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Engine Oil Analysis / Oil Change Interval

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Lucid Moments

Anybody ever do engine oil analysis to really figure out how long you can run your oil?

 

I've blown up a couple of motors due to reasons that I think I've got figured out. Of course I thought I had it figured out before I blew the last one and it turned out I was wrong. So in a case of probably ridiculous overkill I have been changing the oil prior to every track weekend. Using Amsoil 10-40 at not quite $10 a quart that gets a little on the expensive side.

 

So I'm sending my first sample in to Blackstone labs to see what I can see.

 

I realize that every engine is different, but just for giggles has anyone ever done this to determine oil change intervals on a track day car?

 

For that matter even if you have never done this how often do you change the oil in a track day car?

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Discoveryparts

This is popular in HD over the road trucks to tell internal component wear as every main bearing shell, rod bearing shell, cam bearing has a slightly different metallurgy. For the rest of us it will tell oil condition and if there is some "type" of metal. They can even speculate on what the bearing may be, but without a bearing sample for each component, it is a guess. It will tell you if you are exceeding the oils potential (breakdown) also. Robert Patton has done more of this, so hopefully he can post some info as he is an expert on tow vehicle everything. Who is this Robert guy? If you do not know-- he races the Spec E30 Police car and Taxi cab and supplies us with everything we need to keep out truck with a 100% reliability rate. I wish I could same the same for our trailers, though. Check him out and ask him to bring it to the track for you- great guy and great company -http://www.genosgarage.com/

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Lucid Moments

I know Robert well. He is also the NASA chief instructor. Gave me some pointers on track last weekend too.

 

I don't expect we will see him on here though. He isn't really an on-line kind of guy.

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King Tut
I don't expect we will see him on here though. He isn't really an on-line kind of guy.

 

Haha. He does post over on www.spece30.com sometimes. I don't remember ever seeing his oil recomendations. I know Ranger has sent some SpecE30 oil samples off when he was on his oiling system tangent.

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Lemming

When I was running cheap oil (Rotella) I changed oil after every race weekend. Now that I'm running expensive oil (amsoil), I change after every two to three weekends. I just got a blackstone jar and will send in some oil after the next track weekend. From what I understand, the first one will really just set your baseline and subsequent samples will tell you if you are having problems.

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jason

For that matter even if you have never done this how often do you change the oil in a track day car?

I'm going to hell, but I use my engine oil life monitor and change when it gets down around 25%. Supposedly it measures time at WOT many other variables. Running TT's (3 laps and in, 2-3 times a day) it took quite awhile to need changed. Now in W2W running a lot more laps/weekend I expect to have to change more often.

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Jim P.
When I was running cheap oil (Rotella) I changed oil after every race weekend. Now that I'm running expensive oil (amsoil), I change after every two to three weekends. I just got a blackstone jar and will send in some oil after the next track weekend. From what I understand, the first one will really just set your baseline and subsequent samples will tell you if you are having problems.

I run the high zinc Rotella and change it every weekend - it is cheap insurance...

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Lemming

I run the high zinc Rotella and change it every weekend - it is cheap insurance...

 

I ran Rotella for years but also have spun a few rod bearings and broken a rod (still run this in my street cars). Might or might not be oil related, likely due to spinning too many RPMS in a 3.0l four-banger. I saw a video on oil foaming and that scared me enough to start using Amsoil.

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Firebird Man

Every 4 races, two events.

10.5 qts of Valvoline 20-50 racing oil.

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Jim P.

I run the high zinc Rotella and change it every weekend - it is cheap insurance...

 

I ran Rotella for years but also have spun a few rod bearings and broken a rod (still run this in my street cars). Might or might not be oil related, likely due to spinning too many RPMS in a 3.0l four-banger. I saw a video on oil foaming and that scared me enough to start using Amsoil.

My rev limiter is set to 6400 - my v8 makes more power over that RPM... but not for long

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Lemming

My rev limiter is set to 6400 - my v8 makes more power over that RPM... but not for long

 

With the addition of FI, my car is now limited to 6400 as well.

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Fred Crawford

We're supposed to change oil

 

Fc

Deere

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King Tut
We're supposed to change oil

 

This is for people whose cars make it to more than one event a year.

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Firebird Man
We're supposed to change oil

 

Leaving it all on the track counts as an oil change.

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Lemming
We're supposed to change oil

 

This is for people whose cars make it to more than one event a year.

 

Or when he is racing, he just burns it up and keeps adding new. I have video from Barber Motosports showing him laying down an oil fog on lap 1 of the race.

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edhunter

I generally run Valvoline synthetic racing oil in my AI car, and change it every 2 weekends. But I've wondered about running a good dino oil and just swapping it after every weekend - it'd certainly be cheaper. I had installed a new distributor before the last race weekend, and there was a big yellow tag on the distributor stating to run regular oil (not syn.) to break in the steel gear. So I did that, and then changed after the weekend. I think I ran Castrol 10-30 plus a bottle of cam break in lube. The oil looked pretty good coming out, might be sufficient?? My oil temps generally stay under 240 anyway...

 

I've never done sequential EOA's on the racecar though - I did on another engine and found my K&* filter wasn't doing much to keep the dirt out... A good air filter will go along way to helping the oil/engine life.

 

I did read this over on the Joe Gibbs racing oil site... might be worth trying. Basically swap the filter every weekend and add a quart. Then change after 5 events....

 

Keep It Clean

Over 50% off all machine failures are related to contamination, so keeping your oil system clean

extends the life of your equipment. Also, parts must be clean when they are assembled and

whenever maintenance is performed. Joe Gibbs Driven cleaners provide fast and effective cleaning

for your critical components.

The most cost effective way to keep your oil system clean is frequent filter changes. When you

remove the filter, you remove the contaminants from the oil system. Contamination can come

from inside the engine as well as from outside the engine. Premium quality oils resist oxidation

and nitration which creates harmful contaminants, so premium lubricants have a longer service

life. Frequently changing the filter and topping off the oil level keeps the oil clean and fresh. This

results in reduced engine wear, reduced oil purchases, and reduced waste oil for disposal.

By changing your oil filter every race, even dirt and methanol fueled cars can run more races

between oil changes. Here’s how to do it. After each race, warm up the engine, and change the oil

filter. Replace the oil lost during the filter change by topping off the oil level. Keep changing the

oil filter and topping off the oil level until you’ve run 5 races. After 5 races, change the oil and

filter, and start the process over. By changing the filter frequently, you reduce the contaminants in

the oil system. By reducing the contaminants, you reduce wear and extend the oil drain interval.

Good Oil + Kept Clean = Longer Engine Life.

 

http://www.joegibbsdriven.com/trainingcenter/tech/filters.html

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dans2k

I change my oil and filter after every event.. Mobil1 10w/30

 

I guess I'm going over the top?

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zul8r

i change mine every 2 race weekends. thats 2 practices, 4qualifying, 4 races.. I run 10w40 valvoline, and a puralator filter. can usually get the oil change special. I think once or trice ive ran mobil1 and mobil filter..

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Lucid Moments

Well I sent my oil off to Blackstone today. It had I think 5 DE3 sessions on it. 2 Saturday and 3 Sunday. A total of 96.5 miles according to the trip odometer in my car. I guess I'll see what I see.

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retlaw

wonder if I should be worried..? just installed an oil temp gauge... each session it hit the stop (250°) would drop to 240 and below during the cool down lap... the oil cooler is being installed as I type...

 

the question is: should 250 + scare me ? it's probably been this high every time I've been on track for the past two yrs.. Amsoil 5w30, OEM filter change before the first event and after the last, and at least once during the season... oh yeah I also drive to the events and do

~ 25 a-x's / yr (stock D 16 Honda CRX)

 

I think a session with Blackstone might be in the cards for me....

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Lucid Moments
wonder if I should be worried..? just installed an oil temp gauge... each session it hit the stop (250°) would drop to 240 and below during the cool down lap... the oil cooler is being installed as I type...

 

the question is: should 250 + scare me ? it's probably been this high every time I've been on track for the past two yrs.. Amsoil 5w30, OEM filter change before the first event and after the last, and at least once during the season... oh yeah I also drive to the events and do

~ 25 a-x's / yr (stock D 16 Honda CRX)

 

I think a session with Blackstone might be in the cards for me....

 

 

What kind of oil are you using? Somewhere in excess of 250 can be pretty hard on some dyno oils, or maybe not for a good synthetic. Or course it really depends on how much over 250 you were.

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Jim P.
the question is: should 250 + scare me ? it's probably been this high every time I've been on track for the past two yrs.. Amsoil 5w30, OEM filter change before the first event and after the last, and at least once during the season... oh yeah I also drive to the events and do

~ 25 a-x's / yr (stock D 16 Honda CRX)

 

I think a session with Blackstone might be in the cards for me....

I had seen high temps when I tried Amsoil - switched to 15w50 Rotella T and they dropped to ~240 even under the harshest august sun...

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Lemming
the question is: should 250 + scare me ? it's probably been this high every time I've been on track for the past two yrs.. Amsoil 5w30, OEM filter change before the first event and after the last, and at least once during the season... oh yeah I also drive to the events and do

~ 25 a-x's / yr (stock D 16 Honda CRX)

 

I think a session with Blackstone might be in the cards for me....

I had seen high temps when I tried Amsoil - switched to 15w50 Rotella T and they dropped to ~240 even under the harshest august sun...

 

Running the same weight amsoil?

 

My temps are around 240, 260 on a real scorcher of a day. Same temps with amsoil and rotella.

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Scott G.

Oil is complicated.

 

The tribologists hang out at BITOG, that's http://www.BobIsTheOilGuy.com. There's so much info there that it can be intimidating tho. My website is a good place to get started. It has links that will efficiently point you to especially good articles.

 

Oil Analysis. These are not as useful as some folks think. Sometimes a single oil analysis will tell you something useful like fuel or coolant in the oil, but most of the time the information value is limited to monitoring the trends of your engine wear. And to monitor trends you have to have multiple oil samples and a rigorous sampling routine.

 

Oils are very different. The base stocks are different and the additive packages are vastly different. Some oils are good and some are crappy. There's lots of quality oils out there, but many of them do not have an additive package that fits your car's usage pattern. That's important to understand....it's not good enough to get a quality oil, you need to get a quality oil that was designed with you in mind.

 

Oil is like religion. Everyone has a recommendation but hard facts are lean. Be a hard sell when it comes to accepting oil recommendations. If the recommender isn't ready to talk about, for example, high temp shear #'s, then walk away.

 

How often to change oil. There's a number of factors here.

1) Detergent level. The more detergent in the oil the longer it can counteract the acids the build up. But more detergent means less slippery stuff. The current trend is for high detergent levels in many oils because OEMs are specing long oil change intervals (OCI) because they are paying for them. This is a reason why OEM recommended oils are often a bad solution for the enthusiast. The OEM wants long OCIs and you want more slippery stuff.

 

2) Oil analysis can give you decent info on oil detergent level. It's called TBN and usually you have to pay a little extra to get that test run. The rule of thumb is once the TBN (total base #) has dropped to 50% of new, it's time for an oil change.

 

3) Oil changes can be too frequent. SAE studies show that new oils are more aggressive then "mature" oils, and metals are leached out of the engine. If you are changing your oil more often then 10 track hours, that's probably too often.

 

4) How you change oil impacts how much sediment is left behind. Oil should be changed warm so more of the sediment is in suspension, and oil change "vipers" leave a helova lot of sediment behind.

 

5) Less viscosity modifiers is good. A visc modifier is part of the additive package that gives the oil good cold weather performance. They take base stock w50 oil, throw in some visc modifiers and you get 20W50. So 15W50 has more visc modifiers then 20W50, and 0W30 has more than 10W30. More visc modifiers means less slippery stuff.

 

I aim for ~15hrs on an oil load. There's no magical truth in 15hrs. It's just a reasonable #.

 

Anti-wear additives. The most common anti-wear additive is ZDDP. This is more critical for engines with strong valve springs and/or flat tappet lifters. I've pulled apart around 10 SpecE30 motors over the last 4yrs and most of them had worn cams. This is a product of bad oil choices.

 

Many modern oils don't have enough ZDDP. The EPA decided a while back that ZDDP is hard on cats. Not everyone agrees with that and I don't know the truth. The last couple of oil certifications have required reductions in ZDDP, except for xW40 and heavier oils. Even tho the cert doesn't require the reduced level of ZDDP in the heavier oils, many oil OEMs reduced it anyways, probably to reduce the number of additive packages in their line.

 

Oil blends change rapidly, often faster than websites are updated. So last year's "truth" re. an oil blend isn't necessarily this year's truth. And what you see on an OEM's website isn't necessarily accurate either. BITOG is a good place to read up on the current chemistry of a particular oil.

 

Some folks like Diesel oils because they are thought to have more ZDDP. Choosing an oil made for a different engine type and usage patterns is a hard way to make a step forward. The current Diesel spec is CJ and it mandates reduced ZDDP. The last diesel oil cert that had decent ZDDP was CI, or even better CI+. Diesel oils also tend to have high detergents because of long OIC's, anti-suet chemistry that we don't need, and can have inadequate anti-foaming agent for our higher revving motors.

 

Rotella. There's at least 3 kinds. Their chemistry has gone thru a lot of changes. Last I read, 2 of the 3? weren't much good.

 

Joe Gibbs. They believe in really light oil. They spec oils based on bearing gaps. But if you do a little research you'll see that the oil recommended for your engine is scary thin. And their long OICs are just marketing. Everyone that makes expensive oils talks up the economies of long OICs.

 

Getting hp from oil. This is complicated. There's more going on then lighter oils=hp. There's anti-friction agents like moly and there's lots of empirical testing, the results of which sometimes defy expectations.

 

High Temp Shear (HTHS). This is really important, a helova lot more important then the "weight" of an oil, when it comes to predicting how well an oil will protect your bearings. Look up the HTHS #'s for your favorite oils.

 

Don't trust OEMs that don't publish data. Castrol is a poster child for this. There's a couple obscure quality Castrol oils, but only a couple.

 

The relationship between oil and temps is not infantry simple. In general terms thinner oil will xfer heat better, and that will certainly be a bigger player then differences in friction. If an engine really experienced so much more friction that it's temp went up by 20deg, it wouldn't last long. The xWy rating of oil, like 20W50 is a clumsy measure of the oil's visc. In order to really compare visc you have to look up the 100deg cST of the oils. A heavy xW40 could be a hair from an xW50, and two xW50's could be far apart in visc. The reason this is important is that visc tends to be related to heat xfer so if one oil seems to help your engine run cooler then another oil, look up the 100deg cSt visc's and you'll probably see the reason.

 

Keep in mind that heat xfer works both ways. So if you are getting oil temp where it's it's hot, that could mean that a lighter oil is extracting more heat out of your engine then a heavier oil. And if you are getting oil temp where it's cold, say right after an oil cooler, cooler oil temps could be an indication that a lighter oil is able to dump more heat out at the cooler.

 

It's worth noting that oil is a lousy heat xfer medium because it's ability to gain and dump heat is only about 60% that of water. The most efficient way to keep your oil cool is to keep your engine cool, not by bolting on oil coolers (turbo cars excepted). Cool your oil by improving the engines water cooling system. The most significant value added of an oil cooler is to keep your oil visc under control. Your radiator keeps your engine cool and your oil cooler helps keeps your oil from getting too thin.

 

A couple recommendations off the top of my head.

 

Inexpensive terrific oils. Brad Penn and Valvoline VR1 (Conventional). VR1 Synthetic is also a fine oil, but it costs more. There's also a couple flavors of VR1 NSL (Non-Street Legal) that is a perfectly satisfactory oil, but has less detergent. Brad Penn has terrific HTHS #'s, and VR1 is pretty good.

 

Mobil1 15W50 is a common choice at the track, but doesn't have the HTHS #'s of the choices above, not to mention more visc modifiers.

 

Expensive terrific oils. AMSOIL and Redline race oils.

 

If you have a modern light-valve-spring engine in your DD, Pennzoil Platinum is particularly well thought of.

 

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, its just a couple good choices. I use Brad Penn.

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Drumrboy

Ranger, thanks for taking the time to post. Dispelled a few myths I was walking around with about erl.

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