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 > Technical Articles: / BMW E36 3-Series (1992-1999) >
Making Sense of Synthetic Lubricants
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Making Sense of Synthetic Lubricants

Don Stevens

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$50

Talent:

*

Tools:

Your brain and some reading glasses (if needed)

Applicable Models:

 
BMW E30 3-Series (1984-93)
BMW E36 3-Series (1992-99)
BMW E46 3-Series (1999-06)

Parts Required:

Synthetic motor oil

Performance Gain:

Better protection for your internal engine and transmission components and longer usage cycles

Complementary Modification:

Use synthetic oil in your BMW from now on
101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

All of us have seen countless ads telling us to change our engine oil every 3000 miles. Some of us have watched the infomercials showing cars driving on the racetrack with allegedly no oil or engines running on a stand while the host pours sand and gravel over an exposed valve train. Virtually all of the lube shops have some kind of magic additive that they will say you need. What are we to believe? Or more relevant, what is right for you? In becoming an Amsoil Synthetic Lubricants dealer in 1998 I have done a great deal of research on all kinds of lubricants and additives and in this article I will share the facts about synthetic oils, petroleum based oils, and additives so that you can make an informed decision about what is right for your cars.

Oil Classifications.

There are two systems for oil classification. The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) viscosity grade and the API (American Petroleum Institute) classification that designates the type of engines for which the oil was designed. The SAE viscosity grade is known as the âÂWâ number when classifying oils. Most oils on the shelf today are multi-viscosity such as 10W30 or 20W50. In general, the lower the first number, the better the oil will perform in extremely cold conditions. Conversely, the higher the second number the better the oil will protect at higher temperatures. If you were driving to Minnesota in the winter you would want the lowest number you could find like a 0W30. In our Florida climate however, a 10W40 or a 20W50 would be a better choice. The API designation is typically an âÂSâ designation for gasoline engines and a âÂCâ designation for diesel engines. Most of todayâÂs oils carry an SH,CF or SJ,CF designation signifying that they are suitable for use in all gasoline or diesel automotive applications. Those of you with diesel trucks or motor homes should look for an API CG-4 rated oil. Which brand you buy is largely a matter of preference. Consumer Reports (6/97) found very few differences between major brands of oil and all with the above SAE and API designations performed fine in normal applications.

Synthetic vs. Petroleum based oils.

Synthetic oils were originally developed more than 50 years ago and became widely used in jet engines. Less than -120°F ambient temperatures, 60000 shaft rpm, and 500°+F exhaust temperatures proved too much for conventional oils. Synthetics were created specifically to withstand these harsh conditions and to date every jet engine in the world uses synthetic lubricants. Amsoil introduced the first synthetic oil for automotive use in 1972 and have continued to be at the leading edge of development ever since. Mobil 1, undoubtedly the most recognized name in synthetics, was introduced in 1976. Many companies have jumped on the bandwagon and have since released synthetic lubricants for automotive use and all are becoming increasingly popular for their superior lubricating properties, superior ability to flow at cold temperatures, and their ability to withstand high temperatures for extended periods of time. Several new cars including the Porsche 996 and the Chevrolet Corvette LT-1 are delivered with synthetic oil in the crankcase and require synthetic oil use throughout the life of the car.

There are two primary differences between synthetic oils and conventional petroleum oils. These are the base stock or liquid that makes up the volume of the oil, and the additive package. There are additives (not to be confused with over the counter additives which will be discussed later) in all oils that enhance the wear resistance properties of the oil, enhance the ability of the oil to neutralize acids and combustion by products, and provide corrosion protection for the engineâÂs internal surfaces. The amount and quality of these additives vary from one oil brand to another and this is a very significant factor in the ability of an oil to adequately protect your engine in all driving conditions. As a general rule of thumb, the cheaper the oil, the fewer additives it has and therefore, the less able it is to protect your engine.

There is one school of thought that suggests that the only difference in synthetic oils vs. petroleum oils is that the synthetics typically have a better additive package. This statement is only partially true. Synthetics almost always do have superior additives than petroleum oils. While this does add to the cost of the oil, it also enables the oil to last 3-5 times longer than conventional oil. The synthetic base stock however, is of paramount importance in the ability of a synthetic oil to flow at cold temperatures and withstand greater amounts of heat over significantly longer periods of time. Petroleum base stock molecules are long carbon chains that are sensitive to stress and heat. Additionally, various paraffins that are contained in all petroleum products regardless of how well refined they are, cause oil to jell like a syrup at extremely cold temperatures. At the other end of the temperature spectrum, high engine temperatures and heavy loads (as typically found in towing or racetrack applications) cause these chains to break down and the base stock actually boils off causing a change of viscosity and the formulation of sludge. This can happen at temperatures as low as 230° F and by 250° F many petroleum oils are suffering significant breakdown. Synthetic oils on the other hand are engineered specifically to provide all the lubricating properties that natural oil possesses, but none of the cold thickening or hot thinning properties of petroleum oil. Synthetics are made up of uniformly shaped molecules with shorter carbon chains which are much more resistant to heat and stress. Synthetics can withstand temperatures of 300°F all day long and still protect your engine. In fact the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) standard wear resistance tests are conducted at 302° F. In this test synthetic lubricants far out perform petroleum lubricants by factor of four to one and greater.

Oil temperatures of 230°F to 250°F are not at all uncommon in driverâÂs education track conditions, particularly in early 911s with no front coolers or the marginally effective âÂtromboneâ oil coolers. These temperatures are also fairly common in air-cooled engines in summer time stop and go traffic with the A/C on. Further, temperatures on the cylinder walls and in turbos are often over 450°F for short periods of time. Liquid cooled cars can also have extremely high oil temperatures even though the water temperature may be normal. I observed this first hand several years ago in a race car where the water temperature stayed right on 210°F while the oil temperature fluctuated between 240° F and as high as 280° F depending on how hard the car was driven. Needless to say, this particular car was running synthetic oil and remarkably ran about 50 hrs. between rebuilds with no significant wear. Further, Winston Cup star Rusty Wallace was recently quoted after the 2000 twin 125 races in Daytona that his car was running a little hot with water temperature at 230° and oil temperature at 260°F. RustyâÂs team is sponsored by Mobil 1 and I would think it is safe to say that they use the product.

The point of the above paragraphs is quite simply that synthetic oils have a much wider operating temperature range, by design, than petroleum oils.

Off The Shelf Additives

There are countless over the counter oil additives on the market, as there have been for a number of years. In recent years a number of companies have appeared on the scene with huge national television advertising campaigns, racecar sponsorship, and more, all designed to make the consumer believe that the products really work and you are doing yourself a favor by adding these to your car. The fact is that these products are not necessary, do very little to help your engine, and in many cases may actually do more harm than good. The major car companies do not endorse any of these products and in fact your ownerâÂs manual will undoubtedly advise you to avoid them.

Consumers Reports did a test (10/98) in an attempt to verify, or rebuke, one companyâÂs ad which claimed that their product âÂbondedâ to the engines moving parts forming a protective barrier against wear. The ad claimed that their test car ran without any oil all over Southern California, in stop and go traffic, with the air on, for 4 hours and 40 minutes. The ad also claimed that the only reason the driver stopped was to get something to eat. Pretty unbelievable. In an attempt to prove or disprove the viability of the ad, Consumer Reports tested two Chevrolet Caprices, both with identical zero time rebuilt V6 engines. Both cars were broken in with normal petroleum oil per the manufacturerâÂs recommendations. The oil and filter were then changed with one of the cars receiving the prescribed dose of this magic additive. Both cars were then driven for about 100 miles, allegedly long enough for this magical bonding to occur, and the oil subsequently drained. Both were then driven again, now with empty crankcases, in normal traffic to see how long they would last. Interestingly both engines failed, almost simultaneously, after about 14 minutes of driving thus proving the claims of the additive manufacturer to be nonsense. Consumer Reports notified the FTC of the test and their results and the manufacturer was subsequently forced to stop running the ad.

There are some over the counter additives that contain Teflon or PTFE. Once again the ads claim that the Teflon bonds to the internal working parts of the engine forming a slippery surface (like your Teflon frying pan) and therefore reducing wear. Fundamental laws of Physics prove that such claims are impossible, as the temperatures in internal combustion engines (200°-250°F) are insufficient for any bonding to occur. Further, independent oil analysis labs have observed that the suspended Teflon particles actually tend to accumulate the microscopic metals that are normal in engine oil formulating much larger, and potentially much more harmful, deposits in engines than would normally occur if straight motor oil had been used. In some cases, the oil filters became clogged, oil pressures dropped across the filter and oil analysis showed significantly more wear than oil alone. Similar to the previous situation, the FTC challenged the makers of products with PTFE on their claims of âÂcoating of PTFEâ and âÂreduced engine wearâ based again on Consumer Reports findings of âÂno discernible benefitsâ from use of the product. The makers of these products agreed with the FTC in a settlement to stop using the above phrases in their ads.

Economics of Synthetics vs. Petroleum Lubricants

All of the manufacturers of synthetic oil tout the benefits of reduced wear, more horsepower, lower operating temperatures, and improved fuel mileage. All of these benefits are derivatives of better cold flow characteristics and higher levels of friction reducing additives that are found in synthetic oils. I can confirm better cold driving characteristics, increased fuel mileage of nearly 10%, noticeably lower operating temperatures, better heat dissipation capability, and long term high temperature stability based on my own experience with synthetic lubricants. Are these benefits enough, however, to persuade average drivers to give up their trusted petroleum oils and pay the extra price for synthetics? Enthusiasts, yes. Average drivers, perhaps not. However, synthetic lubricants can endure extended drain intervals, which is a major consideration toward justification of the higher costs. This benefit is not widely promoted by the major oil producers most likely because they want you to pay a premium for their synthetic oils every 3000 miles just like their regular oils. Most companies donâÂt bother to tell you that synthetic oils are capable of going 25,000 miles or more without significant breakdown. One customer told me he drove his Toyota more than 50000 miles (with filter changes every 10000 miles) before oil analysis results told him it was time for a change. It is not uncommon for over the road truckers to go several hundred thousand miles between synthetic oil changes. The short trips and stop and go city driving that most of do is much tougher on motor oil than over the road highway driving. In fact, frequent short trips (2 miles or less) and stop and go city driving is considered by some raters as extreme and our cars need increased protection. Fortunately, we can achieve the superior protection and the economic benefits of synthetic oils while staying within the recommendations of our car manufacturers.

Consider the following economic argument. If you change your oil every 3000 miles at a quick lube center at an average price of $23.00 per change, you spend $115.00 over 15000 miles. Most synthetic oil changes cost about $50.00 (much less if you do it yourself) on which you can drive 7500 miles very safely (a 7500 mile interval is within virtually all manufacturers recommendations). Over the same 15000 miles, only two oil changes are required for an investment of $100.00. A shop could charge up to $57.50 and it is still a break-even proposition, plus you put a superior product in your car and are receiving the additional benefits that synthetic lubricants can provide. I typically drive about 12000 miles between changes with a filter change and oil analysis at 6000. Even after 12000 miles oil analysis advises that the oil is âÂsuitable for continued useâ and typically the wear metals are less than conventional oil after 3000 miles. In fact in a test performed by Popular Mechanics some years ago, oil analysis showed in New York City taxicabs that there is typically less oil breakdown and less wear metals in Amsoil 10W40 synthetic oil after 60000 miles (albeit with filter changes every 6000 miles) vs. conventional 10W40 oil after 3000 miles. As an added benefit, less waste oil is being put back into the environment. A true win-win proposition.

Conclusion

Most major brand name petroleum oils perform adequately provided your driving conditions are normal and provided you change the oil regularly (remember, short city trips, driverâÂs ed track events, dusty conditions, and towing are considered extreme). Over the counter additives have been proven to be of little to no benefit, often do more harm than good, and are a waste of money regardless of what you drive and how you drive it. Finally, for those of you who drive your vehicle hard, tow a trailer, drive very short distances, sit idling and in stop & go traffic for long periods, live in a cold climate and/or if your car runs hot, quality synthetic motor oil, synthetic gear lube, and synthetic automatic transmission fluid is a wise investment that will provide the additional protection you require as well as last thousands of miles longer than conventional lubricants.

Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all. If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs. If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one. Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one. As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Don Stevens is a mechanical engineering graduate of the Ohio State University and has been a member of the Suncoast Region of the PCA and BMWCCA for 14 years. He is also a 10-year veteran road racer/driving instructor with hundreds of hours of seat time and several endurance race wins to his credit. For more information on lubricants, oil analysis or for a free catalog on the complete line of Amsoil products, please call or e-mail the author at 727-724-3431 or P911sc44@hotmail.com

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Comments and Suggestions:
ironman Comments: Good stuff.I have a 1982
Bmw 320i.I'm using 30wt rotella.what's your thoughts.
November 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: That is a fine oil. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
aniwhy Comments: Never heard that. Where is the article you read with the data showing it? - Nick at Pelican Parts

I don't have an article to show for it. These are rumors, talks from people who seem to know what they are talking about in the oldtimer club. Better sure than sorry.
I'll try and get to the bottom of this and settle this item once and for all.
October 31, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Ok, so not a valid source. There are no negative effects on seals I have ever experienced. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ANIWHY Comments: I drive a late 1986 e32 735i. It's the M30 motor. Story's about using synthetic oils in yougtimers conflict. Claims are made that the rubber seals which are used in car's trom these days are somehow dissolved by synthetic oil causing severe oilleaks.
October 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Never heard that. Where is the article you read with the data showing it? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
gerryreggea Comments: hello, thank you for your website. I am looking to buy an E34 soon and I have some questions on the engine oil; 1.Is any synthetic engine oil advisable for the M50 engine? BMW recomends Mobil 5W-30 but it is a bit pricy here in France there are other cheaper types Total,Castrol,Shell-Helix all synthetic.
2.Is there any difference between 5W-30/10W-30 and 5W-40/10W-40 if I put it in the car assuming the humidity is normal 5-20 degrees
Thank you.
May 25, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Synthetic is fine in almost all engines.

Use what the owners manual suggests. Or an oil with the same exact rating.

Yes, those oils are all different weights. Only use what your owner's manual suggests for your climate. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Tom M. Comments: I recently purchased a 1991 325i, not sure of the service history. It has over 200,000 miles on it. Should i use conventional oil, or switch to synthetic?. Thanks
May 19, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Synthetic is a good choice, regardless of mileage. I would go for it.

Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
MT Comments: Fantastic article about synthetic vs Dino oil. Now I have a 2006 Volvo S40 with 85000 mi ready for oil change. Now the Audi dealership where brought the car used Pennzoil Euro Ultra 5/40 with some additives. I live in Phoenix Az so 100 to 115 is not uncommon in the valley. Should I continue with same brand and synthetic oil as well as additives?
May 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would stick with it. If the dealer is using it, it must be working well in your area. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rob Comments: Great article. Did you test the BG product additives and find the same results?
April 18, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Only the items mentioned were teased. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Medo2290 Comments: For a e36 m3 with a 133k on the mileage .. The previous owner told to use 0w40
Is that good grade or should I change it?
I Think when I used 5w30 the engine was more smother and startup more quicker than now with 0w40.
Pls help me out because I don't wanna ruined my engine
What do u recommend me .. To stay with 0w40 or to go with 5w30?
December 1, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It depends on your climate a bit. You can use BMW 15W-40 (Mineral Based, DINO). - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Medo2290 Comments: I have 1997 m3 e36 with 133k on the mileage .. What type of oil should I use for the engine?
I ha.. Is this fine or should I change it?
Also what type of oil should I use for the Differential?
I live in Ohio - USA
November 17, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: a 5w 30 engine oil should be OK. The diff oil depends on your equipment. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right fluids. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Shiftbmw Comments: To my friends at Pelican Parts, I live in California and have read so many different answers for proper oil. I have an 89' e34 525i m20 with over 200k, which oil should I be using on all my m20 motors? By the way thanks for the jelly beans with my order. You guys ROCK!! ;
October 28, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I like total or BMW oil. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right oil. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JOHN Comments: Hello Guys i live in NJ can I use 5w50 on my BMWs i own 2010 328 XDRIVE and 2013 535 XDRIVE ?
February 8, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: BMW calls for an API rating of SJ / CF or higher and a weight of 5w/30 or 15w/40. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bad550 Comments: Just purchased a 2010 m5 thinking of doing the oil change myself every 5000 and switching from TWS 10 W 60 to liquid Molly oil any comments on that
It has 43,000 miles and doesn't look to be abused but I've been reading there's been some bearing issues
I live in New Jersey and it's not a daily driver or would you suggest a different weight and company oil
Also what's the best for my 2008 550 R 20,000 miles what with the BMW 5w30 on my first change
November 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Stick with the oil that is described in you owner's manual. Only use oil approved for use by BMW. Avoid oils that use the statement (meets or exceeds). - Nick at Pelican Parts  
MN subaruguy Comments: I'm looking into buying a used late 1990s 318i or 328i and was wondering how Bimmers handle in the snow. I've heard that RWD cars with traction control are just as good if not a little bit better than FWD cars in the snow. How do Bimmers handle in the winter? With proper snow tires, of course.
October 19, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: With the right tires, they do pretty well. I live in New England and have quite a few friends who drive these all year round. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Nahel Comments: good article thanks for the valuable information .
i have a 2001 316i e46 with 152000 km ... previous owner of the car used to use regular oil for the first 140000 km then changed it to synthetic oil for once ... :-$
im in warm climate country 10-30 degree but we don't have much brands for known oil manufactures like mobil1 castrol ..
i want to go back to regular oil ... is it ok ? is the flushing process necessary ?
is the 10w40 the best viscosity ??
many thanks
September 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 10/40 is fine. If you use an organic oil that is approved by BMW, as far as the specification goes, you will be OK. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dick Comments: Hi, I recently got a used ML500 with 101,000km and live in the east African tropics where temps average 30C throughout the year. The MB manual recommends SAE5w-40 synthetic oil. Is this good for the tropics too, or its only for temperate countries? We have no winter here.
September 11, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You could go to a 10w 40 if desired, but double check your owner's manual to see what Mercedes-Benz recommends. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BrandNu Comments: Great article, I use a 2002 330i and live in West Africa with temperatures often between 30 - 40 degrees. That's hot. Please advice on the oil spec. Will ANY brand of 5W30 do the job? Thanks
August 29, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would stick to BMW full synthetic oil. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dave Comments: "Extended Performance" Mobil 1 Full Syn
Claims to be good for 15k miles. I have a 2002 530i with
167k miles. Do you believe it's necessary or beneficial to
switch to this "Extended" mileage stuff or stick with the
traditional Mobil 1 Full Syn Much thanks, Dave, Florida
August 4, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I stick with full synthetic and replace my oil every 5k miles. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dave Comments: Great articles-thank you for your great insight.
I have a 2002 530i with 167k miles. I've been using 5w-30
Mobil 1 Full Syn for a long time with great results. I'm
considering changing to 10w or 15w, your advice?
Thank you, Dave, Florida
August 4, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Stick with the recommended oil for your engine and climate. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Niko Comments: I put 10w-40 in my 1995 M3. would that make any problems ? i Put it in for summer because it is very hot where i live and i thought i'd need some heavier oil. thanks !
May 14, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You should be fine. I think 10/30 is preferred, but 10/40 should be ok. If you have any doubts, call a local BMW dealer. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Sroor9001 Comments: It's m54 engine m54b20
March 28, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would use either mobil 1 or BMW synthetic, to the grade recommended by your BMW owner's manual. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Sroor9001 Comments: Hi I have BMW 520i model 2002 with 189000km start leaking slightly from rear main seal have t top up every month about 500 ml and clean
after switching to semisynthetic which is 10-40 previous owner was using 20-50 w is it ok I live in Bahrain which tempreture is above 40 in summer
Can I use castrol conventional 20-50 does it harm the engine ?? or keep on 10-40 semisynthetic castrol magnetic ??
March 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We do not have your engine here in the US. I would stick to whatever oil BMW recommends for your engine. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
pupinano Comments: I have always used fully synthetic on my 2001 325i. I have 187,000 miles on it without any leaks. Should I continue to use my synthetic?
I have to add that I service my own car and I do preventive service before parts could fail.
January 19, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, I prefer to use synthetic in my vehicles. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mb Comments: I live in GA. I'm not sure what you consider hot weather and cold I get both cold and hot weather here I used 5w20 this last oil change synthetic blend with Mann oil filter right now we are heading into winter with 103,000 miles in my 325xi 2003 it runs faster harder and smoother what suggestions do have should I run 5w30 or 5w40 instead this is first time owning a bmw and if what im using is fine how often should I change it last but not least should I go with a heavier weght come spring my engine does not smoke make noise of anykind its imaculant even under the hood id like to keep it that way so any advise would be much appreciated thanks.
November 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would use 5w-30 full synthetic oil and change at least when the car tells you to if not sooner. Maybe every 7500 mi.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
emenot Comments: No more synthetic oil for my 88 BMW, 89 VDP, and 90 XJ6 as I wanted the best for my cars. I switch all these very well maintained cars out about 30,000 miles as I rotate their use some years ago, that was the biggest mistake I had ever made with my cars! THEY ALL STARTED TO LEAK!!! After I switched back to dino oil the leaks reduced but the damage was done!
October 6, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
neofyt Comments: Are you shure for synthetic oil? I always used oil marked "fully synthetic". I always considered oil only marked only "synthetic" as a blended oil!
April 2, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Full synthetic is just that. A lot of synthetic oils are now blends. When choosing an oil, always use oils that are approved by your vehicle manufactuer. The terms meeets or exceeds specifications are slippery slopes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ih8thssht Comments: Many "synthetic" oils don't use an actual synthetic base stock anymore. Mobile 1 is one of the only true synths still out there. Many other companies began to super refine their dino oil and call it synthetic... there was a law suit against this and the oil companies won on a technicality: The oil is so refined that it cant be found in nature... therefore it can be called synthetic, even though it isn't man made. Google it and be prepared to get angry.
I own an m62tu e38. It has just rolled over 190k. I love this car. I use 0w40 in the winter and 5w50 in the warmer months. Both mobile 1. I had to replace the secondary air system, the radiator plastic? and the water pumpnot at the same time but all in parking lots where the systems had failed. I have scars but for the miles, this car loses NO oil. I recently changed the spark plugs and the pistons at the top of their stroke, that I could see, looked like brand new aluminum. Not one stain.
The moral of my rant is: Do the research! Don't pay synthetic prices for non synthetic oil.

I hope this helps.
March 24, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the info! - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BlownBimmer416 Comments: Run nothing but Royal Purple and Redline 5W30/5W40 in my 328Ci, 325i, M3, and M5. When I tore down my 328Ci's engine to do a full build before adding the Lysholm Twin-Screw S/C, it was at about 65k miles. What I couldn't believe was that the camshafts had ZERO signs of wear on them, there wasn't any varnish in the engine much less any sludge, and the parts I took out entire valvetrain replaced with full-titanium Ferrea, Mahle Pistons, Carrillo rods, APR full-engine kit, etc, they looked as new as the BRAND NEW parts going in!

I attribute this to the use of Group4/5 oils, as this car has spent a significant amount of its life above 5krpm at the track current redline is 8150rpm, 14.5psi boost, 471.7rwhp @ 7955rpm + 433.8rwtq @ 3190rpm, 90% of peak torque from 1810-to-6550rpm...

When I swapped my stock 5MT for a 6MT from a totaled '06 ZHP, the insides of my old gearbox looked brand new... same with my differential when I added a whole new rear end including multi-clutch 3.25:1 LSD...


TAKE CARE OF YOUR CAR, IT WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU!!!
February 21, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
reaganw Comments: I run Mobil-1 10w-30 in both my 1998 BMW 318ti 4 cyl. and my wife's 1997 Z3 4 cyl. I change them at around the 7500 mile mark. Milage: 244,000 miles on the ti and 140,000 on the Z3. Love both cars!!!!
December 31, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Patrick Comments: I bought a 95 325is with 170,000 on it and the owner told me he used synthetic in it. I switched to dyno oil and the car used more oil. I switched back to synthetic and car burns less and does not seem to leak any. I use Castoral 5w30 which BMW uses and sells as their brand. My garage recomended a 7500 miles between changes.
December 19, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the info. If you're using oil and using a long oil change interval, be sure to check your oil level frequently. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Sherman Comments: Hi i have a 1993 bmw 320i with a 100k mile m50 engine. i had last 2 oil changes with total 5w30 synthetic oil. and recently i purchased some mobil 1 15w50 for my next oil change. first question is for such old car mine what kind of oil would you recommended to use. second, i live in a climate between -5 to 5 c in the winter and 20 to 35c in the summer, can the mobil 1 15w50 run thought the whole year because i drives less than 10k miles per year. last question is how can i tell when the oil ia geting breakdown and time to change. thanks
November 13, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: As far as knowing if it breaking down, just replace it regularly and you don't have to worry. I would recommend replacing your oil every 5k miles.

You can use a 10w30 or a 5w30 oil. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
alan Comments: Hi There, I have recently purchased a BMW 318D E90touring
I live in Ireland where the climate is temperate with no extreme weather conditions either way. I recently topped up a min dip stick marking with Castrol Magnetic fully synthetic oil5W-30. Is this ok to use until next oil change.
Castrol recommend Edge 0W_30. The car appears to be driving without any adverse effect.My wife uses Castrol Magnetic 5W-30 in her car,& I used it in my previous car, it would be handy if we both used the same oil as we have a couple of spare cans.
May 28, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: We don't have your vehicle in the US. I don't have any experience servicing them. I would use the oil recommended in your owner's manual or contact your local BMW dealer for some advice. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ZAK Comments: Thanks Pelican staff, very good and informative article. Just wanted to ask if Castrol 5w-50 syntehtic would be OK for my E46, 2001 BMW 325i. I did a DIY oil change. Previously Castrol 5w-30 syhtnetic was used by dealerships. Just wondering because the specs on viscosity are diff, 5w-has viscoity index of around 18 avd whereas 5w-30 had 11. Please advise, Regards - ZAK
May 23, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would stick with the 5w30. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
yammon Comments: I bought a 1989 e30 m20b25 a little over two months ago that the previous owner claimed to have recently rebuilt the head. He said he had been using full synthetic since the rebuild but never told me the brand. I changed the oil last week to a synthetic blend, and today I just noticed a decent oil leak where I park in my driveway. Could the change from full synthetic to a blend have caused this? Or maybe he actually used conventional oil and the change to a blend have done it? What is a good brand for a warm climate like South Florida?
April 23, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, the oil change would not cause a leak. Unless of course you over-filled it. This is a coincidence. i would address the oil leak. repair it, You will be fine. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ted Comments: Great article, I've been putting synthetic oil in both my car and my wife's now for the past ten years, typically I'll buy Pennzoil Platinum 5w30 full synthetic or Mobil 1 for both our cars. Due to the short trips our cars typically make I treat the synthetic oil like it were conventional oil and change it out every 5000km give or take. Interestingly my wife's car went into the dealer where they changed the oil for some unknown reason I had changed the oil literally the day before, I told them that I had changed the oil and I always leave detailed info on the oil filter in the event there is ever any question about service intervals etc. They didn't charge me Regardless my wife's car started leaking oil at the main bearing seal with in a day of that, when I switched the car back to synthetic the leak went away. Go figure.
April 12, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
EricCartman Comments: Changing oil after 3000 miles??? Oil companies are clever, and you are ... NOT, if you think it's neccesary.
Do You use it on a race track??? If not: you just waste your oil! It will be good to 8000 or 9000 miles! A normal 10W-40, 5W-40, not long life oil
January 18, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, I would recommend that you perform some more research. While the actual oil that you use in your engine may still be good after 8,000 miles, as the engines get older, the oil has a tendency to get contaminated by fuel and water (coolant) that leaks into the system. Don't believe me? Then have your oil analyzed at 3,000 miles and then again at 8,000 miles for contamination. You'll see the huge difference in the test results. This is the suspected failure mode for the intermediate shaft bearing (IMS) on the Porsche Boxster. I personally think oil change intervals should be kept to 5,000 miles or below in order to combat this contamination problem seen on many cars. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Tito Comments: I just bought a 540i year 2002, the previous owner had it for 2 years changing the oil on 3000 miles exactly and using 10w-40 Castrol Magnetic the current mileage is 112000 km . Should i keep on using the same grade of oil ? or change to conventional oils to avoid oil leaks? P.S is MOS2 a good choice ? thx Tito.
January 11, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would use a full synthetic oil that meets or exceeds the manufacturers specs.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Harvard Comments: Thank you very much for the info. I have always preferred synthetic and I am glad the choice was correct.
December 30, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
TC Comments: Thanks for this article!! I have a 2003 325i with 108k miles on it that has recently started leaking out the valve cover gasket. I'm wondering if 108,000 miles was a little early for this to start happening?... and if so, I was looking for reasons for it. I've always put mobil 1 synthetic in it every 5,000 miles or so. One thing I'm wondering about is Seafoam. For a while I was putting that in a day or so before I changed my oil, like maybe every other oil change. Does that negatively affect anything? Like maybe weaken the gaskets, or mess up the viscosity of the new oil I put it? I always figured that any residue left in the engine would be an insignificant amount, but now I'm wondering about it. I originally tried seafoam because I could see a buildup layer of brown baked on oil coding everything as I looked down into the oil cap maybe this doesn't matter what are your thoughts about all this?
November 25, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think your valve cover leaking is right on time. I see it leak with lower mile vehicles too. I would replace it and keep up with maintenance.

I would not add the seafoam. The brown staining is normal. As long as it isn't thick and goopy. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
E Comments: just a comment: I put synthetic in my '84 535i m30 that has 365,000kms 226,800 miles for the first time and not a drop has leaked
November 7, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I've found that most of the leaks seem to happen about 1000-2000 miles after adding it. Please let me know if this happens. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
ed Comments: 2002 bmw 325ci 160000m, i use 5w30 synthetic is that ok or i need thicker oil? thanks
October 24, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 5w30 is fine. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
George Comments: Excellent article re: Lubricants.
Rgds: George
New Zealand
October 18, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Ade Comments: Hi, I have a 1998 E36 M3 Convertible and need to replace the Cowl Gasket on the roof.
Any ideas on how to do this or whether it's a dealer job?
Cheers
Adrian
June 21, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure what gasket you are referring to. The cowl in the wiper area. If you mean the seal at the top of the windshield frame, it depends on your ability, but you can replace it if you're up for it.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
Valicorrado Comments: Hi Don. I just bought a '95 E36 M3, 105 kmiles on it. I live in Montreal, Canada, and in the winter is pretty cold, and the short summer is hot; also, I sometimes push the pedal to the metal. What's the best oils for my engine?
Thanks.
May 26, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would use a BMW LL-01 spec oil. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
sherzad Comments: hi
I have BMW 520 model 2008 E60 what is the recomandation for the oil type and grade the milage is 86000Km.
May 15, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You'll want to use a BMW LL-01 rated oil.

To best determine which SAE grade is best suited for your vehicle contact an authorized BMW center.

*The following is the only recommended and approved synthetic oil for BMW M (Motorsport) vehicles in the US market with gasoline engines, at the present time.
BMW Long-life rating LL-01 Synthetic Oils for BMW M vehicles equipped with S54, S62, S65 or S85 engines
Castrol EDGE Professional TWS Motorsport SAE 10W-60 Synthetic Engine Oil
BMW part number 07 51 0 009 420
or
Castrol EDGE Professional OE 5W30 Synthetic Engine Oil
BMW part number 07 51 0 037 195e - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Arty Comments: I have a 1994 325is with 194,000 on the clock. Previous owner was running 15w40 conventional oil...I assayed the engine and found no leaks and made the switch to 5w40 Synthetic...I've put thousands of miles on running synthetics and have absolutely no oil leaks. I think the moral of the story is making the switch depends on the condition of your engine to begin with.
April 14, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I agree - some people have good success with running the synthetics. In particular, the people with air cooled cars (Porsches) tend to have the most issues, as these engines tend to expand and contract a bit more when they heat up and cool down. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
emenot Comments: I had changed over to synthetic oil with 89 and 90 Jaguar xj6 both had approx 80K miles and both engine started to leak all over. I then reversed and gone back to 20w-50w Castrol dino oil, it slowed down the leak. I had concluded that it may due to the dino oil's molecule is bigger and thus the syn oil maybe some what small molecule tht are leaking around the dino oil's molecule inside the gaskets which cause the leaks???

I hope this is just my imagination, but I recommend not to change over from an used or old engine to syn oil. But with a rebuild or new engine would be fine...?
April 8, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, I agree and for this reason I do not recommend synthetic oils in older high-mileage cars. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
ROADSTER Comments: Hi Roadster hear I have a BMW316ise year2003 55,0000miles.I am going to do a oil change what oil do I need for this any help would be great thanks
February 20, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's pretty easy, I have the full article on changing your oil covered right here: http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/E36-Oil-Change/E36-Oil-Change.htm - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
John Comments: Wayne..,,I have a 1997 328i with 147,000 miles,,the engine is in excellent condition,,would Shell Rotella 5w-40 or 15w-40,,be ok,,which one would you think is the better of the 2.for summer months..this motor has always had Synthetic oil in it..I have been using Mobile1 0w-40 Euro Blend..
February 17, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I like heavier weight oils in the summer months, so I would recommend a 15 weight oil. For a higher mileage car, I also recommend using an "extended life" oil for older cars that has higher concentrations of ZDDP anti-wear compounds in it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Sam Comments: I add Prolong, it does make a difference.
February 1, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the info. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bimmer91E30 Comments: I run synthetic in my 81 bmw 318is, so i can change the oil every 7500 miles?
December 22, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's not so much the oil that breaks down, it's that it may get contaminated with gas and oil. So, regardless of what type of oil you run, I still like to recommend oil changes at 3,000 miles or so. It keeps everything fresh, and is probably the best thing you can do for your car. I myself typically get lazy, and change anywhere from 3000-5000 on my own cars. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Qix Comments: Hi, I just got a 89 E30 325i M20. The previous owner says it was running synthetic oil in it, like 20w50. But I don't know which brand he used. Would it be a good idea to use Mobil 1 15w50 in it? I heard a lot of good things about it. And also, which model of 15w50 exactly? Thanks a lot.
November 8, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you use the Mobil 1 15w50, you should be more than fine. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
jeff Comments: Hey, I have a 1998 E39, which has over 120k on it and was bought used. I live in Michigan, and the weather is usually very cold up here. I dont know if it should require synthetic oil or not. I put petroleum in it and the engine just doesn't sound the same to me. What should I do?
November 2, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: With a car with that many miles on it, I don't recommend putting synthetic oil in it, as that tends to cause the older gaskets to start leaking. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Mark Comments: I have an E30 with an M20 straight six. The shop I brougt her to put in a synthetic 5W-30. But I've read the cam in the M20 needs thicker oil than that, e.g. 10W-40. Was planning to keep to the standard service intervals, but maybe change sooner to the 10W-40?
October 14, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: More importantly than the weight is that the oil you use has anti-wear additives in it. The recent formulations do not have these additives and can cause additional wear on the camshafts. Zn and Mb I believe off the top of my head. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
juistice Comments: 5-40w or 10-40w?
October 8, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What vehicle model do you have? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
juistice Comments: what engine oil should I put into my m10?
October 7, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I recommend a heavier weight oil in the summer months, and a lighter weight oil for the winter months. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
jbaroli Comments: What do you think about aditives containing MOS2 such as Liquimoly, Molykote, etc.
Thank you.
July 22, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Today's oils have fewer anti-wear additives, so adding more zinc and other friction fighting additives is usually a good thing. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Lee Comments: I have a 1984 325e with 132,000km. I've used Mobile 1 20-50W since the break-in oil was drained. I usually have gone twice the oil change interval but replaced the filter at the change and half way in between changes and, of course, topped up. Never burned oil, nor oil leaks. Never had an engine issue. Run the same stuff in my 27 year old motorcycle since new.
July 16, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Oil itself can last a long time, but it gets contaminated too, with gas and coolant. I recommend changing at 3000-5000 intervals. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Dave Comments: I have a 2000 740IL, I have 165,000 miles i was thinking about adding lucus oil stabilizer along my synthetic oil i used in my engine to maintain its performance. Whats the pros & cons
June 24, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, I haven't worked closely with that product before, although some people I know rate it very highly. I would ask this question in our forums. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
FAZ Comments: My 2004, E46, 325XI has a 25,000 km oil service interval, so far it has been serviced by BMW. I am now considering a diy oil change, the car has covered 113000 km's, what grade of oil would you recommend? The car has some vanos problems ignored by BMW, and runs much better in hot dry weather. Thanks.
June 23, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I like non-synthetic oil for these older cars. Use a brand that has high anti-wear additives, as some of the new brands don't. High-mileage blends are typically good, and make sure that you change every 3000 miles. Use a 20-weight oil in the summer months, and a 10-weight in the winter if you have a climate that gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
big man Comments: i have a 540i with some oil leaks, I have had the car for 5 yrs, when purchased 65,000. Stated using synthetic now it has 124,000. Could I reverse oil leaks by going to a high grade. I use 0-50. I live in a warm climate...thanks
March 28, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, you will have to repair the oil leaks. They are likely cause by worn seals or hardened gaskets. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
StianLgs Comments: What oil and weight do you think is the best for my Alpina B6 2.8l? Now i'm running Mobile1 5w50.
Live in norway and now the temp is from about 5 to 25 deg fahrenheit. Thx!
February 5, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: From BMW:

The choice of the right SAE grade is based on the climatic conditions in the region in which you normally drive your BMW.

To best determine which SAE grade is best suited for your vehicle contact an authorized BMW center.

*The following is the only recommended and approved synthetic oil for BMW M (Motorsport) vehicles in the US market with gasoline engines, at the present time.
BMW Long-life rating LL-01 Synthetic Oils for BMW M vehicles equipped with S54, S62, S65 or S85 engines
Castrol EDGE Professional TWS Motorsport SAE 10W-60 Synthetic Engine Oil
BMW part number 07 51 0 009 420
or
Castrol EDGE Professional OE 5W30 Synthetic Engine Oil
BMW part number 07 51 0 037 195

The following is a listing of synthetic oils recommended and approved for use in the BMW B7 ALPINA in the US market:
BMW Genuine Oil SAE 5W-30 Synthetic Oil
BMW part number 07 51 0 017 866 - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
vickness Comments: Hi Im driving BMW 523i year 98' milage clocked 115k and im using the Castrol Magnatec semi syntetic 10W/40 .I have problem with every 1000miles i need to topup oil ,there is no leakage.country standard climate usually 30 - 33 celcius.Do I need to changed to different type of oil or shall I maintain with this?is it possible to use 15w40 mineral based oil AMOIL?pls advice
January 26, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Using some oil is normal. I would just keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't get worse. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
007JAYGP Comments: 2007 M5 - Royal Purple or BMW used Caltex Oils ??
January 10, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: From BMW:

The choice of the right SAE grade is based on the climatic conditions in the region in which you normally drive your BMW.

To best determine which SAE grade is best suited for your vehicle contact an authorized BMW center.

*The following is the only recommended and approved synthetic oil for BMW M (Motorsport) vehicles in the US market with gasoline engines, at the present time.
BMW Long-life rating LL-01 Synthetic Oils for BMW M vehicles equipped with S54, S62, S65 or S85 engines
Castrol EDGE Professional TWS Motorsport SAE 10W-60 Synthetic Engine Oil
BMW part number 07 51 0 009 420
or
Castrol EDGE Professional OE 5W30 Synthetic Engine Oil
BMW part number 07 51 0 037 195 - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Miguel Comments: I have a 325e 1987 e30 bmw and i was wondering what is the best oil to use on this engine. Its a 2.7 inline 6 engine.
December 28, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: BMW LL-01 oils are best. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
hodder Comments: hello there
ive a 1991 bmw 318i convertable 165000..what oil do i use for this please..dont know what its got in there already as ive just bought it....cheers
November 15, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Depending on where you live, you could use a 5w30 or a 10w30. I would recommend using a BMW LL-01 oil. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Henry Comments: I just bought a 2004 BMW 330xi with 110,000 miles. What weight oil do i use? Everyone gives me a different answer.
October 25, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: For a car with this many miles, I would probably use regular oil if you don't know what was used previously. If the car always ran synthetic, then run that, as it's used to that. Switched from regular oil to synthetic can cause oil leaks in older cars. As for weight, I would use a lighter weight oil in the colder climates and seasons, and a heavier weight oil in the warmer climates and summer months. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
shlalaw Comments: Any weight recommendation for 1994 318is w/185k miles? Thanks.
October 16, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would go with 20w oil in the warmer climates and 10w oil in the colder (winter) climates. Avoid synthetic with a car that old - it will cause oil leaks if you're unlucky. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Grigor Comments: What would you recommend for '98 523 with 140k miles on it? I don't know what the previous owner had used.
October 10, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Same recommendation as I made to shlalaw above... - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Jas Comments: Thanks for the article. Here is my question. I have a 91 M5 that requires 15W 40, cars previous owner used full synth, I have regular oil, car has 155k miles. What would you use? Car did use synth oil for the better half of its life.
August 21, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I typically use the same oil (weight & synthetic or dino) as the car has used previously in it's life. That seems to be the best way to avoid problems in the future. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Roger Comments: What is better for stop and go and short trips, synthetic or conventional oil?
I just purchased a Toyota Hylander with 95,000. Is it wise to switch to synthetic?
August 5, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I wouldn't, as with a higher mileage car like that, you're bound to develop some oil leaks you didn't have previously. With cars like that I like to use the same stuff that was in it previously (since a lot is mixed together at oil change time). Just keep the frequency of changes to 3000 or so. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Jason Comments: Hi - I have a bmw 1998 540i with 200 000km on the clock. Is it not best to stick to the owners manual recommendations for what type of oil to use or does it become null & void when over a certain Mileage? I think it recommends 10w15 oil... Thanks Jason
July 31, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't recommend using synthetics as the car gets older (over 100K miles or so). The exception is if it's used synthetics all of it's life. I also recommend using thicker oils as the car ages, as thinner ones are more likely to cause oil leaks. Also, I recommend the 3000 mile oil change, as the oils tend to get contaminated by gas as the seals and rings begin to wear out.

So, the answer to your question is yes! - Wayne at Pelican Parts
 
Dtmvelocity Comments: What do you mean by old fashioned dino oils?
July 28, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, it's a phrase. It means natural oil, or oil that was created by dinosaurs from a long time ago. Basically it means anything non-synthetic. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Dan Comments: Great article on conventional vs. synthetic motor oils. My question has always been about blends. My BMW's have mileages of 295k, 188k and 145k. I find that when I use lower viscosity synthetics I have to add oil more often. I blend to get the best of both worlds, reduce cost and change at 4,000 miles. I have always wondered what percent synthetic is in the blends. From your article I would guess that your recommendation would be to drop the blends and use the higher viscosity synthetic and change at perhaps 6,000 miles.
July 22, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: On the older cars, using synthetic can sometimes yield non-reversible oil leaks. In general, I recommend using the old fashioned dino oil for cars with over 150,000 miles or so. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Chan Comments: Don: Good article. Running synthetic in an 87 Porsche 944 and a 2002 BMW 525i. P @ 150 K and BMW @ 130K. each down less than a qt at 7-10 K change. BMW giving 32 MPG+ at 70 on the highway.
April 15, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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