Is long life oil really long life

obi_waynne

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A lot of car makers are going over to long life oil and have oil change schedules at almost 2 years.

Is this a good idea? Can oil really last and perform for 2 years as it would when it's just been serviced?

What things degrade oil to the point it needs changing and how can you tell?
 

oilman

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Yes, oil can last 2 years, but I'd say it depends on the oil and what sort of use it gets.

BMWs and VAG now specify long life oils, but I have seen a lot of threads on forums where there have been sludge build ups in those cars. Rather than the repmobiles that are covering 20k in a year or so or even 'normal' use where they were doing 10k a year, it seemed to be the cars that did few miles that seemed to have the issues. As the oil wasn't getting hot on their trip down to the shops, water and fuel that contaminate the oil were not getting burnt off, leading to sludge.

Another thing is the approvals on the oil. Lots of oils will say 'meets the requirements of' or 'can be used in place of', which means the oils aren't approved and you are taking the word of the oil manufacturer that the oil is up to the job. That can be okay, but with budget oils there is less quality control and lower quality ingredients, so taking their word for it is pretty optimistic.

Knowing when an oil needs replacing is difficult at times (especially in a diesel). These things can help as an indicator.

http://www.opieoils.co.uk/c-2119-motorcheckup.aspx

Using a decent oil from a reputable company and changing it at sensible intervals, based on your use, is the safest option.

Cheers

Tim
 

jarrus

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I do a lot of short trips in my car so my oil get changed every 6 months or there abouts,

sure I only do 3000 miles or so in that time but I change it regularly because of that,
I might start using better oil though, at the moment I'm using Euro car parts triple qx 5w40, it's been fine for me but I reckon a better quality oil probably wouldn't go a miss
Peugeot 205 1.8TD

that said, I did 15k a year in my old blue car before it's engine swap and that got an oil change every 6k miles (bok said 6k or 6 months which ever comes first) that car got warmed up properly and was driven for about half an hour each way on the motor or the a roads sometimes it was a steady drive but mostly it got beaten :) I used Castrol edge in that, and it never missed a beat
 

RobBentley

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I've never liked the idea of 20k service intervals... I've always stuck to 10k intervals on the RS6 despite Audi saying it can go onto long-life 20k intervals. 5 oil changes in 100k miles just doesn't seem that much to me!

Even better than this... what about the 'sealed for life' automatic gearboxes.. VW/Audi when asked where quite happy to tell me that my gearbox oil didn't need changing and it is indeed no listed on the RS6 service schedule. The box is apparently sealed for life. Strange then that ZF who make the box recommend 60k mile intervals.... it almost makes me suspicious that this is the mileage the Audi warranty runs out!

Changed my box oil at 70k in the end... and you should have smelt what came out! It was rancid. Well well overdue a change. Left to Audi that oil would still be in there.
 

T9 man

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I wonder if Audi would be as forthcoming with a replacement gearbox under warranty, especially if it should die due to an infrequent oil change according to their service schedule?
 

RobBentley

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I wonder if Audi would be as forthcoming with a replacement gearbox under warranty, especially if it should die due to an infrequent oil change according to their service schedule?

Infrequent! That would be a bonus... they would never change the box oil. It's not a serviceable item apparently. "Sealed for Life"
 

T9 man

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Saab fought tooth and nail when I first started to have my autobox oil changed every year instead of the 75k miles they recommended. They practically told me I was wasting my money. When I asked about them replacing the gearbox under warranty should it fail while I waited for 75k miles to approach, their attitude changed and they only ever charged me for the transmission fluid and never the labour :)
 

jarrus

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I wonder if Audi would be as forthcoming with a replacement gearbox under warranty, especially if it should die due to an infrequent oil change according to their service schedule?

if it was still under warranty then regardless of them saying that, then they'd have to replace it.... if its a sealed for life transmission according to them and they say the reason for failure was due to the fact the fluid had never been changed then all you'd have to do is quote the fact that they say it should never have to be changed....
 

jarrus

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that said...
I haven't changed the gearbox oil in my 205 since I've had it, and I doubt it's been changed in it's entire life (it's 21 years old now) so next month it's on the list...
 

rodhotter

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most lifetime fluids mean until the warranty runs out!!! on my purchased new 2001 VW jetta-bora i had free services for 24,000 or 2 yrs, after breakin i asked the dealer to put in my Amsoil bought by me, its a group IV-V oil, they said no, so after they changed it i dumped it upon getting home, saved for girlfriends car. being a turbocharged 1.8L i felt the top quality oil was needed, only 4.5 qts. later on after having problems VW spec'd synthetic, prolly cheaper group III though. beside the cost better care is a good thing. traded the jetta at 200,00 with 20 lbs of vacuum for my 2001 audi TT roadster 225 quattro, a car i truely enjoy!!
 

st24

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My turbo diesel insignia has 20k service intervals.
However after 2500 miles of being serviced the onboard computer (however accurate that my be) says the oil is now 81 %.
I can only conclude going by this it won,t last 20000 miles.
Regardless it will have an oil change every 6 months whatever the computer says.
And a service every 10000 mile which is once a year on currant form.
 

rodhotter

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oils with a higher TBN-total base number indicate more additives for longer drains but, short driving where not enough heat is created is considered severe service requiring shorter change intervals. changing the filter + topping up can extend service life. engines with more oil capacity are becoming more common helping with longer drain periods. generally petroleum oils being group III + down a 6 month cycle is max unless its in severe service classification. here in the USA manufacturers are pushing the watery x-20 oils for the xtra 1/4 mpg, not for me!!!
 

st24

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That said I think I will be cautious and go with frequent changes.
Whats said above rings true as the primary use of my car is a 12 mile each way commute on A roads.
Could it be if I was doing a 100 mile a day commute my onboard computer might say different?
 

TCJBOLDIE

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If a car is only used for short trips and never really gets up to operating temps then I would most likely change it at 5000 miles or less but if it was used for longer trips then I may go longer between changes BUT only if I was using a top quality synthetic oil.

Clean oil with a quality filter will keep your motor in tip top condition IMO.
 

Yugguy

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Sealed for life autoboxes are also incredibly stupid.

In the US a lube change is a standard thing.

When I had about 2/3 of the fluid changed in my auto signum they said the stuff coming out was awful. We only did 2/3 as a full change was quite hard, but even changing 2/3 made the auto gear changes quicker and at lower revs. Even manual changes on the semi were quicker. If I'd have kept it I'd have done the 2/3 change every year at service.

It's a job that I could have done myself if I'd had a pit/lift so I could run the engine and drain the hot fluid easily.

Plus if DSG gearboxes are prone to failure if they don't have their regular fluid changes why should a full auto be any different really? (I know DSG is an autoclutch manual)
 

obi_waynne

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Not quite a marketing trick IMO. Mineral oils do break down and the shear rates and flow rates change as the time goes past.

Long life synthetics do not suffer the same sort of degradation but all oils pick up acids, carbon particles and other nasties from the engine combustion process so still IMO need changing but keep the characteristic flow rates and protection much longer than other mineral oils would.
 

oilman

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Hi

As far as I am aware, Castrol make the VW LL3 oil, but I do not think it is the same stuff. Lots of manufacturers make OEM oils, but to lower specs than their own oils.

Long life oils are not a marketing trick, but they are something for 'perfect world' conditions. So if you have a BMW 320D, used by a rep, so generally covering 100+miles on the motorway per trip at 70mph ish, 20000 miles is not a problem at all for a decent oil. Not that many cars get that kind of use though. So if you had the same car, used for a couple of miles to take the kids to school, then a couple more miles to get to work and repeat that use later on in the day, the oil isn't going to get hot enough to burn off fuel and moisture that build up in the oil, so the oil can be ruined a long way short of 20000 miles.

The fill for life autobox oil thing is wrong. For example, BMW say the oil in the ZF 6 and 8 speed boxes that they use are fill for life and don't need changing. ZF do not say that, they recommend 60000 mile service intervals. As they are the ones making the boxes, I would rather go with what they say.

Cheers

Tim
 

penev

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The fill for life autobox oil thing is wrong. For example, BMW say the oil in the ZF 6 and 8 speed boxes that they use are fill for life and don't need changing. ZF do not say that, they recommend 60000 mile service intervals. As they are the ones making the boxes, I would rather go with what they say.
That's the reason I change ZF6sp after 100 000km
 

penev

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Another aspect:
I make a lot of differentials (mainly BMW diffs, LSDs, MB...) and noticed the following:
Every (open type) differential produced after 2000 is filled with Long Life oil. When I remove the rear cover I see ugly picture. Everytime! Black oiled horror
 

rodhotter

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here in the USA as well as most other countries since 1999 group III oils aka severely hydrocracked CRUDE oisl are legally sold as "synthetic" clouding its meaning IMO. manufactures seldom show specs or even tell you what base oils are used but just say buy ours its best. they all want your business $$$$ for sure. lubrication is surely controversial + interesting discussing with many knowing very little, but you can't change your oil too much + hurt anything but your wallet, going too long can hurt the engine or transmission + cost big $$$$
 

Yugguy

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No oil lasts for ever. I've just changed the PSU fluid in mine using the pump out, refill, warm up, repeat 4 or 5 times method. The stuff that came out of my 9 year old 67k car was still green but a fair bit cloudy.
 

Yugguy

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Another aspect:
I make a lot of differentials (mainly BMW diffs, LSDs, MB...) and noticed the following:
Every (open type) differential produced after 2000 is filled with Long Life oil. When I remove the rear cover I see ugly picture. Everytime! Black oiled horror

Aye, changed the diff oil on the merc at 57k and it was very dark.
 

SteveInSeattle

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This really isn't about the oil itself breaking down. Most modern engine oils are fine to go 20,000 miles plus.

The issue is 1) the additive packages which typically get consumed as time goes on... and most importantly 2) combustion byproducts and intake charge contamination building up in the oil.

The engine is an air pump. All that air that goes in has some particules and chemical contamination that gets ignited and can coke on engine internals... oil is the primary way of keeping your engine interals clean. Its not JUST for lubrication and cooling... but CLEANING.

Unless you have an advanced cleaning/filtering system installed in your cars oil lines, high milage oil is just increasing the amount of contamination and combustion byproducts flowing inside your engine.

High milage oil is for lazy owners. You don't need it; it doesn't work as well as frequent changes; why would you do that INTENTIONALLY to your rings/passages? :-/
 

SteveInSeattle

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P.S.
Gear and tranny oil typically last MUCH longer than any engine oil simply due to the lack of combustion temps, and the lack of CONSTANT pumping of outside air into the oil. Diffs and Trannys are sealed, and last way, way longer as a result. ;)
 

rodhotter

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lubricants have varying amounts of additives as well as various base oils. more additives are said to let a lube do its job correctly longer. then theres REAL synthetics groups IV + V they are TOTALLY clean as they are NOT refined but made-synthesised + last a long time + function better in hotter + colder climates by nature, only the amount of group IV + V needed is used in most products to meet a spec are used as they are costlier. few owners change differential-drivetrain lubes until theres an issue, but i am not one. recently got a new to me 2011 nissan frontier about 20 thou on it i replaced ALL drivetrain lubes which were semi-synthetic at best with top quality Redline Ester based products with prolly some PAO. they were old + prolly OE stuff, + besides peace of mind my mpg's increased about 4 mpg's!!
 

TCJBOLDIE

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P.S.
Gear and tranny oil typically last MUCH longer than any engine oil simply due to the lack of combustion temps, and the lack of CONSTANT pumping of outside air into the oil. Diffs and Trannys are sealed, and last way, way longer as a result. ;)

Transmission oils have a longer lifespan due to the fact that they do not suffer from contamination from blow by and dilution from unburnt fuel.
 

bogorge

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Just follow the recommended oil change interval and always choose the right oil spec, your engine will be fine.
 

rodhotter

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there are a lot of variables with upkeep, where we drive, length of trips + how we drive are but a few. most oils are fake synthetics aka group III highly refined crude where real synthetic PAO + Ester oils last longer + the push especially in USA to use thinner oils shortens drain intervals. then theres direct injection + alone without port injection it has its issues. oil is relatively cheap + DIY oil changes are very cheap. engine + tranny repairs are big $$$ so as noted changing more often is smart unless you buy new often + let the issues to the next owner!!
 
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