Oil Life Indicator in the STS
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Cadillac STS Forum - 2005 through 2012 Discussion, Oil Life Indicator in the STS in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; I read an article about our Oil Life indicator, the one in the DIC (Drivers Information Center), and it is ...
  1. #1
    Subsailor613's Avatar
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    Cool Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    I read an article about our Oil Life indicator, the one in the DIC (Drivers Information Center), and it is written by GM, It was developed to use the oil to it's fullest.
    and NOT change oil because it's only 3000 miles. The effect now without the OLI
    is excessive oil to dispose of, and some not used miles on every fill of oil.
    This is NOT only on the Cad STS, but on some other GM cars also.
    It went on to say that some cars may only need changing Once a year,
    because of the effectiveness of this OLI.
    Driver conditions,and outside considerations, certainly affect the oil.
    Fast drivers,Slow drivers, etc.
    Of course it's your car, and you can change it after only 2000 miles, but
    try to remember to KEEP IT GREEN.

    P.S. I am testing Castrol Edge 5W30, with a MB1 oil filter w/
    with internal check valve.We shall see how long it will last.
    I am timing mine with the State inspection sticker

    Have fun

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    KRSTS is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    Does Catrol Edge meet GM SPEC GM4718M? GM says that if a customer has an engine failure that is traced to oil or lubrication issues, and if the customer does not use specified oil in their gasoline-powered GM vehicle, that act alone could void the warranty. Maybe your STS is out of warranty. Personally, I would stick to Mobil 1.

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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    I been OUT of warranty, months, but the Castrol Edge Exceeds the Cadillac Spec for oil.
    the car was made 7 years ago,they apparantly made a oil that exceeds that spec.
    However, I have an aftermarket Warranty, NOT with GM.
    Thanks for your advice.

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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    My Engine Oil Life is currently at 80% I was looking online at amsoil website but am confused what Oil should I use ? Just got this Cadillac this year and its my first GM class car.

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    Cool Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    If it has the "Sheriff's Badge on it" it meets the Cadillac Spec for oil.
    it's a star with about 32 points on it. "For Gasoline Engines"
    But that is NOT what the manufacturer recommends.
    It IS recommended to use "Mobile 1 5W30"

    Have fun, Good Luck !

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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    I'm not sure I understand what you're testing. Are you planning on comparing different brands and filters to see how many miles you get from the oil life monitor between these brands?

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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    The OLM is pretty accurate from what I've seen. I've been having my oil tested with each oil change. My next change will be with 7500 miles on the oil (last one was 5500) and I expect the OLM to be pretty low (less than 20% easily) by then.

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    Cool Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    Yes, I am sorta testing the Castrol Edge for Long Mileage, compared to the
    M1 oil, to see if the OLI, does in fact, give me Longer life.
    I have used the M1 before, so I know how much it gave me.
    I believe the M1 filter is the best you can get, for the engine.

    Have Fun !

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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    My research shows that the M1 filter has the best specs of any. Also one of the most pricy, $20 at advance.

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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    Quote Originally Posted by Subsailor613 View Post
    Yes, I am sorta testing the Castrol Edge for Long Mileage, compared to the
    M1 oil, to see if the OLI, does in fact, give me Longer life.
    I have used the M1 before, so I know how much it gave me.
    I believe the M1 filter is the best you can get, for the engine.

    Have Fun !
    I'm not sure you understand how the system works. The oil life monitor has no way of knowing whether you put in Mobil1 or Kool-Aid. It does not make an analysis of the oil. The algorithm is set to understand the characteristics of the "recommended" oil for that engine. The calculation is based on things like engine operating temps, coolant temps, RPM's and other parameters. Based on how the operator drives the vehicle, the system can calculate how long the "recommended" grade of oil will last. If your environmental conditions remain unchanged, and you have very consistent driving habits, you will not notice any change in expected life between brands (as indicated by the OLM). The only way you'll ever know how different oils and filters compare would be to send them to a lab for analysis.

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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    via the old Guru:
    "One thing I can touch on and clear up.....the GM oil life monitor operation and my statement that ZDP (or ZDDP as you tend to call it here...most of the API literature just sticks to ZDP so I tend to use that) depletion is the basis for oil deterioration.

    My spelling is poor but ZDP stands for zinc dialkyldithiophosphate which , as it sounds, is an anti-wear compound comprised of zinc and phosphorus.

    ZDP is dispersed in the oil so as to be at a potential wear site if a surface asperity happens to break thru the oil film thickness causing the dreaded metal-to-metal contact. A molecule of ZDP must be present at that moment to prevent microwelding at the contact site which will cause material transfer, scuffing, scoring, wear and catostrophic failure. The concentration of ZDP in the oil will determine if there is ZDP present to work it's magic. The greater the concentration...the more likely a molecule of ZDP will be there...and vice versa.

    By nature, ZDP is sacrifical. As ZDP is "used up" at a wear site to prevent micorwelding the concentration of ZDP decreases.... So...if you measure the ZDP concentration in engine oil in a running engine it will decrease at linear rate based on engine revolutions. Any given engine has a certain number of high potential wear areas where metal-to-metal contact could occur due to reduced film thickness and/or surface asperities....areas such as rubbing element cam followers, distributor gears, rocker arm pivots, push rod tips, etc...... The more of these areas the more ZDP depletion. The more often these features come in contact the greater the ZDP depletion. That is why, generally speaking, ZDP concentration in the oil, for any given engine, will decrease at a fairly linear rate when plotted versus cummulative engine revolutions. The more times it turns the more contact the more chance for wear the greater the depletion. This is as much of a fact as I could quote ever and is really not speculation or anything. It is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt in many studies. That is why it is ONE of the basis for determining oil life remaining and why it is THE basic premis of the GM oil life algorithm. It is only ONE of the things that determines oil life...but it is the one thing that can be tied to engine operation in a linear fashion and estimated very accurately by accumulating engine revolutions via a counter.

    The GM engine oil life monitor counts engine revolutions and accumulates the number for the basis of the oil life calculation. It then adds deterioration factors for operating temperature, start up temperature, soak times, ambient, coolant temperature, etc... There are a LOT of factors that "adjust" or affect the slope of the deterioration but the fundamental deterioration is traced back to the ZDP depletion that is inescapable with engine revolutions. The specific rate of ZDP depletion is readily measurable for any given engine so that is the fundamental item that is first calibrated for the oil life algorithm to tailor it specifically to that engine. <<<< does that paragraph get anyone else excited besides me? laugh.gif

    You would obviously like to get the oil out of the engine before the ZDP concentration gets so low that it is ineffective at being at the right place at the right time and preventing engine wear so that becomes the long term limit on oil life for that application.

    The other things that determine oil life such a acid build up, oxidation, petane insuluables such as silicon from dust/dirt, carbon or soot build up from the EGR in blowby, water contamination, fuel contamination, etc.... are all modeled by the multipliers or deterioration factors that "adjust" the immediate slope of the line defined by the engine revolution counter as those items can be modeled in other ways and accounted for in the immediate slope of the ZDP depletion line.

    The algorithm was developed over the course of many years by several lubrication experts at GM Fuels and Lubes, spearheaded by Doctor Shirley Schwartz who holds the patents (with GM) for the algorithm and the oil life montitor. I had the luck of working directly with Dr. Schwartz when the idea of the oil life monitor first progressed from the theoretical/lab stage to real world testing/development/validation. There were fleets of cars operated under all conditions that deteriorate the oil life for any and every reason and , thru oil sampling and detailed analysis of the oil condition, the algorithm was developed, fine tuned and validated to be the most accurate way invented yet to recommend an oil change interval by. As just one example, I have seen cars driven side-by-side on trips, one towing a trailer and one not, for instance, to prove the effectiveness of the oil life monitor in deteriorating the oil at a faster rate just because of the higher load, higher average RPM, higher temps, etc...and it works flawlessly.

    The oil life monitor is so effective because: it is customized for that specific vehicle/engine, it takes everything into account that deteriorates the oil, it is ALWAYS working so as to take into account THAT INDIVIDUALS driving schedule, and it tailors the oil change to that schedule and predicts, on an ongoing basis, the oil life remaining so that that specific individual can plan an oil change accordingly. No other system can do this that effectively.

    One thing is that I know personally from years of testing and thousands of oil analysis that the oil life algorithm works. There is simply no argument to the contrary. If you don't believe me, fine, but, trust me, it works. It is accurate because it has been calibrated for each specific engine it is installed on and there is considerable testing and validation of the oil life monitor on that specific application. NOt something that oil companies or Amsoil do. They generalize....the oil life monitor is very specific for that application.

    Oil condition sensors in some BMW and Mercedes products are useful, also. They have their limitations, though, as they can be blind to some contaminates and can, themselves, be contaminated by certain markers or constituents of certain engine oils. Oil condition sensors can only react to the specific oil at that moment and they add complexity, cost and another potential item to fail. One other beauty of the GM oil life monitor is that it is all software and does not add any mechanical complexity, mass, wiring or potential failure mechanism.

    There is considerable safety factor in the GM oil life monitor. Typically, I would say, there is a 2:1 safety factor in the slope of the ZDP depletion curve....in other words, zero percent oil life per the ZDP depletion is not zero ZDP but twice the concentration of ZDP considered critical for THAT engine to operate under all conditions reliably with no wear. This is always a subject of discussion as to just how low do you want the ZDP to get before the oil is "worn out" if this is the deciding factor for oil life. We would tend to be on the conservative side. If the oil life is counting down on a slope that would recommend a 10K change interval then there is probably 20K oil life before the ZDP is catostrophically depleted....not that you would want to go there...but reason why many people are successful in running those change intervals.

    Please...NOT ALL ENGINES ARE THE SAME. The example above is an excellent practical justification of why you would want to add EOS and change the 15W40 Delvac in the muscle car at 3000 miles max and yet can run the Northstar to 12500 easily on conventional oil. You must treat each engine and situation differently and what applies to one does not retroactively apply to others. This is where Amsoil falls short in my book by proposing long change intervals in most everything if you use their oil. It just doesn't work that way. You can run the Amsoil to 12500 with no concerns whatsoever in the late model Northstar because even the oil life monitor tells you that for conventional oil off the shelf. Would I do that to the 502 in my 66 Chevelle...NO WAY. Amsoil says I can though. Wrong.


    There are entire SAE papers written on the GM oil life monitor and one could write a book on it so it is hard to touch on all aspects of it in a single post. Hopefully we hit the high spots. Realize that a GREAT deal of time, work and energy went into developing the oil life monitor and it has received acclaim from engineering organizations, petroleum organizations, environmental groups all across the board. It is not some widget invented in a week and tacked onto the car.

    The oil life monitor is not under the control of a summer intern at GM Powertrain per an earlier post....LOL Not that a summer intern wasn't compiling calibrations or doing a project on it but is under control of the lube group with a variety of engineers directly responsible that have immediate responsibility for the different engine families and engine groups. The idea that a summer intern was responsible for or handling the oil life monitor is ludicrous.....LOL LOL LOL"
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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    Very interesting information! In essence though it supports my position that the analysis is not made by the OLM on the specific "product" used, but the parameters around how the vehicle is operated. I'm planning on passing this along to some of my colleagues as I've never located anything quite so informative on the topic to date.

    Thanks Rippy!

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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    the way i learned it in my GM training is that the OLM is based off of three things - 1) the specific application/engine/vehicle 2) the rpms & 3) the temperature

    based off of that the algorithm can determine how much the oil has degraded... the only thing that can mess it up is if the owner doesn't reset it when they do their oil changes or if they don't use the recommended oil
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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    We have had staff inadvertently reset the OLM by playing with other settings in the DIC and this sub-optimal. In the case of our vehicles, it is normal to drive a vehicle very hard from cold and continue to do so throughout many different ambient temperatures. As such, these things always affect two of the three criteria you mention. High RPM of course increases total count faster but also directly affects temperatures for various reasons. In any event, I've always been a firm believer in this technology.

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    Re: Oil Life Indicator in the STS

    yeah, in the owner's manual it will tell you what to do if you accidentally reset the monitor

    i think it says get it done right away if you're over 3000 miles on the oil change or get it done at 3000 miles since the last change

    the rpm and temp are the two variables... i mentioned the 'application' first since it is the major factor but it isn't a variable unless you're talking about the OLM system in general - when you're talking about a specific car the rpm and temp are the only variables that go into the algorithm
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