: Oil Usage with Synthetic Vs. Mineral



ryangmann
03-09-10, 06:18 PM
To start, I have a '94 Northstar that has about 111,000 miles on it. Runs great, plenty powerful and has experience no issues.

My question is about its use of oil. I run Valvoline's Max-Life full synthetic
10W-40 and my engine seems to burn a bit of oil on a regular basis. I have heard of people with northstars having the same issue, and switching to mineral oil, only to have it not burn or use a single drop once the switch is made.

This puts me in a strange situation. I want to take good care of my engine with quality lubricant, so I use fully syntetic oils. Yet, if the engine simply doesn't burn or use mineral oils, is it really worth the switch?

Does anyone have any experience with this issue?

stoveguyy
03-09-10, 06:35 PM
do you use 40w to reduce oil use or do you think you have worn bearings and heavier oil helps maintain oil pressure? do you get any oil light flicker at idle? just wondering why you don't use 10w-30? 111k miles is hardly worn out.

ryangmann
03-09-10, 06:47 PM
Well, I've been using 40w for the heavier weight to reduce the amount that is burned off. I have only seen my "check oil level" message once, since I keep a close eye on it.

Submariner409
03-09-10, 07:12 PM
If your engine uses oil with synthetic, it will use oil with good ol' dino. Just how much is a "bit" of oil, usage-wise ?? 1 quart every 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 miles ??

At the risk of perpetuating yet another oil war, your engine will live long and prosper on any name brand of oil, dino or synthetic, 10W-30 or 10W-40, but I would advise against running 10W-40 if the temps are frequently much below 32 in the winter at your location. (Your Northstar was NOT spec'd for 10W-40)

Go back a little bit in here and up in Seville, find the recent synthetic and dino oil threads, and open the links to oil discussions and filters. Lots of good info.

Remember that motor oil is exactly like whiskey and women: everyone has their particular preference, and logic seldom enters into the equation.

ryangmann
03-11-10, 08:29 PM
Honestly, I haven't kept track of how much exactly. I would say 1 qt every 1500-2000 miles....Like I said, it's pretty small.

Haha I like your quote there too...."Remember that motor oil is exactly like whiskey and women: everyone has their particular preference, and logic seldom enters into the equation." Well said

Submariner409
03-12-10, 12:43 PM
A quart every 1500-2000 is right smack in the middle of the GM "desired" consumption bell curve.

Some Northstars use a quart every 1000, some use a quart every 4,000.

My engine uses a quart every 4,500 and I use Pennzoil 5W-30 Platinum synthetic and a WIX 51522 filter. I changed the oil/filter on 03-22-09, added 28 ounces during the year, and just changed it again on 03-06-10. The oil had 6,700 miles on it and drained as a clear, dark amber color. This change will be fine until next year.

tateos
03-12-10, 01:17 PM
4,500 miles/quart in a Northstar is excellent Sub - that's the best I have heard. Mine have all (I just added them up in my head - wow - I've had six!) been in the 1,500-2,000 range, which is fine with me.

Submariner409
03-12-10, 02:11 PM
:yeah:

After joining CF back in 02/06 I started reading and thought "Is this car an oil burner ?", so I started a pretty faithful work log which is kept up to date. Every gallon of gasoline, oil, coolant, and wax used on this car to date is documented. It gets driven hard, not abused, kept clean, and if something goes wrong that arthritic hands don't feel like fixing, it goes to Fitzgerald Cadillac in Annapolis. Other than normal maintenance (OnStar upgrade, tires, wiper blades, exterior light bulbs, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid and power steering fluid exchanges) and toys (CORSA, strut brace and a set of EBC Black Dash rotors and Redstuff pads) the car has cost exactly $0 in repairs since 11-05. Yes, the car has only 53,000 miles, and yes, it will eventually need stuff like struts, shocks, CV joints, you name it. I like the car enough that when that time comes it will get the best of everything.

Some of us got lucky, and there are hundreds of thousands of Cadillacs running around every day that see the inside of a dealership maybe once a year and that's IT. (My Ford truck is another example of a trouble-free vehicle.)

Ranger
03-12-10, 06:17 PM
My '97 used a qt/1500. My '03 is close to Subs I think. Not positive, but I think GM may have made some changes in 2000 that reduced usage.

jcresciSTS
03-13-10, 03:45 AM
Just to be clear you are only filling it up to halfway up between the min and max, right?

The max is 8qts and if that's what you fill up to it will burn up the excess and cause you to think you are burning oil

drewsdeville
03-13-10, 10:55 AM
:yeah:

(My Ford truck is another example of a trouble-free vehicle.)

Wait for the front end to fall apart on you with Ford's awesome high quality ball joints and tie rod ends with no grease zerks!!!

:tease:

Submariner409
03-13-10, 12:47 PM
:confused: I've gone through three F150's (this one is my fourth) and the first three went to over 130,000 each with no front end work and this one is at 70,000 and is tight as a drum. Not a problem.

My 2002 STS has no Zerks and it's just fine also.

drewsdeville
03-13-10, 01:04 PM
hahaha, yeah sorry man, had to express my hatred for ford truck/panther suspension setup. Lots of vehicles make it through ownership without front end work, especially if it's sold as young as 130,000. And unfortunately, like you suggested, in recent years the absence of grease zerks has become more common.
Had 2 trucks and one Grand Marquis at the house last year needing an assortment of front end work. On one ('01 F150 4x4), the lower ball joint was so bad it actually separated while the owner was moving, steering knuckle swung out, ripped the axle shaft out of the front diff, and the truck "fell"!!! No fun for me...

As far as front end problems, I get more business out of Ford vehicles than any other manufacturer :(

On the other hand, I have 3 170,000 mile Cads and one 160,000 mile Cutlass Supreme in the driveway, regularly greased, on original joints.

GREASE ZERKS FTW!

tateos
03-15-10, 02:42 PM
Just to be clear you are only filling it up to halfway up between the min and max, right?

The max is 8qts and if that's what you fill up to it will burn up the excess and cause you to think you are burning oil

Yes - no higher than halfway between min and max. Also, had to add a quart to the 2000 DTS yesterday - around 1,800 miles since it was changed. I'm not complaining, mind you.

ryangmann
03-17-10, 10:21 AM
Well thanks guys, this does help. I was worried that mine had some unforseen issue but I'm glad that oil usage is normal in these engines.

jsiddall
03-17-10, 11:16 PM
"Normal" for a N* means drinking absurd amounts of both oil and gas :rolleyes:

That being said my SRX seems to have a much greater fondness for gas and really doesn't like oil that much compared to my STS. I have not had to add oil after 4000 miles in the SRX whereas my STS would have need 3 quarts in that many miles.

The SRX requires synthetic whereas the STS doesn't but I really don't think that has anything to do with the oil consumption.

Submariner409
03-18-10, 09:34 AM
Northstar "normal" is NOT drinking absurd amounts of oil and gas.

A FWD Northstar package, in good mechanical condition and depending on the engine VIN code (Y or 9) and final drive (3.11:1 or 3.71:1), will return 23 - 29 mpg on the highway (city driving is wildly variable) while using one quart of oil in a range of 1,000 miles to 4,500 miles.

The GM desired bell curve center for oil consumption is 2,000 miles/quart: some use more, some use less. Mine is a 4,500 mile/quart engine and I can prove every ounce of it since 11-21-05, my purchase date.

jsiddall
03-18-10, 09:35 PM
Northstar "normal" is NOT drinking absurd amounts of oil and gas.

A FWD Northstar package, in good mechanical condition and depending on the engine VIN code (Y or 9) and final drive (3.11:1 or 3.71:1), will return 23 - 29 mpg on the highway (city driving is wildly variable) while using one quart of oil in a range of 1,000 miles to 4,500 miles.

The GM desired bell curve center for oil consumption is 2,000 miles/quart: some use more, some use less. Mine is a 4,500 mile/quart engine and I can prove every ounce of it since 11-21-05, my purchase date.

All a matter of perspective I guess.

My SRX gets a combined 12 MPG, my STS 15 MPG. On the highway the SRX improves to 19 MPG, the STS about 23 MPG. The STS requires a quart every 1200 mi or so.

Compared to some engines, like my last 3800 which never needed oil between changes, that is pretty absurd.

Don't get me wrong though. The N* is a nice engine, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another, but it's hardly what you would call miserly.

johnny kannapo
03-19-10, 12:36 AM
The N* works best with 10w30. Synthetic is great but there is nothing wrong at all with a quality dino oil. If you have a rollerized cam 5w30 or 0w30. Never fill it with more than 7.5 qts. It should be 1/2 way up the hash marks ideally, but if in the operating range leave it be and check it after the engine is fully warm off for 5 minutes. then maintain that lower level, actually find out how much it uses. Take a peak inside the oil fill port with a light and see if it looks all mucked up(bad) in there or is is basically clean maybe some varnishing(good). If you are getting 2000 miles to a QT you are doing pretty good on consumption. I think the DIC will tell you when you reach a qt low & wait for a "check oil level" message to indicate. You can get a false message parked on a grade. In my car the stick reads a qt low with 7.5 added. The 10w40 is too heavy and will not cool the engine as well or flow as positive as the 10w30. If you are using any full synthetic thats excellent. The blended oils aren't much better than the conventional oils. You should dump the 10w40 & use it in the mower & snowblower. Stay away from additives.

Ranger
03-19-10, 12:44 PM
The CHECK OIL LEVEL message actually comes on at 2 qts low or just about the time that the oil drops off the dipstick.