0W-20 vs. 5W-30? Facts, Fictions, Acid induced imagination [Archive] - Honda Element Owners Club Forum

: 0W-20 vs. 5W-30? Facts, Fictions, Acid induced imagination

07-01-2004, 12:01 PM
I noticed a lot of threads regarding the new 0w-20 oil specs for Honda and Ford applications. In these threads I have noticed a lot of people passing opinions as basis in facts. I started this thread hoping to provide interested parties a place to discuss objectively the differences between *W-20 and *W-30 oil.

Looking at Mobil 1 synthetic oils, the differences between 0W-20, 0W-30, and 5W-30 are minimal in terms of typical inspection data. Here is a comparison of viscosity index, pour point, and flash point between the three.

Oil VI Pour Point (C) Flash Point (C)
0W-20 165 -57 232
0W-30 175 -54 234
5W-30 167 -45 224

So if you are going with a 30 weight oil because you live "harsh" climates then you might want to reconsider.

Another observation I have read is the "breakdown" of oil so in order to protect you engine you should go with a 30. A couple things to consider here, modern synthetic engine oils are not as prone to viscosity and thermal breakdown as dino oils of yester-years. For most of us, we will be using our Element as a daily driver and not for SCCA track events. Therefore, in daily driving and those of us not living in extreme climates, thermal breakdown should not be a factor in deciding oils.

Finally, many have used references to Used Oil Analysis as a justification. I have yet to see a UOA finding 0W-20 unable to lubricate properly. In fact the UOAs I have seen indicates that Honda is well justified in stating 5k to 10K intervals for oil changes. Since others have brought up bobistheoilguy.com, in their forums you will find an interesting thread of a call to Ford Racing regarding oil recommendation and their Zetec engine. In a nutshell 0W-20 is for fuel mileage and is fine for daily driving.

I leave it up to you to decide what is best for your car but let's try to make decisions based on objective evidence. Here is a list of references used.

Data on Mobil 1 oils - www.mobil1.com
Thread of call to Ford Racing on Zetec engine and oil recommendations - http://theoildrop.server101.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=007069
Used Oil Analysis 0W-20 and 0W-30 on Mazda motors as tested by Blackstone Labs - http://www.mazda6tech.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=26
Primer on engine oils - http://www.vtr.org/maintain/oil-overview.html
Understanding typical technical properties - http://www.bestsynthetic.com/techprops.shtml

07-01-2004, 12:05 PM

Thank you, Silk! The recent postings about 5W30 were bothering me, too, especially relative to (true) synthetics.

Good job on the research, and the links.

07-01-2004, 02:07 PM
Is there a definitive guide on what weight oils should be used in particular
tempature range? I always read things like, "pick the weight based the
highest and lowest temps you expect to encounter". I live in Norfolk, VA and
we get temps anywhere from the low 20's in the winter (not often though) to
the mid and upper 90's in summer(again only a few days year are this high).
This a a temperate area (30's to 80's the norm) and I would think 10W-30 or
even 15W-40 would be sufficient. Any input?

07-01-2004, 03:03 PM
Lowanhair: I am sorry to say, like everything else in life, there is no definitive. I live in upstate NY where we deal with Nor-Easters, lake effect snow, and the joys of 90+ streaks (not factoring in humidity). I use Mobil 1 0W-20 for the slightly better fuel economy and the adequate protection it provides. I really don't think you need to go with a 10W-30 and a 15W-40 is just over kill. Please don't take this the wrong way, but why are you trying to reinvent the wheel here. Honda provided a set of recommended specs that works for most applications. Unless you and your mechanic have a good reason to opt for a higher viscosity then why fret about it.

Another reason I started this thread is to dispel the myth or false impression that so many people have. That they some how are "special" and fall in the "extreme conditions" they have read about. For today's synthetic motor oils, daily driving conditions is not really a demanding application.

In case you haven't noticed, this identity crisis is also found in those that think tax cuts benefitting the top 1% some how includes them. Just to bring some of them back from the clouds, in 1998, the last year I could find figures on, it took $257,700 net worth to be in the top 10% and $3,352,100 to be in the top 1%. Using the CPI to adjust for inflation, the threshold would be around $284K and $3,697K. Yeah they need a tax break alright especially when you consider they hold 38% of the wealth. :roll:

07-01-2004, 08:52 PM
Silk thanks for the input, but dude drink a beer or something you need to
Not trying to reinvent any wheels, least of a all a Honda one, especially since
I don't own one yet. I have a Chevy C1500 with a 350cid small block V8, I'm just
lusting for an E at the moment. The most extreme category I fit in for driving
is lots of stop-and-go traffic, mostly on my commute home in the afternoon.
My last oil change I switched the Valvoline High Mileage and just wanted to be
sure that I use the best weight for my engine and driving conditions, that's
why I asked....

I'm not sure how wanting to use a specific type of oil and taxes are related but
I digress.....

Anytime you want that beer I usually have plenty of Killians or Guinness in the
fridge... :D

07-01-2004, 10:45 PM
I am relaxed. Sorry if you took that as a rant but it was my way of debating ideas. However, I am not sure why you asked that question if you only do daily commutes and don't own an Element yet. In any event, you might want to read up on the effectiveness of high mileage type oil. So far I have not found data to justify it. In fact I have read arguments against it but again not enough to go either way.

The two topics are related in the mindset people employ to make decisions. For some reason so many of us make irrational decisions base on emotions, acid induced imaginations, etc. even when abundant empirical evidence is readily available. For example, how many people actually need 200+ HP for their daily commute in NYC? But horsepower sells so guess what, everyone wants more HP. The same is true of oil selection. How many people need a higher viscosity oil for an engine spec out for 5W-20?

For the record, that reference to taxes was not directed at you but at the greater masses. Thanks for the beer offer, I'll take the Guinness, good beer and Gossett was a great statistician.

07-02-2004, 01:50 AM
I'm going 0W-30 in the summer months and 0W-20 for the rest of the year. I sometimes travel through the hot desert from LA to Vegas and think I need a little extra protection/peace of mind in those hot summer months.

07-02-2004, 09:23 AM
I still don't think the occasional drive through the desert warrants a 30 oil. According to Weatherbase, the highest average temp. at Desert National Wildlife Range, Nevada is in the month of July with 101.8F. Also keep in mind you are probably traveling at highway speeds throughout most of your trip. If you feel better about a 30 then at least go with a 5W-30 or better yet a 10W30 in your case. The wide viscosity range oils, in general, are more prone to viscosity and thermal breakdown due to the high polymer content. It is the oil that lubricates, not the additives Since you live in LA where the lowest average is 48F in January, you would be better serve with 10W-30.