Long Life Oil for the Saturn EcoTec 2.2 Liter Engine...

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Kirk Kohnen, Oct 10, 2003.

  1. Kirk Kohnen

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    Hi all!

    I've found something interesting.

    As we know, the 2.2 liter EcoTec engine on the VUEs, the L series and the
    ION is an international GM engine.

    This link:


    shows that they're recommending long-life synthetic oil in Europe.

    The specs are GM-LL-A-025, and GM-LL-B-025

    What oil meets these specs?




    shows that 0W-40 Mobil 1 meets (BOTH!) these specs.

    So, one can travel up to 30,000 km (18,645 miles) on a single change of oil.

    Yet, Saturn, who uses the same engine as the Opel (2.2 liter EcoTec) above
    says on page 305 of the ION manual:

    "SAE 5W-30 Recommended, SAE 10W30 Acceptable if 5W-30 is not available...Do
    Not Use SAE 10W-40, SAE 20W-50 or Any Other Viscosity Grade Oil Not

    Now, it seems to me that I should be able to go to Wal-Mart, pick up a 5
    quart bottle of Mobil 1 0W-40 (for less than $20) and use it for three oil
    change cycles (which would be normally 3000-6000 miles each) before

    Why won't Saturn say this about the oil change interval?

    Thoughts? Comments?

    Am I all wet? Oily?
    Kirk Kohnen, Oct 10, 2003
  2. Kirk Kohnen

    RC Guest

    If the article recommended SAE 5W-30, why are you going to buy 0W-40?

    RC, Oct 11, 2003
  3. Quite likely, with synthetic oil you could get away with changing the oil
    significantly less often. However, the oil change interval in the oil-life
    monitoring system for Ecotec-engined cars in North America assumes the use
    of conventional oil.

    Also, 30,000 km is a best-case interval - non-ideal driving conditions such
    as cold starts or heavy engine loads will cause the oil life monitoring
    system to request an oil change sooner, as the Opel article says. In
    particular, synthetic oil does not deteriorate as quickly as conventional,
    but it can still become contaminated by engine blow-by and condensation.
    Robert Hancock, Oct 11, 2003
  4. Kirk Kohnen

    marx404 Guest

    Kirk, ya might wanna check out your oil viscosity again. I would only use
    the viscosity that Saturn recommends, (unless you are driving under extreme
    conditions that require different). There is a reason they recommend 5w-30.

    As far as using Mobil 1 synthetic, I have been using it for years and highly
    recommend it for any engine applicable, BUT - NEVER - exceed the
    recommended oil change cycle. Most ppl make this mistake when using
    synthetic because of the myth that you can go longer between oil changes.
    You can and most likely will ultimately cause damage to your engine if you
    dont change any oil at the recommended intervals.
    marx404, Oct 11, 2003
  5. Kirk Kohnen

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    Those aren't articles, they're flyers from Opel regarding their cars with
    the EcoTec 2.2 Liter engine, the same one as Saturn uses for all of its 2.2
    Liter engines.

    As to why buy the 0W-40?

    Because the information that I listed in the URLs below (which are from
    Opel, the "manufacturer" of the EcoTec 2.2 Liter engines) states that the
    long life oil has to meet General Motors spec GM-LL-A-025.

    Mobil 1 5W-30 does NOT state on the bottle, or Mobil's Website, or in the
    Opel information, that it meets GM-LL-A-025.
    Mobil 1 0W-40 states on the bottle, at Mobil's website and in the Opel
    information, that it indeed meets GM-LL-A-025.

    I'm trying to get the groups insights as to why GM is not telling us United
    States folks that we could be using 0W-40 Mobil 1 in our 2.2 Liter Saturns,
    and changing oil 1/3 as often.
    Kirk Kohnen, Oct 11, 2003
  6. Kirk Kohnen

    Kirk Kohnen Guest


    This is my point. For the SAME 2.2 Liter EcoTec engine, GM recommends 5W-30
    oil for the United States market, but recommends Synthetic 0W-40 Mobil 1
    (among other oils) as meeting GM-LL-A-025, and therefore useable for
    extended drain intervals.
    But (he says, stammering),

    GM is RECOMMENDING extended oil change cycles for the SAME 2.2 Liter engine
    if you use an oil which meets GM-LL-A-025, and Mobil 1 0W-40 does!

    This is why I'm asking what people think.
    Kirk Kohnen, Oct 11, 2003
  7. Is the oil weighting system the same in Europe as here? ...I was thinking
    there might be a parallel like US gallons and Imperial gallon...
    Jonnie Santos, Oct 11, 2003
  8. Kirk Kohnen

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    It appears to be. If I go to my local Wal-Mart, I can grab a bottle of 0W-40
    Mobil 1 that states, right on the bottle, that it meets GM-LL-A-025.

    Now, there could be some things that impact why there is a difference:

    1) The US market has to meet the Corporate Average Fuel Economy figures. I'm
    not sure whether the European market has anything similar. 5W-30 is thinner
    at running temperatures than 0W-40, so an engine using 5W-30 will get
    slightly better mileage. Because that really matters in the US market, GM
    might be saying to use a 5W-30 oil here and change it more often. In the
    European market, GM might recommend a thicker oil as being a bit more
    protective (and provide some margin to thinning) and able to last longer.

    2) Is there something in US gasoline (due to EPA regulations) that in the
    blow-by process, gets in to the oil and has to be removed (by changing oil)
    more often than European gasoline?

    I'm asking these questions because I'd like to get to the bottom of why the
    same engine gets different oil change recommendations in different markets.
    Smells fishy to me...
    Kirk Kohnen, Oct 11, 2003
  9. Could it also be that part of the reason is the US consumer is much quicker
    to hire a lawyer when things do not work (no matter if it is the consumers
    fault or the companies). If they recommend the longer mileage between oil
    changes and people have engine problems guess who has to foot the bill.
    Though if they stick with the shorter mileage between oil changes their
    liability decreases. I would say it is just a matter of money why they
    stick with the shorter mileage between oil changes and the type of oil they

    Seamus' Stuff, Oct 12, 2003
  10. Kirk Kohnen

    Alan King Guest

    Trivial, yes. Interesting? Debatable.

    The fact that GM of Europe and GM of North America recommend different oil
    viscosities and change intervals for the same engine is not that big a deal.
    There are significant differences in climate and driving duty cycle that
    contribute to valid reasons for these differences.

    And I'll let you in on a dirty little secret that could get me fired if "they"
    find out I told. American engineers and European engineers don't always agree
    100% on how things should be done. That may shock you, but it is true.

    Now, in Europe it doesn't get as cold as it does some places in North America,
    so they can get away with the 40 weight part of that range. It also doesn't
    get as hot as does in our South and Southwest, so they can get away with the 0
    weight part of the range. You want to try something validated for European
    driving conditions, that is your business, just don't ask me to condone it.

    Alan King
    Alan King, Oct 12, 2003
  11. I don't think it's a major contributor to the difference in oil change
    intervals, but I believe North American gas does tend to contain more sulfur
    than European gas, which does contribute to oil contamination because it
    causes acids to form when the gas is burned. This is going to be changing
    over the next couple of years as tighter regulations on sulfur content in
    gas come into effect in the US and Canada.
    Robert Hancock, Oct 12, 2003
  12. Probably due to automotive cultural differences here versus in Europe.
    In the US, people are conditioned to the 3000 mile oil change, and also
    aren't used to looking for manufacturer-specific ratings on the oil that
    they buy (and how many car owners in the US even read the owner's manuals
    of their cars?). Also, even dealers (not necessarily GM dealers) have
    been known to put the incorrect oil (not the correct SAE grade or
    API/ACEA/manufacturer rating) in cars that they service. While some
    owners may be willing to look for the hard to find oil that meets the
    specifications for the long oil change interval, would the costs
    associated with owners who put in the wrong oil (either warranty claims
    or bad press from denied warranty claims) be too much of a problem for
    a GM division selling mainstream (i.e. not expensive or exotic) vehicles?
    Timothy J. Lee, Oct 13, 2003
  13. The following URL:


    may be of interest. The people behind it ran a Camaro for 18000
    miles on Mobil 1, doing oil analysis every 1000 miles.
    Timothy J. Lee, Oct 13, 2003
  14. Kirk Kohnen

    Kirk Kohnen Guest



    The following is directly from saab cars USA and provided for your
    Home | E-mail us


    Saab Service and Warranty Reference Library

    Date: 12/2/02

    To: All Saab Dealers
    Saab Service Manager
    Saab Parts Manager

    From: Rich Miller

    Code: 100/200

    Reference: REVISED - Recommended oil grades for 2003 Model Saabs including
    9-3 Sport Sedan Service Intervals/Requirements

    All 2003 Saab models will come with an underhood label indicating
    "Recommended oils/Use Saab Genuine Oil/Mobil 1". It is important that the
    different requirements for each model is understood.

    9-3 Sport Sedan Service Intervals/Requirements: Requires Full Synthetic oil
    which meets GM-LL-A-025 specification

    The Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan enters a new level of maintenance intervals and
    requirements. Service intervals fall under main categories: Intermediate and
    Main Service interval. A message on SID indicates to the owner when either
    service is required.

    MAIN SERVICE interval is based entirely on mileage driven: 30,000; 60,000
    and 90,000 miles.

    INTERMEDIATE SERVICE is set by an algorithm that determines when service is
    required. Miles driven, crankshaft revolutions, number of starts/cold
    starts, ambient temperatures, speed and engine temperature are among the
    measurements used to compute the interval with the TIME FOR SERVICE message
    being set between 8,000 and a maximum of 15,000 miles. If the mileage
    interval is not met, the message will be set at 2 years.

    NOTE: The actual oil condition is NOT measured, only the above calculations

    It is important to note that this computation is based on the use of
    fully-synthetic oil which meets GM-LL-A-025 specification. This is a
    specification that is currently not commonly found in the US. The only oils
    that are readily available that meet this specification are Mobile 0W40
    SuperSyn and Saab 0W30 Turbo Long-Life Fully Synthetic oil.

    Saab Fully Synthetic Turbo oil is available under the following part
    12 799 131 = 4 liter container
    12 799 130 = 1 liter container

    If an oil of lesser quality is used, the algorithm will be incorrect and
    severe engine problems may occur.

    9-5, 9-3 Convertible Service Intervals/Requirements: Requires Semi-Synthetic
    oil which meets ACEA A3/B3, API SJ specification or higher.

    For 2003, the 9-5 and 9-3 Convertible requirements remain the same as for
    2002. Oil changes are required every 10,000 miles under normal driving
    conditions. Oil requirements remain the same at either semi-synthetic or
    full-synthetic. For the purpose of Saab No-Charge Scheduled Maintenance,
    only Saab Semi-synthetic should be used. Claims submitted for Saab Long-Life
    Full Synthetic on 9-5 or 9-3 CV models will be returned.

    Saab Semi Synthetic Turbo oil is available under the following part numbers:
    02 86 609 = 1 liter container
    02 86 617 = 4 litre container

    Rich Miller
    Technical Services Quality

    Abe Buchbinder
    Product Quality and Service


    The above would suggest that the long-life mileage issues are not due to
    Europe having a milder climate as you suggest (because this recommendation
    is being made for the US versions of the SAAB.)

    I'll let you in on a dirty little secret: I'm an engineer, and often times,
    two engineers working in the same place on the same project don't always
    agree. However, the difference between 3,000-6,000 mile oil changes, and oil
    changes up to about 18,600 miles (30,000 km) on the same engine is a bit
    more than I believe can be simply explained away by differences in
    At the low temperatures, it's the LOW number of the multi-viscosity oil
    weight that matters. So, in frigid North America, wouldn't you PREFER the
    easier-flowing 0 weight oil (the 0W-40 oil) at the lower temperatures to the
    5 weight oil (5W-30)?
    At the high temperatures, it's the HIGH number of the multi-viscosity oil
    weight that matters. So, in Sunny Southern California, wouldn't you PREFER
    the higher weight 40 weight oil (the 0W-40 oil) at the high temperature to
    the 30 weight oil (5W-30)?
    Also, apparently, validated for USA driving conditions by SAAB USA (see
    above). Oh, don't forget: SAAB is owned by GM.

    Not asking you to condone it. But, I'm trying to get the collective wisdom
    of this group to chew this one through and see what everyone thinks.

    It would even be worthwhile to get Scharf in on this one. (But, alas, Tholen
    would still be useless except for comic relief.)
    Kirk Kohnen, Oct 13, 2003
  15. Kirk Kohnen

    C. E. White Guest

    I recently purchased a Vue. One feature of the Vue is the oil change
    indicator that supposedly figures the oil change interval by measuring a
    number of parameter (engine starts, miles, etc, but not actual oil
    condition). The salesman took great pride in telling me about the system
    and showed me how to reset it. Then he told me to ignore it and change
    the oil every 3000 miles in order to maintain my warranty. I am
    surprised he didn't remind me to get a new buggy whip every 3000 miles
    as well.


    Ed White
    C. E. White, Oct 13, 2003
  16. Kirk Kohnen

    Alan King Guest

    What I am saying is there is a poor level of consensus worldwide on this issue.
    Which is where this conversation started, I think.
    Yes, but two engineers working in the same place on the same project generally
    speak the same language and will either come to some type of agreement or their
    bosses will negotiate it for them. Two engineers speaking different languages,
    working for different organizations, separated by oceans run into maddening
    roadblocks when disagreements occur.
    Uh, yes you would. I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote those two
    paragraphs, but I certainly transposed the oil viscosity vs. temperature

    Alan King
    Alan King, Nov 1, 2003
  17. Kirk Kohnen

    Mnn Guest

    I thought I have this understood some years ago but now I am questioning
    myseld again. So what does 0W40 really mean? For example "0 W" mean weight?
    and 40 is viscosity in what unit (poise?). I am using 5W30 how does it diff
    than 0W40. Please explain.

    Thx in advance
    Mnn, Nov 2, 2003
  18. Kirk Kohnen

    C. E. White Guest

    cSt = Kinematic Viscosity, centistokes (mm**2/sec) see
    http://www.sizes.com/units/centistokes.htm .

    For MObil 1 0W40 -

    cSt @ 40º C = 80
    cSt @ 100º C = 14.3


    For Mobil 1 5W30 -

    cSt @ 40º C = 56
    cSt @ 100º C = 10



    cSt at 40°C = 64.5
    cSt at 100°C = 10.8


    For Havoline® Synthetic Motor Oil SAE 5W-30 -

    cSt at 40°C = 58.1
    cSt at 100°C = 10.5



    cSt at 40°C = 64.8
    cSt at 100°C = 10.8

    C. E. White, Nov 2, 2003
  19. Kirk Kohnen

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    They ultimately work for the *SAME* organization, GM. However, your point is
    well taken. The cars are in different countries with different rules which
    can result in different engineering criteria.

    A *HYPOTHETICAL* example:

    Let's say that you design a car for the US market. In that market, corporate
    average fuel economy really, REALLY matters. And, your engine will work with
    a 30 weight oil (at the high temps - let's not address the low temp issue
    just now) but you'll have to change it relatively often to make sure that it
    doesn't get much thinner. And, by running 30 weight, you get to sell a few
    more thousand Hummers at $80k a pop (I imagine about $50k of that is profit)
    because of the slightly better mileage your cars are getting. So, you
    recommend 5W-30 with frequent changes for this market.

    In Europe, presume (I have no clue whether this is true or not) that there
    aren't corporate average fuel economy numbers to worry about. But, you CAN
    make a better name for yourself in the market place by advertising less
    frequent oil changes and, in the European market, THAT sells more cars.
    Voila! 0W-40 is what you recommend, because it gives you a bit of a margin
    on the viscosity of the oil, and you don't care if the mileage is a bit

    I STRONGLY suspect that the difference between the two recommendations is
    VERY carefully thought out, based on economics that benefit GM (as opposed
    to the consumer).
    Ain't open and free discussion/debate wonderful?
    Kirk Kohnen, Nov 2, 2003
  20. Kirk Kohnen

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    <first number> W <second number>


    At low temperatures ("W' means Winter), the first number gives the viscosity
    CURVE for the oil.

    At engine operational temperatures, the second number gives the viscosity
    CURVE for the oil.

    What the hell is a viscosity CURVE you ask?

    Well, a 5 weight oil will be thin at low temperatures, and thinner still at
    high temperatures. The relation between temperature and thinness of the oil
    is its curve.

    A 40 weight oil will be thick at low temperatures, and thinner at high
    temperatures. It too has a temperature-thinness relationship that is
    different from the 5 weight oil.

    I presume that an IDEAL oil would be equally thin at low and high
    temperatures. This means that, at low temperatures, it would be as thin as a
    low weight oil, and at high temperatures, it would be as thin as a high
    weight oil.

    So, the multi-viscosity oils more closely approach the ideal of an oil that
    is equally thin at whatever temperature than straight weight oils.

    Hope this makes sense. - k.
    Kirk Kohnen, Nov 2, 2003
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