Oils, zinc, again

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bartigue
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Oils, zinc, again

Post by bartigue » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:13 pm

Another "what kind of oil" thread popped up on Facebook with 10,000 opinions - I pose the question differently because I know most of you long time owners never bothered to look up zinc and phosphate levels. You just buy good oil and change it routinely.

My question is: has anyone ever experienced an actual oil-related (wear related) failure on your FIAT? I've run either Rotella-T (which is a high zinc oil) or nothing-fancy Castrol in my Spiders (FIATs and Alfas) since 20 years ago. I've never had a wear problem, I've never actually had an internal engine failure of any kind on a FIAT or Alfa.
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Ritmo75
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Re: Oils, zinc, again

Post by Ritmo75 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:58 pm

I usually run whatever high mileage oil is on special at the Zone. Filters, though, I'm a little more picky about. Every 5k

I've put hundreds of thousands of miles on various Lancias/Fiats and rely on a Yugo as a daily driver. I've never experienced any catastrophic internal motor wear due to oil that I could tell. There was the time when my one Yugo rounded a lobe of the camshaft, but I blame the poor quality of the camshaft on that and not the oil.
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rridge
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Re: Oils, zinc, again

Post by rridge » Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:02 am

I asked the question many years ago on this forum. Zinc is a secondary lubricant that only comes into action when the oil film breaks down momentarily when the engine is starting or the pickup becomes uncovered during hard cornering. The classic examples of engines that need high zinc levels are pushrod engines with high cam spring pressures, multi carb engines with rich starting cycles that dilute oil and diesels.

Didn't hear any stories of OHC Fiat engines failing due to lack of lubrication. Did hear many stories about owners wanting "insurance" against cam and bearing issues from uncovered pickups.

The kind of insurance I need for my Fiat is anti-corrosion insurance. If I could find an oil that was guaranteed to leak in a controlled way and provide a protective coating the the undersides of the car I'd be on it. Perhaps that's the real benefit of synthetics in old cars. When my Spider finally rusts away I expect the cylinder bores in the engine will still have their factory honing marks and the nitrate hardened crankshaft and cams will still be wear free.
Richard
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cgranju
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Re: Oils, zinc, again

Post by cgranju » Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:30 am

For many, many years I simply used Castrol 20w50 and changed it frequently. Of late, perhaps here & definitely in the weird world of farcebook I've read much more about zinc content and subtle chemical content changes our trusty go-to's like Castrol. Thus, I've committed to using the remainder of my Castrol (I usually buy oil, filters & other consumables in bulk) and have used Rotella (which one? T3?) and most recently happened upon a rather compelling explanation of why a particular Valvoline (VR1?) oil is a good idea with cam/tappet setups like ours. Ultimately, the cost differential is a minor price for the "insurance" factor, since today ALL automotive chemicals are simply too damned high!

That all said, other than about two years ago having a still undiagnosed internal engine noise in a 1608 which I suppose could be attributed to some oil issue, I have not personally seen on my own cars any cause-effect relationship. Of note: I do not race my Fiats and neither build them nor subject them to the levels of stress racing would incur.
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Re: Oils, zinc, again

Post by mikehynes » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:00 am

I have never had an issue, but I did get a junkyard engine that had horrible wear and nasty sludge in it. Cam lobes worn, bearings shot - basically junk (duh).
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rridge
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Re: Oils, zinc, again

Post by rridge » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:55 am

For many years the real issue with lubrication on late Spiders was pushed in oil pans and compromised and broken oil pick-ups. The 2L engine sump is an easy target for high parking curbs. In the process of replacing dented oil pans and their damaged pickups owners often sourced new aftermarket oil pans that lacked the factory baffles. OEM pans were expensive and baffled aftermarket pans were unavailable. Today you can get a baffled aftermarket 2L oil pan for a $20 premium. That's a good lubrication investment.
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Re: Oils, zinc, again

Post by San Jose Steve » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:22 pm

My other "Fun Car" is Gramps 1959 GMC truck. It has135K on the original block and I've never put anything in it other than Penzoil 10W30 in the past 3 decades. No zinc additives ever. Not sure what the compression is, but it still pulls like a mule with it's 270 mated to a 3 on the tree.

Last 2 summers I drove it on a 400 mile round trip fishing in the Sierras. Going from sea level to 10,000' a few times has convinced me that the zinc thing is over rated. (at least in old GMC's...) -Steve (The Fiat driving) Ferrari
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jseabolt
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Re: Oils, zinc, again

Post by jseabolt » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:10 pm

Good question Brad. For years I've ran nothing but Castrol 10W 30 in EVERYTHING I own. No matter what the owner's manual said. I guess this was the rule of thumb when owning a car in the Southeastern United States.

Now some cars are requiring "weird" weights. Like Ford modular engines use something like 5W20 and my 98 Chevy van takes 5W30. Some Hondas use 0W20?

I just recently started using the Rotella 15W-40 because Richard said that was the weight Fiat called for from the factory.

But getting back to your question. The only "wear" I could possibly say when it comes to my Fiat Spider is the exhaust valve guides seem to wore out yet nothing else has. Just based on oil consumption.

When the head gasket started leaking about 15 years ago, by that time I was adding a quart of oil every 800 miles. It was using oil before it started leaking. My theory is if the oil consumption is not fouling plugs, don't worry about it. Since my Subaru has used oil from the day I bought it new.

But after I installed a re-built cylinder head in 2002, the engine now uses no oil whatsoever. The engine was overhauled back in 1993. OH I did have the turbo incident about five years ago where the compressor nut worked loose and was dumping oil into the intake but that's a different matter.

I have no idea how many miles are on this car due to speedometer inaccuracies, the fact I've had three speedometers in this car, etc.

I've always wondered if the heat generated by the turbo caused premature wear on the exhaust valve guides. And if the life of a twin cam head gasket is 60,000 miles. The bottom ends seem to last forever though.
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Turbo Spider oil needs

Post by rridge » Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:24 am

Turbos, particularly the older ones that don't have a water cooling circuit are a special case when it comes to oil because of the higher temps that the oil sees as it passes through the uncooled turbo core. The 1981 Turbo Spider Owners Manual supplement had a whole section on oil. The oil change interval was shortened and and three oil grade options were spelled out. The preferred oil for temperate conditions (32F to 95F) was a singe grade SAE30W. Alternatives were 15W-40 regular or 10W-30 synthetic. They also called for an API service code of SF/CC.

The service codes are updated periodically to meet the ever increasing demands of modern engines and longer service intervals. The 1981 owners manual for most Spiders called for the same oil viscosities as the turbo manual, though there was no mention of a synthetic oil option. The Turbo manual cut the the oil change interval in half from 7,000mi to 3,750mi for the Turbo. Regular Spiders were o.k. with the code SE oil, which was the 1971 standard. Turbo Spiders required the newer SF code. In addition, Turbo Spiders required an oil that also had a CC service code rating. CC was the old code that indicated the oil was acceptable for marine and diesel use. The only oil I know of that was rated SF/CC then and now is Shell Rotella 15W-40.

Someone in Shell's marketing dept. figured out years ago that fleet users had something in common with James Seabolt, they did not like to stock different grades of oil. So Shell came up with an oil additive package that was acceptable for both diesels and spark engines. Today the oil requirements of turbo engines both oil and gas have largely converged but I still find the 15W-40 a good viscosity range. Bradley Artigue was the one who called my attention to Rotella many years ago and I still use it.
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Re: Oils, zinc, again

Post by vandor » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:14 am

rridge wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:02 am
The classic examples of engines that need high zinc levels are pushrod engines with high cam spring pressures, multi carb engines with rich starting cycles that dilute oil and diesels.
Several articles I read said that 'flat tappet' engines are prone to cam wear without a zinc additive. It did not specify whether pushrod or not, but of course most classic cars have pushrod engines, so that may have been the assumption.

I believe most motor oil used to have some zinc in them, but in the last decades it got taken out because of emissions considerations.

As Chris said most oils are priced too high nowadays, so the cost difference to use an oil with zinc is small and certainly won't hurt anything. Sometimes I find diesel oil on sale for less than regular oil, in that case one can even save a few dollars.
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