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Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict #4382069 04/17/17 09:41 PM
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Gokhan Offline OP
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This is the ultimate question asked on BITOG. What protects better -- thin or thick oil? Of course, if you say you should follow the recommendation in your owners' manual, you shouldn't be on this site to begin with.

There are many folks here who think that they are better off filling their engine with water than with anything thinner than SAE xW-40. On the other hand, there is also the Dr. Haas school, who believe that thin oil protects better because it flows better. So, why is there still no consensus on this? Which is it?

To experiment with this, what is better than a simple but very well-built 1980s engine that was built before even multigrade xW-20 existed. In fact, it doesn't even recommend 5W-30 in warm temperatures. 10W-30, 10W-40, 10W-50, 15W-40, 20W-40, and 20W-50 are the recommended grades, with the 10W-xx grades covering the widest temperature range.

I was already getting good results with TGMO (Toyota) 0W-20 SN made by ExxonMobil. There was apparently some antifreeze seep problem and I used ACDelco cooling-system seal tabs before the last oil change, which seems to have alleviated the problem.

Oil consumption with TGMO 0W-20 SN was small thanks to new valve-stem oil seals -- about 0.3 quarts in 5,000 miles. The last fill was Mobil 1 (M1) 0W-40 SN (older, non-FS formula). Oil consumption stayed the same or perhaps increased slighly to about 0.4 quarts in 5,000 miles. I was surprised that thicker oil didn't improve the consumption -- in fact made it slightly worse. So, TGMO 0W-20 won over M1 0W-40 in the consumption department or perhaps it was a near tie.

Sodium (Na) in fact went down thanks to the seal tabs. However, I still have some coolant loss, probably seeping externally.

Wear numbers were the real surprise, even though they were something I long feared and suspected about thicker oil.

Iron went from 12 ppm to 18 ppm when I switched from TGMO 0W-20 to M1 0W-40 -- a 50% increase in iron wear when switching from thin to thick.

With M1 0W-40, all of a sudden nickel (Ni) appeared, which was near nonexistent with TGMO 0W-20.

Aluminum, lead, and copper were similar with either oil.

Chromium has improved with M1 0W-40 SN, but I attribute that to ACDelco cooling-system seal tabs rather than the oil, as antifreeze (glycol) is known to cause ring wear.

TAN was similar with either oil.

M1 0W-40 TBN was expectedly higher, as it has a very high starting TBN.

ZDDP (phosphorus [P]) levels were similar in either oil.

TGMO 0W-20 had a lot more moly (probably the trinuclear type) than M1 0W-40.

Fuel economy was a lot better with TGMO 0W-20 than with M1 0W-40.

Engine idled somewhat smoother with TGMO 0W-20 than with M1 0W-40 due to less viscous drag.

Conclusion: TGMO 0W-20 SN protects better against wear than M1 0W-40 SN. Iron wear is a lot less. This is probably due to better oil flow of thinner 0W-20, which helps more oil to get to critical parts, such as the valvetrain.

TGMO may also have some additive advantages over M1, such as higher moly. In fact other grades of M1, such as M1 0W-20 SN, worry me even more as they have very skinny additive packages.

Fancier base stocks (PAO and ester in addition to Group III) in M1 may also have contributed to higher wear in comparison to the Group III TGMO, as esters for example are well known to increase wear by competing for the surfaces with the antiwear additives.

Less wear and better fuel economy makes TGMO 0W-20 a clear better choice over M1 0W-40. TGMO 0W-20 may be even better for less oil consumption. However, M1 0W-40's higher TBN might help in extended OCIs (over 10,000 miles). Last but not least, not all engines are the same and there may be some engine that really needs thicker oil.

I have also lost my trust in European (ACEA) oils after this. Perhaps that BMW would run better with TGMO 0W-20 SN than with ACEA A3/B4 Mobil 1 0W-40 or German Castrol 0W-40.

TGMO once again has reinforced my trust.

I think we should give Dr. Haas the credit he deserves. Thin wins.





2020 Toyota Prius Prime XLE plug-in hybrid, 2ZR-FXE engine, ~ 0,000 M
TGMO 0W-16 SN Japan
OEM spin-on oil filter Japan
Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: Gokhan] #4382074 04/17/17 09:44 PM
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901Memphis Offline
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Let's say the iron was from using an ExxonMobil product and Castrol Edge 0w40 wouldn't have done that?


2012 Chevy Cruze LT 1.4T - 62k - Edge 0w30 SL + Mahle OX401D
2002 Buick Century 147k - Built 4T65e(Maxlife) - GTX 5w30 + Fram XG3980
Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: Gokhan] #4382081 04/17/17 09:59 PM
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Brybo86 Offline
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I wish this was done on an engine without coolant loss.

Try a different Xw40 next


08 Honda Accord EX-L 2.4L M1 EP 0w20 153k
01 Kymco People 50
95 Lexus LS400 M1 AFE 0w30 199k
95 Yamaha Jog
Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: Gokhan] #4382083 04/17/17 10:03 PM
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ZeeOSix Offline
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http://www.substech.com/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=effect_of_low_viscosity_oils_on_engine_bearings

Of course thick protects better than thin, because with thick you have a greater MOFT which helps prevent wear from metal-to-metal contact. That the main reason why every manufacturer of high performance cars say to run a thicker oil if tracking the car. The oil will get much hotter on the track than in normal street driving, and that could thin it down to a dangerous level.

So "thin" can also be created by heating the oil up too much for the intended purpose. I would say most xW-20 motor oils would protect well if used in non-demanding applications (ie, never seeing over 210~220 deg F), but not so much in a harsh use case like track use or heavy towing, etc.

Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: Gokhan] #4382094 04/17/17 10:17 PM
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PimTac Offline
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Where would nickel come from in an engine?


2017 Mazda CX5
Havoline Pro DS 0w20
Roki OEM filter.
Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: Gokhan] #4382099 04/17/17 10:39 PM
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aquariuscsm Offline
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I've done three uoa's so far. RP Synerlec SJ rated 20W50,M1 10W40HM,and GTX 20W50. The 10W40 M1 had slightly higher wear metals than the two 20W50s,with the GTX 20W50 being the best of the bunch. My next uoa will be Pennzoil Platinum HM 10W30. I'm highly anticipating those results to compare to the previous three.


1996 Nissan 300ZX 5-speed,Arctic Pearl(#175 of 300)
Quaker State Ultimate Durability 10W30
2012 Honda Accord Coupe EX-L 2.4,auto,San Marino Red
Quaker State Ultimate Durability 5W20

Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: Gokhan] #4382103 04/17/17 10:45 PM
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OPR4H Offline
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Coins in the sump, rsrsrs, or Cr-Ni-Mo steel alloy.

Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: OPR4H] #4382109 04/17/17 10:53 PM
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PimTac Offline
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Not very helpful.

I did find this. https://bobistheoilguy.com/engine-oil-analysis/

Looks like the main bearings might be a source. I noticed the lead numbers as well. This is an old engine which probably explains these findings.

I wonder what the analysis would show with a good 5W-30? That might be the ideal weight.

Last edited by PimTac; 04/17/17 10:56 PM.

2017 Mazda CX5
Havoline Pro DS 0w20
Roki OEM filter.
Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: PimTac] #4382111 04/17/17 10:57 PM
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y_p_w Offline
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Originally Posted By: PimTac
Where would nickel come from in an engine?

Maybe a steel alloy or bearing material. Blocks are aluminum. Maybe some exotic aluminum alloy using some nickel?

Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: Gokhan] #4382114 04/17/17 11:02 PM
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PimTac Offline
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I don't think Toyota was manufacturing aluminum blocks in 1985. Most likely cast iron block with aluminum heads.


2017 Mazda CX5
Havoline Pro DS 0w20
Roki OEM filter.
Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: PimTac] #4382116 04/17/17 11:05 PM
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4WD Online Confused
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And there were 20's ...

Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: Gokhan] #4382127 04/17/17 11:29 PM
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Gokhan Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: PimTac
I don't think Toyota was manufacturing aluminum blocks in 1985. Most likely cast iron block with aluminum heads.

Correct.

Originally Posted By: PimTac
I don't think Toyota was manufacturing aluminum blocks in 1985. Most likely cast iron block with aluminum heads.

Unlikely, as that was older Group IV/V formulations (with esters fighting for the surfaces with antiwear additives) of M1. In addition M1 0W-40 never had that issue.

Originally Posted By: Brybo86
I wish this was done on an engine without coolant loss.

Try a different Xw40 next

Coolant loss (sodium) has improved a lot after the ACDelco tabs, which were added just before the M1 0W-40 SN oil change. This seems to show as better chromium (ring wear) numbers and possibly better lead numbers as well.

Originally Posted By: ZeeOSix
http://www.substech.com/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=effect_of_low_viscosity_oils_on_engine_bearings

Of course thick protects better than thin, because with thick you have a greater MOFT which helps prevent wear from metal-to-metal contact. That the main reason why every manufacturer of high performance cars say to run a thicker oil if tracking the car. The oil will get much hotter on the track than in normal street driving, and that could thin it down to a dangerous level.

So "thin" can also be created by heating the oil up too much for the intended purpose. I would say most xW-20 motor oils would protect well if used in non-demanding applications (ie, never seeing over 210~220 deg F), but not so much in a harsh use case like track use or heavy towing, etc.

Bearing wear (lead) doesn't seem to have improved with 0W-40. Therefore, viscosity of 0W-20 seems sufficient for this application to prevent bearing oil-film breakdown.

Originally Posted By: PimTac
Where would nickel come from in an engine?

This is a very good reference on UOAs:

http://machinerylubrication.com/Read/854/oil-analysis-tests

Top-end-wear (engines): Characterized by increased levels of Fe (cylinder liner), Al (pistons), and Cr (rings). The presence of Ni usually indicates camshaft/cam follower wear.

Nickel (Ni) seems to be coming from the camshaft. I think iron is coming mostly from the camshaft, too. I have sliding, not rolling, rocker arms, which increases camshaft wear.

My understanding is that it's hard for the oil to reach the valvetrain, which sits all the way at the top of the engine. 0W-20 is producing a better oil flow than 0W-40 and valvetrain is getting more oil and therefore better lubrication with 0W-20. Since valvetrain works in the boundary lubrication regime (metal-to-metal contact), antiwear/extreme-pressure additives play the most important part and viscosity is not as critical in providing an oil film (as there is hardly an oil film). Better oil flow of 0W-20 seems to lubricate the valvetrain better in this application.

Since the viscosity of 0W-20 seems to be sufficient to protect the bearings and it seems to lubricate the valvetrain better, I see no reason to run anything thicker than 0W-20 in this application. Thicker oil is not only increasing wear but also obviously hurting the fuel economy and performance.


2020 Toyota Prius Prime XLE plug-in hybrid, 2ZR-FXE engine, ~ 0,000 M
TGMO 0W-16 SN Japan
OEM spin-on oil filter Japan
Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: Gokhan] #4382128 04/17/17 11:31 PM
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OPR4H Offline
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Besides cam, the cylinder sleeves I was talking about its steel, most Fe, some Ni, Mo and Cr. Head lubrication will depend on oil pump pressure. Do you have on in spec or not.

Last edited by OPR4H; 04/17/17 11:34 PM.
Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: OPR4H] #4382134 04/17/17 11:49 PM
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Gokhan Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: OPR4H
Besides cam, the cylinder sleeves I was talking about its steel, most Fe, some Ni, Mo and Cr. Head lubrication will depend on oil pump pressure. Do you have on in spec or not.

Everything is stock.


2020 Toyota Prius Prime XLE plug-in hybrid, 2ZR-FXE engine, ~ 0,000 M
TGMO 0W-16 SN Japan
OEM spin-on oil filter Japan
Re: Thin or thick (TGMO 0W-20/M1 0W-40): Final verdict [Re: Gokhan] #4382149 04/18/17 01:11 AM
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I miss my little '86 Nova CL 5sp. I agree, that engine is as simple as you can get. I used 5W-30 exclusively up until I let it go in 2009 with 235k. I never even thought about putting 20 weight in it since it spec'ed 30 and up.


'12 Impreza Sport Limited 164K - Magnatec 0W20
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