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I have 3 years of schooling for automotive mechanics and as an automotive machinist which is an engine builder/machinist combination. I have 22 years work experience. My take is synthetics are the best way to go. I say that meaning engine oil, gear lube, and hydraulic oil. There are so many advantages. Contrary to some old wives tales, synthetic oil will not ruin an engine and it does not shrink seals. It is true that an older engine that ran non synthetic oil may spring some leaks at the seals or gasket areas when you switch over to full synthetic. The reason for this is simple. Synthetic oil is clean. It has a fair amount of detergents in it. On an older engine sometimes what keeps the seals from having a noticeable leak is the fact that it is gummed up with crud, partially plugging the leak. When you dump synthetic oil in an older engine the synthetic oil and it's detergents start scrubbing the engine clean and in the process it removes the crud that is plugging the old seals and you get a leak.

I would use caution when thinking of dumping oil in an old engine, especially if the person did not change oil religiously. With cars you usually are safe until 20,000 to 30,000 miles before you have to worry about issues, maybe longer in some cases. I have no idea how that translates into hours on a tractor. As far as my equipment, I use synthetic oil everywhere I can. As soon as my engine is broke in, synthetic goes in there. John Deere says an engine is broken in between 100 and 150 hours. Synthetics don't seem to cause issues in older equipment where you may use gear lube, hydraulic fluid, or manual transmission fluid. Automatic transmissions kinda fall into the same category as engines. If they have alot of miles/hours you may want to think twice about switching to synthetics.
 

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Maddog, to each is his own as the old saying goes. For some people the old fashioned motor oil works just fine. Upfront you see an obvious increase in cost when switching to synthetic. For an additional cost there has to be a benefit for you to pay that extra money. What most people don't see beyond the initial sticker price is the long term benefits. I can say as an engine builder if you use synthetics from the start the engines stay much cleaner versus someone who used regular motor oil and took decent care of their engine. The synthetics work better in extreme temperatures much better than standard oils. In extreme heat a standard motor oil can break down after a while and can lose it's protection properties. Where I find synthetic oils most useful for my personal use is their use in winter weather. I am from NW Wisconsin and our cold weather can last from late October through early April. November through February can see subzero temps.

The first minute or so after you start your engine is where you put the most wear and tear on it. In theory, your piston rings should not touch the cylinder walls because they will ride on a thin film of oil. The same goes for your connecting rods and crankshaft, they should never in theory touch your bearings because they also ride on a thin film of oil. Unfortunately, when you start your engine it takes a minute for the oil to flow through the engine before everything is riding on the thin film of oil which results in engine wear. In the winter this problem is greatly compounded.

Engine oil starts to turn to a jello like thickness when it gets under 30 degrees or so and as it gets colder the oil gets thicker. At o degrees try and pour 5w-30 conventional oil and see how long it takes to get out of the bottle. Next try and pour some 20w-50 synthetic and you will watch it pour like water out of the bottle. This is part of the reason engines turn over slower and harder in the winter is because as you turn the engine over the oil pump is also trying to pump this thick oil. When you run synthetic oil it does not thicken up as it gets cold, it stays very liquid and flowable. This makes for better starts in cold weather and it gives you almost instant oil pressure to help reduce wear on your engine.

I honestly think synthetics can save you money over the long haul through less engine wear, especially in cold climates and reduced oil changes. The few bucks extra for synthetics over a year I feel is nothing compared to what a tractor costs these days, especially if it is something you plan on keeping for many years, and sometimes the remainder of your life.

I don't know if I would go 7,500 or 10,000 miles one one oil change. I guess that greatly depends on how you drive your vehicle. I do believe the synthetic oil does not break down which is why they synthetic oil companies claim you can go this many miles before doing an oil change. What I do disagree with is the fact you still get contaminants in your oil which is the largest reason you do an oil change. You are still going to get some dirt past your air cleaner and into your engine. Excess fuel that doesn't get burned goes into your oil. Your oil can get moisture in it after a period of time. Engine wear also gets into the oil. With diesel engines you get the soot in your oil. I still think you have to change your oil more often than the synthetic oil companies tell you. John Deere I believe says 500 hours or at least once a year minimum with their synthetic oil. I figure my tractor I would change twice a year depending on my use of it.

From my experience it is hard to dispute the benefits of synthetics. Everyone uses their equipment a little different and under different conditions. There isn't one shoe that fits every foot perfectly. For some synthetic makes sense and for some it doesn't. For me and many I know it does.
 

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I don't think I was questioning the value or performance of synthetic oils. Syn is certainly not a new invention. The aircraft industry & the military in particular have been using Syn before the start of WWII. For many of us, conventional oils & blends work just fine. For the rest of us, there is a choice that we can make. Also while Syn oils cost more, no one should accept or reject there use based on cost. Selection should be based on use & need.

I'm not sure I understand some of what you stated. You mentioned the air intake system. There is no question that an air intake system that is not properly filtered or operating correctly will totally destroy an engine in no time at all. But what is the relationship between the air & oil system. They are seperate systems. No lubrication system, including Syn system is going to protect your engine from airborn contamination. For instance, if you suck in some fine beach sand while doing 70mph, there's nothing that's going to prevent tearing up your cylinder walls. At least as far as I know.

You mentioned conventional oils breaking down in the heat & not protecting in the cold. I agree there are extreams. But no one seems to back up their statements with some data as to when & what point this happens at. I mean, how would I know I'm overheating my oil if my engine is running with no overheat issues? And if I'm changing my oil well ahead of the recommended change times, what are the odds? One of the reasons new cars run on 5wt oil is to reduce the friction wear alone caused by heavier grade of oil in engines built with high component tolerences, as well as the thickening of the oil you mentioned due to cold conditions. But there again how cold is cold ?

Lets agree to disagree. I don't think there are any right or wrong answers here. Just personal choice. I'm not in a situation where going Syn is going to improve anything for me. If I thought it did I would jump on it. But maybe a guy down the road from me might see it diffrently for himself.
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Maddog, I'd like to clarify what I was saying about dirt getting into the intake system. The oil companies claim you can go 7,500 or 10,000 miles before you need an oil change with synthetics. I don't believe that is completely accurate. Maybe for a select few that drive alot of miles on a freeway like a truck driver or sales person for example, this may be ok. For many of us, I don't agree with a 7.500 or 10,000 mile oil change interval. The largest reason to change oil is not because it has broken down, but it is to flush the contaminants out of your oil system. The excess fuel that didn't burn, moisture, engine wear that leaves particles floating around, and dirt that gets past your air cleaner. I was not saying oil will protect you if sand gets in the engine. I am saying you need to dump your oil to remove the dirt and other contaminants.

Contrary to what most people think, an oil filter does not really filter much, which enhances the need for regular oil changes. Your engine has an oil by-pass valve. When the oil pump circulates the oil through your engine, the majority of your oil does not flow through your oil filter for each cycle. Every engine is a bit different, but we're talking 2/3 to 3/4 of your oil doesn't flow through the oil filter per cycle.

As far as when oil breaks down, especially if you over heat it, I have no idea when to know when that is. In all honesty I don't care. It does not apply to most of us. I don't think the majority of us could work our engines hard enough to break down the oil whether it be synthetic or non synthetic. As far as cold weather, I have seen oil jell up at around 0 to 10 degrees. This also applies to transmission fluid, in particular manual transmissions. A good example of this is a few of my cars have had manual transmissions and in the winter they shift hard until the transmission warms up. In some cases they were hard to get into gear. After I switched to synthetic oil in the manual transmission, I could take my finger and poke the shifter into gear when cold rather than jamming with force. I've tried pouring 5w-30 oil that has been sitting in a trunk of a car or a non insulated garage and it takes a while when it is 0 or 20 below zero. My mechanical oil pressure gauge also take a while for the needle to move off zero at these temps. Synthetic 20w-50 at -20 degrees will still pour like water. With synthetic 10w-40 I have instant oil pressure at -20 degrees. Synthetics don't freeze or jell up like the non synthetics will do. As I said, cold weather use is my biggest reason for using synthetics.

I do agree with you, synthetics are not for everyone. I do personally feel they are superior to non synthetics. For many people the decision not to use synthetics is based on the up front costs and I don't feel that is the way to look at it. It should be based on how the synthetics can make something you own work better or last longer. Each person has to scratch their head and see if the switch to synthetics makes sense for them or not. It's a complicated subject with many different opinions. I base my opinion from 22 years of experience as an engine builder and as many years working on vehicles. Let the debate rage on!
 
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I use synthetic in everything. My logic is as follows:

1) Conventional oil has no advantages besides cost.
2) I can afford synthetic oil.
3) Synthetic oil thins less when heated.
4) Synthetic oil thickens less when cooled.
5) Synthetic oil cleans better.
6) Synthetic oil lasts longer.

How many more reasons do you need?
Very well stated Arlen!
 

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I sincerely hope I am not opening up a can of worms here, as the saying goes. I don't mean to, and I dont want to be confrontational about this oil subject. You asked "how many more reasons do you need". Well I don't need any more than what you posted. But I have one question, which again brings me back to what I have been saying here. No one is questioning the quality of Syn, including me. But all I am reading here is people saying how much better it is, but no one has stated there actual operating parameters that makes then want to use Syn. I guess what I am asking here is this. If you operate your engines within the specified limits of what a conventional oil can handle, then of what benefit is using a Synthetic? And one of the reasons why no one can state actual operationg data, is simply because the average Joe has no training in lubrication enginnering, chemestry, & a bunch of other engineering & science you would need to provide data.

The oil companies, produce both products. Given the world we currently live in with all the wars, global economic pressures, supply interuptions, political horse hockey & whatever else, don't you think the oil companies wnat to sell you on the idea that Syn is the greatest invention since sliced bread. Some of our members here are not old enough to know that Syn oils are NOTHING NEW. They have been around for about the past seventy five years.

I personally do not use Syns simply because I do not run my stuff beyond what a conventional is designed to do. So Spending more for Syns would not give me any added benefit, other than one possibly, which would be extended time between changes. I am not at all AGAINST synthetics. I'm just questioning how people defend this stuff. No one here is condemming it. I'm just asking: Do you really need it.

In one of your points you stated you use it because you can afford to pay for it. If I had to disagree with you on anything, that would be the one point I would argue with you. It's a baseless point when it comes to deciding to use the stuff. There are a number of things that I can "Afford" to pay for, but would never opt to buy. Buying it & affording it are personal choice having nothing to do with the products use.

I hope no one gets upset over this. I'm just trying to get past all the marketing hype of oils & down to how you can really justify using one product over the other & which is the best product to use strictly based on Individual Operating Conditions of the machines. Please don't give me a beat down.
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Maddog, you ask a good question as to what parameters makes someone switch to synthetics. As I stated earlier in this thread, my specific reason for using synthetics is due to the cold climate I operate my equipment in where I live in Northern WI. We can see -35. It's not uncommon for us to have days/nights at -20 in the December and January months. Mechanical equipment that utilizes synthetics works better in the cold, especially at start up than non synthetics do. The majority of your engine wear comes during the first few minutes of starting your engine. My mechanical oil pressure gauge tells an accurate story of the differences between synthetics and non synthetics during cold weather start up. The engine also spins over much easier in the cold with synthetic oil in you engine which makes for easier starts. Your hydraulics will also require less warm up time if they are filled with synthetics.

I too am aware that synthetics have been around for use in airplanes for many decades. Al Amatuzio is the inventor of Amsoil synthetic oil. The Amsoil company is located where I live in Superior, WI. Amsoil is the company that refined the use of synthetic oil from airplane use to use in the automotive industry and to most everything now days.
 
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