Oil question What the manual says, vs. what Dad says.

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by TSMANGOD, Sep 13, 2004.


    TSMANGOD Guest

    Hi, all,
    I have a 96 Saturn SL, and it's begun to burn oil when I really give it the
    gas. I can see a cloud behind me. My Dad told me that I might be able to
    alleviate that by using 10w40, instead of the 5w30 the manual calls for.
    I live in Michigan, so it's going to get cold. Is there any truth to the
    statement that this will stop the oil from burning? And, will it hurt my
    engine, if I switch? I'm under the impression that the thicker oil will make
    starting harder, especially in the winter, and that if the oil is too thick, it
    won't protect the engine.
    Any thoughts or insights? I'd appreciate them,
    TSMANGOD, Sep 13, 2004

    Bob Shuman Guest

    What year? How many miles? How much oil is it consuming and under what type
    of normal driving conditions?

    Background: Saturn engines tend to burn oil after they have been broken in
    (> 60K miles), but from what I've been able to gather listening to other
    owners and confirmed in reading this newsgroup, burning a quart every 1500
    miles is "normal" and does not appear to have a major affect on the
    vehicle's reliability or longevity. You just need to check it frequently
    and add to keep it full between changes.

    The 10W40 oil or other off the shelf additives would likely help reduce your
    consumption slightly, but I personally would not recommend it for use in MI
    during the winter. If you do a google search on "Saturn oil consumption" or
    "oil burning", it should turn up at least a couple of different threads over
    the last year in this newsgroup that provided a detailed cylinder soak
    procedure that seemed to help others unstick rings and halve their

    Good luck.

    Bob Shuman, Sep 13, 2004

    Napalm Heart Guest

    If you are going to a 10W base oil, it would be better to use 10W-30,
    as the 10W-40 doesn't meet Saturn specifications. Your impression is
    pretty much correct. The thicker oil will put more strain on the
    starter, but won't harm the engine. I've run 10W-30 during the summer
    and 5W-30 during the winter. I'm currently using Mobil 1 10W-30 and
    plan on using it this winter. The better cold flow capability of the
    synthetic should help. The Saturn ('96 SL2) is now my son's. Our 2
    other vehicles both use 10W-30 year-round and I'd rather just deal
    with the 1 weight of oil.

    Napalm Heart, Sep 13, 2004

    C. E. White Guest

    Why not use 5W30 then? Even GM has pretty much stopped
    recommending 10W30 for anything. At normal operating
    temperatures, 10W30 and 5W30 have virtually the same
    viscosity. At 0 degrees, the 5W30 will flow better. And a
    conventional 5W30 will flow better than 10W30 Mobil 1 at 0
    degrees, although this is likely not true at significantly
    lower temperatures, since the Mobil one does not thicken as
    much as the temperature decreases below 0 as most
    conventional oils. I have seen nothing that indicated 5W30
    is more likely to break down with normal usage than 10W30,
    so I see no advantage to using 10W30 unless it is cheaper.
    In a relatively warm climate, the difference is trivial.
    However, even in balmy North Carolina we have a few days
    where the temperature is below zero (centigrade, not
    Fahrenheit), so I think 5W30 is the correct "all season"
    choice for me.

    C. E. White, Sep 14, 2004

    BANDIT2941 Guest

    I run 10w30 all year here in NY. Before I rebuilt the engine due to oil
    burning, I would throw in a quart of 10w40 here and there......

    I wouldn't hesitate to run 10w30 through the winters and 10w40 in the summer if
    you want.
    BANDIT2941, Sep 14, 2004

    Matt hotmail Guest

    I have tried everything. The dealer told me to use a 15W-50, so I put in
    the Mobil 1 syn. Still not helping. I'll rebuild the engine when i get
    back from the War in a year. It will burn oil regardless, just keep
    checking it and don't waste money like me on the expensive stuff. I've
    tried all the fillers, every different brand of Sny Castrol, Royal Purple
    and even that restore stuff. The engine just gets tired. There is no
    Viagra for the common car.
    Good Luck,
    Matt hotmail, Sep 15, 2004

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    There is a TSB out on saturns burning oil.

    In short, if you soak the pistons overnight by putting GM top end cleaner in
    the cylinders, it unsticks the rings, and tends to greatly improve the oil
    burning issue.

    Hunt around with dejanews in the archives - you'll probably find it. Search
    for excessive oil consumption TSB and you should find it.
    Kirk Kohnen, Sep 16, 2004
  8. Going to 10W40 will cause more harm than good especially if you are in a
    cold weather area.

    As others have mentioned, a dose of Top Engine Cleaner is said to often make
    a big difference in oil consumption on these engines..
    Robert Hancock, Sep 19, 2004

    Rudy Hiebert Guest

    If it's not too late, as far as reading posts and getting a solution,
    I found that owner's manuals recommend a range of SAE's, so - have a
    look at what synthetic engine lube, like Amsoil's 5w-30 options and
    maybe a fuel additive like Amsoil's P.I. You can see these at

    My Dad, RIP, only knew what his dad taught him about oil, but if he
    were alive today, he would be first one to try something better. He
    was the first in town to build a guitar from scratch. He died before
    he could see a farm tractor start in 40 below with Amsoil.
    Rudy Hiebert, Sep 20, 2004

    Mark Guest



    You can stop this oil burning permanently. Here's the story. I
    bought a Saturn '95 SL2 a couple of years ago and the engine was
    burning oil quite miserably- at least a quart every 500 miles. I lost
    track of the oil level and the engine gave up the ghost while on I75.
    So after I had a second engine put in the car I searched for best ways
    to treat the Saturn. I found out about bypass filters, these
    secondary filters that are so thick that they remove particles much
    smaller and more effectively than the OEM filter can. The government
    did and is doing tests on these filters and find them excellent. I
    decided to install the Frantz filter made by www.wefilterit.com. Not
    only does the filter eliminate engine wear providing 2-3x longer
    engine life (proven by the SAE), it also helps the moving engine
    components to seat properly and thus will lower oil consumption. In
    fact my engine now has eliminated the oil burning completely! You may
    not believe me but the only remedy is to prove to yourself by doing a
    little research on the internet. And if you are so inclined it takes
    about a couple days of planning and 2-3 days of work. The effort is
    worth it because in the end you get a cleaner/ quieter running engine
    and the peace of mind when it stops burning oil.

    Here are some pictures of my installation:

    Check this out:
    Mark, Oct 16, 2004
  11. ....so this is not a typical relocation kid, rather a second filter, right?
    How do you get pressure to the secondary filter?, a pump or some type of
    splitter off of the oem filter? (just curious) Cool pic - like the gauge

    I was reading with some relocation kits it was critical to get the right
    filter that either had the valve built in or not depending on the automaker,
    and the concern was it would take a while to get oil flow on start-up.
    Jonnie Santos, Oct 16, 2004

    Dan Duncan Guest

    Ok, so the above engine is irrelevant because you never tried
    this technique on it.
    Did the new engine burn any oil before you put this kit on it?
    Where's the evidence this will make an engine STOP burning oil? The
    evidence claims it may keep a good engine from developing an oil
    burning problem.

    Dan Duncan, Oct 17, 2004

    Mark Guest

    No problem, curiosity is good. It is a second filter that operates in
    bypass of the original filter that is on the vehicle. The flow
    through this filter is tiny - only 8-10cc (1 inch squared) per second
    and thus the pressure can come from the main oil pump. It allows the
    primary filter to do it's job of providing lubricant free from large
    particles to the engine internals but squeezes out particles 1-2
    micrometers in size 100%. The regular filters are made of pleated
    paper and only filter down to 30 micrometers. To feed oil pressure to
    the filter, you must use either a sandwich adapter or a tee. The
    sandwich adapter acts as a sandwich between the engine block and the
    OEM spin-on filter. The tee must be installed in place of the oil
    pressure sender. You do not replace the oil pressure sender, just
    relocate it (what the tee is for). FYI, the OPS turns on the light
    that warns when oil pressure is low. You can get all the necessary
    plumbing and hoses from hardware stores and automotive parts stores.
    Use RTV for the thread sealant - I've found that it makes perfect
    seals that are resistant to vibration. You also need to find a place
    to mount the big filter. On large trucks it is a piece of cake but
    with smaller cars you have to be more creative. With my Saturn, I
    bought a battery relocation kit and relocated it to the trunk.

    SAE had determined that the particles that cause the most wear in
    engines come in sizes from 20 to 5 micrometers. They say that 70% of
    engine wear comes from contaminated oil thus if you were to put on a
    bypass filter that gets the crud out of the oil you will get almost
    70% more engine life. And when the oil picks up the dirt deposits
    (like sludge) in the engine the BP filter removes this dirt thus your
    engine internals get cleaned up pretty good. Engine noise decreases
    and you get better performance.
    With either the Frantz, Motorguard, or Gulf Coast filters, the
    diverting of some oil flow is so minimal that it does not effect the
    main filter or the amount of flow to the engine. In fact there is a
    check valve in the oil pump that allows more flow when the engine
    needs it. Unless you drag race your car the oil pump will not come
    close to its maximum flow output.
    When the BP filter is saturated with oil, you can basically neglect
    its effect during startup. There is one exception however, when you
    change the BP filter, the new filter isn't saturated with oil. The
    oil flow through the inlet hose to the BP filter is higher when there
    is air in the system because the air moves quickly through the filter.
    But the BP filter is saturated in a couple seconds and then the oil
    flows at the normal 8-10cc rate. For this reason I screwed on a
    shutoff valve to it and only partially open this valve when a new BP
    filter is installed. I then open the valve completely after a minute
    of engine running. This is when I know the BP filter is saturated
    with oil. A ball valve can be bought at a hardware store for a couple
    of bucks.

    In any case, it is a good idea for your OEM spin-on filter to have
    what is called an anti-drainback valve. This valve closes when the
    engine is turned off and keeps the oil that is coating the engine from
    draining into the oil pan. It helps to reduce startup wear because
    more oil is coating the inside of your engine when you turn the key.
    A bypass filter will clean out your oil thus you won't have to change
    either the OEM oil filter or the oil as often.
    Mark, Oct 17, 2004
  14. Thanks for the detailed explanation. Did the cables for the remote battery
    go through the cabin or under the car? Hope you get a bazillion miles out
    of your Saturn! (smile)
    Jonnie Santos, Oct 17, 2004

    Kirk Kohnen Guest

    If I want to do that with my ION, will I have to relocate the battery to the
    Kirk Kohnen, Oct 18, 2004

    BANDIT2941 Guest

    Sorry, but if an engine is burning oil, putting a bypass oil filter on it isn't
    going to help. In SOME cases, it MAY help prevent oil burning from
    happening(like if you are one who never changes the oil) but if you keep up
    with your oil changes you are no more likely to have an oil burning problem
    then if you have a secondary filter. In the majority of oil burning cases with
    Saturns, it is due to the Saturn factory using Hastings piston rings. Replace
    those rings with a different brand and your oil burning will be eliminated. For
    instance, I have Sealed Power rings in my engine now.
    An anti drainback valve in an oil filter doesn't keep oil that is coating
    engine components on those engine components. Thats impossible. The valve keeps
    the oil filter full of oil; so on startup there is less of a lapse of oil
    BANDIT2941, Oct 18, 2004

    Mark Guest

    The second engine had 40k miles when it was put in and yes it burned a
    quart every 2-3k miles. AFAIK, all older unmodified Saturns with the
    1.9L burn oil.

    I have no evidence that it will STOP burning oil, only that it will
    help greatly reduce the oil burning. I had noticed that the oil
    burning tends to get worse when the oil is dirtier. This makes sense
    to me because the carbon, or soot, deposited in the oil tends to
    absorb heat. When this happens the oil gets hotter and is more prone
    to flashing near the piston rings. Several mechanics (I don't know
    their names) that have posted on the internet say that a few of the
    major problems with the 1.9L are the piston rings tend to get stuck
    and also a few problems with valve seals, and sludge around the timing

    When I read quite a few of the reports from various newsgroups from
    people who HAD tried the Frantz filter and also read a few of the
    gov's research articles I decided that the potential benefits
    outweighed the risk.
    Mark, Oct 18, 2004

    Ron Herfurth Guest

    How much does that cost? I wouldn't think it would be cost effective once
    you pass 100,000 miles (?)
    Ron Herfurth, Oct 18, 2004

    Mark Guest

    Sorry, but if an engine is burning oil, putting a bypass oil filter on it isn't
    Would you think that 2k oil change intervals would be enough? This is
    the interval that I performed on my second engine with good ol' Castol
    GTX and it would still burn a quart every 2-3k miles.
    OK, that's another way to fix the problem, I'm sure. Have you ever
    installed a bypass filter before on your own car? I didn't think so.
    Here's an article of interest:
    .. This states that the main causes of engine oil consumption are
    dirty oil, worn engine components and leaks. This suggests that if
    your engine isn't worn out, you can install a bypass filter and it
    will get rid of the dirty oil problem, thus you won't have sticking
    piston rings, metal shavings/soot inbetween the valve and valve seals,
    etc. Engine oil in the Saturn turns black in a very short amount of
    time. The nature of the piston ring is that it expands against the
    cylinder for seal between the combustion chamber and the crankcase.
    With a *HOT* efficient engine like the Saturn's, normal dyno engine
    oil has too low a flashpoint to survive this heat thus it flashes off
    and carbon crap sticks to the piston rings. I don't have any
    experience nor the necessary tools to take apart an engine myself. Of
    course you can have someone fix or replace your engine for several
    hundred dollars. Anyone who can't fix an engine themselves can still
    install a bypass filter in a couple of days and see good results
    without too much money (couple hundred bucks). The benefits that you
    get from the BP filter are cost savings on new oil, filter elements,
    and engine repairs.
    Mark, Oct 18, 2004

    Mark Guest

    Possibly. One of the guys from the www.bobistheoilfilter.com
    newsgroup removed the bumper off his truck and installed one in the
    front of the car. He said it only took 15 minutes to remove and he
    had enough room for BP filters for the engine and transmission. You
    might feel safer to put a bypass filter on the battery mount. You can
    buy relocation kits from Ebay and they are cheaper. Most of those
    have a 20' positive battery cable and a 3' ground cable. I would buy
    an additional cable for the ground. That way installation is alot
    easier and you can attach the negative cable to the fuse box (where
    the battery cable is attached). My brother-in-law, who is a certified
    Saturn mechanic & put in the second engine, said not to use the
    shorter ground because the chassis electrical connection from the
    trunk isn't as clean. Not sure if this is true or not but with 2 20'
    cables you can easily remove the setup in a couple of minutes. Also
    get at least 4 gauge, 2 gauge is preferrable but anything larger may
    make it harder when drilling the two holes in the side of the trunk
    (see below)

    The battery relocation was fun. It took a good part of a Saturday
    afternoon during college summer break. You need a large drill bit or
    dremel bit > 1" because the battery cables are pretty thick. Find the
    place where the trunk sheet metal meets the outside and drill there.
    Use rubber grommets for the holes where the cables are routed through
    the trunk - they should be large enough to fit over the battery
    terminals and the plastic insulation stuff I mention below. The sheet
    metal in the side of the trunk a foot away from the gas cap is only
    1/8" thick on the Saturn. This is the one metal corner that might cut
    into the cable (and short positive to negative). You don't want this
    (lots of sparks!!) so you want the rubber grommets. Be careful with
    these holes; measure the outside diameter of the middle of the rubber
    grommet and match the hole diameter as close as possible. If you have
    a drill bit large enough this is the best solution. Put the rubber
    grommet on the cable before you pull the cable through the hole. You
    need to be careful to strap the cables away from suspension parts. I
    used lots of twist ties and attached a few clamps to the frame under
    the doors. I also used that plastic battery cable wrap stuff that I
    got from Meijers - forget what it is called. You need it because it
    helps protect the cable insulation. Wrap this stuff for the entire
    length of the cable minus the cable ends. It comes in different
    colors and I wrapped the positive cable in red and the 20' ground
    cable in black plastic. If your battery is a side mount terminal you
    might have to drill holes through the side of the plastic battery box
    - takes a couple minutes.

    Thanks for reading! :)}
    Mark, Oct 18, 2004
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