Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

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Thread: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

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    Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils
    Green Car Reports
    October 20, 2010
    by Viknesh Vijayenthiran


    Tightening fuel efficiency and emissions regulations all around the world are pushing automakers to find ways they can improve their respective fleet's figures, with almost no element of the car being left untouched. Concepts that have worked quite successfully in the past include reducing weight, improving aerodynamics and even extracting heat energy normally wasted in the exhaust. Now, automakers have turned to a vehicle’s engine oil to see what improvements can be made.

    One of the leaders in this field is GM, which is filling the engines of all its 2011 models with a new oil formulation known in the industry as GF-5 or SN grade. GM calls it dexos1.

    The special grade is only given to oils that are designed to help engines run more efficiently and offer greater protection from wear. This latter element is increasingly becoming more important as vehicles switch to downsized engines that tend to extract more horsepower with the use of heat-producing forced induction mechanisms such as turbochargers and superchargers.

    As for fuel economy using the new oil, gains are made due to less internal friction in the engine but the added cost--often between 20 and 25 percent more than regular oils--may negate any savings from the gains in fuel economy.

    A secondary benefit to the improved fuel economy, however, is a longer lifespan for the oil, which equates to a longer time between service intervals.

    Importantly, most automakers warn that using an incorrect oil for your vehicle may void its powertrain warranty so check your owner’s manual before your next oil change.

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    Low-friction oils will help the manufacturers toward the goals of higher fuel economy and long engine life. Research for yourself what makes the most sense for YOU.

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    For me Mobil One, I have used it for Twenty One years, with no internal engine issues, on any brand of car I have owned.


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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    Is this a new oil better than mobil one?
    2008 black c6 corvette z51 m6 on black c7 z51 19/20s and 2018 Bright red alfa stelvio ti sport on 20 s with sport seats

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    Paul, I'd bet there have been major improvements since Mobil 1

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    It's interesting that CAFE is driving some innovation from the auto industry.

    Even something as simple as reformulated motor oil, which in year's past would have been ignored in order to pinch every penny of profit. Like it or not, the auto industry is unique in that it sometimes requires a push from the government to move new ideas into the marketplace, outside of bigger vehicles and more horsepower (neither of which I have a problem with).

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    GF-5 and SN oils are industry standards. Dexos1 exceeds this standard and seems to require a synthetic oil. For instance, the Pennzoil Yellow Bottle standard oil can be upgraded to meet GF-5 and SN (as nearly all oils will need to) but to get a Dexos1 oil you need to get the Pennzoil Platinum synthetic. The difference between synthetic and non-synthetic are getting smaller as the non-synthetic oils are getting more refined and coming closer to being synthetic in their levels of refinement. I believe the standard Mobil 1 synthetic meets Dexos1 requirements as well. I think GM pushing for longer oil change intervals in their vehicles is what is mandating a tighter specification compared to the industry standard. Not uncommon in the industry either. VW, BMW, etc. all require more than a basic oil.
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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Show-Me View Post
    Paul, I'd bet there have been major improvements since Mobil 1
    Mobil I has been modified many times. They will offer a matching spec to the Dexos1, also!


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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    How much do you want to bet that garages are still going to insist on 3,000 mile oil changes?

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    From another board:

    In order to meet both robustness and fuel economy requirements, Dexos will most likely have to manufactured from Group III synthetic base stock and an anti-wear additive containing molybdenum. Group III is a very highly refined petroleum base stock that meets the performance definition of traditional “synthetic” motor oil made from man-made polyalfaolefin (PAO) Group IV base stock. Either way, expect Dexos to be a synthetic motor oil, and expect it to be priced accordingly.


    Further adding to the price of Dexos will be the inclusion of molybdenum, a rare trace element that costs as much as $37.25 per pound. Compare that with zinc, the most common anti-wear element in motor oil currently on the market, which costs around 65 cents per pound.


    Based on discussions among panelists, the per-quart price of Dexos will likely be 40 to 60 percent higher than industry-standard motor oil currently licensed by the American Petroleum Institute (API). Additionally, if past experience applies the quart price of Dexos will involve yet another disparity between dealerships and other service providers. Four times what dealerships pay is the typical increase for non-dealership purchases of licensed proprietary products.

    And speaking of licenses, GM also mentioned licensing fees for distributors in the range of $1,000 to $5,000 per year, as well as an “underhood” royalty of 32 cents to $1 per oil change, a fee that would apply to automotive service facilities.
    http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums...486884&fpart=1

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    As with many automatic transmissions, these days, the manufacturers are inching a step closer to "sealed" engines...

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    molybdenum is very slippery, but they have had a problem keeping it in suspension. Has the precipitation of moly been solved?

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    I don't know about this. There's a lot of unknown between "better protection" and "higher cost". And with everything that's supposedly better but costs more I'm a bit skeptical.

    For instance I know that for my car Toyota recommends 0W-20 which surprise, surprise, can pretty much only be found at the dealerships for 2x the cost of other synthetic oils. Plus looking at some forums everyone seemed to agree that it's a bit too thin of an oil for where I live.
    So now I'm using 5W-30 which I think would be the best choice for me.

    Anyway my point is, better oils are great as long as they're priced accordingly and the market remains free. However I fear manufacturers may try to lock people on using oils only they can deliver by threatening to deny warranty otherwise.

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    Keep in mind, engines are built/assembled with a specific weight (viscosity) in mind - you shouldn't just dump 0W-20 into your 1995 Chevy, thinking it's going to net you a 1 MPG increase in fuel economy. The engine must be built with "thin oil" in mind, from the beginning.

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    Re: Automakers Boosting Fuel Economy By Switching Engine Oils

    Quote Originally Posted by OutlawT52 View Post
    Keep in mind, engines are built/assembled with a specific weight (viscosity) in mind - you shouldn't just dump 0W-20 into your 1995 Chevy, thinking it's going to net you a 1 MPG increase in fuel economy. The engine must be built with "thin oil" in mind, from the beginning.
    But also remember that those tolerances loosen up over time. 5W20 is far to thin for a 100K Mile engine. When I had my 5.4L (ya know Disaster Engine) I had 230K and Snow Plowing Miles, on the original Phasers and Chain. But 5W30, was used from 130K, and changed Often! I lost maybe 1-2mpg in switching.

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