Oil Grades Make a Difference

I recently had to take my 2004 Prius in for emergency maintenance because of a soft squealing that had been happening for the last few days when the car was at speed (pretty much anything over 10mph).  I decided, since my maintenance required warning light was on, that I might as well also get an oil change.  After paying for the maintenance (some rocks got stuck in my brake pads), I noticed an odd little line on my invoice.

The maintenance code on the oil change line indicated an oil weight of 0W-40, which seemed like an odd weight at the time (but apparently does exist).  I went back to my maintenance lead and asked what weight was used, and he said that it was, in fact, 0W-40.  He said that all Toyota cars use this without any problems.  This is patently wrong, since the Prius requires 5W-30 for proper operation (and waving the owner’s manual in this guy’s face got him to realize this).  However, this dealership only carries 0W-40! He made a special arrangement for me to come back this morning and get the oil change redone with the proper weight, which has now been done.

What’s the point of this story?  According to fueleconomy.gov, it’s imperative to ensure that your car is using the proper weight of oil for best operation.  There are, in fact, cars that will not operate at all with the wrong oil weight (and the wrong oil weight can also severely damage some engines).  Do you know the proper oil weight for your car?  Are you sure your dealership consistently uses that weight and isn’t overfilling your oil?  Most dealers pump straight from a barrel, which makes it very hard to prevent overfilling.  I verified a practice today that I had done the first time I did an oil change – bring your own oil and insist that they put the correct amount in.  I’ll never make the mistake of not buying and bringing my own oil in again!

  • http://watstein.blogspot.com/ Marcus Watstein

    My 2003 Camry uses 5W-30 like most cars. There can be 10W-40 only in the winter but it is not totally recommended. Also tt depends on what dealer but each one has different brands which some are better and some worse.

    In sacramento
    ——————
    Folsom Lake Toyota- Valvoline
    Elk Grove Toyota- Toyota Motor Oil
    Thompsons Toyota- Castrol
    Maita Toyota – Pennzoil

    Also some dealerships drain the oil by letting it flow naturally which doesn’t get all of the old oil out and some pump it out it also depends on the dealer. I would complain to toyota saying that this dealership gave you the wrong oil and be carful. Also I have learned that certain dealerships forget to put the drain plug back on the oil so you could leak oil out and screw up you engine. The first one on my list is notorious of that.

  • http://watstein.blogspot.com Marcus Watstein

    My 2003 Camry uses 5W-30 like most cars. There can be 10W-40 only in the winter but it is not totally recommended. Also tt depends on what dealer but each one has different brands which some are better and some worse.

    In sacramento
    ——————
    Folsom Lake Toyota- Valvoline
    Elk Grove Toyota- Toyota Motor Oil
    Thompsons Toyota- Castrol
    Maita Toyota – Pennzoil

    Also some dealerships drain the oil by letting it flow naturally which doesn’t get all of the old oil out and some pump it out it also depends on the dealer. I would complain to toyota saying that this dealership gave you the wrong oil and be carful. Also I have learned that certain dealerships forget to put the drain plug back on the oil so you could leak oil out and screw up you engine. The first one on my list is notorious of that.

  • http://watstein.blogspot.com/ Marcus Watstein

    I made one mistake instead of saying 10W-40 it should be 10W-30 for winter.

  • http://watstein.blogspot.com Marcus Watstein

    I made one mistake instead of saying 10W-40 it should be 10W-30 for winter.

  • http://fejta.com/record Erick

    Hybrids are dumb. If you do the research, a non-hybrid civic gets almost the same gas milage as a Prius (or hybrid civic), costs and weights a whole lot less (especially if you exclude the govt. subsidies) and uses far less resources to manufacture. It is also far more reliable, not having all the regenerative breaking and whatnot.

    If we are smart, we will stop spending time developing hybrids and more on improving the efficiency of our internal combustion engines. Or develop something that doesn’t use any in the first place.

  • http://fejta.com/record Erick

    Hybrids are dumb. If you do the research, a non-hybrid civic gets almost the same gas milage as a Prius (or hybrid civic), costs and weights a whole lot less (especially if you exclude the govt. subsidies) and uses far less resources to manufacture. It is also far more reliable, not having all the regenerative breaking and whatnot.

    If we are smart, we will stop spending time developing hybrids and more on improving the efficiency of our internal combustion engines. Or develop something that doesn’t use any in the first place.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org/ Peter

    Quite unfortunately, Erick, you’re actually dead wrong. The closest thing I’ve ever seen to Prius mileage in a non-hybrid is actually a diesel-based Volkswagen Jetta at around 47MPG. The only reason you wouldn’t get between 45 and 55MPG in a Prius is if you drove with a lead foot, didn’t keep your tires inflated, didn’t go the speed limit, and just plain paid no attention to your driving. I talk to Prius drivers routinely who get between 50 and 60MPG on their cars. Don’t forget that weather also plays a role. At the moment, I’m getting upwards of 400 miles/tank because of the warmer summer weather, though that will begin to drop substantially come winter.

    The only car that does better is the Honda Insight, which is no longer in production.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org Peter

    Quite unfortunately, Erick, you’re actually dead wrong. The closest thing I’ve ever seen to Prius mileage in a non-hybrid is actually a diesel-based Volkswagen Jetta at around 47MPG. The only reason you wouldn’t get between 45 and 55MPG in a Prius is if you drove with a lead foot, didn’t keep your tires inflated, didn’t go the speed limit, and just plain paid no attention to your driving. I talk to Prius drivers routinely who get between 50 and 60MPG on their cars. Don’t forget that weather also plays a role. At the moment, I’m getting upwards of 400 miles/tank because of the warmer summer weather, though that will begin to drop substantially come winter.

    The only car that does better is the Honda Insight, which is no longer in production.

  • http://watstein.blogspot.com/ Marcus Watstein

    The only reason I wouldn’t get a hybrid is the repair of them is darn expensive. I have found out that around 3-4 years the hybrid battery needs to be replaced and it costs way to much money. The Prius does get a lot of miles per gallon but the other hybrids like the hybrid Camry is just for performance not savings. Instead of getting 25 miles per gallon highway on a Camry gas powered it should get about 35 per gallon. Also Toyota dealerships don’t recommend their new hybirds except the Prius because it doesn’t save that much in gas, unless you really want it.

  • http://watstein.blogspot.com Marcus Watstein

    The only reason I wouldn’t get a hybrid is the repair of them is darn expensive. I have found out that around 3-4 years the hybrid battery needs to be replaced and it costs way to much money. The Prius does get a lot of miles per gallon but the other hybrids like the hybrid Camry is just for performance not savings. Instead of getting 25 miles per gallon highway on a Camry gas powered it should get about 35 per gallon. Also Toyota dealerships don’t recommend their new hybirds except the Prius because it doesn’t save that much in gas, unless you really want it.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org/ Peter

    Again, completely and utterly incorrect. Hybrid batteries last for over eight years and probably will last about as long as the life of the car itself. There are 2001 Priuses driving around with original batteries – who gave you rubbish about needing the hybrid batteries replaced after 3-4 years? Bull. The only thing that might need replacing is a very small and cheap 12V battery used for starting.

    I suppose the reason for a Toyota dealership not recommending new hybrids would be mystifying – they’re trying to sell a product. To not recommend that product makes absolutely no sense. They’re salespeople, first and foremost.

    Again, how much have you paid for gas in the last year? How much gas have you pumped in the last year? I’m guessing you don’t have these numbers because you don’t track MPG by your gas receipts, and thus also don’t have the gallons pumped. It is entirely possible to recoup the cost of a hybrid – it’s not easy, but it is possible.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org Peter

    Again, completely and utterly incorrect. Hybrid batteries last for over eight years and probably will last about as long as the life of the car itself. There are 2001 Priuses driving around with original batteries – who gave you rubbish about needing the hybrid batteries replaced after 3-4 years? Bull. The only thing that might need replacing is a very small and cheap 12V battery used for starting.

    I suppose the reason for a Toyota dealership not recommending new hybrids would be mystifying – they’re trying to sell a product. To not recommend that product makes absolutely no sense. They’re salespeople, first and foremost.

    Again, how much have you paid for gas in the last year? How much gas have you pumped in the last year? I’m guessing you don’t have these numbers because you don’t track MPG by your gas receipts, and thus also don’t have the gallons pumped. It is entirely possible to recoup the cost of a hybrid – it’s not easy, but it is possible.

  • http://fejta.com/record Erick

    “It is entirely possible to recoup the cost of a hybrid – it’s not easy, but it is possible.”

    Gee, let me go buy one today. “Buy a hybrid–it might make economic and environmental sense*. *but only if you try, really, really hard”

    FACTS:
    A 4-door civic costs $14k and will get 30-40mpg
    http://automobiles.honda.com/models/specifications_full_specs.asp?ModelName=Civic+Sedan&Category=3

    A civic hybrid costs $22k (and much of the research is subsidized, less it be even MORE expensive) and will get around 50mpg
    http://automobiles.honda.com/models/specifications_full_specs.asp?ModelName=Civic+Hybrid&Category=3

    Lets say you drive 300 miles per week. That means you will use 10 gallons of gas with your normal car, and 6 gallons with your hybrid. If gas is $4/gallon, that will be either $40/week or $24/week. There are 52 weeks per year. So you spend $2080/year with a normal car, or $1248/year with a hybrid. You save $832 per year using a hybrid. The hybrid is $8,000 more expensive, so it will take you 10 years before you can recoup the losses.

    This of course, excludes all the extra costs associated with owning a hybrid: its significantly more complicated, with significantly more parts that can go wrong (you’re insane if you’re going to argue this: you have two engines, all sorts of electronics to regulate the balance of power between each engine, recharging the electric engine, turning the combustion engine on and off repeatedly, regenerative breaking…all cool things, but all cool things that can break that a normal car does not have); when they DO go wrong, you are stuck going to your (expensive) dealer because they are the only ones that can work on the thing. But go ahead and pretend you live in a fantasy world where a hybrid will never break because its shiny, new and environmental friendly…

    If you want to be environmental, then perhaps you should think about how much sense it makes for you to drive yourself around your own personal 3,000 pound air-conditioned box while the vast majority of the world is lucky to consume as much energy in a lifetime as you (and I) probably do in a year.

  • http://fejta.com/record Erick

    “It is entirely possible to recoup the cost of a hybrid – it’s not easy, but it is possible.”

    Gee, let me go buy one today. “Buy a hybrid–it might make economic and environmental sense*. *but only if you try, really, really hard”

    FACTS:
    A 4-door civic costs $14k and will get 30-40mpg
    http://automobiles.honda.com/models/specifications_full_specs.asp?ModelName=Civic+Sedan&Category=3

    A civic hybrid costs $22k (and much of the research is subsidized, less it be even MORE expensive) and will get around 50mpg
    http://automobiles.honda.com/models/specifications_full_specs.asp?ModelName=Civic+Hybrid&Category=3

    Lets say you drive 300 miles per week. That means you will use 10 gallons of gas with your normal car, and 6 gallons with your hybrid. If gas is $4/gallon, that will be either $40/week or $24/week. There are 52 weeks per year. So you spend $2080/year with a normal car, or $1248/year with a hybrid. You save $832 per year using a hybrid. The hybrid is $8,000 more expensive, so it will take you 10 years before you can recoup the losses.

    This of course, excludes all the extra costs associated with owning a hybrid: its significantly more complicated, with significantly more parts that can go wrong (you’re insane if you’re going to argue this: you have two engines, all sorts of electronics to regulate the balance of power between each engine, recharging the electric engine, turning the combustion engine on and off repeatedly, regenerative breaking…all cool things, but all cool things that can break that a normal car does not have); when they DO go wrong, you are stuck going to your (expensive) dealer because they are the only ones that can work on the thing. But go ahead and pretend you live in a fantasy world where a hybrid will never break because its shiny, new and environmental friendly…

    If you want to be environmental, then perhaps you should think about how much sense it makes for you to drive yourself around your own personal 3,000 pound air-conditioned box while the vast majority of the world is lucky to consume as much energy in a lifetime as you (and I) probably do in a year.

  • http://watstein.blogspot.com/ Marcus Watstein

    I do keep track of my miles per gallon at every fill up and with my 03 Camry having 96,000 miles I know everytime I fill up what my miles per gallon is. I get about 300 miles on one tank of gas and my averge miles per gallon is about 20 which I fill up with a quarter tank left. That is city and highway driving. If it’s all city then its about 19 and all highway can be about 25 max. I also compare the actual miles per gallon I get versus what the car tells me it’s getting which can be perfectly acurate to at most 2 miles per gallon off. Erick is correct like I am on the repair costs of hybirds, it’s not worth it.

  • http://watstein.blogspot.com Marcus Watstein

    I do keep track of my miles per gallon at every fill up and with my 03 Camry having 96,000 miles I know everytime I fill up what my miles per gallon is. I get about 300 miles on one tank of gas and my averge miles per gallon is about 20 which I fill up with a quarter tank left. That is city and highway driving. If it’s all city then its about 19 and all highway can be about 25 max. I also compare the actual miles per gallon I get versus what the car tells me it’s getting which can be perfectly acurate to at most 2 miles per gallon off. Erick is correct like I am on the repair costs of hybirds, it’s not worth it.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org/ Sean

    “Thinking about” tooling around in a 3000 pound air conditioner does nothing to reduce the energy requirements or pollution of the actual act of driving said item around. It’s tantamount to “sitting on one’s thumbs.” People who buy hybrids do so, not strictly for the economic advantage (which I will get to momentarily), but for non-economic factors as well. These people purchase these cars as a way of reducing their dependence on gasoline, helping the environment, and generating demand for less polluting and more efficient vehicles. These people are literally the drivers of change.

    Now, let’s crunch some numbers together. You’re *probably* right that a regular commuter will realize no advantage if their commute is <= 30 miles each way and all they do is commute (300 miles per week, divided by 5 days per week, divided by 2 for each way). If we add in incidental driving and growing commutes, we might find that 10 year number slashed down to something more reasonable. Take drivers who commute to the Bay Area from places like Manteca, Lodi, Sacramento, and points further out. Take drivers who commute all over Los Angeles. Take drivers who live in the suburbs but work in the city. Take drivers who, while driving in the city, stop frequently and if in a full hybrid, get their gas motor turned off entirely. It is not outside the realm of possibility that people drive more than 600 miles a week on a regular basis.

    Even partial hybrids, like the Camry, which use more efficient gas engines augmented by an electric motor do their part. Car manufacturers, even their laggard American counterparts, are starting to realize that the push for cleaner vehicles is here again. Tesla Motors, a California company, has produced the first mass-market (at a startlingly high price, but it's a start!) all-electric roadster. Where do we go from here?

    Away from the internal combustion engine, 1 step at a time.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org Sean

    “Thinking about” tooling around in a 3000 pound air conditioner does nothing to reduce the energy requirements or pollution of the actual act of driving said item around. It’s tantamount to “sitting on one’s thumbs.” People who buy hybrids do so, not strictly for the economic advantage (which I will get to momentarily), but for non-economic factors as well. These people purchase these cars as a way of reducing their dependence on gasoline, helping the environment, and generating demand for less polluting and more efficient vehicles. These people are literally the drivers of change.

    Now, let’s crunch some numbers together. You’re *probably* right that a regular commuter will realize no advantage if their commute is <= 30 miles each way and all they do is commute (300 miles per week, divided by 5 days per week, divided by 2 for each way). If we add in incidental driving and growing commutes, we might find that 10 year number slashed down to something more reasonable. Take drivers who commute to the Bay Area from places like Manteca, Lodi, Sacramento, and points further out. Take drivers who commute all over Los Angeles. Take drivers who live in the suburbs but work in the city. Take drivers who, while driving in the city, stop frequently and if in a full hybrid, get their gas motor turned off entirely. It is not outside the realm of possibility that people drive more than 600 miles a week on a regular basis. Even partial hybrids, like the Camry, which use more efficient gas engines augmented by an electric motor do their part. Car manufacturers, even their laggard American counterparts, are starting to realize that the push for cleaner vehicles is here again. Tesla Motors, a California company, has produced the first mass-market (at a startlingly high price, but it’s a start!) all-electric roadster. Where do we go from here? Away from the internal combustion engine, 1 step at a time.

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org/ Peter

    I’ll respond to the second half of your comment, Erick.

    This of course, excludes all the extra costs associated with owning a hybrid: its significantly more complicated, with significantly more parts that can go wrong (you’re insane if you’re going to argue this: you have two engines, all sorts of electronics to regulate the balance of power between each engine, recharging the electric engine, turning the combustion engine on and off repeatedly, regenerative breaking…all cool things, but all cool things that can break that a normal car does not have); when they DO go wrong, you are stuck going to your (expensive) dealer because they are the only ones that can work on the thing. But go ahead and pretend you live in a fantasy world where a hybrid will never break because its shiny, new and environmental friendly…

    More parts equates to more complexity, and more complexity can, but does not always, equate to higher risk. You could certainly point to the difference between a vacuum-tube computer and a modern-day PC as a very good example of the relationship between complexity and risk, for instance – vacuum-tube computers certainly broke down much more easily than a modern-day PC’s hardware. I would argue that hybrids are actually fairly well developed at this point, considering that the first version of the Prius was released in Japan in 1997, years before its U.S. release. Regenerative braking, for instance, actually reduces maintenance by reducing the amount of wear and tear on the brake pads. The hybrid engine does the same for the internal combustion engine by reducing the amount of time that engine has to run. The cost of a repair can vary wildly – as with any car – depending upon the kind of service required.
    I do want to say a little about the recent string of recalls issued by Toyota, since those can be brought to bear here – these do not indicate a catastrophic marketing effort. Think of the Prius as a PC, since that’s essentially what it’s driven with. Every program has bugs, which is why Toyota is responsible enough to start Special Service Campaigns to ensure the health of the car and the safety of the driver. In addition, several of these recalls were across the bulk of the Toyota line and were not isolated to just the Prius.

    If you want to be environmental, then perhaps you should think about how much sense it makes for you to drive yourself around your own personal 3,000 pound air-conditioned box while the vast majority of the world is lucky to consume as much energy in a lifetime as you (and I) probably do in a year.

    Being environmental and facing the reality of the modern consumer culture put an environmentalist at odds. A true environmentalist would never incur a large carbon footprint. A true environmentalist would live in a city with high urban density and their residence close to their place of work; a true environmentalist would ride a bike or zero-emissions mass transit; a true environmentalist would never, ever drive a car, lest they contribute to pollution. But this isn’t reality. Reality is that one must travel long distances – mass transit is not necessarily always a viable option to this, and for the sake of convenience, it is often easier to simply buy and maintain a car. This is what consumer culture has forced upon us as a society. Does it not make sense to buy a car that reduces your impact, even if it’s not always economically feasible?

  • http://www.energysoapbox.org Peter

    I’ll respond to the second half of your comment, Erick.

    This of course, excludes all the extra costs associated with owning a hybrid: its significantly more complicated, with significantly more parts that can go wrong (you’re insane if you’re going to argue this: you have two engines, all sorts of electronics to regulate the balance of power between each engine, recharging the electric engine, turning the combustion engine on and off repeatedly, regenerative breaking…all cool things, but all cool things that can break that a normal car does not have); when they DO go wrong, you are stuck going to your (expensive) dealer because they are the only ones that can work on the thing. But go ahead and pretend you live in a fantasy world where a hybrid will never break because its shiny, new and environmental friendly…

    More parts equates to more complexity, and more complexity can, but does not always, equate to higher risk. You could certainly point to the difference between a vacuum-tube computer and a modern-day PC as a very good example of the relationship between complexity and risk, for instance – vacuum-tube computers certainly broke down much more easily than a modern-day PC’s hardware. I would argue that hybrids are actually fairly well developed at this point, considering that the first version of the Prius was released in Japan in 1997, years before its U.S. release. Regenerative braking, for instance, actually reduces maintenance by reducing the amount of wear and tear on the brake pads. The hybrid engine does the same for the internal combustion engine by reducing the amount of time that engine has to run. The cost of a repair can vary wildly – as with any car – depending upon the kind of service required.

    I do want to say a little about the recent string of recalls issued by Toyota, since those can be brought to bear here – these do not indicate a catastrophic marketing effort. Think of the Prius as a PC, since that’s essentially what it’s driven with. Every program has bugs, which is why Toyota is responsible enough to start Special Service Campaigns to ensure the health of the car and the safety of the driver. In addition, several of these recalls were across the bulk of the Toyota line and were not isolated to just the Prius.

    If you want to be environmental, then perhaps you should think about how much sense it makes for you to drive yourself around your own personal 3,000 pound air-conditioned box while the vast majority of the world is lucky to consume as much energy in a lifetime as you (and I) probably do in a year.

    Being environmental and facing the reality of the modern consumer culture put an environmentalist at odds. A true environmentalist would never incur a large carbon footprint. A true environmentalist would live in a city with high urban density and their residence close to their place of work; a true environmentalist would ride a bike or zero-emissions mass transit; a true environmentalist would never, ever drive a car, lest they contribute to pollution. But this isn’t reality. Reality is that one must travel long distances – mass transit is not necessarily always a viable option to this, and for the sake of convenience, it is often easier to simply buy and maintain a car. This is what consumer culture has forced upon us as a society. Does it not make sense to buy a car that reduces your impact, even if it’s not always economically feasible?