Sorry I gave vague links and explanations to explain the device that I use to analyze my oil.
So I emailed NITC, and because of the type of industry they are (mostly govt contract work) they have a disclaimer on any email response given to me:
Privileged/Confidential Information may be contained in this message. If you are not the addressee indicated in this message (or responsible for delivery of the message to such person), you may not copy or deliver this message to anyone. In such case, you should destroy this message and kindly notify the sender by email.
But I am allowed to paraphrase from Molly Yoong--Lab Technical Service Coordinator--Northern Technologies International Corporation
The analyzer I use was discontinued in 2001. Very little info is left on this device. Back in 2001, sales stopped for other electronics (not the oil analyzers) products that were specifically used only in the steel industry. And you may know that the U.S. steel industry essentially collapsed in 2000-2001. Most customers at that time stopped buying (or stopped paying for what they had already received). Company went bust (loss of documents, equipment foreclosures blah blah)
And they reminded me that the analyzer is designed to analyze ALL motor oils. The reason is (which I appologize for not mentioning before) that every time you begin use of the analyzer, you zero it. You give it a "base" sample of perfect clean oil to compare the second used sample to. (link to a comparable analyzer)
Also, the govt link I gave where they list them four programs...It's an informational read only. It was wrote up to educate others on what programs are available for use by the military. They, the author of that write up, do not state in any way that they use ALL four.
Everything we test and modify on this board can be argued to "exact conditions"...I wouldn't try to take this past informational testimony. There are just too many variables. That is also the reason why the oil companies advertising departments aren't "all over it". It's just way too hard and expensive to prove, including my very own testimonies.
I'm curious as what credible documentation of these "exact conditions" would look like to you?
"You have to know the truth, and seek the truth, and the truth will set you free."
The addendum to that email is a standard practice in most industries. It has nothing to do with government work or anything else. It's just a legal disclaimer to try and protect themselves against illegal use of proprietary information of any kind. That little paragraph means nothing about the credibility of the device, the organization, or the information they provided you. It's added automatically by a server in their email system.
So the first link you posted was for information and now you've posted another link to a comparable analyzer. The first one cost $700 and this one costs $1200. How long will it take to make up the cost of the device by decreasing the frequency of oil changes? On top of that, I think any oil company would say there's little chance this device gives you an accurate picture of oil life. It measures electrical properties of your oil, not lubrication or protective properties. Any information it gives you is based on the electrical properties of the oil, and there are so many factors about motor oil that affect its ability to lubricate and protect that this one piece of data can't possibly give you an accurate picture of the oil's actual performance. It's a ballpark guesstimate. I said it before and I'll say it again: A used oil analysis is the ONLY accurate way to gauge the health of your motor oil. This is true because a UOA does measure the actual physical and chemical properties of the motor oil and compares them against hundreds or thousands of known good and bad samples so a chemist can give you an accurate and informed opinion about the current state of the motor oil and how much longer it will last under the same conditions. No electrical device will ever be able to do that.
I applaud you for going to unusual measures to find economical ways to save on fuel costs, but I think you can do better than expensive electronic oil analyzers and expensive synthetic oils. It looks to me like any negligible actual savings are more than negated by these additional costs. I thought the point was to save money? If not, then what is the point?
Consider one more point about synthetic oils: What would they have to do in order to save fuel? They would have to reduce friction, right? Here's what Mobil says in answer to the question "What's the overall benefit of Mobil 1 with SuperSyn Technology?":
"The overall goal for Mobil 1 has always been to protect your engine, even under the most severe conditions, such as cold starting temperatures, extreme high-temperature operations and high-load conditions. Mobil 1 has been formulated with a performance reserve to provide you the peace of mind that your engine is protected during these severe conditions. But Mobil 1 with SuperSyn is not just for extreme service. You can also realize Mobil 1's benefits of improved engine cleanliness and extended engine life under "normal" service."
How many times in there did they mention reduction of friction or increased gas mileage? Zero. None. They never claim it because it doesn't happen. Reducing friction would be extremely easy to claim in a laboratory. How hard is it to claim extended engine life? That argument is ridiculous. They even TELL YOU that the oil will "provide you the peace of mind that your engine is protected," which is PROOF that they're banking on the psychological benefits. If you live in Fairbanks, Alaska and don't have an oil heater or if you live in Death Valley and you tow a heavy trailer uphill all day with the A/C running, Mobil 1 might help reduce wear levels in the engine. Is it ever going to pay for itself over this "extended engine lifetime" they're claiming? That's very unlikely.
What part of "the overall goal for Mobil 1 has always been to protect your engine" tells you that synthetic oil will save you any money, be it on oil changes, gas mileage, or engine lifetime? The benefits of Mobil 1 go to the yacht fund for Exxon/Mobil executives, not to you or your car. Do yourself, your car, and your wallet a favor and stick to conventional motor oil, get a used oil analysis done, and change the oil when the analysis says it should be changed and no sooner.
cosmicmc, are you by any chance a lawyer? because you make a damn fine case.
the primary reason i switched to synthetic oil was for better cold-weather starts. on the handful of days each winter that are *extremely* cold, the difference between "go" and "no-go" can be marginal due to reduced battery output and increased internal drag from higher oil viscosity. under those conditions, i believe the more stable (i.e. higher) viscosity of synthetic oil (relative to the same weight conventional oil) helps tip the balance of probability to "go".
this is in line with the marketing from synthetic oil companies.
following that logic, it makes sense that while the engine is warming up to operating temperature (from a very cold start), it's running slightly more efficiently. however the difference is likely so small that if the oil companies publicized it (e.g. a comparison across a temperature scale), it would only serve to prove the null effect that synthetic engine oils have on mileage under "normal" (i.e. warm) operating conditions.
it is certainly so small that there is no cost-effective reason for using synthetics for the small mpg gain in winter use.
on the MPG issue, the oil companies stand to make more money by staying silent than they would if they revealed that there is actually just a small efficiency gain to be made under cold conditions for the brief period from cold start to normal operating temps. if they actually publicized that fact, they'd lose all those customers who are buying it because they assume because of its other documented properties, it *must* give better mpg.
by this logic, i should be using conventional engine oil in the summer. but i haven't been - i'm guilty of succumbing to the irrational hope that somehow synthetic helps me then too. but having read your comments and after thinking about it logically, i believe that will change next may.
it's similar psychological/irrational behaviour that led me to buy a K&N air filter for improved MPG... like Mobil, K&N also does not promise improved mileage anywhere in their marketing from use of their products.
last thought on synthetics: one area where they may make economic sense is in drivetrain components (transaxles/axles). since those components reach operating temperature much more slowly than engines, the advantage of low temperature fluidity of synthetic lubricants is more pronounced.
Me: Wanna tell me something about synthetic versus conventional?
DrDisco: i have a leather wallet
DrDisco: synthetic huh
DrDisco: you can go 8000 miles between oil changes
DrDisco: and you can go 4000-5000 on conventional oil
DrDisco: don't believe the hype
Me: So there's not much of difference?
DrDisco: there is a large difference
DrDisco: i mean the hype of 3,750
Me: Oh oh oh.
DrDisco: you're dumping out good oil if you just drive around town
DrDisco: if you beat on it, 3000-4000 miles on regular
DrDisco: but generally twice as long on synthetic
Me: What about reduce friction with synthetic or those types of claims?
DrDisco: well that depends on the viscosity of the oil, since there's always an oil film on all the parts
DrDisco: that's the point of oil, besides cooling
DrDisco: but synthetic generally clings to parts better, so starts aren't as hard on the engine
Me: Does the better gas mileage with synthetic or certain types of oil idea hold any water?
DrDisco: lighter oil = less pumping losses and less friction
DrDisco: that's why the insight uses 0w-20
DrDisco: and why manufacturers are using lighter and lighter oils
Me: But will there be a mpg difference between 5w30 dino and 5w30 mobil 1?
Me: Or any difference besides lifetime?
DrDisco: i don't know, i'd have to see tests
DrDisco: dyno tests between oils can tell alot, or very little
DrDisco: depends on how they're conducted
DrDisco: replacing 3000 mile oil with new oil can pick up hp
Me: Have you seen the dyno testing of synthetic oil thread?
DrDisco: but i think the question was whether the oil that was taken out was old, and of the same weight
Me: I'm talking about the tests to be done.
DrDisco: yeah, i saw that too
DrDisco: i'm waiting, haven't seen the latest
DrDisco: did the tests ever happen?
Me: Think the tests will be valid?
Me: Guy said 28th/29th prolly.
DrDisco: it sounds like he's trying to make them as good as possible
Me: The oils you mean?
DrDisco: the test
DrDisco: he's trying to control it pretty well, from what i remember
Me: Sounds good.
Me: You've been helpful.
DrDisco: well if an oil makes more power, it's because it reduces friction
Me: So wait for the dyno tests eh?
DrDisco: that helps not only power, but fuel economy, because you're spending less power fighting the oil, and using it to move the car
So yeah, I'll wait on the honda-tech oil dyno testing and shall see.
EDIT: This guy is a honda technician and races on the side, as well as tuning and building engines, so I'd say he knows his ****, though he says he's been known to be wrong.
Me: "I for one would like it if DrDisco would post this stuff on the forum himself. It seems like he has a lot to share."
Me: After I posted the oil stuff.
Me: Why not, john?
DrDisco: i'll have to see, i have a lot of **** always going on
DrDisco: i guess i should show up there more huh
Me: You could.
Just wanted to share my synthetic oil experience. I'm not trying to set off the hole debate about synthetic vs. natural, again, just share my experience with the synthetic oil and a chevy dealership. It's been 3,000 miles since my last oil change and I asked for Mobile 1 synthetic 5w-30 (instead of what they put in by defult) for my 05' Chevy Aveo. So the bottom line is I got charged $71.44 for an oil change, $45.90 for the oil, 5 quarts. The Aveo owners manual says the car + filter holds 3.96quarts. After questioning why I was charged for 5quarts, I was told the spec.'s in my owner's manual are wrong? So, finally, I asked for the remainder of the oil I got the hell out of there. I'd change the oil myself if my living situation was more condusive, but man, it's expensive to get a synthetic oil change from a dealership!
Yeah, the synthetic isn't cheap. I don't know if the benefits outweigh the costs or not. I kind of offset the purchase cost of synthetic by running it longer than mineral oil.
Costs me roughly $15-$18 to purchase a gallon of standard oil and a filter. I used semi-synth for my last oil-change. $18 for the oil, $10 for the high-mileage Purolator filter. I'll probably change it in October.