Re: Break-In Oil “Wear Test” and “Lab Test” Data
Let me preface this by saying that I believe that any of today's oil formulations are fine for most completely stock valvetrains. This is what the API's guidelines and tests are made for. Does that mean that they are sufficient for every valvetrain/engine ever produced or being produced? No. Does that mean that they are sufficient for every aftermarket component that may result in much higher loads than most stock parts? No. Are there some current manufacturers that do not recommend a standard 30 weight oil (oils above 30 weight do not have limits on phosphorus or zinc) for their engines? Yes.
Here's what I got from it......
This person lists himself as "Member: SAE" which leads everyone to believe he is an SAE certified engineer. However, there are only two qualifications needed to become an SAE member: $81 and a mailing address.
The testing device (which is never shown or named) is called "definitely not a one armed bandit" device which used to be made by the Timken company and was discredited some time ago because it can be manipulated and Timken stopped making it or using it. Reason being the results could easily be skewed by pulling harder or softer on the testing lever which applies force to the pin against a spinning ring. However, the description of the test device being used perfectly matches what a Timken tester (one armed bandit) is but the user says he carefully and slowly adds weights to the device the exact same way on each test sample so as to have no variances.
There was some testing of zinc additives and higher zinc oils that attempted (in my opinion) to show that they did not work or offered no additional protection. However, the way the testing was performed showed that the person performing the test has no idea how zinc works and is activated. Under heat and pressure, ZDDP gradually lays down a sacrificial ceramic layer on the microscopic peaks and valleys of metal which is the last line of defense when the oil film is broken such as in sliding, scrubbing, pivoting parts. The tester heated his samples, put them in a tester that forces a pin against a spinning ring, and ran it for 30 seconds. Anyone ever heard of a 30 second camshaft break-in? Anyone ever seen a rocker pivot or valve stem that is a rotating part supported by an oil film?
With all that said, I do believe his test showed good results... Those results being how well different oils' film strengths perform in a Timken tester. It can be a helpful indicator but is not the end all in protection rating. As said, this tester is a spinning ring with a pin pressed against it. Does that sound like it's representative of every working part inside an engine? It's certainly similar to a bearing such as a rod or camshaft bearing but all the zinc in the world will not save a bearing when the oil film is broken and the fact is that the poorest oil on the market has enough film strength to perform adequately if there are not other problems and the engine is operating correctly, and the BEST oil on the market is not strong enough to prevent an issue if it's not. There are independent four ball wear tests done by Amsoil using several of the same oils in this test that have completely different results. Does that mean one test invalidates the other? I don't think so.
The person doing this testing went on record as saying his recommendation was that SN rated Pennzoil Platinum 5W-30, being that it showed the highest film strength in his testing, should be used in EVERY engine that has been or will be built REGARDLESS of camshaft type, lift, duration, spring pressures, usage, etc. This statement alone would get him laughed out of any reputable engine shop, race team area, or even camshaft manufacturing facility. And it's not just flat tappet cams or just cams alone that sometimes need extra EP additive....there are several LS shops that are seeing failures on aggressive lobe cams with lower zinc oil and certain diesel engines that are seeing rocker pivot failures on the newer low zinc diesel oils.
Zinc is not the end all be all of wear protection, but it's not something to just be discounted because someone says so. After all if it were would the API still specify A MINIMUM AMOUNT THAT MUST BE IN ALL OILS? Nope.
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Last edited by Steiner; Aug 12th, 13 at 04:27 AM.