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Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? #4998647 02/01/19 05:00 PM
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EngineeringGeek Offline OP
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Has anyone seen any credible tests of Valvoline Modern Engine oil on intake valve carbon build-up? I know Valvoline "advanced" full syn was already one of the lower volatility synthetics out there and, in theory, was one of the better choices for helping prevent carbon build up. Supposedly they've taken that even further with Modern Engine. But without GF-6 oils and more testing we're kind of at the mercy of the marketing departments.

My theory is an extra $10/jug for Modern Engine is relatively cheap if it prevents, or even significantly delays, a labor intensive walnut shell clean of the intake valves as all the magic potions (Seafoam, etc.) don't seem to do much once you have enough carbon build-up to know you have a problem. Ford, Toyota, and a few others, are starting to finally get the right idea by adding port injection back in addition to direct injection. But for the millions of the rest of us with GDI cars carbon build-up can be a very real problem.

Adding a catch can likely voids your warranty if they want to be picky but is probably wise if you're already out of warranty. And, most manufactures consider ripping the entire intake system off the engine for a very expensive valve cleaning to be "normal maintenance" not a warranty issue. Some of the earlier VW and Audi D.I. turbo models foul their valves every 20K to 30K.

So many here love to debate all sorts of aspects of motor oil, and if you have an older non-DI vehicle, that's fine. But for those of us with D.I. vehicles helping prevent carbon build up on the intake valves is probably the single most important quality in an oil. At least Valvoline appears to be trying to do something about it which is more than I've seen from any of the other oil brands. i'm sure the other big players will follow Valvoline's lead. What we really need are objective independent tests.

Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: EngineeringGeek] #4998700 02/01/19 06:06 PM
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I have not seen independent tests on it. Other tests have shown that metallic additives contribute to IVD, so oils with less of them have an advantage in terms of that one source of the deposits. I have noticed that VME seemed to have less metallic additives that its competitors. I didn’t bother summing up the percent mass of allow the metallic additives and comparing that to other oils, but that could be done. I don’t know if there are any other formulation strategies that Valvoline is using to reduce IVD.

Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: EngineeringGeek] #4998704 02/01/19 06:14 PM
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Good luck proving any of that. Being a self-professed engineering geek, you should know about gage R&Rs, and that one piece of anecdotal evidence is worth less than the paper it's printed on. You need large numbers of controlled tests to be able to statistically prove anything. There will always be stories about that "one guy" who went 300,000 miles with no deposits to the 299k users that had them in the real world. I haven't seen any information anywhere that shows any oils better than the others, or true proof that NOACK is the real driving factor in intake valve deposits.

Sure, it's posited that it's NOACK, but the amount that an engine aerates the oil in the rotating assembly probably has more influence on how much oil actually gets into the PCV system... but NOACK is conducted at 250*C... and only a tiny amount of oil is exposed to temps this high a tiny fraction of the time. Namely, the oil up around the oil control ring and on the bottom of the piston is the hottest oil in an entire engine, and if oil vapor does get past the oil control ring, it will go into the combustion chamber and out the exhaust, not magically onto the back of the intake valve.

I read a large white paper about NOACK, IVDs, and other oil related stuff, and I think they found less than 1/3 of the oil vapor that ends up in the PCV system is actually caused by straight evaporation of the lighter fractions. The large majority is the oil mist from poor oil control and entrainment in the rotating assembly. There are plenty of catch can discussions... if they were the "holy grail" of IVD the manufacturers would add them at the factory. It's another service item that would increase dealership income without negatively impacting warranty costs.

So, short of advertising hype (which is all any brand really has at this point), there's nothing really to distance Valvoline from any other brand. If Valvoline "had" any credible tests (which IMHO they should before making any claims) you would already have been able to peruse them. Sorry. Just my .02.


De omnibus dubitandum.
Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: EngineeringGeek] #4998706 02/01/19 06:18 PM
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Volatility is a minuscule amount of what goes through the pcv that it is a non issue .


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Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: EngineeringGeek] #4998710 02/01/19 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by EngineeringGeek
Has anyone seen any credible tests of Valvoline Modern Engine oil on intake valve carbon build-up? I know Valvoline "advanced" full syn was already one of the lower volatility synthetics out there and, in theory, was one of the better choices for helping prevent carbon build up. Supposedly they've taken that even further with Modern Engine. But without GF-6 oils and more testing we're kind of at the mercy of the marketing departments.

My theory is an extra $10/jug for Modern Engine is relatively cheap if it prevents, or even significantly delays, a labor intensive walnut shell clean of the intake valves as all the magic potions (Seafoam, etc.) don't seem to do much once you have enough carbon build-up to know you have a problem. Ford, Toyota, and a few others, are starting to finally get the right idea by adding port injection back in addition to direct injection. But for the millions of the rest of us with GDI cars carbon build-up can be a very real problem.

Adding a catch can likely voids your warranty if they want to be picky but is probably wise if you're already out of warranty. And, most manufactures consider ripping the entire intake system off the engine for a very expensive valve cleaning to be "normal maintenance" not a warranty issue. Some of the earlier VW and Audi D.I. turbo models foul their valves every 20K to 30K.

So many here love to debate all sorts of aspects of motor oil, and if you have an older non-DI vehicle, that's fine. But for those of us with D.I. vehicles helping prevent carbon build up on the intake valves is probably the single most important quality in an oil. At least Valvoline appears to be trying to do something about it which is more than I've seen from any of the other oil brands. i'm sure the other big players will follow Valvoline's lead. What we really need are objective independent tests.


What does Modern Engine have, that Castrol Magnatec, Castrol Edge, Pennzoil Platinum, Quaker State Durability, Mobil-1 not have?
What does Modern Engine have, that requires more dollars per jug?


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Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: EngineeringGeek] #4998713 02/01/19 06:22 PM
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Not to mention the oil nerds here are the only ones that stress about Noack and other oil specs in fear of D.I., yet the world gets by just fine on bulk oil changes with far less superior oils and with intervals pushed past where it should be. Where are the massive engine failures and OEM's retreating from D.I. technology?

European engines have been using D.I. for years and continue to do so and yes we hear the odd engine having issues but it's not all of them and not all D.I. engine models and they are doing extended drain intervals. shrug


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Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: EngineeringGeek] #4998754 02/01/19 06:57 PM
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What doesn't make sense is the VME Noack is higher than regular Valvoline FS. Unless there is some uniquie proprietary chemistry or method they are using to claim this, it's pure marketing. Mobil 1 addressed the lower metallic additive levels years before the others jumped on board with that. The SA of Mobil 1 dropped to .8 back in 2012 and they did mention it was partially due to GDI engines. I don't know what Ashland's approach is. It reamains a mystery. However, the cost of the oil is interesting because it's as expensive as M1 AP, so there may be something unique about it, but they just don't want to reveal. I've seen no patents or articles on the science of what they are claiming. Theyr techline doesn't provide any insights.


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Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: StevieC] #4998810 02/01/19 07:38 PM
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Thanks to all for your input. I was just curious if I was missing something more conclusive.

@StevieC I think manufactures are somewhat "retreating" from D.I. in that several have since gone to the expense to add back port injection. Audi, VW and Ford have all had early turbo D.I. motors with very well documented carbon issues and they're by no means the only ones. A friend is a BMW tech and some days they do multiple walnut blasts to clear misfire conditions, etc. This is a real problem but I agree there's a lot of misinformation, speculation, anecdotal claims, etc. around it. I agree there's not enough real-world testing to conclusively say what changes in oil formulation can improve the situation. Valvoline claims "30% fewer carbon deposits" on intake valves. But I've not seen where that number came from even if it was some in-house test they devised or simply creative marketing.

To @SubieRubyRoo I don't think we need ten years of fleet duty and massive numbers of trials when a decent controlled test that's directly applicable to the problem would suffice or at least shed far more light on it. I think the industry has been slow to respond but the new GF-6 spec will hopefully be another step in the right direction.

I do agree some D.I. engines are far more prone to issues that others. It stands to reason how much the oil is atomized is a factor. Oil sprays to cool the undersides of pistons, for example, seem to make for more carbon. The other obvious difference is how good of a job the PCV system does of keeping most of the gunk out of the intake, and what gets into the intake, is ideally evenly distributed and doesn't end up mostly going into one cylinder. Some manufactures also claim the valve and ignition timing are a factor but it seems unlikely they can vary those by much purely to try and keep the valves cleaner without compromising performance, economy, and emissions. But, if there are ways to formulate oil for less carbon build-up, it seems like a good thing and increasingly important as long as the oil still meets the other requirements.

Last edited by EngineeringGeek; 02/01/19 07:40 PM.
Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: EngineeringGeek] #4998818 02/01/19 07:49 PM
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Engine oils and fuels are hydrocarbons.

A particular oil or fuel may reduce carbon deposits, but my bet is on the physcis that says anytime a hydrocarbon is burnt or subjected to high temperatures, there is no way it can eliminate or prevent carbon deposits.


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Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: MolaKule] #4998837 02/01/19 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by MolaKule
Engine oils and fuels are hydrocarbons.

A particular oil or fuel may reduce carbon deposits, but my bet is on the physcis that says anytime a hydrocarbon is burnt or subjected to high temperatures, there is no way it can eliminate or prevent carbon deposits.

The fuel never touches the backsides of the valves so that makes no difference in a D.I. engine although that's another common myth as it does have an impact with conventional port injection. But the oil vapors/mist/blowby/etc. from the crankcase DO contact the backs of the intake valves and that's the root of the problem. How much of that mix, and resulting deposits, are attributable to the oil is the key question. There does seem to be some consensus conventional oils leave more desposits than fully synthetic. But, as others have pointed out, what makes for a better synthetic is less clear even if Valvoline claims a 30% reduction with their Modern Engine formulation.

Last edited by EngineeringGeek; 02/01/19 08:00 PM.
Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: EngineeringGeek] #4998989 02/01/19 11:29 PM
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So the only way to prevent PCV vapors from contacting the backside of the intake valve is to either eliminate PCV; move to a system like a valve cover evacuator like race cars use that suck it directly into the exhaust; or to suck it out of the crankcase and compress the snot out of it, and then direct-inject it directly into one of the cylinders. That would prevent all fuel and oil from entering the intact tract...


De omnibus dubitandum.
Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: StevieC] #4999000 02/01/19 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by StevieC
Not to mention the oil nerds here are the only ones that stress about Noack and other oil specs in fear of D.I., yet the world gets by just fine on bulk oil changes with far less superior oils and with intervals pushed past where it should be. Where are the massive engine failures and OEM's retreating from D.I. technology?

European engines have been using D.I. for years and continue to do so and yes we hear the odd engine having issues but it's not all of them and not all D.I. engine models and they are doing extended drain intervals. shrug


But to European’s credit, their oil specification approvals stress Noack. For example, MB thinks it’s important enough to limit to 10%.

LSPI is a completely separate topic, and one that is more about ECU tuning than anything (the German’s are all still running high-calcium oils).


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Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: EngineeringGeek] #4999007 02/01/19 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by EngineeringGeek
Thanks to all for your input. I was just curious if I was missing something more conclusive.

@StevieC I think manufactures are somewhat "retreating" from D.I. in that several have since gone to the expense to add back port injection. Audi, VW and Ford have all had early turbo D.I. motors with very well documented carbon issues and they're by no means the only ones. A friend is a BMW tech and some days they do multiple walnut blasts to clear misfire conditions, etc. This is a real problem but I agree there's a lot of misinformation, speculation, anecdotal claims, etc. around it. I agree there's not enough real-world testing to conclusively say what changes in oil formulation can improve the situation. Valvoline claims "30% fewer carbon deposits" on intake valves. But I've not seen where that number came from even if it was some in-house test they devised or simply creative marketing.

To @SubieRubyRoo I don't think we need ten years of fleet duty and massive numbers of trials when a decent controlled test that's directly applicable to the problem would suffice or at least shed far more light on it. I think the industry has been slow to respond but the new GF-6 spec will hopefully be another step in the right direction.

I do agree some D.I. engines are far more prone to issues that others. It stands to reason how much the oil is atomized is a factor. Oil sprays to cool the undersides of pistons, for example, seem to make for more carbon. The other obvious difference is how good of a job the PCV system does of keeping most of the gunk out of the intake, and what gets into the intake, is ideally evenly distributed and doesn't end up mostly going into one cylinder. Some manufactures also claim the valve and ignition timing are a factor but it seems unlikely they can vary those by much purely to try and keep the valves cleaner without compromising performance, economy, and emissions. But, if there are ways to formulate oil for less carbon build-up, it seems like a good thing and increasingly important as long as the oil still meets the other requirements.



Hyundai still has port injection in some of their non turbo cars. Hyundai in Asia has dual GDI injectors per cylinder, so the USA and Canada should get that in 2020.


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Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: SubieRubyRoo] #4999114 02/02/19 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by SubieRubyRoo
So the only way to prevent PCV vapors from contacting the backside of the intake valve is to either eliminate PCV; move to a system like a valve cover evacuator like race cars use that suck it directly into the exhaust; or to suck it out of the crankcase and compress the snot out of it, and then direct-inject it directly into one of the cylinders. That would prevent all fuel and oil from entering the intact tract...

None of those are practical solutions for production cars. The best options appear to be avoid oil aeration/atomization inside the engine, have better separators to keep more of the liquids in the crankcase and out of the intake manifold, better distribute the PCV vapors across all cylinders, and the point of this thread, use a low volatility oil which is formulated to hopefully cause fewer intake valve despots. Sadly a lot of cars just plumb the PCV line into the intake manifold near one cylinder and that's always the cylinder with the worst carbon problem. If you don't care about warranty issues there are a variety of aftermarket catch can options that help trap a lot of additional liquid but they need to be periodically drained and, in some cars, finding a place to mount them and routing the lines can be challenging.

Also, for what it's worth, this problem is generally worse on turbo engines because they have higher combustion pressures, more blow-by into the crankcase, and are more likely to have piston cooling oil jets. Volkswagen keeps re-designing their valve cover oil PCV separator on their turbo engines. I think the two liter alone has had at least 4 different designs as they grapple with this problem but, according to the techs, at least the last 3 designs did not sufficiently solve the problem. If carbon build up is bad enough to throw a check engine light from misfiring some customers argue it's a warranty issue and want it fixed for free. Most dealers argue it's a maintenance item and some recommend valve cleaning as often as every 30K.

This test is from 2013, and biased towards Amsoil, but is an example of what we need more of and it included NOACK testing. It also included a thermo deposit test which may or may not give some indication of carbon buildup on D.I. engine valves. The 2013 Valvoline (before they changed to "Advanced" or the newest "Modern Engine") scored near the best for low deposits but near the worst for volatility:
http://superoilcentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/motor-oil-comparison.pdf

Last edited by EngineeringGeek; 02/02/19 07:11 AM. Reason: added link
Re: Valvoline Modern Engine Preventing D.I. Carbon? [Re: EngineeringGeek] #4999205 02/02/19 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by EngineeringGeek
Originally Posted by MolaKule
Engine oils and fuels are hydrocarbons.

A particular oil or fuel may reduce carbon deposits, but my bet is on the physcis that says anytime a hydrocarbon is burnt or subjected to high temperatures, there is no way it can eliminate or prevent carbon deposits.

The fuel never touches the backsides of the valves so that makes no difference in a D.I. engine although that's another common myth as it does have an impact with conventional port injection. But the oil vapors/mist/blowby/etc. from the crankcase DO contact the backs of the intake valves and that's the root of the problem. How much of that mix, and resulting deposits, are attributable to the oil is the key question. There does seem to be some consensus conventional oils leave more desposits than fully synthetic. But, as others have pointed out, what makes for a better synthetic is less clear even if Valvoline claims a 30% reduction with their Modern Engine formulation.


I respectively disagree with you, fuel will touch the backside of the valves in the valve overlap cycle. This could be why some cars carbon up more then others, Other variables are, engine bore size/cylinder head C chamber shape/cam timing & profile/port design/ignition mapping.


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