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Old 07-18-2004, 01:30 AM   #1
wolfman
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Default THe FINAL word (I hope) on oil for an "S" series Saturn

LONG , but worth it...I hope.

Oil related threads seems to appear and disappear weekly if not daily on the various boards here. (I get quite a few PM's about it too) It seems everytime a manufacturer comes out with a "new" or "improved" oil the inevitable question arises. Likewise whenever a new viscosity arrives on the scene. I hope this thread will put the questions to rest for good.. Saturn 1.9L "S" series engines have a somewhat earned reputation as oil burners. This is often due to the fact that the oil control rings can build up deposits and seize or jamb up on the ring lands (grooves) and allow oil to slip past and into the combustion chambers where it gets burned. These deposits are formed by oil "coking" or breaking down into a carbon/tar/varnish like sludge from the heat of combustion and or too infrequent oil changes causing a build up of combustion by products in the oil. Once this process has begun, it will generally gradually get worse as the oil making it into the combustion chambers adds to the deposits on the pistons, and the lower level due to the burn off causes the oil to run hotter and carry a less diluted contaminant load etc etc.. one problem causes another which then makes the first worse and so on into perpetuity. (It is also possible for the use of a poor aftermarket PCV valve AND for worn valve guides on high mileage engines to contribute to oil use, but not nearly so much as the ring issue. A SATURN PCV VALVE however, CAN make a BIG difference in oil consumption over a cheap replacement) Now for oils:

CONVENTIONAL (Dino) oil: Regardless of what brand or how well it is refined will ALWAYS have unstable hydrocarbon molecules and carbon and sulpher based contaminates in it. It is these contaminants that form the "coke" mentioned above. Thicker viscosities CAN reduce consumption (which pumps easier... pancake syrup or water?) but should NEVER be used at viscosities higher than 5w-XX in cars that see sub freezing temps in the winter. At temps above 50F you can pretty much use right up to 20w-50 if you like, BUT, keep in mind this oil needs to flow to the TOP side of the engine and the SMALL oil passages for the lifters and camshaft journals and timing chain oiler as well, in these places THINNER is BETTER. Any other (non "S"Saturn) car's engine will also expirence similiar deposits from conventional oils even if consumption is not an issue.

SYNTHETIC: Make sure you are getting a TRUE synthetic (Mobil 1, Royal Purple, Amsoil are pretty much the ONLY three readily available I know of) these oils are formed in a laboratory using pure componants combined under controlled conditions to produce lubricants with NONE of the contaminants that occur in "naturally refined" oils. No contaminants means no or greatly reduced "coking", no coking means no clogged up oil control rings. Synthetics are also engineered to FLOW better even at temperature extremes, protect better by maintaining a stable PH, and clean better because they do not saturate as quickly with contaminates as conventional oils or lose their viscosity as a result. Any other (non "S" Saturn) car's engine will likewise reap the benefits of fewer deposits, better lubrication and cleaner running that synthetic offers.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

IF your Saturn already has a consumption issue above 1-1.5 qts in 3000 miles, changing to synthetic will DO NO HARM. It "may" even help reduce consumption in the LONG RUN, BUT, your consumption may initially get WORSE as the synthetic will get past those jambed up rings easier than it's conventional bretheren, BUT, in doing so, "may" help to clean up and free them, so you "may" see a DROP in consumption with longer term use.
IF your Saturn already has a MUCH higher consumption than that mentioned above, you can try several methods mentioned in the boards to free the oil control rings up, you can also run a thicker (10w-40) conventional oil IN THE SUMMER to try and reduce consumption. A higher viscosity synthetic can also be used and may actually be a better idea than conventional for the reasons mentioned above.
IF your Saturn has a LOWER consumption rate than mentioned above, using synthetic will probably help keep it that way.

In the WINTER, DO NOT use a conventional oil thicker than 5w-30 in areas where the temp. on cold start up is lower than 30F, PERIOD. Lower oil consumption is not a good trade off for a spun bearing or wiped out camshaft journal. SYNTHETIC oils of 10w-30 CAN be used in winter as they WILL pump well even at temperature extremes.

WHAT I USE (since the question invariably gets asked)
While I am down to one Saturn in my driveway now (mine) I use (and used in all of them over the years and ALL my current vehicles ranging from Fords to Mazdas to a Yamaha) is Mobil 1. The cars get 10w-30 Mobil 1 year round, the bike gets Mobil 1 20w-50 (it's only operated in the summer) Why Mobil 1? I simply have personally never found a better oil and have some personal expirence that makes me a firm believer in it's quality (a search of the board may still find the story) I generally do not overextend my change intervals (about 4k or so, the bike at 2500) and CHECK the oil level of the Saturn AND ALL the other vehicles AT LEAST weekly. The CHECKING of the oil level is more important than anything, even which type, brand or even viscosity of oil you decide to use. I hope that puts all the questions to rest.

...
Old Saturns never die, people KILL them, so check your damn oil!
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein

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Old 07-18-2004, 02:00 AM   #2
Red97sc2
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BRAVO!! (clap clap clap)

This should be a "Stickey" and possibly have a link to a copy of it so if someone does do a search for "oil" this post will come up first.

BTW: You just made a believer out of me. I was considering switching back to Dino oil for the time being. I bought a 5 quart jug of Penzoil for our G.Caravan but I had the dealer do the first oil change. So, I have this jug sitting around. I'm going to just let it sit until the next change for the van and maybe this week or next go out and buy another Mobil 1 jug!

...
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Old 07-18-2004, 05:25 AM   #3
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Mobil I did a great job in NYC taxi engines when I worked at Mobil HQ. The engines were run with 25K change intervals but showed no wear on teardown.

No automaker approved the longer change intervals so Mobil I became a niche product. The issue with the taxi test was that the cabs run 24/7 and burn off contaminents.

Normal customer use in city driving doesn't do this.

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Old 07-18-2004, 10:58 AM   #4
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Maybe I'll be going back to 'ol M1, maybe in 0w-40 flavor!

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Old 07-18-2004, 11:18 AM   #5
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For those of us with newer S-series (2001) that don't have oil burning issues (may may never due to because of design changes?), is dino oil good enough? I really am not concerned with oil burning, and I am not convinced that I need synthetic in my climate (southern Arkansas).

...
Past Saturns: 97 SL2, 01 SC2, 04 VUE, 08 Astra, 02 L200.

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Old 07-18-2004, 11:55 AM   #6
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Actually synthetic was invented for hot climates. Back when the big cars could tow, in hot weather across the desert the dino oil would turn to sludge.

...
-Travis

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Old 07-18-2004, 12:38 PM   #7
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excellent wolfman, I'm going to print this up for future reference and I'll send a copy to my dad. I have been very happy since I switched to mobil one 10w-30, did this about 20,000 miles ago when the car hit 50,000 miles and my oil burning is down to about 1/3 of a quart in 3000 miles.

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Old 07-18-2004, 02:41 PM   #8
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100% agreed.

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Old 07-18-2004, 03:55 PM   #9
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Wolfman, you forgot to mention that "OIL IS CHEAP!"

In where I live, gas is more expensive than oil.

...
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Old 07-18-2004, 04:40 PM   #10
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I agree totally.

I don't have oil consumption issues with my car. 1 qt every 5000km (3000mi). I use dino. 10w30 in the summer, 5w30 in the winter.

I would love to use synthetic, but at this time, financiailly, I'd have to extend my change interval, and I'd rather keep it lower and use dino, being that I dont' have any major burning problems.

I agree with red97sl2. STICKEY!!!

...
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Old 07-18-2004, 05:20 PM   #11
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If anything else qualifies for "sticky" status it's that ole' ECTS; maybe title it "my car runs poorly what should I check?"

A handy link to http://www.bobistheoilguy.com is in order for a relative ranking of what's the best one can get for $1.25/qt and/or $4/qt. If one chooses dino or synthetic there are relative quality differences and good performers for the price (hint: Havoline/Chevron Supreme ). And, one can argue brands based on scientific merit not "My dad used X and got 240,000 miles..."

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Old 07-18-2004, 06:00 PM   #12
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Thanks again Wolfman, for telling like it is. My baby get Mobil 1 5w-30 and seems very happy. Just keeps running better!

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Old 07-18-2004, 09:05 PM   #13
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wolfman,,, i would love to put mobil 1 or amsoil on my satty,, but i dont drive much on that car which i stills using dino oil in it. i only gets 4,000 to 6,000 miles a year. if i drives back and forth work clicking up alots of miles , then i'll using mobil or amsoil on that ones. anyway i dont drive my car in winter as i using other car ( winter rat car ) The only synthetic oil is on my nissan souped up truck that i pulled my RV travel trailer ( amsoil this time ) as im really surprised no oil burnings and engine runs cooler than factory dino oil and inside the vavle cover where i pour oil in were clean as whistle. Amsoil do the same too also of cleaness. I know Mobil oil cost a bit cheaper than Amsoil does. I like both amsoil and mobil are the best so far.

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Old 07-19-2004, 11:12 AM   #14
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Default Re: THe FINAL word (I hope) on oil for an "S" series Saturn

AMEN wolf!

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Old 07-19-2004, 08:52 PM   #15
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How about a thread about the "Final Word about Oil Additives"?

hehehe

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Old 07-19-2004, 09:15 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dr. Bob
How about a thread about the "Final Word about Oil Additives"?

hehehe
Ask and ye shall recieve....see new thread...

...
Old Saturns never die, people KILL them, so check your damn oil!
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein

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Old 07-20-2004, 10:36 AM   #17
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Thanks, Wolfman,

I hope you don't mind, I copied that and pasted in an email and sent to a number of my Car Crazy friends.

Best summary of oil I've ever seen, should be part of your doctoral dissertation........

...
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Old 07-26-2005, 02:01 AM   #18
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Default Re: THe FINAL word (I hope) on oil for an "S" series Saturn

Wolfman:

I agree with the others, your posting on "oil coking" was loaded with good thoughts and well written. I will try your advice with synthetic for the next year to see if I can bring the oil loss rate down at all from the current level of 1 quart per 600 miles with 10W30 name brand. (Vehicle is a 1992 SL2 with 90,000 miles). It seems that 20W50 helps (higher viscosity) reduce consumption and even lowered HC emissions but agree with you that it does not solve the likely "root cause" which may be sticky oil control rings.

One last question for anybody... Is it possible that my valve stem seals are also contributing? I don't see any significant blue smoke except occasionally when my wife nails the throttle on a cold engine. Anyone else with valve stem/seal stories ?

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Old 08-12-2005, 05:41 PM   #19
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Default Re: THe FINAL word (I hope) on oil for an "S" series Saturn

Quote:
Originally Posted by purepwrSL2
wolfman,,, i would love to put mobil 1 or amsoil on my satty,, but i dont drive much on that car which i stills using dino oil in it. i only gets 4,000 to 6,000 miles a year.
(old thread, I know...) Actually, that's all the MORE reason to go synth. Synthetic is not just a superior lubricant, also more stable over time than dino, sitting in the crankcase. Think about it. If you only drive 4000 miles a year, changing it at 3000 miles, it's sitting in the engine for, on average, 9 months. That's a long time for dino oil. Over that much time, it'll start to break down just from being there. I wouldn't leave dino in for more than 6 months. So at 4000/year, you're dumping the dino at 2000 miles, which is wasteful.

Synth, on the other hand, will remain more stable, and since you can usu. take it to about 4000 miles (see wolf's opening post), it'll last the whole year.

I'm in about the same boat, doing 4000-7000 miles a year. I've been on Mobil 1 since I bought it at 31,000 miles. I'd never go back.

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Old 08-14-2005, 08:42 PM   #20
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Default Re: THe FINAL word (I hope) on oil for an "S" series Saturn

Good summary of the oil question!

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