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About Engine Oil

On to this month's topic for technical discussion - OIL! Guy Arnold, Chet Wypich, and myself had a discussion concerning the various Engine Oils used in Turbo Buick cars. I spent 11 years in Army Aviation Helicopters, & my career was in Gas Turbine ( Jet Engine ) overhaul & Repair. As a technician I saw the use of Synthetic oils as a Lubricant in the aircraft's component's. My discussion which follows compares the Synthetic Vs Mineral based oil.

Engine Lubrication - Our Hi - Performance cars have a requirement which demands proper lubrication & protection from wear and the corrosive elements of our atmosphere. The ambient temperature in our region of the country can see - 30 F to + 110 F. The extreme temperatures of a Buick Turbo V-6 Turbocharger can cause a coking of the oil in the Turbo's High speed bearings. A mineral based oil will tend to coke ( breakdown) causing oil starvation to the Turbo's High speed bearings much sooner than that of it's Synthetic counterpart. A Turbocharger housing can become very hot during a 1/4 mile blast. 600 to 800 F temps and higher are common with the brutal assault we attempt to place on our Turbo Buicks. A mineral based oil begins to breakdown as little as 450 F thereby offering a small amount of protection to the Turbo's High speed bearings when temperatures climb. A Synthetic typically can withstand temps of about 650 F before any type of Molecular breakdown begins.

To avoid oil COKING in your Turbocharger bearings ALWAYS allow the engine to idle 30 seconds to a minute before shutting off the engine. Pre-lubers can help to eliminate this problem too. Some manufacturers are now mixing Mineral Base & Synthetic in an effort to gain the best characteristics of both oils in one. I have experienced the benefits of Synthetic oil since it was the Lubricant used in our Army Helicopter's Engine, Transmission, & Tail Rotor Gear boxes. While the thee Synthetic oil was not perfect it still out performed the average Mineral based oil. Our war machines are designed to run w/o oil in them for 30 minutes! By no mind should one try to operate their engine Without it's lubricating oil. Commercials on TV show car engines running w/o oil in them? Castrol Syntec is a good oil, but my engine's gaskets did not like this oil. Typically a good film strength is required to resist wear. Castrol Syntec has in the past leaked right thru my gaskets of my V-6 Twin Turbo! Having used Mobil 1 I did not see the gasket leakage problem. I suggest Mobil 1 since I have had very little problems with it's use in my Engines. The cost of replacing expensive engine parts by far exceeds the initial cost of a good Synthetic.

WHY DO WE CHANGE OIL??? There are quite a few reasons why oil is routinely changed in an engine. It is contaminated by the fossil fuels which we burn in the engine. Gasoline leaves behind a carbon residue which is black in color. As time goes on this carbon resiue begins to act as an abrasive on the engine's bearings and parts. This contamination of the oil by the lead bearings also occurs. Also the fine particles of dirt in the air contribute to contamination of the oil. Running an engine w/o an air filter will make the oil dirty much quicker! You see oil does not wear out it just becomes contaminated. Most oil filters on our cars of today do not have the ability to filter all of the oil before it enters into the engine's oil passages.

A SECRET FOR LONG ENGINE LIFE? One of the most common practices that owners of 100,000 mile and up car owners have is: They change their engine oil every 1500 to 2500 miles! If the car mfgs did not want to sell us parts, then they would not print recommended oil change intervals of 7500 miles in their owners manuals! Mobil has a truck oil called Delvac that is Synthetic and with regular oil change intervals has taken truck engines 1,000,000 miles before a major overhaul!!!! Now that's progress for the 90's! Mobil also provides lubricants for the space shuttle!

MAJOR ENGINE WEAR Most people do not know that 70 - 90 % of all engine wear happens within the first two minutes after starting the engine. Therefore do not rev a cold engine @ high rpms! Corvette Engine Killer Chevrolet had a problem with Camshaft lobes going flat in their 350 engine a few years back. 200 - 300 cams were damaged so they began to investigate. The source of the problem was a porter at Bowling Green, KY. who's job it was to move Corvettes from a lot to a staging area to be loaded onto car haulers. She was cold since it was winter in Bowling Green, KY. This female wanted to warm the cars up quicker since she was cold. So she held the accelerator pedal down almost to the floor racing the engine. Needless to say her method of warming up cars cost GM a small fortune! Respectfully Yours, Tech Advisor "Smith"


Preparation for Winter Storage

WINTER storage is the topic this month. As winter rapidly approaches, storing your Buick is a project which requires some serious attention to details. The following areas are of major concern:

1. FUEL Remove the gasoline or adding a preservative to it can prevent the metamorphosis to a jelly - varnish consistency. The so called Gasoline metamorphosis can begin to take place within 30 to 60 days. The changed fuel can create serious problems with the fuel system due to the Alcohol absorbing water like a sponge. The new Oxygenated fuel used to produce lower emissions has a higher Methanol/Ethanol Alcohol percentage than the more expensive MTBE 93 octane Amoco Gold premium. And no guys & gals I do not have stock in Amoco Oil Company. I have been informed that Amoco premium is the only gasoline without Ethanol Alcohol in it. If any one knows of other Gasoline's which are also free of Alcohol please pass along the info to us. A good practice if possible is to drive the vehicle at least 1 every 2 weeks for about a half an hour to get rid of moisture build up in the Fuel, Oil, & Engine.

If you can not drain the system, then it is a good idea to add some Stabil to the gasoline. Gasoline produced today has Alcohol blended that absorbs water from the air like a magnet. Water and fuel will not stay mixed. Eventually they separate. Water sitting in a Gas tank, Carburetor, Fuel Injectors & other Fuel system parts causes serious corrosion problems to occur. If at all possible drain the Fuel system. This will reduce future headaches

2. Lubrication By starting and driving your stored car when possible you will lubricate seals, bearings, and other vital parts which must be protected by a film of oil. At the end of this article I will share a story about Transmission seals.

3. Anti-Freeze For storage in an unheated garage or ( God forbid ) outside under a tarp, you would be well advised to check your anti-freeze level & condition. A minus -25 F degree night in January could cause a cracked block leading to EXPENSIVE repairs.

Before we place our cars up on jack stands for the winter, It would be a wise idea to check your car's Anti-freeze. Is it ok? or do you need to flush the cooling system? Remember that Anti-freeze loses it's ability to transfer heat, prevent corrosion, and keep from freezing.

4. Cover up A good quality car cover for inside or outside will prevent dust accumulation. A word to the wise, don't put a loose fiberglass cover on your car. The winter winds will tear it to shreds and your cars paint job will look like it went thru an Arizona sand storm! Also the ultra violet rays from the sun tend to weaken the fiberglass. A type of dry rot.

5. Jack Stands If you can place your car on 4 jack stands DO IT! Flat spots on tires can become permanent. A blast down the 1/4 mile is not the time to find out that you have to replace Front runners or Slicks & Innertubes. It is recommended that you store slicks laying flat on their side. Please don't believe those old wise tales about a good hot burnout in the burn box removing the flat spots. Also I don't think that placing a tire in an oven to remove the flat spots as one racer told me is a good idea. I could not imagine sitting down to eat a thanksgiving Turkey which tastes like an M & H or Goodyear tire! Not to mention the fact that our wives would never forgive us. Yes Harriet these things do happen, but hopefully not to any of our informed Buick club members. Maybe that's why those Mustang guys keep complaining about Turkey Grease on their slicks and wiping out their 60 foot times?

6. Battery Blues Remove the battery to prevent discharge & Cracking from freezing. Store in a warm place on a rubber mat. Oh, Incidentally don't forget to write down those Going Fast with Class radio stations so you can reprogram them back in next spring!

7. Air Freshener Place an open box of Baking soda in the car to absorb odors.

Horror on the Highway In closing I wish to share a story of a T-Type owner experienced on his way to the 1992 GS nats in Bowling Green, Ky. The trans fluid leaked out of the trans on I-65 Southbound about 100 out of Chicago. A lot of thick smoke was coming out from under the car when he was forced to pull over on the interstate. The culprit responsible for this mishap was the front pump - Torque converter seal. The seal was brittle from no lubrication and wore out very rapidly when exposed to the constant heat and pressure associated with highway driving. This is one reason why I trailer my car to an event. For those of you who drive your car there my hat is off to you. The Trans shop Technician stated that this is a common occurrence with cars which are stored for long periods of time. After a $600.00 repair the T-Type owner was again on the road to the 1992 GS nats in Bowling Green, Ky. At least the small town trans shop didn't charge him a Chicago price for the overhaul. Respectfully, Tech Advisor " Smith "