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5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? #4105407 05/24/16 02:15 PM
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meborder Offline OP
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my 2010 f150 with the 5.4 v8 has been having sporadic problems with the VCT solenoid sticking which causes very rough idle and no oil pressure at the top of the motor. it has been doing this for a couple of years but it is very random and unpredictable.

in an attempt to free up the VCT's I added seafoam to the oil at the recommended 1oz/qt with intentions of an easy 3,000 mile run and probably repeat. we get our oil changed at the Cadillac dealer (for $24.00!) and the ticket always says they use 5w20 mobil bulk.

now we are in the heat of construction and I've ended up pulling message boards around. probably have about 200 miles towing the boards (which is far more than normal). two of the boards are probably in the 4,000 - 4,500 lbs range.

currently the temps are in the mid 80's.

in a perfect world I would up up-spec'd to 5w30 to account for the seafoam thinning the oil, but I wasn't expecting to use the truck as a truck -- usually it just hauls my dead butt around and nothing more.

I'm 2,000 miles into the OCI, suppose i'll need a new engine in another 1,000 miles?
pontificate away .....


Too many cars using too many different oils to list in 150 characters.
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105414 05/24/16 02:22 PM
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tojo1968 Offline
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Is this an item that is not easily replaced? Or is it not worth it?
Solenoid replacement


2016 Frontier SL Crew Cab
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105416 05/24/16 02:23 PM
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Ramblejam Offline
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Here's a crazy thought...

Why not just replace the [censored] solenoids? They're not expensive.

Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105419 05/24/16 02:25 PM
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Miller88 Offline
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Are these the ones that, when they completely fail, the cam can just spin freely and destroy the engine?

I wouldn't have any qualms about towing with seafoam in the oil - I imagine it would "burn off" through the PCV system rather quickly while towing.

But I would be concerned about having bad VCT solenoids / cam phasers.


18 Forester 2.5I 6M
00 Jeep XJ
01 F-350 4x4 5M
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105432 05/24/16 02:40 PM
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Trav Offline
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Your wasting your time. Watch this, it will explain how it functions and why an additive probably wont help, just change them.
For you guys that claim varnish is a harmless stain, this is just one of the problems that can develop from varnish in a modern engine.



You can get a pair of these from the dealer with seals for cheap and they are easy to change.


ASE L1, Master. Deutsch Meisterbrief.
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105439 05/24/16 02:53 PM
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DSparks Offline
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U have to take the valve covers off to replace them on 06 and newer....kind of a pita on these engines/trucks without some mechanical ability but can be done at home..the phasers are the more expensive/catastrophic failure on these engines...The thicker oil helps the situation but is a crutch...I have a small fleet of the 5.4 3v's and dealt with all of this b4. I run 10w30 in all of them until the phasers get noisy at idle...then up to 5w40 and 15w50....its a crutch but puts pff the major repairs. When the selonoids fail the engine runs like absolute [censored] and sounds like a bucket of bolts lol

Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105484 05/24/16 04:04 PM
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meborder Offline OP
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Cant get the problem to replicate often enough to get it into service. Not my truck so I don't have any say in it, and since it is out of power train warranty, the shop is unlikely to do anything with it.

If it were an 06 or older, the fix would be a no brainer. In fact I did my expedition as a precautionary measure, but after 07 you have to pull the valve cover.

My guess is that some light varnish may be causing the VCT solenoid to stick occasionally, but how varnish would have gotten started is beyond me. The truck is lightly used, mostly highway miles but with a fair amount of idling. But has always had oil changed at 4,000 miles since new. I am the only driver.

The problem started with about 40,000 miles or less and it now has 61,000 miles.


Too many cars using too many different oils to list in 150 characters.
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105542 05/24/16 05:01 PM
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OVERKILL Offline
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So this isn't actually your truck? Does the company you work for know you've put a solvent in the oil?


2019 RAM 1500 Sport - Mobil 1 EP 0w-20, FRAM Ultra
2020 Grand Cherokee SRT - Ravenol SSL 0w-40, FRAM Ultra
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105629 05/24/16 07:00 PM
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Justin251 Offline
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Very easy to replace. Maybe 5 min to do both sides. It's a single connector and single hex bolt.

Just replace both. Easier than trying to get an oil or additive to do anything with it. They have very tiny mesh screens in them. Once clogged it's done.

Order from Amazon.com.


2014 Ram 5.7 PUPPP 5w20 ultra
2015 Tuscon 2.4 PP 5w20 wix
1996 Ranger 4.0 SuperS 5w30 wix
1989 formula 5.0
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105659 05/24/16 07:21 PM
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DSparks Offline
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Are you super mechanic?..:):)

Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: Justin251] #4105668 05/24/16 07:27 PM
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meborder Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: OVERKILL
So this isn't actually your truck? Does the company you work for know you've put a solvent in the oil?

Yep, its my work truck
And the shop gave me the seafoam, so in a round about way, yes they know.

Here's the thing. It's been doing this for 20k miles off and on. Everytime it sets a code, they just clear it rather than getting looked at. So by all appearances, they don't care.

Originally Posted By: Justin251
Very easy to replace. Maybe 5 min to do both sides. It's a single connector and single hex bolt.

Just replace both. Easier than trying to get an oil or additive to do anything with it. They have very tiny mesh screens in them. Once clogged it's done.

Order from Amazon.com.


Perhaps after you pull the valve cover...
They changed the design in 2007
It is not the easy fix you describe. I know, I have the 2006 and older you are referring to, the 2010 is decidedly different. And speaking from experience it is more than a 5min job to simply get the metal grommet out of the valve cover without mangling it beyond use. That alone probably took me 30 min each

Even if it was the older design, they still wouldn't fix it, not unless it was their idea, anyway. Or were told flat our by fleet and travel or a supervisor fix it.

Mechanic in a bottle is the only hope.

Last edited by meborder; 05/24/16 07:30 PM.

Too many cars using too many different oils to list in 150 characters.
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105676 05/24/16 07:30 PM
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Justin251 Offline
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That must be part of the cam phaser redesign to go with the head redesign for the spark plug redesign. lol

I had a 2006 f150 and 2006 navigator with the 3v 5.4. Never again.

Seems they fixed the cam phasers and then made it even harder to work on. Nice job ford engineers.

Last edited by Justin251; 05/24/16 07:32 PM.

2014 Ram 5.7 PUPPP 5w20 ultra
2015 Tuscon 2.4 PP 5w20 wix
1996 Ranger 4.0 SuperS 5w30 wix
1989 formula 5.0
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105687 05/24/16 07:36 PM
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CT8 Offline
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What does Sea Foam have in it that does anything?


2015 F150 2.7
2018 F350 6.2
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: CT8] #4105833 05/24/16 10:35 PM
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Triton_330 Offline
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Originally Posted By: CT8
What does Sea Foam have in it that does anything?

https://www.menards.com/msds/109912_001.pdf

As I am not a chemist, I don't know exactly what its 3 main ingredients do... But, I feel it's safe to say they at least do a bit of cleaning, so maybe it'd help with the varnish?

~ Triton


2001 Ford F-150 XLT 4x4 5.4L V8 ~132k miles
-> PPHM 5w-20 w/Fram Ultra
1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS 5.0L TBI V8 ~48k miles
-> Milesyn SB 5w-30 w/Puro Boss
Re: 5w20 + seafoam + hot weather + towing = ? [Re: meborder] #4105843 05/24/16 11:11 PM
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Shannow Offline
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Pale Oil - probably not much in engine oil maybe thin it.
Naptha - solvent, thins oil, a bit like fuel dilution only more costly. Probably eveaportes (mostly)
IPA - solvent, more polar, may well work better on varnish...probably evaporates as well.

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