Oil suggestion for air cooled VW.

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526
Location
Manitoba Canada
My Uncle, who was a professional mechanic until he retired in 1985, drove a 1965 VW Beetle from new until he sold it in 1984. It ran like a top and thanks to rustproofing had no rust at all. He sold to a VW collector. As I recall, he ran either a 20W-20 diesel oil or a 10W diesel oil in the coldest part of winter, with an electric oil pan heater. In summer, he ran either a 40 diesel oil, or a 20W-50. He claimed the air cooled motor needed a heavier viscosity. It ran quite strong even with 275,000 miles on it. Maybe Mobil 1 15W-50 summer and Mobil 1 10W-30 winter? There must be VW Beetle forums out there to help with this. Jerry
 
Messages
1,357
Location
California, USA
I drove and rebuilt aircooled VWs in the '60s and '70s. Even the stock low-output ones did not last very long on straight 30 in hot climates. Remember that Germany does not have the temperature extremes of North America and early multigrades were pretty weak. 20W-40 Castrol XL became very popular in the 1970's. M1 15W-50 seems just made for this application. The most popular aircraft (opposed air cooled engines) multigrade is 15W-50 Aeroshell semi-synthetic.
 
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5,112
Location
Airlie Beach Australia
Hi, this Board is sure a great facility - and the input stimulating I do not wish to be seen as a "know-all" or "expert" on this subject - I am not - but this may help in understanding a bit more about this unique engine series The air cooled VW engine was one of motoring's greatest technical milestones and still it lingers on. A true tribute to Dr Porsche and his personal design team it was also the basis for Porsche cars as we know them today commencing with the first retailed 356 These original Type 1 engines at low power, around 30hp, were used at -35C in Russia in and at 50C+ in the African desert. Many no doubt would have been run on early synthetic lubricants too as these were being further developed and produced in Germany in the mid/late 1930's. They were used in a variety of vehicles during WW2. The original VW engine was of course designed for cheap mineral mono-grade oils The Type 1 engines were relatively trouble free until they moved the oil cooler to an external position - except for number 3 valve/head issues and sometimes excessive camshaft wear. Number 3 exhaust valve stretched through heat and valve heads came off! The camshaft works twice as hard as in a normal engine too operating both left and right banks off the same lobe(s)! And amazingly, they normally lasted very well even without an oil filter although Porsche installed full flow filters on their "brother" engines I first became involved with VW in the early 1960's in NZ. Then later that decade in Denmark I took a role within Caltex-Chevron in solving engine failures associated with engine deposits - both soft and hard. These failures occurred in both hot but mainly cold, <-5C ambient temperatures We found that the VW engines using petrol rated mono-grade oils and the specifically dis-allowed multi grade oils 10w-30 etc featured most Much of this was to do with the breathing characteristics of the engine and the fact that the oil cooler was "controlled" via the engine's air flow thermostat not its own. We believed then that thicker oils decreased the oil flow rate and limited the pass time/rate through the oil cooler creating higher oil temps. Our testing then endorsed VW's recommended viscosities We commenced using DELO diesel rated mono-grade oil with a specific MIL? and Cat Series 3 rating too and this solved many of the problems. Clogged oil coolers from petrol rated oils were another part of our learning curve and a cleaning routine became a pre-requisite This project was quite important as at the same time we were dealing with the first "in service" prototype VW's with electronic fuel injection! The forerunner of that EFI system in the car you probably drive today Later VW continued to recommend only mono-grade oils and this applied to all their Industrial engines too. And like Porsche had found in their VW based 356 series engines, the diesel rated oils worked best. This was initially carried over into the early 911 engines as well with Porsche always calling for oil with a secondary C? rating This same VW oil specification principle applied to the Type 3 and Type 4 engines In the early 1970's I worked as a Senior Manager for NZ's VW Importer and visited Wolfsburg many times. I had two Service Advisors working for me then. They had both served their five years long Automotive apprenticeship in NZ, both were VW Factory trained and had worked for VW in Australia. As mentioned earlier Australia was one of VW's major markets and a wholly Factory owned operation. One Service Advisor raced and rallied a VW too I owned many Type 1s, a Ghia, and some Type 3's and 4s - I left the VW scene in 1973 and have had nothing to do with VW ever since. Well, my wife's present car is a MY02 VW Golf! All of our experiences over that decade or so had shown a number of things; 1 - choice of lubricant was critical to attaining a long trouble free life 2 - the basic design is durable up to 2ltrs size 3 - external oil coolers should be thermostatically controlled 4 - an oil temperature gauge is useful if you know how to use it 5 - external full flow filters do improve durability - a little at least a lot at most 6 - normal Type 1 engines will always have a No 3 valve/head "issue" 7 - modifications to air and oil flow need careful and balanced analysis before installation 8 - deep sump attachments are useful in hot climates when used with a thermo oil cooler So after all this I would indeed be very interested to find out if the modern multigrade oils work well in a "standard" VW without an external oil cooler & filter. Especially today's synthetics, those such as the 10w-30 and 15w-50 multi-grades recommended here. The very oil viscosities we had found problematic 35 odd years ago I do know that diesel mono-grade oils work well and that synthetic mono-grades would too so I would not use a 20w-50 oil if the engine was mine and almost "standard"! Some questions remain as to the "structure" of this engine however. If the stated power is correct and as a minium I think an extended sump capacity, a full flow filter and an external thermostatically controlled oil cooler may be required. As well, a high capacity oil pump would be a good investment A lot of very sophisticated engine modification equipment is available for these engines today It appears that "racers" using thermostatically controlled external oil coolers use a 20w-50 in very hot weather. Others use mono-grade 30! It would be great to know too what the lubricant recommendations were for last production "Type 1" VWs produced in Brasil up until recently All part of evolution! I hope this is of interest Regards Doug
 
Messages
526
Location
Manitoba Canada
Doug brings up a good point mono versus multi-grade. My Uncle had his VW Beetle almost 20 years. I know the oil he used most in summer was an SAE 40. Sometimes a 20W-50 but as I recall, that was rare. Mostly the diesel SAE 40 oil. His son worked at a Detroit Diesel shop so my Uncle was well supplied with cases and cases of Esso or Shell SAE 40. For a long long time, Detroit Diesel specified an SAE 40 or SAE 50 in their 2-banger motors. Those motors seemed to hold up well with the recommended oil. When 15W-40 first came out, it was a disaster. Jerry
 
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425
Doug, good read. As a suggestion, how about the mono 30 weight Dello 400 that is widely available?
 
Messages
5,112
Location
Airlie Beach Australia
Hi, TSoA - The range of DELO diesel oils has always had an excellent reputation As long as it is not a 2 cycle rated version it should be great They have just re-arranged their DELO range here and I am unfamiliar with it. I do know that it now includes a "silver 500" Regards
 
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425
Here on the East Coast, I've seen the mono 30 Dello at AutoZone. If I could find the 10w-30 I would give it a try. Since I don't know a lot about the oils themselves, I try to give advice based on my experince with the consumer market; what is available otc.
 
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14,013
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Retired | Wausau, WI
sbc: Thanks for bringing this question up. This has been a great read. Doug Hillary: Great post. This has brought up great memories from long ago. In 1970 my Dad had a 1969 Ghia and I had a 1970 Beetle. I cannot begin to tell you the enjoyment we had with these cars. I believe back then we used Castrol 40 in the summer and 30 in the winter. This was in Dallas. Both cars had well over 150,000 miles on them when we sold them. I really wish I had that 1969 Ghia today. What a great little fun car. [Cheers!]
 
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43,638
Location
'Stralia
A VW-phile engineer at work.....drove Kombis for decades (per car).....later sold out when he bacame a manager, and had his late model air conned cars sold out from under him at 50,000km, stated that the best day of his Kombi driving life was when he put Mobil 1 in his kombis. He had a cylinder head temperature sensor, which registered considerably lower with M1, and his engines started lasting longer. (20W-50 dino to M1 15W-50, then 5W-50 obviously makes a difference....I'd like him to still have Kombis, and Delvac 1). BTW, he came to work one day, talking about cleaning out his Grandfathers bookcases. Said he had a book by some "Harry Ricardo" character about high speed engines. I bit, which made him realise it was a valuable book. I get to read it every year or so......That man was a genius.)
 
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2,602
Location
The Tropics of Antartica
quote:
Originally posted by sbc350gearhead: I am pretty sure that no additional oil cooler was added. The engine is a pro built engine, and actually has an oil filter. The filter probably added at least a half a quart to the engine oil capacity. Stock chassis. No additional ducting or air flow modifications. Hard driving and racing will be the norm. The car will primarily be driven in fair weather. The car is a regular(although modified) superbeetle.
Then the engine cases have not been drilled and modified to a full flow type system and still uses the original dual bypass oiling system which bypasses the stock oil cooler when cold along with bypassing the high side pressure when hot and at hi-rpm . Idle oil pressure will be very low in this engine when hot " typically 10lbs , the light comes on at 7 lbs " . That along with the less than perfect ring seal of the minimum 94mm barrels it takes to get to this displacement " along with stroking " when hot , the valve overlap that will tend to fuel up the oil with using dual carbs and the intensity of the cam lobes and resulting cause for building the motor with higher spring pressure to keep the lifter on the lobes depicts the need for a racing type oil and to service it often . Valvoline VR-1 20-50 Racing Oil gets my vote , inexpensive and available everywhere .
 
Messages
404
Location
Palatine, IL
People with Porsche engines swear by 20W-50 in the summer. I recommend either Mobil 1 1 15W-50 or the Amsoil 20W-50 is supposed to be alittle better. Then again, the Mobil 1 5W-50 may be a good all around oil, but i would worry about shear stability with that high of a viscosity range.
 
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622
Location
42.4N 85.7W
[Off Topic!] Doug, what weight oil does Subaru recommend in Australia. I'm curious because here in the US, for the 2.5L and the 3.0L, 5w-30 is 'preferred' below 100F. But in our 3.0L (which is CRAMMED under the hood with very little space) the engine retains heat TOO well. I've looked on other Subaru sites besides the US one, but the US one is the only one where I can find an oil recommendation. Thanks Dave
 
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5,069
Location
Saratoga, NY
Thanks Doug. Posts don't get any better, more technical or explicit than that. "People with Porsche engines swear by 20W50 in the summer." I've always thought of 20W50 as having a good amount of VII ... something to be avoided in these air-cooled engines. "... the Mobil 1 5W-50 may be a good all around oil, but I would worry about shear stability with that high of a viscosity range." It's actually 15W50 ... and a pretty stable oil. If I were to use Mobil 1 15W50, I'd probably add some Schaeffer #132 to it to make sure the barrier package was just a bit more robust .. ... but I'm not even sure a 50 weight is the way to go ... especially after reading what Doug wrote. --- Bror Jace
 
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951
Location
Loveland, Colorado
Out of the three beetles I've owned (one regular & two super), the one that ran the best used 20W-50 year-round in Southern California's 40°F-100°F climate. Knowing what I know now, & if I were still going to use dino oil, I'd definitely use a 15W-40 HDEO instead. Along the same lines, if money were no object I'd only use Delvac 1 5W-40. Mobil 1 15W-50 would be my next choice, & also my top pick if convenience & cost are part of the decision. I'm assuming (if he's racing) that he'll be doing regular tune-ups along the way. As long as he's adjusting the valves regularly (no longer than every 5k-6k mi), & doing it on a stone-cold engine, he should be able to avoid burning up the #3 valve.
 
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5,112
Location
Airlie Beach Australia
Hi, n8wvi - this is from my MY02 Subaru Outback 2.5 AWD's handbook; Specs: EC2,or ACEA A1,or A2,or A3, orvCCMC G4,G5, or Starburst If no SL, SJ or SH oils are available use SG Viscosity: 5w-30 "preferred" <-30C to 40C 10w-30 -20C to 40C> 10w-40 -20C to 40C> Or for use in Deserts, very high temperatures or towing, use; SH 30,or 40, 10w-50, 20w-40, 20w-50 Personally I now use Delvac 1 5w-40 - the best ( last 30kkms ) oil use is 1ltr/6kkms I used M1 0w-40 - excellent in this car ( first 20kkms ) oil use was nil I used M1 10w-30 - it rattled at startup and was "noisy" and consumed a little oil ( 1ltr/3kkms ) Johnny - thanks Cary - your numbered points confirm mine Bror Jace - ( "Bror" - are you en Danske? )your comments are correct. There are substantial differences between early Porsche four cylinder engines and VW's engines Balanced monitoring of this engine's oil operating temperature - from warmup to maximum performance - is a vital part in determining the correct viscosity for this application. We do not know enough about the engine and a heavy viscosity lubricant may be the last resort If you look at the Subaru viscosity recommendations above you will see 30 and 40 mono-grade oils mentioned alongside the heavy multigrades. Note that this is for the SAME EXTREME APPLICATION and this should tell us all something about these forgotten mono-grade oils which are excellent in certain applications Even here in Australia we did not use 50 grade oils in VW engines I hope somebody can confirm what the last Brasil built VW engines had as oil specs Regards [ February 03, 2004, 09:10 PM: Message edited by: Doug Hillary ]
 
Messages
310
Location
Northern California
Assuming that it is more than 40F outside, I would strongly recommend a 20w-50 or Mobil 1 15w-50 oil. This is an Aircooled motor that is heavily modified so you are now asking the same cooling area that was designed to cool an 1100cc 25hp (the original motors from 1949-1955) to cool 2500cc and 175hp. I would expect oil temps to be fast approaching 300F under moderate to hard running. I would follow the above posters advice and if your friend has not he should: 1) Make sure that he is using a late style doghouse fan shroud and oil cooler (so as not to block airflow to the #3 Cylinder) 2) Incorporate with the full flow oil filter an external plate style oil cooler that gets lots of airflow (you could supplment with an electric fan) 3) Make sure that the full flow filter and external cooler have a thermostat to control flow to them. 4) Make sure he is using a hi-flow oil pump. 5) Finally, if he is in a warm climate (i.e. temps in excess of 90f) consider a fined sump that ataches to the bottom of the block and adds 1.5 quarts of oil capacity. Cary
 
Messages
622
Location
42.4N 85.7W
Thanks Doug, looks like Australian owners manuals are identical in this respect except for the line about "EC2,or ACEA A1,or A2,or A3, orvCCMC G4,G5, or Starburst". All the rest was the very same. Dave
 
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