Are new lubricants good for older cars?

How long have you owned your vehicle? Buying a new car is expensive, so many of us drive our cars for as long as they will last. The average age of a vehicle in North America is higher than it has ever been, at 11.6 years old. The length of car ownership is 6.6 years. Cars are being built to run longer than ever before, but older engines may not be up to the challenge. To ensure a long engine life, you need to select the right lubricants to keep things running smoothly.

The testing and manufacturing equipment for engine oils s designed for the latest engine technology, which can present a problem for owners of older vehicles, especially classic car owners. Lubricants designed for older engines are gradually phased out as finding the right equipment to test and produce older oils is costly and difficult. Instead, manufacturers claim that you should be able to use new engine oils in older engines, but there is still some debate about that.

The lubrication needs of older engines are different. There are some special considerations to be aware of if you have a vehicle with older engine technology such as:
 Older engines are designed for 3000-mile drain intervals, not the 5,000 or 10,000-mile intervals standard in newer cars.
 Older engines are less efficient and take longer to warm up and start.
 Older engines are less powerful. Many four-cylinder engines today are as powerful as an older eight-cylinder engine.

These technology differences present real lubrication issues. If you are searching for the right products for your older car, there are a few factors to consider:
Phosphorus levels: ISLAC put a cap on phosphorus levels in engine oils in 1992 at 1,200 parts per million. This standard dropped even further over the years to the current limit of 800 ppm in 2004. Phosphorus levels were deemed to mess up emissions control technologies. Lower levels of phosphorus can be a concern for owners of older vehicles because of reduced wear protection. To combat this problem, manufacturers turned to an additive called ZDDP, which is an anti-wear and corrosion inhibitor. This additive was also phased out because of toxicity to humans and wildlife, as well as damaging engine catalytic converters. Many owners believe that newer oils don’t provide the wear protection that their engines require like former products with higher phosphorous levels and ZDDP did.
Lower viscosity levels: Engine oils are becoming thinner and thinner to improve fuel economy. This can be hard on older engines which are not designed for these oils and have large deposits and buildups from years of use.

The biggest concerns about using new oils in older engines are wear protection, oxidation, deposit and sludge control, emissions system protection, and oil pumpability for cold weather starts. Gordon Farnsworth, the former head of the ASTM Sequence V Engine Test for 25 years has said that “by far, wear protection is the main area of concern for most and the one area experts will likely spend the most time evaluating.”

So can you use newer oils in your older vehicle? Yes and no. You still want to make sure that you are selecting the right viscosity grade for your engine. The industry is working to educate consumers on this issue. Labeling will be introduced on GF-6B oils to let consumers know what oils to avoid for older engines. Changing your oil more often is also a great way to extend the life of your engine. Try for 3,000-mile intervals. You will also need to pay attention to the needs of your engine. Talk to your mechanic about the best products to use.

Since the inventory of older oils is diminishing, manufacturers are designing synthetic oils to meet the needs of older vehicles. Chevron offers oils specifically designed for high mileage that provide better wear protection. Over time engine sludge builds up, which reduced engine wear. This issue can affect engine performance and emissions. Typical motor oil may not meet the needs of a higher mileage vehicle with build-up and deposits.

As a fuel and lubricants supplier, we are here to help you find the right products for your engines. We have an extensive inventory and knowledgeable staff that can find what you need. Provide us with the details of your vehicles, and we can recommend selections to keep your engine in top shape. Your car should last with proper maintenance and care and by selecting the right lubricants. If you have any questions, call us and ask. We are always happy to help and to talk about your lubricant needs!

What's in a label?

How well do you understand the labels on the engine oils that you use? Most of us look up the type of oil we are supposed to use in our vehicle manual. The manual tells us which oil is best for our engine and that is the one we use. But how do we know that’s the right oil? Will it protect the engine best?

Choosing the right oil for your engine is more complicated than simply following the manual instructions. You need to take into account the type of vehicle you drive, how you drive, in what conditions, and what kind of engine you have. Most of that information may not be in your manual. There are different oil formulations for almost every type of engine condition. Picking the right one starts with knowing how to read the label.

There are two labels you need to pay attention to, the API Donut and the API Starburst. These certifications don’t just end up on any bottle of engine oil. The API certification process has gone through a variety of changes throughout the years. In 1911, the API was known as the Society of Automotive Engineers. They started an early system of classifying engine oil based on viscosity. The current system is a much more comprehensive and focuses on ensuring that developers properly produce, test, and label their products to provide the best quality for consumers. The two label certifications, the API donut and the API starburst label, are the standard in the industry.

 The API donut has two halves. The top half indicates the motor oil performance standard determined by API. This standard suggests the level of testing the oil has gone through, and what engine to use the oil in. The bottom half of the donut indicates if the oil has resource-conserving properties. In the center of the donut is the viscosity grade.
 The starburst label indicates if the oil meets the International Lubrication Specification Advisory Committee (ISLAC) standards. This group is made up of engine manufacturers, oil and additive companies, vehicle manufacturers, and industry trade associations. This testing is for the protection the oil provides to the engine, fuel economy and emissions.

To earn these labels, manufacturers must apply for licensing. This process is complicated and expensive. Companies may spend millions of dollars to permit an oil. The product goes through rigorous testing, including elemental analysis, finished oil physical properties, additive and base oil information, engine test information, and product traceability code data. Manufacturers must provide samples of their product for testing at any time.

To ensure that companies don’t change formulas after testing, the API also maintains an audit check program. They buy oils and test them against the license formulas that are on file. Every oil is tested for cranking, pumpability, volatility, gelation, foaming, filterability, flash point, and shear stability to earn certification. The results of the previous testing must match up. Minor differences in the formulas will have to be corrected by the manufacturer. If the problem is more significant than that, the company could lose their licensing, and be asked to remove the product from the marketplace. There are many oils out there that are fraudulently labelled. The API maintains a website with the details of offenders. Manufacturers that claim to be endorsed by the API are lying as producers are not allowed to use endorsement language when referring to the API.

The oil classification process is continually evolving, with the development of new testing methods and engine technology. Categories that are no longer used are labelled as obsolete. There are three current API service categories: Gasoline, Diesel C, and Diesel F. Each category has different classifications to help consumers choose which oil is best for their needs.

To help consumers, the API has developed a program called Motor Oil Matters or MOM. This program is designed to help consumers choose high-quality motor oil. Distributors and oil changes locations may apply for licensing to ensure that they meet API standards and follow the API chain of custody. They must also submit to an auditing process. This program protects consumers and helps to educate them on the importance of engine oil quality standards.

As a fuel supplier, we make sure to keep updated on all the changes happening in the oil world. Closely monitoring the labeling and certification process of the API is part of our job. Choosing the right product is about more than following the manufacturer’s instructions. We take into account the condition of your engine, how you drive, where and when. All of these factors affect performance and we make sure to recommend the products that will keep your engine running well for years to come. If you have any questions about what products to use, please reach out. We are always here to help.

About Us:

If you need additional information, please know that the team at Greg’s Petro is here to help. As your lubricants supplier in Bakersfield, Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clarita or Ventura, California areas, we are available to help answer any questions you might have. Visit us online or give us a call to learn more.