synthetic or not.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by awm, Oct 9, 2002.

  1. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,354

    well ive been using mobile 1 syn in everything,for about 18 months.the main hoped for result was cooler running.
    this is my impression .
    in small engines it lubricates no better than good spec dino. with proper changing i dont see it exstending life of the motor. this from someone who has always been able to get very good hrs out of any motor. i dont think its going to give me the exstension on my command engine ,that i was hoping for,for the exstra cost.
    i recently had my wifes escort start a little oil trickle back, after it was left setting over nite. changed to dino. and after 2 days no more smoke in the mornings. my mechanic says he thinks syn may harden the valve stems .my experience would verify that, imho.i added a seal softner ,but was very surprised when the motor quit smoking in the morning.
    any with a long hrs motor, may have seen the same thing.this post is not to state absolutes ,only to give my observations . perhaps this may help someone.
  2. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    The main reason I use Mobil 1 in my small engines (or any synthetic) is because the engines do run cooler. The amount of time my and my friends engines have to cool off before shutdown is reduced about two thirds. A cooler running engine is a happy engine. Some of my friends were just leaving their engines running rather than shut them off between jobs. This is reducing costs for them because they don't have to do oil and filter changes as often.
  3. Jimbo

    Jimbo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,093

    Im sure the engines run cooler, and thus longer with synthetic oils, but is it worth it?

    In an expensive automobile which uses an engine that costs thousands of dollars to buy and install, and runs for up to 200K miles (in some cases), and has oil changes every 3000-5000 miles it probably makes sense to use synthetic oil.

    However with a A/C lawn mower engine which cost around $1500.00, easy to install, and oil changes every month or 25 hours does it make sense?
    My opinion is that it will not increase the engine life span enough to offset the increased cost in maintinance. You could change your regular oil two or three times as often for the same price of one synthetic oil change. The most important thing with oil it is changed often so that it is clean. Dirty synthetic oil will wear an engine just like dirty regular oil.

    Keep your motor (fins), and topside recoil grill clean. Let your motor cool off for as long as you can before putting it away. When you let your engine cool..dont let it idle...pull up the RPMS a little bit to pull more air over the engine to aid in cooling. And change your oil often.

    If you really want to spend more money and are worried abut heat on the a W/C engine.

    Jim ;)
  4. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    So I think the question is:

    What are the costs of conventional oil vs. synthetic oil?

    I will provide my numbers and you can provide yours.

    I change my oil every 50 hours and the filter every 100 hours.

    I use Mobil1 and Purolator Pure 1 filters.

    I think that I can reasonable expect to get 4,000 hours from my 25 Kohler before even thinking about doing major block work to it.

    I will use 40 oil filters at $5.00 a peice = $200

    I will use 160 quarts of oil at $5 a peice = $800

    Total spent on oil and filters is $1000

    Now here comes the interesting part. If I only spend 2 minutes letting my engine cool down between cuts instead of 10 minutes I will save 8 minutes run time per cut. If I cut 800 lawns a year (just a made up number) I will save 106 hours a year of run time and maintenance costs. This alone adds several years to the life of the engine over the long haul.

    And I also suspect that by the time the engine needs replacement the cost of the engine will be in excess of $2,000. That's not chump change in my book.

    I think it really comes down to how long you intend to keep the mower. I intend for my Dixie to be my last big mower. When the Dixie's career of cutting grass is done so is mine. If you're only going to use the mower for a few years and then replace it then conventional oil is the way to go.
  5. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,354

    my thinking has been similar to richards.
    at least for my equipment the outcome in longer life and good service just doesnt indicate any real improvement,
    in the areas that are important to me.
    my oil is not allowed to get dirty looking
    which is probably why i get as good result with good dino. if u look at super techs specs they are the same as mobile 1 ,as far as i can tell.i dont allow it to have time to break way to make an engine last forever. all this is just opinions and im sure the bottum line is what works for each individual.later now
  6. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    I think I do it a little differently.

    I use conventional oil in all our WB's. After 2 years on a new machine, we put on a new engine.

    At 4 years, we sell it or trade it in for a new one figuring the hydros will no longer be under warranty for much longer and will probably give out soon.

    But I do run Synthetic oil in our 3 Toro Groundsmasters. I intend on keeping them a while longer than the WB's...especially since I recently saw the price of a new one...ouch
  7. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,457

    Both head mechanics at the two different dealers I went to said it's not worth it.


    BOTURF LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 316

    having trouble get this to post will try again

    BOTURF LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 316

    i dont think this is a scam by the oil companys , my engines seem to run cooler and have more power by the proof of the tiny tach and if you can get just a few more hrs between oil changes then over the long run it does pay for it self if you keep a mower longer than 300 hrs
  10. Jimbo

    Jimbo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,093


    Im not going to get into a pissin contest with you. You are missing a few points here.

    1. You need to figure out the price difference in oils, and compare to the cost of the extra hours (you think you will gain) not the price of a complete engine.
    Regular oil $0.99 per quart. Filter $3.99

    Total cost for 4000 hours = $318.00 on oil and filters.

    Again, you didnt get the amount of hours yet!!!Time will tell that story. But, even if you did you need figure how many more hours the extra $682.00 you spent got you. To just break even you would have to logged over a 1 thousand more hours to be worth it.

    Now lets talk about the cool down time.

    1. If your really concerned about this buy a water-cooled machine.

    2. I trim while my engine cools so I waste no working time.

    I challange you to this next statement. I will even perform the tests myself if you agree to listen to fact after the test is complete.

    1. Run synthetic oil in your engine one week, and shut it down immediatly after you are finished mowing.
    - Wait ten minutes and measure the engine case temperature with a laser thermometer.

    2. Fill the engine with standard oil the next week and perform the same test.

    I bet you will find no difference in the temperature providing you mowed the same area and the weather was about the same temperature.


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