Oil Change: The Best and Proper Lubricants

5000 mile oil change intervals

In order to extend the life of your engine, it is vital that the oil and filter be changed at the correct mile interval and with the right oil recommended by the manufacturer. Karmakanix stocks motor oil for all Audi / VW models with either 502.00, 504.00, 505.01, or 507.00 specifications, and for Porsche models with C30 and A40 specifications – all of which meet or exceed the manufacturer warranty requirements. There are big differences in quality between the various brands of synthetic oils, they are not all the same. Karmakanix only uses top brand lubricants as rated by Consumer Reports, such as Motul, Total and Amsoil. We also install only the best German oil filters. Certain engines will not survive unless the correct oil is used. The 1.8T motors are known for their demise from grit formed from incorrect oil and lack of oil changes. Modern diesels produced since 2009 MUST have 507.00 oil or the contaminants in the oil resulting from the regen cycles for the DPF particulate filter WILL damage the engine.

The Truth About Oil Change Intervals

Most modern engines using synthetic oil really should have the oil and filter changed around 5000 miles. If mostly city driving, then do oil changes closer to 4000 miles. There is great debate over oil change intervals. Some say frequent oil changes are worse for the environment, and that oil is still doing fine at 10,000 miles. We disagree. We find that 10,000 mile old oil usually looks like tar.

Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche all recommend oil change intervals of 10,000 miles since 2005.5. All the diesels and all the gas turbocharged engines have always required synthetic oil, but as of 2005.5, all engines went to synthetic oil. From 1996 to 2004, they had said 7500 mile intervals. Before that, they said 5000 miles. It has always been a common adage that changing the oil twice as often as the manufacturer recommends makes the engine last twice as long. We find this to be essentially true.

Engines that use regular oil can get oil changes at around 5000 miles, but that is an utter maximum for an engine in really good condition. Any high powered engine that works hard, like a VR6 in a Eurovan, should really get the oil changed more frequently, unless on a road trip with purely highway miles. Think of it as a tug-of-war between old recommendations and better oil. In general, any engine that originally had a 5000 factory oil change interval, should be changed at 3500 to 4000 miles, just like it was in those days. Yet engine oil formulations are better than in those days. Hmmmm…. Another solution is to change slowly over to a 50/50 blend.

From decades of experience, we have found that there is a fairly big difference between the condition of engine oil at 5000 miles. We have identified some of the variables:

  • Average engine load: Those who accelerate harder or live at the top of long hills will dirty oil faster.
  • Rpms per mile: Stop and go commuters versus highway drivers. More revolutions means dirtier oil.
  • Synthetic vs. Regular: Synthetic oil general is still fine at 5000 miles, regular oil is always completely trashed and filthy.
  • Engine wear condition: The more wear an engine has, the faster the oil gets dirty. And that does not necessarily coincide with overall miles.
  • Environment: Hotter conditions and dirty air both make oil get dirty and go bad faster.
  • Warm up habits, the harder one uses an engine while below oil temperatures less than 50 degrees C., the faster the engine will wear and the faster the oil will go bad.
  • Cheap oil: Doesn’t lubricate well, doesn’t seal up cylinders well, doesn’t last long. Oil goes bad faster, as do the engines that use it.
  • Lack of tuneups: Engines misfiring from old spark plugs or other problems definitely get the oil filthy fast. And it is a fast snowball to the bottom.

We find that the problem is not so much about engine wear, but that the acrid components of old engine oil attack the plastic chain tensioners and guides present in most motors, eventually leading to catastrophic engine failure. We also notice that turbochargers tend to fail early when subjected to infrequent oil changes. Most early turbocharger failures occur between 125,000 and 150,000 miles in both gas and diesel models. We have verified that the majority of these turbo failures were in vehicles where the oil was changed at 10,000 mile intervals, or worse.

MoS2 Additive Engine Oil Additive

Of interest to those who are really trying to make their engines last, Karmakanix does recommend adding a Molybdenum Disulfide oil additive, known as Moly or MoS2, every third or fourth engine oil change. Moly is a friction reducer that is well proven to radically extend the service life of an engine. We are not so concerned about crankshaft to bearing wear, but scuffing components like the camshaft and pistons, and timing chains and guides are the parts that we see fail due to lack of overall longterm lubrication. Just mention Moly to your service writer to get it installed once a year. There is also a version for manual transmissions and differentials.

Gear case (2) Karmakanix Knowledgebase Information on Moly Additives

Converting from Regular Oil to Synthetic Oil

Changing from regular to synthetic requires a gradual change over many oil changes. The reason is the same for many fluids: Coolants, Automatic Transmission Fluids, and regular diesel vs. biodiesel. Each type of liquid has its own family of volatile esters, meaning the aromatic compounds that evaporate out. All the gaskets, O rings and seals absorb these compounds over the long haul. If one changes to a different set of compounds, the old ones evaporate out and the O rings and gaskets flatten out, everything dries out, and major leaks can occur.

This is how synthetic oil got a bad reputation back in the 70’s. A very gradual change allows the new compounds time to be absorbed before all the old stuff has left. In cases of engines with high miles and dirty crankcases, maybe a switch will not be possible, although a blend may be an option.

If the crankcase is clean, then take the vehicle mileage and divide by 20,000 to get the number of oil changes to go through for a successful conversion to synthetic. Please understand that these are a good approximation of how to execute a good idea. High precision is NOT required. Just fire your inner scientist and get on with it. But every time you change the oil, check the level before you change it so you know how much oil the engine has been using. Start with 1/2 quart of synthetic for 2 to 3 oil changes. Ramp up slowly to 30% (2 quarts synthetic in a 6 qt oil change) then hold that percentage until one has completed 1/2 of the amount of total calculated oil changes. Continue ramping up to 100% synthetic over the second half of the total number of oil changes.

With some engines, it may be better to stop with a half and half blend. If one finds the engine begins to use more oil, then first check for leaks, then cut back on the synthetic. If the crankcase is dirty, as evidenced by sludge built up on the bottom of the oil cap, proceed over twice the amount of oil changes, and stop at a 50/50 blend. Running a mixture of some synthetic is already way better than just regular oil.

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