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Old 09-14-2016, 04:28 PM   #1
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Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


I have a 1995 Ford Crown Vic in great shape. All original. Relatively low mileage... 130,000 km 80,700 miles. Yet it gets only city driving and not much of that. Very seldom out on highway.

I am going to go back to doing my own oil changes and want to increase the frequency....to every 3 - 4 months as I read in a magazine. But do I need the very best quality oil? Will standard grade at half the price do?

Thanks for thoughtful advice.
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Old 09-14-2016, 04:45 PM   #2
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


I have a buddy who has experimented with all different brands of oil, synthetic and conventional, and sends the used oil in for analysis after each changed. His conclusion after having done this for the last ten years is 'oil is oil.'

A buddy manages a shop near me and changes my oil for dirt cheap but I used the cheap WalMart brand oil when I changed it myself.
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Old 09-14-2016, 05:04 PM   #3
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


Why would you be changing the oil that often in the first place?
Should be changing it according to mileage not time.
http://www.edmunds.com/car-care/stop...-your-oil.html
Is synthetic oil a better oil, yes, a little better mileage, yes, but is it really worth paying about 3 times the price for a qt. of oil make it cost effective?
I live and travel on dusty back roads, 95% of the time I'm towing a trailer, I change oil every 8000 miles and never once had any engine issues in my last 6 trucks that get sold when they reach 200,000 miles.
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Old 09-14-2016, 05:29 PM   #4
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


I'd go with conventional petroleum oil. Any good national brand is fine. The differences between the brands is negligible for normal driving conditions.

Be sure to use the right weight, 10W-40 or whatever it is the mfg of your car specifies for your engine.

I'd take the savings from not buying synthetic oil, and put it toward a premium oil filter.

I change the oil in my 1999 SUV with 175,000, every 3,000-4,000 miles. But that's because I have about 4 cases of oil that I acquired at an auction for about 50 cents a quart that I want to use up.

If your engine consumes oil and you have to add a quart now and then, you can extend the change interval a bit, since you are adding clean oil in between changes.

But sure, every 5-6,000 is appropriate for most older cars driven under "normal" conditions..Newer cars go much longer between changes.

I don't know about an old Ford like that, but some mfgs schedule their service by miles and/or months, whichever comes first, such as "every 6 months/6,000 miles."
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Last edited by ZZZZZ; 09-14-2016 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 09-14-2016, 06:04 PM   #5
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


Standard oil with the correct API designation has always worked for me. But I'll pass along another bit of advice for your occasional city driving and seldom a highway trip your magazine article may not have mentioned.

It's best for the engine and oil to attain full operating temperature each time it is driven, especially in colder weather. All too often short trips don't promote that. A tell tale indication is a white/creamy viscous substance on the under side of the oil fill cap and or on the dip stick, usually both. That is an indication of moisture that wasn't driven off. So is the thermostat working as designed? Check temperature often and take it on a 5 mile turnpike speed trip once in awhile.

You may not be of an age to have heard the used car salesman sales pitch " this low mileage car was only driven to the grocery store and church by a little ole lady ".

It was a well known fact that car should be avoided or at least proceed with caution.
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Old 09-14-2016, 06:10 PM   #6
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


City driving and not much is hard on an engine. I like your 3-4 month interval, it's time rather than mileage.
It is also extra important if that car doesn't always get to full operating tempature or if you have live in a climate of extremes.

If you have the 4.6L, it's a great little engine, but it is a pricey one to rebuild or replace.
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Old 09-15-2016, 09:26 AM   #7
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


Synthetic oil 'washes' the engine. It 'cleans' it. Conventional oil doesn't as much. Yes it has detergent in it but nothing like synthetic. So if an engine has been running dino (conventional) oil for 80,000 miles and throw synthetic in there, it will wash the engine and all the crap will end up in the oil pan where the oil sump is and stop it up or restrict it. It may not in your case but it is a rule of thumb. You can go from synthetic to dino but it not a good idea to go from dino to synthetic in high mileage engines. Now if you can see the rockers through the oil fill hole and it looks kinda cruddy then I would say no to synthetic. If it look like it is brand new then it has had synthetic in it I would guess.
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Old 09-15-2016, 10:29 AM   #8
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


Oh, and I use wal-mart cheap oil in my vehicles. My hot rod I use the cheap synthetic from wal-mart.
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Old 09-15-2016, 11:03 AM   #9
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


Thanks to all who responded. Yes, you confirmed what I already believed.....that is why I had already bought the Walmart (actually Mobile) base dino oil. (For interest, in Canadian dollars that is $20 vs $45 for the top synthetics).

Good to know I am doing the right thing....at least no harm. The Crown Vic does not burn oil in an noticeable amounts and I do know about the moisture indications.

But time than mileage is a good rule, I think for a very low use car. The oil sitting there for long periods probably doesn't stay in good shape. Even though I live in the warm part of Canada (yes, there is one) I think the condensation builds over time. And my kind of driving is the hardest use possible....the engine rarely heats up.

Great forum.
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Old 09-15-2016, 12:08 PM   #10
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


Before the advent of high dollar stainless exhaust systems, those systems went to the land fill at about the same premature time as spark plugs and hydraulic lifters when the operating temperature wasn't reached for a considerable amount of time. A faulty thermostat was sometimes the culprit.
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Old 09-16-2016, 07:23 AM   #11
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hossenfeffer View Post
...And my kind of driving is the hardest use possible....the engine rarely heats up...
Since you do recognize that, why not just take a 15-minute highway drive once a week? Seems like that would do as much good for the engine as more frequent oil changes -- and cost less, and generate less waste oil.
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Old 09-16-2016, 08:49 AM   #12
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


I agree,,going for a short road trip once a week or so "exercises" everything in the vehicle.
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Old 10-04-2016, 11:54 PM   #13
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hossenfeffer View Post
I have a 1995 Ford Crown Vic in great shape. All original. Relatively low mileage... 130,000 km 80,700 miles. Yet it gets only city driving and not much of that. Very seldom out on highway.

I am going to go back to doing my own oil changes and want to increase the frequency....to every 3 - 4 months as I read in a magazine. But do I need the very best quality oil? Will standard grade at half the price do?

Thanks for thoughtful advice.
If you're changing your oil ever 3-4 months, regardless of miles driven, using synthetic oil will be a waste of money. It's not going to hurt anything except your checkbook, but you're going to spend a lot of money for no real benefit.

With all short "city driving" going on your car, your main problem is going to be moisture in the oil. Dino versus synthetic oil will not matter in regard to moisture.

Last edited by DrHicks; 10-04-2016 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 10-05-2016, 12:59 AM   #14
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


Nobody's talking about the oil filter, which IMHO is at least as important as the oil itself..

A premium filter such as K&N or Bosch really do a much better job than the old cheap single stage filters.
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Old 10-16-2016, 07:17 PM   #15
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Re: Do I need top quality/synthetic motor oil in older car?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hossenfeffer View Post
I have a 1995 Ford Crown Vic in great shape. All original. Relatively low mileage... 130,000 km 80,700 miles. Yet it gets only city driving and not much of that. Very seldom out on highway.

I am going to go back to doing my own oil changes and want to increase the frequency....to every 3 - 4 months as I read in a magazine. But do I need the very best quality oil? Will standard grade at half the price do?

Thanks for thoughtful advice.
"Standard grade " means nothing. Also, price usually does not reflect quality.
You can do with dino oil, get the highest rating by the API, which I believe now is SN. It is a specification which the API engineers have determined is adequate for a 'good" oil. Synth is usually better if you dont want to change oil every 6 months. You can go a year, usually. It holds up better to heat/friction/shearing.
But Ive used dino for decades on my 87 sunbird, with about 200,000 miles on it- no engine damage so far.
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