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I've read this thread with great interest. I must say I really do not understand the concept of changing to a synthetic in either a tractor or an older automotive engine. I'm not saying that the synthetics are bad in any way. I'm just not sure if its worth the extra cost for them especially when someone says thy'ev changed to syn., & I ask why & the answer is "There just better".

I have a 855 utility tractor with 1,250 hrs. on the clock. The tractor went into service in 1989. It gets two oil changes a year & a new filter. I change the oil & filter in the fall & change the tractor over to snow plowing use. Then in the Spring I change the oil out with filter & ready it for grass mowing. Sometimes in the winter it dosen't even see 10 hours of use if there is little or no snow flying around. In any event it still gets changed out twice a year. For all the years, I've used JD Plus 15W-40 & JD filters. Only about four times in the entire life of this tractor, I used Rotella 15W-40 which I think is a high quality oil as well as the JD plus.

I know the hours are on the low side for a machine thats like 24 years old, but I can tell you that if I look inside the oil filler holes (it has two) or pull the valve cover off, this yanmar engine is as clean & shiney as the day it left the assembly line.

Also I have a 1998 Ford Exploder (Explorer) with 190,000k on it. Always ran conventional quality oil in it. At 140,000k I noticed an ever so slight oil drip on my garage floor. I switched over to a quality high mileage oil & after the first change, that little oil drip was gone.

I guess my point is how does a guy like me, justify switching over to a syn when the conventional stuff has been just fine. I have friends that have made the changeover, but they can't really tell me why they changed over. They reported no issues or reasons like the ones stated in this thread. At least in my use I just can't justify it. That is not to say that going to a synthetic is a bad thing. It just may be the best thing but you can't convince me of it, at least not right now. And finally, if I were taking payment from people to service their tractors & they requested a change over to a synthetic, I would make darn sure they understood all the ins & outs of this stuff & maybe even have a shop service order that they would need to sign spelling out any possible risks-problems before I went ahead with it. That will at least protect you from a lawsuit in this lawsuit happy land. Once you take payment for your services you are changeing the game & placing yourself as the professional who knows better than the customer & that can come back to bite you. Good luck in your new business venture, & I sincerely mean that. I know how hard it can be in business after running one for the past twenty years. :empathy:
 

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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.
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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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?
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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Music Man- If I lived in a place that had such wide temerature swings as you do, I certainly would use a synthetic as well. However where I am, we just don't see that kind of climate. Generally speaking, it gets cold here & stays cold. Gets hot, stays hot. But always within the operating boundries of the conventional stuff, at least up to now.
 
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