Oil — Ya gotta have it, but is it ALL you need any more?
NOTE: Look at the end of this page for posted responses to this situation, be sure to get there with your read. Also I have posted our response and recommendation to this situation.
Statement: Oil is oil, they all do a pretty good job of protecting you motor, just pick one and thats all you need. The investment that is your motor will be fine, thin oil in winter– thick oil in summer.
Reality: New government standards have allowed and actually compelled the oil manufacturers to withdraw ZDDP from our oil supply. This compound is vital to the lubrication of the valve train of flat tappet lifter motors (most every motor built in the 70’s and before). This is no joke and it has just happened, the oil supply has been reformulated and today your engine is actually eating itself while you drive!
Short answer solution: Any motor that does not have a catalytic converter should have an oil supplement that replaces the ZDDP taken out of the oil immediately.
Long answer and explanation: All oils will protect your motor— WRONG!!!
There has been a quiet attack on our classic older vehicles, said it is in the name of progress but I say progress over what. I can’t get out of my mind the profetic words of Cheech & Chong and their band in the movie “Up in Smoke”. Cheech is on stage in a pink tu-tu, guitar strapped across a chiffon top and he belts out “Save the Whales” to a bunch of tree hugging hippies. They yell with approval and the song goes on and he screams “Yea babym Save the Whales– Kill the Seals”. “Kill those nasty little Seals”. The croud caught up in the mucis yells again– Cheech looks over and Chong, shrugs his shoulders and starts dancing around. WHAT ARE WE DOING!! We are all caught up in this high performance, progress thing while our oil formulations are being stripped of the very additives that protect our motors. Oil is much more than what they pump out of the ground or mix up in a beeker, it’s made up of compounds that enhanse the oils ability to protect moving mechanical parts. These additives, keep the oils molecular structure together under different temperature conditions, helps the oil to cling to vital areas that need the protection and increase lubricity in these vital areas. Oil alone won’t get it and it’s these additives that protect our engines and are the vary thing that the government has changed oil standards to allow oil companies to take out of their formulations.
I’m sure you remember when they took “Lead” out of our gas. We all came up with catchy sayings “Get the lead out” and all. We were told all of our motors now need bronze guids in our heads and a bunch of other stuff for our motors to last. Lead suppliments hit the streets and we all were pushed to get scared and start buying all of this stuff. As it turns out, those bronze guides wear out prematurly causing oil consumption and all the doom and gloom about our motors turning into grenades just never happened. So here we are, no lead in our gas and I run the stuff in high test mode in my 62 Lincoln with no problem. So hey, whats the rub? It looks like from this side we got all worked up over nothing– right? And now what about this new scare, oil reformulations– I mean as long as you don’t pour water in the oil fill or something, make sure the oil fill elbows in your coach are not leaking the oil on the outside of the engine and the level stays up on the stick the world is good— right?
I used to think all of these oil additives were an optional thing, you know — they put some magic potion in an engine then empty out the oil, pour dirty in and rev the motor up to 4K and leave it there— some gorilla tries to hold on to a screwdriver and stuff like that. Come on man, I’m not gonna piss off a primate til he sucks the oil out of my motor then spits mub back in then I need to make a fast getaway all in first gear!! I mean what does all of that really mean to me– right? Hey, there is a minimum standard to all oils and thats enough to keep my motor safe—– right? Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but mine was and now I know different.
Automobile motors are different today than they were in the past and for the most part thats a very good thing. I had a sold fan bolted to the front of the flat head 6 in my 50 Plymouth. The thing robbed horsepower but mainly sounded like a B-52 taking off when the motor revved up a bit. Sure fan clutches need to be checked and replaced periodically but they were an awesome improvement. I mean where were we before there was the 4 bbl. Qjet carb, hydrollic lifters or overhead valves? All of these and many other improvement give us the performance we enjoy today.
As of late, computer engine management systems, direct port fuel injection, aluminum heads and other stuff have been added along with things to keep our air clean like catalytic converters and all of that stuff. It’s all improvements that we want and need but along the way some of these advances have problems with our older motors. Specifically, research and in the field testing has found that certain additives in oils clog up the catalytic converters, the chemicals responsible for putting a high concentration of lubricity between the valve lifter and the cam it rides on is called ZDDP (Zinc Dialkyl Dithio Phosphate)– say that 5 times! This ZDDP has always been a chemical that all oils were mandated to have why– because the government had determined it was a needed enhancement in our oil supply. Some of the highest friction and temperature levels in you motor is found right at the point where the cam pushes the lifter and this is where an oil without ZDDP comes up short. If this high friction were not there, the oils in your motor would protect the rest of everything fine but it’s the ZDDP that keeps this high friction in check. Under break in of a new motor, the cam, lifters, valve seats, rings, bearings and other components wear into themselves and this is the time most critical to the longevity of a motor. Builders use all sorts of “prelube” in motors to help with this break in period but the truth is the prelube goes away very quickly as the motor turns up and starts running. What protects these vital parts in the motor after that it is thes ZDDP in the oil and keeps that protection high through the life of the motor.
OK, enough of the science lesson, what does this all mean to me? I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under our feet and on that I am trying as fast as I can to find a ledge to hold onto. This critical ZDDP has been reformulated out of all oils and the government has called this a good thing. These newer higher tech motors have slowly been dropping the valve train friction in newer motors preparing for this oil reformulation for some time. They are interested in keeping the catalytic converters from clogging up so to the new motors, dropping ZDDP is not that big a deal– on the other hand dropping this additive in our older motors with high friction flat tappet lifters in like feeding them hemlock. Our 70’s vintage flat tappet lifter 403 and 455 motors need this additive in their oil to protect the valve train.
As I said before, I looked at oil additives as something I could take or leave but no more! We have worked hard with many smart people to come up with the crate engine program we have today. Our focus has been on taking a good motor design and tailoring it to live in an environment pulling a 12,000 pound load. For use in our coach, this is a must and there are many performance enhancement we have incorporated to do just this. Now though I have learned that all of that is under attack from the absence of ZDDP in our oil supply. We have had 3 documented engine failures under break in that had been directly attributed to the new oils not containing ZDDP. One of these motors even had a ZDDP additive put in it during breakin and the cam still seems to have lunched itself during the important break in period. How can this be!! How can all of the work we did to make a bullet proof motor go up in the proverbial smoke? With this last motor I think that simply putting in even the EOS (general motors engine oil suppliment) did not do the job. I think that even supplimenting our oil supply with an additive that is supposed to replace the missing goo in the oil has also somehow let us down. This situation is very scary to me, it’s something that after seeing documented proof of the condition proves there must be some changes in the way we view our power plants.
So here is the drill as I see it. Everyone out there that has a motor with flat tappet lifters (thats all of us) MUST start immediately adding some additive that suppliments for the ZDDP taken out of our oil supply. Further, every motor we build in the future will have lower friction roller lifters with special cams specifically designed to reduce the valve train friction. Yes, these “roller” motors will be more expensive– chalk that up as an advancement in technology. Thank you Mr. engineer for this exciting new world we live in and it would have been great if you would have only left my oil alone!
Have I raised the hair on the back of your head yet– I hope so!! This situation has been a serious thorn in the side of many people lately, it’s something that had blindsided us as well as Jasper on our motors specifically. To that end, these last 3 motors that ate themselves during break in Jasper has graciously agreed to replace and uphold to the letter their warranty commitment even though it has been proven the problem had less to do with the parts, machine work or building of the motor and more to do with the oil formulation now out there. We and Jasper have made the changes in our future motors to compensate for the dastardly offense to our older motors and we will be OK in the future– until they turn whats left of our oil to coolaid! We are working with those effected to assure they are not left out in the cold on this. If you have had a motor rebuilt recently and are having valve train problems, I suggest you get with the builder immediatly and see if your cam has been damaged. The rest of us need to tear down the door and get to a parts house and demend some additive that suppliments ZDDP and not crank up our coach until we have done everything that bottle of liquid tells us to do. Let me put it this way– if you don’t do this— you are an idiot! There I said it, do this in everything from your lawn mower to your coach, right now I would say any vehicle that does not have a catalytic converter needs this oil supplement— period!! We are carrying a supplement from Schneider Cams for $18 and the “EOS” from GM for $9. Can’t tell ya at this point which is better, cheaper to use or whatever– this is all still too new and there is a great deal of smoke on the subject. I will tell ya though you must do something. I have reports that STP has a suppliment that is very cheap, it’s for 4 cylider cars and actually says on the bottle has “ZDDP”. Heck, I don’t know right now what to tell you to use, I am working hard to clear that smoke but we have to do something.
I thought all of this was bull hockey just like I thought the lead out of the gas was but this one really is an issue specifically to us and our GMC. It has already cost me big bucks and has caused several of our customers money which all I can say is “welcome to the real world”! Was it our fault or Jaspers for that matter that we are having unexpected results from an action of our government and the oil companies? The answer is no and we are doing our level best to help but look, we were never told the world is a fair place, we are in this now and the timber of any company is how they handle situations like this. We have 3 motors to deal with, after that our new motors will be protected. Past motors built should be OK if they made iththrough te break in period and with the fact that just reformulation just happened, these older motors have been protected until recent so “Get on the JUICE” right now and you should be safe– don’t and your motor will eat itself, it’s just a simple fact!
So there, if I haven’t crossed your eyes of sent you to the bathroom for a pea with all this verbiage you know this truth and if you have a habit of scanning a document like this reading the first line and the last– back up and read this fully. You have now been warned, you see what I have been dealing with the last few days and what has kept me awake. Do something about this. You will not leave my shop without reading this and being aware. I don’t care if you get the juice from me, just get some!
OK, I’ve done my best, this is the all I can tell you right now about this situation. I am sure new things will come forth as we clear the smoke on this problem– I assure you there is something out there too this, do research for yourself, post me with results if you find out anything interesting and lets get our hands around this issue. And as always– if you or any of your impossible missions force are killed or captured, we will disavow all knowledge of your existence– this message will self destruct in 10 seconds– have a great day
I will post information you Email me below in hopes of adding to our collective knowledge. There are many, many web sites and much information– lets read it all!
Thanks Dennis L. for this info:
I have bought this and have used it since it was brought up on the GMC forum. Six 4 oz bottles for $50.00 equals 3 to 6 years of oil changes for most of us. Seems like cheap insurance to me.
Thanks Nelson W. for more:
so back and has since been reformulated (maybe a couple times since
intorduction to market) and is at least equal to and maybe better
presently than the previous Redcap formulations as ZDDP levels were
boosted as was it’s base. That’s good news that Mobil got it right
Thanks George for this:
Thanks for staying on top of this issue. I’m not surprized the gov’t. once again changed thngs without notifying people. This issue has been a problem for aircooled engines as well, and LN Engineering has compiled a valuable list of engine oil compositions that people should be aware of.
It’s found on their website, www.LNEngineering.com under the oil heading.
It’s amazing to see that good old red STP may finally have a real use. I’m thinking of using Castrol GTX High Mileage 20W-50 with EOS or STP added to protect my 85,000 mile 455 engine. Seems like an economical and effective combination.
The old Kendall GT oil is still available as Brad Penn Racing oil. Many of the Porsche crowd are excited about this still being available, though under a different name.
And Hal chimes in:
Chevron Delo 400 oil with the additives meeting CI-4 and CI-4+ is still
being made and Chevron says they intend to continue supplying it. See
http://www.delobike.com/chev%20cj4%soq_a.pdf See first paragraph.
OK, now we have a report to listen to, click Botts oil info for an in depth (as usual) report by Chuck Botts on this subject.
John D. sent this in:
Another one from Chuck:
Schneider cams is only a couple of miles away from me, so after talking with them, I decided to go with their solution to making flat tappets live.Chuck Botts
Rib J. just sent this in, thanks:
http://www.mobil.com/USA-English/Lubes/PDS/GLXXENPVLMOMobil_1_Extended_Performance.asp …. a lot of Mobil 1 stuff…
Mobil 1 Extended Performance 5W-20, 5W-30,10W-30, and 15W-50 are advanced performance synthetic engine oils designed to provide protection and performance at extended oil change intervals of up to 15,000 miles or 1 year, whichever comes first. Mobil 1 Extended Performance features extra performance additive that helps to provide outstanding protection during today’s longer oil change intervals.
Features and Benefits
Mobil 1 Extended Performance 5W-20, 5W-30, 10W-30 and 15W-50 are made with a proprietary blend of high performance synthetic basestocks fortified with an advanced additive system, designed especially to deliver performance and protection during longer service intervals. Mobil 1 Extended Performance oils are uniquely designed to provide outstanding levels of performance, cleaning power and engine protection, even during longer oil change intervals. Mobil 1 Extended Performance oils are available in a wide range of viscosities. The 5W-20 and 5W-30 viscosities are recommended viscosity grades for newer vehicles. The 10W-30 viscosity provides excellent all-season performance and protection. Mobil 1 Extended Performance 15W-50 is formulated to provide outstanding engine protection for high performance engines and for consumers who want a higher viscosity oil and higher anti-wear performance ( ZDDP) than typically required by modern vehicles.
http://www.wps.com/pipermail/amc-list/2007-June/009675.html … a quickie cut and paste from this guy’s rant….
Diesel Engines conceptually require ‘greater protection’ against metal to
metal contact – due to their ‘Higher Performance Engines’ – not – that they
use Diesel Fuel.
HP oils traditionally had ZDDP packages – due to EPA pressures – gone is
that ‘Certified’ Rating…… now to obtain HP Oils, for your Hot Yamaha Bike
or Kawi ‘Z’ or your ‘Vette you must look for ‘Diesel Certified’ oil as it
will contain the HP protection package of yesteryear.
http://www.nordicgroup.us/oil.htm#The%203000%20Mile%20Fact … a long dissertation on oil… do a find on ZDDP
http://www.ttalk.info/Zddp.htm …. this guy basically says the same things about flat tappets as were in the blog
There is a lot more out there on ZDDP….. just need the time to read it all.
So you think I sometimes get a bit forward with my comments? Dave really has a way of calling red—- red! Thanks for this and the amount of time and energy you will expend following this line. I also believe it is probably an idea that has merit. It’s still sad to say but could be true:
there is no definitive testing that anyone has been able to do, to prove ZDDP actually contaminates the catalytic converter. Putting this
information together with the fact that many states have implemented payouts for crushed older cars, one could conclude that the EPA actually
is very interested in destroying old cars anyway they can, even if that means sneaking in an oil formulation with intent to create a premature death to older engines.
I have emailed a few oil companies. Of course they will not admit that there is potential for damage, unless you are running extreme
Lubrizol has stated that there are other additives that can have been introduced that have the same properties as ZDDP, but that these additives are more expensive and require a more expensive base oil. I’m in the process of trying to get a contact on the inside from Lubrizol who can tell me how to identify what these additives are. My dad worked for Lubrizol for nearly 50 years, so I’m hoping I can get a contact.
I did get a reply back from STP. Quote from email:
“The amount of ZDDP in the product is proprietary information. However, I can tell you that both the STP Oil Treatment and the STP 4 Cylinder Oil
Treatment contain about 4 times the amount that motor oils once contained” This would suggest one treatment of STP will take care of it. Seems simple
Oh man, here is a great talk about ZDDP:
click here Foreign Parts talk
Jim Galbavy found a site to check out :
OK, so what does this all mean to me and what should I do about it?
This is a very new issue, one that has much smoke currently attached to the solution. Below is our current position on the issue. If you have any other recommendations that differ from this, we are most interested in listening to what you have found. Watch for “white papers” on this subject in the Western States news letter by Chuck Botts and I am sure other GMC publications soon. I feel this is probably THE most important issue facing the GMC community, lets not miss our chance to save our coaches.
Co-op/ Jasper crate motor oil recommendation
Recently, it has been determined that the new API rated oils and government mandated reformulation of oils will in fact be detrimental to flat tappet lifter motors which include the 455 and 403 Oldsmobile motors used in the GMC Motorhome. In that our “Co-op /Jasper crate motor” program involves these motors, we have enhanced future motors to be safe running the new oil formulations by adding a roller cam and lifter design to reduce valve train friction which should make our new motors live in an environment without ZDDP oil compounds.
We have produced several flat tappet lifter motors in the past which could be effected by these new oil reformulations though and we are suggesting that all past Co-op / Jasper crate 455 and 403 motors have a synthetic oil such as Mobile 1 or Amsoil be added to help in reducing their valve train friction. Off road and racing oils may also be used which are not API approved because they still contain increased levels of ZDDP and are the right oils for our older flat tappet lifter motors. There is still not enough data to say for sure and to establish a firm recommendation as to how to protect flat tappet lifter motors from these new oil formulations but in general, synthetic oils by their nature do posess higher lubricity characteristics and should at this time aid in the lubrication in the flat tappet lifter motors.
During break-in of even the roller cam motors, we suggest adding an oil suppliment during this time to reduce friction and help the motor properly break itself in. There are several additives on the market, please read the label of the one you are looking to use to verify it is designed to suppliment for the ZDDP removed by the new reformulations. At this time, we cannot choose a specific additive but hope to have one singled out soon. Currently Cooperative Motor Works is using a formula produced and distributed by Schneider Cams, this suppliment is recommended by them for use with all of their new cams. A quality company, we are currently following their lead on this issue.
We will work with our new roller cam motors to find what works best in their application. Please stay in close contact if you have purchased one of the newer roller cam motors and let us know how the motor performs. We will, in turn, stay in close contact with you with new information we collect. It seems that after the motors break in that the flat tappet motors as well as the new design roller motors will be safe from problems due to this issue but school is still out on this statement and because of that we would prefer to error on the side of caution. Please investigate and add some forn of oil suppliment with any new oil formulation you are using is the best rule of thumb we can suggest at this time. Please contact us if you have any further questions.