Friday, September 5, 2008

Synthetic Oil for Engine Awesomeness!

You've probably seen commercials for synthetic oil on TV. Of course you know commercials never tell the whole story, that's why there's so much of that tiny print at the bottom, top, sides, and if it is a car commercial, pretty much across the whole screen.

There's another problem with these commercials, and that is because in America, Chevron sued to be allowed to tag the "synthetic" name on hydro cracked oils made from crude oil. So now virtually every "synthetic" oil is actually just modified crude oil, and it should be pointed out that the rest of the world do not consider these substances to be synthetic oils. These are classed by the American Petroleum Institute as "Group III" oils, and they are not the ones I'll be talking about.

The oils I will be talking about are shown in the pictures on your screen, these are API Group IV and V oils, true synthetic oils. Group IV oils are produced by making polymers from alkenes, essentially the same as regular oil, but one end of the molecular chain is different. Group V oils are made from acids and alcohols.

The brands I'll discuss are Amsoil and Mobil one, but only the Extended Performance Mobil 1, not the rest because they like most everybody else switched to cheaper to produce Group III base stocks. Amsoil also has a line of Group III oils, but these have significantly less performance than Group IV PAO (polyalphaolefin) oils and they are designed for a specific requirement and market.

I use Amsoil in just about everything, and Mobil EP in everything else. I use their motor oil, grease, oil filters, transmission fluid, chain lube, two stroke oil, bar and chain lube, gear lube, food grade grease, and one day maybe their anti-freeze too. I use Mobil for breaking in lawnmowers or anything that uses alot of oil, like the lawnmower I just gave away.

The reasons why I use these products are several. First, like all my green stuff is money. Amsoil lasts about 25,000 miles in cars with the proper filter, which is also Amsoil because they have the best filter media. This means I can bypass five to eight normal oil changes which saves a significant amount of time and money because I do all our oil changes at home. You might find it interesting that our car with nearly 80,000 miles on it has just had its fifth oil change. A normally oiled car should have had 15 to 30 by now.

The second reason is the crude oil use and waste. Most cars use over a gallon of oil per change and somewhere in the range of five changes per year if someone is taking care of them. Tractor trailer rigs use somewhere in the fifty gallon range, but they don't change theirs as often. For the hundreds of millions of cars all over the US and somewhere in the range of a billion in the world, that adds up to alot of oil that gets used and has to be discarded somehow. Plus that oil has to come from somewhere, and much of it comes from countries that deal in religious oppression and violence. The more I can do to avoid both of those problems the better.

Thirdly, synthetic oil just works better. Lots of people brag about how well their car works and all, but synthetic oils have proven to get better gas mileage which helps the problem above. It keeps engines from wearing out as fast and that means less energy is put into production of new vehicles. For me, the proof is in the clarity. For most of you using regular oil, you'll notice that your oil is black within a thousand miles and is mucky black by the time you change it. At 20,000 miles the oil in our Corolla is still see through though slightly darker than when it was put in. When I change it sometime between there and 25,000 miles, it is still much clearer, and you can easily see light through the stream coming from the drain hole. Another proof is the tail pipe. My push lawn mower still after three years doesn't have the characteristic ring of black soot around the exhaust pipe. And small engines work absolutely wonderfully on synthetic oil, they start MUCH easier, and they idle much better at lower rpm's. When I brought my bees back from Oregon, I had to rebuild the hubs on my trailer. My dad warned me to be careful to check to make sure that the hubs didn't get too hot on the trip. I put synthetic grease in them and was quite surprised and delighted to find that during the whole trip the tires were warmer than the hubs. After my second fill of synthetic oil on my motorcycle, I still have not seen a noticeable hint of darkness in the oil. One downside, it makes it difficult to check the oil sometimes because it's so clean you can't easily tell where it is on the dipstick. That cleanliness translates to less wear in the engine.

And the fourth reason is because I want stuff to last longer. Like I said before, the longer stuff lasts, less energy is required to make new stuff. Metal work is a very energy intensive process, that's why metal plants are almost always located quite close to power plants.

In the end I guess all these things boil down to efficiency. Efficiency is something severely lacking in our society and that needs to be remedied. I do try to convince people from time to time that synthetic oil is better, not that much convincing needs to be done, it's obvious, but most people are just too lazy or cheap to do it. The thing is, it saves so much time and energy, like many things, it just requires an outlay of resources at the onset. It amazes me that people still want to pay so much in finance charges and things so that they can have a lump sum of money now, that's what credit cards are about. It's a huge waste, and I'm against waste.


No comments: