Synthetic oil looking like the wrong choice

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Envy Lawn Service, May 13, 2007.

  1. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Guys, I don't know what to make of it....

    Due to the spiking prices of regular oil after katrina, I finally decided to try a synthetic engine oil and stick with it a while to see how it turned out.

    As close as the price of dino juice is to walmart synthetic, I really didn't have an excuse not to.

    So far, I have been pleased with the oil's performance. It seems to survive the abuse in the engine when it comes to the "looks" of things. I'm not getting consumption and I keep on comfortably inching out the drain intervals. The oil doesn't seem to look as dirty and shot after some hours as the dino juice does.

    When it comes to the looks of the oil, I'm not sure what to make of that part. A part of me wants to think the additive package isn't quite as good, so it doesn't clean and get dirty as fast. But on the other hand, I also wonder if it's not just standing up better.

    However, none of this is really the issue I'm unhappy with.

    I can't explain it. But despite the fact I was hoping for increased fuel economy, instead I am experiencing a consistantly marked DECREASE IN FUEL ECONOMY.

    Just picking one engine out of the bunch as an example. This one engine would typically average a gallon an hour. Sometimes a tad under, often dead on, and occasionally as high as 1.2 - 1.25 gallons per hour under hard use. This same dang engine now can't seem to get better than 1.33 gallons per hour EVER.

    Meaning I might get 5 hours now out of a 7 gallon tank. 5 hours and 15 minutes at best.

    Before I was getting 7 hours out of 7 gallons... 6 hours minimum doing the worst.
  2. johnwon

    johnwon LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 299

    That's interesting.....what weight dino oil did you use and what weight did you go with when switching to synthetic?
  3. jc1

    jc1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,092

    It is possible that it's not from the oil type but from the fuel blends. Alot of stations now use fuel with 10% ethanol all the time. Which in turn gives you less btu's per gallon therefore more fuel usage.
  4. ranger350

    ranger350 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 108

    Thats unusual to get worse fuel economy. Make sure your running the same weight oil. Ive never really checked if i'm getting better economy or not, lol. I just run synthetic because its a better oil. I use Mobil 1 for the gas and Mobil Delvac 1 for diesels. As an example, I sent in an oil sample from my truck ('01 Silverado 2500 6.0L) with 10,000km / 6250mi on the oil and came back with positive results. ie... i could have went longer. Generally, when you may more for oil, you get a more robust additive package. If your interested in oil stuff, go here..
  5. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    I like bob's... I surf around there from time to time... excellent site.

    Here's the thing about the oil though. See, typically I run diesel oils in the air cooled engines. Delvac, Delo, Rotella 15w40. But the Kawasaki's are so dang hard on fuel that I haven't went that route with them. Instead, I stuck with 10w30 right off the bat, hoping not to hurt the fuel consuption any worse.

    So I have used Chevron/Texaco oils... Havoline or Chevron Supreme 10w30 in them.
    And, I have one that's been on an all Walmart Supertech diet.
    The dino Supertech is Mobil dino.
    The Synthetic Supertech is MAG 1 synthetic.

    So it has been a "like-viscosity" exchange.
    10w30 dino to 10w30 synthetic.

    I expected the fuel consumption to stay the same, or be slightly better with synthetic oil.
    But it hasn't been.

    Anyways, I have my hunches about why this might be, but I don't want to contaminate the thread with them. Instead, I'd like to get less 'suggestive' responses to see if someone else might have a thought that hasn't crossed my mind yet.
  6. ProStreetCamaro

    ProStreetCamaro LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,287

    Here is a stupid thought.

    Have you noticed an increase in RPMs with the synthetic? If you have it is because synthetic is slicker than conventional dino oil and is causing less drag on the friction areas inside the engine. The higher rpms would mean it is makeing more power but also useing more fuel. :)

    The 23 kaw on our tank absolutely screams now that I switched it to mobil 1. With no load just cruising down the road its screaming at a little over 3,830 rpm. Under full load it drops down to 3,750.
  7. MOOSE

    MOOSE LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 393

    Try using a heavier oil, like 15w-40 the 10w 30 is thin and can cause losses. I switched to 15w 40 and noticed motors running cooler and better gas consumption. But if u live where its colder in fall they tend to be hard starters cuz of thickness of oils. Since I switched I can go longer on oil changes. Before it was about 40 hours now its about 60-70 hours just as long as its not dusty.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I'll share with you what I've learned, as I have been using synthetic blend (80% synth) for 4+ years, and am switching to full when I run out of blend but still have a good 20-30 quarts of blend left, anyhow...

    - I observe NONE of the hourly / mileage rated intervals for oil changes, instead I go purely by the way the oil looks on the dipstick. I check the oil at least once / month, weekly is good, too, every 500-1000 miles for cars / trucks. Be aware if you run low on oil, you may need to check more frequently due to leaks, however, running synth you can run a quart low no problem, even lower (but I wouldn't be for purposefully testing that).
    > If it's turned a dark enough color, it gets changed, regardless.
    > If it has not turned dark enough, it does not, also regardless.
    >> Keep in mind, an engine that sits for some time and has clean oil in it can and will turn the oil dark to black once it gets to running hot.

    Now, the color of oil that is at the point it needs changing like now is in the pictures below... Technically, this is a little bit past but not too bad, any worse thou is too far gone, so the oil in these pics got changed immediately after I took the pics, probably should've done it a bit sooner, heh...
    If the oil is black, you done did it wrong lol, but one thing to remember is synthetic as in the pics is still at least as good as clear fresh conventional but not beyond this, so no it can't be run forever.

    It's almost black but not quite, hard to describe the exact tint but a little lighter and you can change it is ok, but I do let it get to turning some color lol, darkish I guess, but not dark.




  9. MOOSE

    MOOSE LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 393

    Very well described there TOPSITES. I like the pics, shows it perfectly. I check my mowers every morning and if it looks like it is in picture it's changed. if not check next morning.
    The truck gets checked every couple days, older truck. Oil is cheaper then a new Engine.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Let me rephrase...

    I do keep a log of miles / time intervals as a reminder, and find it interesting that usually it does need changing about that time (but not always). Sometimes thou, it needs to be changed sooner, other times it can go longer.

    On the truck and car, 3500'ish usually, but believe it or not the above pics were taken after only 1200 miles...
    My guess is when it got really hot is that it dissolved some gunk.
    So, I changed it, yup, filter too.

    I've gone 1500 miles since that, and so far none of that discoloration is present, so the problem seems to have resolved itself, thou I suspect the next change will be due in the 3-4k range.

    If in doubt as to color-based methods or indications, then change as specified by the intervals.

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