nicer side of acidity. The measurement tells you how much buffer is left in the oil for pH control. A "buffer" is a compound that allows the oil to neutralize acids without becoming acidic itself. TBN is in units of mg of MgOH per gram of oil. If we're going to operate an oil in a cold engine, we should expect a lot of contaminants, so TBN is a critical parameter.

 

At least that's my thought prodcess going in...

 

HAve fun,

Frank


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#6 OFFLINE   hybridbear

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 01:08 PM

Have you thought about trying 0W-20? Would that be better with a new engine that's still breaking in? Or worse?

Thanks for the great analysis! We also expect to keep our car a long time and want the ICE to last and to never burn oil. My 1998 Chevy Lumina (my first car) had 180,000+ miles on it and it didn't burn a drop of oil between oil changes.

#7 OFFLINE   fbov

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 06:52 PM

Yes, I'm considering 0W20 oil, but the bigger question to me is synthetic vs blend. Since conventional wisdom (which may not apply) says to let new engines wear in a bit, I see no problem with blend for 25K miles, but the next change will be full synthetic, and once I get a synth baseline I would consider assessing 0W20. I don't expect to see a difference.

 

Interesting chart in this post... one wonders why I've not switched already!

 

Have fun,

frank



#8 OFFLINE   fbov

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 02:47 PM

Attached File  PORTER-080114.pdf   18.14KB   20 downloads
 

I would have sworn I'd posted the second oil change sample... but I can't find it, so here it is. Note that both changes used FoMoCo 2W20 synth blend, so the Jan 31 report (corrected below) was in error.

 

Filled with Auto Zone-branded 0W20 full synthetic, which the dealer purchased at Auto Zone. Not what I'd have expected...

 

Frank

Attached Files


Edited by fbov, 24 November 2014 - 02:47 PM.

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#9 OFFLINE   hybridbear

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Posted 30 November 2014 - 09:07 AM

Interesting. I should look at doing this analysis on our car. Especially since it'll likely be close to 2 years between oil changes in the Energi depending on how much road trip driving we do.



#10 OFFLINE   hybridbear

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Posted 30 November 2014 - 09:08 AM

Interesting chart in this post... one wonders why I've not switched already!

The chart doesn't work for me. The graphic is not available.



#11 OFFLINE   Plus 3 Golfer

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Posted 30 November 2014 - 10:41 AM

The chart doesn't work for me. The graphic is not available.

 

3d2586b9-6aa5-4e61-8bf9-efb627b780f1.jpg


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#12 OFFLINE   fbov

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 03:47 PM

Attached File  PORTER-072515.pdf   18.88KB   8 downloads

Time to add data for change #3. These reports are cumulative, so you can see any trends.

- first two changes (to 25K) were Ford 5W20 semi-synthetic

- just dumped 0W20 full synthetic, in a Parts Plus store brand (thanks dealership)

- installed 0W20 Mobil 1 Fuel Economy

 

The report mentions iron level and % fuel in the oil. I can understand a hybrid having more fuel in the oil, especially since recent tanks have all been 70+% EV miles. It's possible the iron's "hybrid normal" as well, given the constant start/stop operation. If there were something wrong, I'd expect something else to be rising, as iron is rarely used in unalloyed form. I don't see anything...

 

Onward, to the next change!

 

Have fun,

Frank

 

PS here's some background on the analysis

http://www.bobistheo...e-oil-analysis/

http://www.bobistheo...what-is-normal/


Edited by fbov, 18 August 2015 - 04:08 PM.

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#13 OFFLINE   hybridbear

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Posted 23 August 2015 - 02:14 PM

Time to add data for change #3. These reports are cumulative, so you can see any trends.

- first two changes (to 25K) were Ford 5W20 semi-synthetic

- just dumped 0W20 full synthetic, in a Parts Plus store brand (thanks dealership)

- installed 0W20 Mobil 1 Fuel Economy

 

The report mentions iron level and % fuel in the oil. I can understand a hybrid having more fuel in the oil, especially since recent tanks have all been 70+% EV miles. It's possible the iron's "hybrid normal" as well, given the constant start/stop operation. If there were something wrong, I'd expect something else to be rising, as iron is rarely used in unalloyed form. I don't see anything...

Have you considered reducing the mileage interval to the next oil change to see if anything changes? Maybe changing oil at 8000 miles instead of 10,000?

 

I wonder if the dealer would save me a sample. I did the first oil change in our Energi at 10,000 odometer miles. We had about 6000 miles with the ICE running at this point. We currently have about 14,000 miles on the odometer and 7400 miles with the ICE on according to the Lifetime Summary.


Edited by hybridbear, 23 August 2015 - 02:23 PM.


#14 OFFLINE   fbov

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Posted 24 August 2015 - 10:32 AM

I'm using an oil change pump to sample through the dip stick. No dealer requests involved.

 

I guess I could sample the oil mid-interval, before I actually change it, but why? I don't see anything in the data that suggests the internal monitor's intervals are off. At three samples, any pattern is just starting to form. Iron is a concern, but my research shows there are some motors that show iron in the oil but still provide may years of service. We've had tranny issues reported, but nothing comparable with the ICE... maybe we should be analyzing tranny oil!

 

HAve fun,

Frank


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#15 OFFLINE   ptjones

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 10:55 AM

It has been at least 12k mi. , 6k mi. ICE since I changed the oil and it looks like I haven't used  any oil. Used Mobil 1 0W-20, 105K mi. on the car and 55K on the ICE. :)

 

Paul



#16 OFFLINE   klatoo

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Posted 02 September 2015 - 09:51 AM

fbov...like your last oil change result, I had "normal" high fuel in mine as well.  Although I drive a Fusion Hybrid, the engine is still the same.

 

Blackstone didn't seem to care however.  When I asked they said as long as viscosity is okay (like they told you), it should be okay.  Apparently according to them high fuel percentage is prevalent in Prius'.

 

I would attempt to upload my pdf file however I can't seem to attach a document.


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#17 OFFLINE   klatoo

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Posted 02 September 2015 - 09:53 AM

Ah ha...found it

Attached Files


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#18 OFFLINE   fbov

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 02:22 PM

I have to ask if this was a change, or a sample? You didn't get TBN, so it's no good as an indicator, and your Fe is half the prior level. I would expect %Fuel to be run-mode dependent (lots of highway = low, lots of stop/start - high), but iron should just climb with time, and mine's on the high side.

 

Thanks for contributing your car's data! It would be a lot easier to identify problems if we had a bunch of cars... some engines run high in iron, yet have a great reputation!

 

Have fun,

Frank


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#19 OFFLINE   klatoo

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 02:34 PM

I changed the oil with that sample.  At my first change at 10k Ford "conveniently" forgot to get my sample even though I asked and left all the parts in the center console.  My second sample, as you could see, had various "elevated" metals.  All of my driving is city...car has been out of town once and that was when it had 2000 miles on it.  Like you, I think all the start stop ICE to EV mode is why the fuel numbers are up, and without saying it, it's what Blackstone feels as well.  I just felt like I spilt gas all over me when I changed the oil secondary to the smell.

 

I did the third oil change at 5700, therefore I felt a TBN was unnecessary because I wanted to see if it was just engine break in or miles between samples that resulted in the high metal levels.  In another 5-6k I will change out the oil and get a sample and compare, and then slowly start building up the miles between samples.

 

There are not many people on the fordfusionhybridforum.com that get samples from Blackstone, and another user told me about you and your sample data.  It's nice to have someone else to compare data with.


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#20 OFFLINE   fbov

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Posted 08 September 2015 - 08:37 AM

...It's nice to have someone else to compare data with.

Indeed!

 

And these make sampling easy. Just realize it's not a self-priming pump...

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B004UOU6L0/

 

Have fun,

Frank








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