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Old 02-20-2003, 11:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Syn Oil Analysis is Up: 5w-20 vs. 5w-30

Here are the results I promised a couple of months ago.

Kind of an apples and oranges comparison (different brand and viscosity), but my choice was between the apples I've been using, Mobil1 5w-30, and switching to oranges, Amsoil Syn XL-7500 5w-20.

This was after 2,500 miles on each oil, double flushed w/ new filter each time between the two lubricants.

I will be making my switch to 5w-20 synthetic permanent, even though I have an '01.

Be advised: on Acura's current oil recommendation chart for dealers they continue to recommend 5w-30 for '01 & '02 MDX, and 5w-20 for '03 only.

My deviation from the recommended viscosity is based on test results specifically for Amsoil's synthetic 5w-20. I wouldn't dare switching to petroleum based 5w-20 in an '01 or '02 without an oil analysis.
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Old 02-20-2003, 11:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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For the hair splitting differences, even cost excluded, I will stick to the 5-30 recommendation.
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Old 02-20-2003, 11:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What do all those numbers mean? Why such a variance in the Boron and Molybdenum totals?
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Old 02-21-2003, 12:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by BaldEagle
What do all those numbers mean? Why such a variance in the Boron and Molybdenum totals?
I'm no oil expert. I'm sure a petroleum chemist on this forum can provide more insight. Common sense tells me . . .
the fewer metallic particles like iron and aluminum in the oil, the better.

I have no clue what boron is doing in the oil. MS Encarta says:

It is a trace element needed for plant growth, but toxic in excess. Research suggests that it is also nutritionally important for bone health in humans and other vertebrates. . . .The boron compounds of industrial importance include borax (Na2 B4O7 10H20), boric acid (H3BO 3), and boron carbide (B4C). Borax is used in cleaning compounds, glass and ceramics, fertilizers, paper and paints, and fire retardants. Boric acid is used medically for its astringent and antiseptic properties. Boron carbide is used as an abrasive and alloying agent.

Okay, I must admit the Mobil1 halfway filled a super clean (alcohol rubbed) glass jar for almost a week, and since borax is used in glass . . . who knows? As for molybdenum, is it not a lubricant additive? I'll wait for our web-resident specialists to explain.

My purpose in undertaking these tests was not to dissect the chemical properties of these competing oils, but rather to answer the question in a quantitative manner: "Will using 5w-20 oil, when the manufacturer clearly states a recommendation of 5w-30, damage my engine?" I didn't want to keep guessing and I didn't want to add my voice to the threads of ignorant passion I've come across. Opinions about lubricants need to have some basis in fact rather than pure speculation. "I like this oil, I like that oil, that weight is too thin, too thick, its got super mysterious additives . . ." blah blah bleh blah

It helps answer the question: "But how do you know?"

If the oil you use consistently resulted in a 50% increase in iron particles in your drained oil compared to the next brand, would you continue to use it? Especially if the cost of the alternative was slightly lower or the same? I don't know if I'm actually reducing metal wear by 50% until I've completed several more tests over a long period of time, but at least I know I'm in the right direction. I'm convinced it is a superior oil, regardless of the degree. To each his own. But at least you can't say no one has been able to produce numbers.
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Old 02-21-2003, 01:10 AM   #5 (permalink)
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TCMB,

Thanks for that post. Moly and Boron are part of M1's additive packages. So is magnesium.

100 to 200ppm of iron is an acceptable level
10 to 30ppm of alumunim is considered acceptable.
10 to 30ppm of chromium (ditto...)

sources: www.bobistheoilguy.com and www.blackstone-labs.com

There *could* be a diff between the two, or there *could* be *no* relevant difference. I suppose either would support your decision

Can you post the full results, like viscosity, flashpoint & insoluble %?
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Old 02-21-2003, 04:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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OK, I haven't been around in a while, but who the hell would say acuramdx.org has run out of gas after a post like this one? Good stuff, Bruce!
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Old 02-22-2003, 12:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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It's an interesting insight into motor oils, however it only compares 2 brands. Who knows what we will find in the other 30 or 40 ones out there, namely non-synthetics which more drivers use. Just because they are non-synthetics does not mean they would not also exhibit interesting characteristics with regards to specific properties.
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Old 02-22-2003, 02:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheWorm
TCMB,

Thanks for that post. Moly and Boron are part of M1's additive packages. So is magnesium.

100 to 200ppm of iron is an acceptable level
10 to 30ppm of alumunim is considered acceptable.
10 to 30ppm of chromium (ditto...)

sources: www.bobistheoilguy.com and www.blackstone-labs.com

There *could* be a diff between the two, or there *could* be *no* relevant difference. I suppose either would support your decision

Can you post the full results, like viscosity, flashpoint & insoluble %?
Worm,
Sorry, but I was not provided with flashpoint and insoluble%. I did revise the chart to include the viscosity and TBN results omitted earlier. Thanks for the links, very informative.
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Old 02-22-2003, 04:04 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for the additional info posted, TCMB. I'm still way down on the learning curve for this stuff.

I *think* the viscosity numbers you posted would indicate that the Amsoil "held up better" since it's acceptable vs the M1's marginal ranking. Perhaps likewise for the TBN numbers.

Tough to tell as we don't know the "new oil" numbers for either. I suppose (in retrospect, of course) that a preferable test would be testing the same viscosity of both brands (M1 5/30 vs Amsoil 5/30) or different viscosities of the same brand (Amsoil 5/30 vs Amsoil 5/20) to reduce the co-mingled variables in different additive packages and design/flow characteristics.

Of course, now we're all trying to draw conclusions (e.g. comparing brand to brand) based on your data that your testing wasn't intended to answer...but based on your original question ("can I use 5/20?") there doesn't appear to be any adverse impact from doing so, at least with the Amsoil.

Out of curiosity, are you running a severe service schedule on your X?

Interesting information and much appreciated, of course. Oh, let us know which lab you used and the co$t, too
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Old 02-22-2003, 01:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I wouldn't even begin to conclude that the M1 didn't hold up well based on its "marginal" rating. That's only an indication of where it falls on the viscosity scale as used oil. It may have had exactly the same "marginal" rating as a brand new oil. Not all 5W-30 oils have identical viscosity when new. They should be close, but synthetics in particular are a little different in their viscosity and "pour" characteristics. Note that the M1 viscosity index is higher than the Amsoil, so if one is worried about the M1 being too low, the Amsoil is even lower! Synthetics, including M1, have an apparently deserved reputation for holding up for well over 10,000 or even 20,000 miles, so I very much doubt there would be a problem after 2,500.

Also, like Worm was getting at, I would be very careful in making conclusions from a metal content of 2 vs. 3 (or similar). Firstly, the analytical results are rounded. One may really have been 2.4 and the other 2.6 (or 1.6 and 3.4, of course). Secondly, there's a lot of inherent error in these analyses, especially at low contaminant levels. The machine can say "3" when the answer would be "1" on a second test.

The chances that using a 5W-20 oil will actually "harm" an engine with a 5W-30 spec. are probably zero. Especially since Honda keeps waffling on which oil to use. It just MIGHT be the case that over 200,000 miles or something, the 5W-20 will lead to more engine wear. It for sure wouldn't show up in a 2,500 mile or even 10,000 mile test, in my opinion.

Personally, I'll keep using 5W-30, mostly because where I live the summers are very hot, and I think the "30" part of the spec. will be useful.

My other car, a Civic Hybrid, requires 0W-20 oil! Now that's thin! And unfortunately, currently only available from Honda at 3.75 per qt. MSRP. At least it only needs around 3 1/2 qts. per change.
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Old 02-22-2003, 02:57 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Old 02-22-2003, 03:34 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Good points DaleMDX. w/r/t the viscosity numbers, I said "Tough to tell as we don't know the "new oil" numbers for either". Probably should have said "impossible to tell..." as you're right on. The M1 could have started and ended the same run w/the exact same number (ditto for the Amsoil). Especially since one of the bennies of sythetics is that they maintain their original viscosity for a longer period of time than dino.

Do we know whether that acceptable viscosity range on the report (that results in the marginal/acceptable/etc rating) is for synthethics, dinos, or both? Might make a difference.

Probably should reiterate we're not intending to bash TCMB's results or their validity, just having some interesting oil-related discussion as a result
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Old 02-22-2003, 09:47 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally posted by TheWorm

Probably should reiterate we're not intending to bash TCMB's results or their validity, just having some interesting oil-related discussion as a result
I'm taking it all very well. I just love stirring up some controversy. Keeps all our brains excercised. On other boards & newsgroups I participate in, people are not as civilized; they tend to get personal, get offended, and then offend others through various forms of bashing.

If your brain hurts, it means it got a good workout!
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Old 02-23-2003, 02:40 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Thumbs up

TheyCallMeBruce,

Thanks for the info, interesting data and analysis.

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Old 02-28-2003, 08:53 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Summery for newbies.

Using 5W-20 or 5W-30 there is virtually no differnce. Before 2001, there was no 5W-20....during the 2001 year when the 2002 models were released, two manuf. started using 5w-20, Honda and Ford.

The oil rating tells you two things, the rate that it flows, and at what temperature. The lower number "5" tells you the value for lower temperature (40 degrees C) and the "20 or 30" tells you the value for higher temperature (100 degress C) . So the "30" will be thicker than the "20" at higher temps.

The reason they switched to 5W-20 is for fuel efficency. It's thinner at higher temp, giving you less friction so it's "suppose" to save gas. The reason why honda decided to switch to the "20" in 03 is because the U.S. Govn't is pushing every SUV manuf. to make ther SUV more effiecent. So in response Honda/Acura switced the "30" to "20"....There is no other reason why honda switch from "30" to "20" other than fuel efficency.

As for Mobil 1 or Amsoil. You guys all heard of Mobil vs Castrol back in 1998...

*review: Oils are divided into 5 groups, Group I, II, III, IV, V. The first 3 groups are non-synthetic or partially synth. while group 4,5 are synth with curtain additives. Well, Castrol had an "enhanced" version of group 3, which is not fully synth...but they labeled it full synth., well mobil sued them *mobil 1 is made from group IV,V. Well, Castrol won *shocked everyone*....so now group III oils can now be call synth.

Mobil 1 was using group IV and V oil BEFORE the settlement...after the settlement, Castrol still used group III, Mobil 1 changed their formula, they made it cheaper to compete with castrol, so it's worse now. I don't know what they are using now.

Amsoil on the other hand is different...the Amsoil 100% Syntheic is from group IV and V. HOWEVER, the new XL-7500 is an "enhanced" group III, just like Castrol. THey also have to cut cost to be competitive. The differnce between the 2 is that the 100% Synthetic is NOT API certified and the XL-7500 is certified. Being not API certified isn't a bad thing. Ester is an additive added to oil, it's a rust and oxidation inhibitor...but having too much is not good. Most ppl think that amsoil has more ester than is limited for API cert.

What i would use? I would use the 5w-30. WHY? First, becuase of % weight loss; Second, it's thicker. 5w-20 is thinner, it will burn/vaporize more than 5w-30. The 5w-30 is thicker so it will protect a bit better give you less wear than the 5w-20.

I don't know why some of you would not use 5w-20 on 01 or 02 models...it's the same engine, nothing changed...so why wouldn't u? I don't have a MDX, but my family has 3 Acura TL (99 TL, 01 TL, 02 TL-S)...and i've already gone through this debate. I just use Amsoil 5w-30 for all of them. I change them around 6000-7000 miles, even though it's rated at 12,500. Why? Because oil filters aren't made to last 12,500, ur oil filter will probably rupture by then, even the good ones. And i drive in "server conditions"
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