Three Primary Factors are Normally Responsible for Oil Failure

Oil that becomes too thin, too thick or too acidic has exceeded its useful life.

Amsoil Technical Editor Dan Peterson

Because they work to suspend contaminants and by-products of combustion, it is not uncommon for gasoline and diesel oils to become dark. It may be more noticeable in some applications. It does not mean the oil is failing or must be changed.

Fortunately, a number of different tools are available that measure motor oil’s condition and its ability to continuously protect and perform its other key functions. When motor oil exceeds its useful life or is impacted by a mechanical defect, it most commonly becomes too thin to separate metal parts, too thick to pump or too acidic for continued use.

Too Thin
When oil becomes too thin, it fails to provide the required oil film thickness to separate metal surfaces. Different engine designs require different starting oil thickness or viscosity. Viscosity at 100 °C is one of the most highlighted oil properties and is a good indicator of adequate oil film thickness in an engine at operating temperature.

A number of things can cause engine oil to become too thin to protect engine parts. Excessive mechanical shear can thin oil to the point of causing issues with engine protection. As motor oil cycles through the engine, it is exposed to shear stress in the engine’s upper end, piston walls and bearings that reduces its shear strength. Continuous exposure to these conditions causes oils built with inferior shear stability to thin excessively, leaving critical engine parts susceptible to metal-to-metal contact.

Fuel contamination of the oil sump is another major cause of excessively thin engine oil. Both gasoline and diesel fuel are thinner than engine oil and when mixed, the oil’s viscosity, film thickness and ability to separate parts are significantly reduced. While a small amount of fuel dilution is relatively common and does not have a material impact on oil life, excessive fuel dilution in mechanically compromised equipment is much more harmful.

Too Thick
When it comes to oil, although it may seem like “the thicker, the better,” oil that is too thick is just as detrimental as oil that is too thin. Excessively thick oil is the most commonly discussed oil failure and the subject of many big oil company marketing campaigns.

When oil becomes too thick to flow to engine parts, these areas are starved of oil, resulting in metal-to-metal contact that can lead to catastrophic engine damage. The precursor to sludge is oil that has become much thicker than its original design. The cause is a complex chemical reaction involving heat, combustion byproducts and oxygen combining to create chemical attack on the oil molecules.

The resulting chemical reaction creates a much thicker substance that does not flow or protect as well as the original oil. When the reaction continues, sludge begins to form in areas of higher localized temperature and low flow. While some varnish is normal, sludge is a sign of excessively degraded oil that needs to be replaced. In order to inhibit sludge and varnish, the oil must resist attack by oxidation forces. Synthetic base oils have a much higher level of saturated molecules that inherently resist this constant bombardment. Additionally, antioxidants are added to either reduce the formation of free-radical oxidation precursors or soak up these precursors once they form.

Another cause of oil thickening, primarily affecting diesel oils, is excessive sootloading in mechanically unsound engines. Diesel oils are designed to handle some soot contamination, but when the soot overloads the available dispersants in the oil, the oil thickens. The agglomerated soot particles reach a critical size and cause excessive wear commonly seen in diesel liners.

Too Acidic
Acids are a normal by-product of burning fossil fuels. Different fuel types, engines and combustion conditions create varying levels of acid formation. These acids, transferred via blow-by gases, are carried away to the engine oil. Oils are designed with a detergent that neutralizes these acids before they accumulate and cause engine damage. The detergent level is measured with a test called Total Base Number (TBN). This measure of alkalinity drops over the life of the oil and reaches a critical level when the oil can no longer consume the acids created by combustion. When TBN reaches a critical level, acids build up quickly and attack the surfaces most susceptible, including yellow metals and lead-lined bearings. Without correction, this condition quickly worsens and results in excessive chemical wear. Although less common, this failure mode can cause significant damage if left uncorrected.

AMSOIL synthetic motor oils are formulated to provide a broad level of overall protection, evidenced by guaranteed extended drain intervals. Synthetic base oils help resist oxidative decomposition, and a properly balanced, high-quality additive package helps keep contaminants in check and engines running for a long time.


The recent launch of OE Synthetic Motor Oil has allowed AMSOIL and its Dealers to reach a whole new base of customers, while providing a stepping stone to the significant benefits and cost savings of XL Synthetic Motor Oil or the top-tier line of Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil.

Amsoil OE 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel OilBased on the same concept, new AMSOIL OE 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel Oil (OED) offers high-quality protection and performance for original equipment manufacturer (OEM)-recommended drain intervals at an initial price comparable with other standard-drain synthetic diesel oils.

OE 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel Oil meets API CJ-4 specifications and is suitable for modern and older, on- and off-road diesel applications. It is an excellent entry-level product for customers who want to move up to synthetic quality, but won’t pay a significantly higher price than a conventional oil or aren’t initially interested in extending their drain intervals.

OE 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel Oil is ideal for those applications excluded from the extended drain interval recommendations of Premium API CJ-4 Synthetic Diesel Oil due to persistent fuel dilution issues, including 2007 to present light-duty GM, Ford and Dodge diesel pickups and 2007 to 2009 Caterpillar C13 and C15 on-highway engines. It exceeds the higher performance demands of modern engines and withstands the stress of heat, soot and acids to help prevent deposits, wear and corrosion.

Meets Emission System Requirements
AMSOIL OE 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel Oil is a low-sulfated ash formulation that meets the requirements for low-emission quality diesel oil and protects under the most severe conditions found in modern diesel engines. It is compatible with all exhaust treatment devices and is designed for engines equipped with diesel particulate filters (DPF).

Extreme-Temperature Performance
AMSOIL OE 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel Oil is formulated for improved heat and oxidation resistance over conventional petroleum oil for cleaner engine operation. It maintains power and fuel efficiency for superior engine performance. OE Diesel Oil’s dependable cold-temperature flow assures easier startup and improved post-startup protection.

Resists Oil Consumption and Emissions
Due to its low rate of volatility (burn-off), AMSOIL OE 15W- 40 Synthetic Diesel Oil is able to reduce oil consumption and emissions. It maintains film strength even during hightemperature operating conditions to ensure dependable protection, performance and fuel efficiency.

Controls Soot-Thickening and Wear
AMSOIL OE 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel Oil is formulated with premium synthetic base stocks and robust detergent/ dispersant additives that keep soot particles from agglomerating and forming larger wear-causing particles. It allows for optimal soot-related viscosity control to maintain stay-in-grade performance.

Synthetic Diesel Oil is recommended for diesel engines and, where appropriate, gasoline engines requiring any of the following specifications:

  • API CJ-4, CI-4+, SM…
  • ACEA E9
  • DDC 93K218
  • Cummins CES 20081
  • MB 228.31
  • CAT ECF-3, ECF-2, ECF-1-a
  • Mack EO-O Plus
  • Volvo VDS-4
  • MAN 3575
  • Renault RLD-3
  • MTU Type 2.1

BuyNow/Pricing Information

From the President’s Desk June 2011

Amsoil President and Management DirectorsFrom the President's Desk

It wasn’t all that long ago that the business of selling AMSOIL motor oil involved much more than just selling oil. Plenty of legwork had to be done before any transactions were completed. Hurdles had to be cleared, and mindsets had to be altered. Synthetic oil was still new on the scene, and customers required education. “What makes the oil so special,” they asked, “and why should I pay more for it?”

Despite the obstacles, our Dealers made tremendous inroads. The savvy segment of the motor oil market recognized the benefits of our oil. The performance made a difference. Then, as other synthetic oils began to appear, the demand for our products continued to climb. Others now shared in the education process and added support to the movement we started.

That movement has even more support today. In a market where once the automakers, oil manufacturers and industry organizations essentially closed us out, synthetic lubricants are now chewing up shares. As you will read on pages 10 and 11 in this issue of your Magazine, all of the forces that drive the motor oil market are pushing greater demand for synthetics.

In 2005 synthetic motor oil claimed five percent of the market. Today it claims seven to nine percent, and by 2019 it is projected to claim twelve and a half percent. That is tremendous growth in a very large market, but I think even that is conservative.

We can look back to just 1992 when General Motors broke ground by requiring that every Corvette rolling off its assembly lines be factory filled with synthetic oil. Eight Corvette engines had seized at the General Motors assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Cold weather had moved in, and the thick, hard-to-pump oil did not reach the front camshaft bearings which were destroyed by lack of lubrication. At 30 degrees, incidentally, it wasn’t all that cold. It doesn’t speak well for conventional oil.

The move of General Motors to synthetics, of course, was just the first of many. Advancements in engine design are now demanding more from lubrication. Take a look at the list on page 11 in this issue of the vehicles now factory filled with synthetic motor oil. That list will continue to grow.

The organizations responsible for setting lubricant performance specifications are driving the demand for synthetics too. Oils are now required to be much more robust. Specifications calling for better wear protection, greater engine cleanliness, improved fuel economy and reduced emissions are making it more difficult for conventional oils to make the grade. And the growing demand for extended oil drain intervals continues the push for synthetics.

AMSOIL has led the way for close to forty years and has helped drive the course of lubrication. We have earned our reputation through the quality of our products, and the diversity of our product line meets the demands of all customers. As more people look to synthetic oil they will look to AMSOIL.

It all points to opportunity, and the introduction of our new OE 15W- 40 Synthetic Diesel Oil expands that opportunity even further. At a lower cost than our extended drain diesel oils, OE Diesel reaches those motorists who appreciate the performance of synthetic oil but aren’t yet ready to move up to extended drains. It’s the ideal oil for those diesel applications affected by the fuel dilution issues that prohibit extended drains. Owners of 2007 and newer Ford, Dodge and GM diesel pick-ups will appreciate the value of our new OE Diesel. With OE, they get AMSOIL quality at a price comparable to standard-drain diesel oils.

As a final note, I want to thank the Dealers who attended our AMSOIL University. I enjoyed seeing all of you and congratulate you for taking a major step toward even greater success in your AMSOIL Dealership. I encourage all Dealers to join us next year. And to all of our Preferred Customers, I can assure you that at any time you feel that an AMSOIL Dealership is right for you, we will do all we can to help in your success too.

A.J. “Al” Amatuzio
President and CEO, AMSOIL INC.

Customizable Banners Now Available in Amsoil Print Center

New banners featuring AMSOIL sales messages are available for purchase through the AMSOIL Print Center. These customizable banners are constructed of heavyweight (13 oz.) vinyl and printed with fade-resistant inks to help withstand outdoor conditions. Each banner features three customizable lines of text Dealers can use to promote their Dealership information, their accounts’ information or any sales message of their choice. Six designs are now available and additional designs will be available soon. Banners have grommets for easy application and come in either 8’x4’, 5’x2.5’ or 2’x5’. AMSOIL Print Center banner pricing includes shipping. Visit the Print Center using the link on the main page of the Dealer Zone.

Pricing (includes shipping):
8’ x 4’ (96” x 48”): $86.00 each
5’ x 2.5’ (60” x 30”): $75.40 each
2’ x 5’ (24” x 60”): $75.40 each

You must become an Amoil Home Dealer to access the print center.

What’s Driving the Growth of Synthetics?

Although overall U.S. lubricant consumption has declined since 2006, the demand for synthetic lubricants continues growing, even throughout a worldwide recession. For example, while synthetic motor oil represented 5 percent of the motor oil market in 2005, it now accounts for 7-9 percent. Leading industry research company The Freedonia Group Inc. projects 7.3 percent annual growth for sales of synthetic motor oil through 2013 and 6.3 percent growth for synthetic hydraulic and transmission fluids. A new study by Kline & Co., meanwhile, indicates synthetics’ share of the global lubricants market will hit 12.5 percent by 2019.

New AMSOIL Break-In Oil Provides High-Quality Engine Prep (BRK)

Amsoil Break-In Oil BRKNew AMSOIL Break-In Oil (BRK) is an SAE 30 viscosity grade oil formulated without friction modifiers to allow for quick and efficient piston ring seating in new and rebuilt high-performance and racing engines. It contains anti-wear additives to protect cam lobes, lifters and rockers during the critical break-in period when wear rates are highest, while its increased film strength protects rod and main bearings from damage. AMSOIL Break-In Oil provides Dealers access to engine builders, race teams and car enthusiasts actively seeking a quality break-in oil.

See the June AMSOIL Magazine for more information.

AMSOIL OE 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel Oil (OED)

Amsoil OED 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel OilNew AMSOIL OE 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel Oil (OED) offers high-quality protection and performance for original equipment manufacturer (OEM)-recommended drain intervals at an initial price comparable with other standard-drain synthetic diesel oils.

OE 15W-40 Synthetic Diesel Oil meets API CJ-4 specifications and is suitable for modern and older, on- and off-road diesel applications. It is an excellent entry-level product for customers who want to move up to synthetic quality, but won’t pay a significantly higher price than a conventional oil or aren’t initially interested in extending their drain intervals. OE serves as an excellent door-opener for Dealers, who can later educate customers on the benefits of stepping up to AMSOIL Premium API CJ-4 Synthetic Diesel Oil (DEO, DME) and saving money through extended drain intervals when possible.

AMSOIL Price Adjustment Effective July 1 2011

Multiple price increases from suppliers and skyrocketing freight costs have forced AMSOIL to implement a price adjustment effective July 1. The adjustment mainly affects lubricants. AMSOIL has received price increases from base oil and additive suppliers as recently as today, and therefore cannot yet determine the exact percentage of increase necessary; however, it is expected to be approximately 3 to 8 percent. While the adjustment affects both the U.S. and Canada, the percentage of increase may vary in each country as conditions dictate.

AMSOIL refrains from adjusting pricing as much as possible. Unfortunately, the current market is not conducive to long-term pricing stability. While crude has recently demonstrated marginal stability, chemical suppliers continue to increase costs, citing tight supply within the industry and noting the lag between the increased price of crude and increased costs of producing high-quality raw materials. This is affecting all lubricant manufacturers. As AMSOIL prepares to implement its third price adjustment since January 1, some competitors have already imposed their fourth price increase this year.

Updated pricing information will be available in the Product Pricing Interface in the Dealer Zone as soon as possible. Servicing Dealers are encouraged to inform their customers and accounts of the price adjustment; however, retail and commercial accounts will be notified of the impending price change by email, postcard and an Account Zone message. The AMSOIL Retail Catalog (G100, G300), Wholesale Price Lists (G3500, G8500) and Dealer Profit List (G3501) will be revised to reflect new pricing and commissions; watch the Dealer Zone for an announcement of availability. Repeated price adjustments prevented inserting the AMSOIL Retail Catalog in AMSOIL Magazine this Spring. AMSOIL plans to include the catalog in AMSOIL Magazine at the next regularly scheduled catalog revision October 1. | Online Store

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