Are Synthetic Oils More Prone To Leak??? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 3:26 pm Thread Starter
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Are Synthetic Oils More Prone To Leak???

Allright...after working my mt LT and several others, I am going to ask a question that I am sure many will differ on the answer, but here goes:

Are synthetic lubricants more prone to leakage around gaskets and seals than "dino" oils????

I have heard the complaint that they are more prone to leakage from several very highly skilled mechanics over the last couple of years. None have debated the effectiveness of synthetics, but a couple have made the statement that synthetics are more prone to leakage. Anyone know of any research out there? How about your experiences?

Jack Homesley
Cornelius, NC USA
'06 Goldwing - "The Black Pearl"
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post #2 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 3:37 pm
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I have heard "rumors" that if you put it in older vehicles that it may leak. But if you start using synthetic at a early stage, you should not see any leaks. I have a 95 Volvo that has 170,000 miles on it, and it does not leak a drop. I changed to synthetic after the first oil change.

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post #3 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 3:47 pm
 
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Switched to Synthetic oil at 18,000 miles on my 2005 LT. Have over 38,000 miles on it now and have not had noticed leaks at all(no spots on garage floor and oil level stays the same in between changes).
Also syn oil in tranny and final drive with no leaks.
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post #4 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 4:01 pm
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Not my quote but makes sense.





"With the makeup of synthetic oils being different from mineral oils, mineral-oil-soaked gaskets and seals have been known to leak when exposed to synthetic oils. Perhaps not that common an occurrence, but worth bearing in mind nevertheless."

http://www.carbibles.com/engineoil_bible.html
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post #5 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 4:20 pm
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This was a problem in the past, when synthetics were just getting accepted. The real issue was that they were not being put in cars from the factory, and people were putting them in cars with considerable mileage on them. There are two basic types of synthetics, and one type tended to shrink seal materials that had been run for some time on conventional oils, causing leaks to start. This sparked the "knowledge" that synthetics cause leaks.

In the past couple of decades or so, many improvements in both seal materials and oil compositions have pretty much overcome this. Still though, changing the type of oil (either way) on a relatively high mileage engine MAY cause leaks to start as the seal material reacts to the change.

These days, I would not worry about it.

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post #6 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 4:38 pm
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Not wanting to contribute to an oil thread (could be tyres next !!), but heres my 10peneth (Brit for 2bits worth).

Over the last 30 odd years, I've run mostly old Brit bikes. I've always done my own maintainance, which included changing the oil. Mistakenly, I always went for a premium brand of mineral oil (synthetic wasn't invented then) - I'd pay something like 6 per gallon for Castrol GTX or Duckhams 20/50, whilst the local supermarket was selling 'own brand' oil for about 2.50 - 3.00 per gallon. After a while I asked an oil geek what the difference was, and was told the following ...

'Oil is Oil, the cheapy supermarket oil has exactly the same, if not better lubricating qualities as premium brand oil. The only difference is that the premium brands are full of additives - viscosity regulators, detergents etc. (plus additional slippy bits to counteract all the additives). On an old Brit bike, without an oil filter, the lack of detergents allowed the products of combustion to build up on non-wearing parts (e.g. crank cases etc), instead (when using a premium oil(with additives))of circulating through bearings, journals etc., and possibly leading to premature wear, and no filter to remove the grunge. If you ran cheap supermarket oil, and changed it regularly, then it was far better than premium oil. The engine might be dirtier inside when you stripped it down, but would show far less wear. One thing, however, about mineral oil is that it oxidises fairly quickly (almost goes rancid (like butter)), and when it does so, the lubrication qualities disapear rapidly. Enter then synthetic oils - these are manufactured by chemical reactions, as opposed to being refined from crude oil. The biggest advantage is that they don't oxidise as quickly as mineral oils, so are ideal for vehicles with long service intervals (my Mercs' 1st service is between 12-15K miles (or 2 years - not even a change at 500 miles)), but they are still not as 'slippy' as the cheapest supermarket oils. If you change your oil regularly, then go for a 'premium' mineral oil (the detergents will keep the crap in suspension, but the filter should remove them). If you do low mileage, and don't change the oil frequently, then go for synthetic. With synthetics being manufactured to the same viscosity as mineral oils, I can't see any reason why they should show 'more leaks' than mineral oils.

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post #7 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 4:43 pm
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I ran synthetic for 450,000 miles in a Volvo in-line 4. Never a leak. I think I switched my LT from dino to synthetic and never had an issue except when I over-filled the transmission at the last oil change. I think the "dino to synthetic change is a problem" rumor fits my favorite Greek word "Baloney".

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post #8 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 5:08 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve_R
. . . . fits my favorite Greek word "Baloney".
thought it woz Italian ??

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post #9 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 5:58 pm
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Thumbs up ooh ooh I know the answer ...

Because of the high level of wax in dino oils , if there is a breach in the gasket
ie.. small nick or imperfection the dino oil waxes will clog or block said breach.

The synthetic oil being high detergent will clean out the "plug" of wax build up in the breach thus causing a "leak" when the real problem is not the synthetic oil but the "breach" in the gasket or the mating surfaces.

This is usually seen when going from a high mileage dino oil application to
synthetic oil ..... you had a problem and didn't even know it.

Ridesalot

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post #10 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 5:59 pm
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Got a leak Jack?
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post #11 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 6:32 pm Thread Starter
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Nope....

Quote:
Originally Posted by sheldan2
Got a leak Jack?

Nope...I don't have a leak. I just kept hearing this from mechanics and wondered if there was something to it. I had switched my wife's truck to synthetic and about 700 miles into the oil change began to lose oil pressure. It is a relatively new engine (15k) and i was beginning to wonder if there was anything in the molecular structure of synthetic oils or something that would cause them to to "too slippery" (for lack of a better term) and perhaps leak.
The fault on her truck is not the oil though...they traced it to a bad computer.

Jack Homesley
Cornelius, NC USA
'06 Goldwing - "The Black Pearl"
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post #12 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 6:50 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridesalot
Because of the high level of wax in dino oils , if there is a breach in the gasket
ie.. small nick or imperfection the dino oil waxes will clog or block said breach.

The synthetic oil being high detergent will clean out the "plug" of wax build up in the breach thus causing a "leak" when the real problem is not the synthetic oil but the "breach" in the gasket or the mating surfaces.

This is usually seen when going from a high mileage dino oil application to
synthetic oil ..... you had a problem and didn't even know it.
I had exactly this experience with my '88 Chevy 1 ton dually crew cab with a 454. Tossed in some synthetic at 180K with thoughts that it would give me extra heat protection for extreme towing I do twice a year. It caused an increased and pronounced steady drip from the rear main. Went back to dino several changes ago and it is now back to a drop a day - just like old times.

One 'o these days I gotta get a "sneaky Pete" cheater tool and replace that darned seal but until it gushes I'll just live with it.


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post #13 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 7:06 pm
 
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BMW makes a synthetic motorcycle oil and recommends switching to synthetic after the 6,000 mile service. Since most K1200LT's would be under warranty during this time, BMW would have to pay to fix any leaks and I doubt they would make such a recommendation if synthetics caused leaks.

Nonsynthetic oils can coat old seals and allow them to dry out and crack underneath the buildup of sludge. In this case, if synthetic oils are introduced they can clean away the sludge and make contact with these old seals and leaks can form. If the seals are in good shape, synthetic will not cause leaks.
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post #14 of 22 Old Jan 8th, 2007, 7:26 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cccpastorjack
Are synthetic lubricants more prone to leakage around gaskets and seals than "dino" oils????

How about your experiences?
I have a trans output shaft leaking on my LT.. I was told by the lead BMW tech at my closet dealer that he has seen similar problems that can be eliminated by switching back to standard dino SAE 90. He had personal experience with his RT and switching back saved him. He said he rode the bike another 3 seasons after switching back and never fixed it.

Made sense to me.. mine is not bad enough to switch back. My tranny seems to shift better with the synthetic. But I will go back if the leak intensifies. Maybe it will delay the tear down. Or if there is another problem I can correct that at the same time.

Jack D. (Southern Connecticut)
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post #15 of 22 Old Jan 9th, 2007, 1:26 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridesalot
Because of the high level of wax in dino oils , if there is a breach in the gasket
ie.. small nick or imperfection the dino oil waxes will clog or block said breach.

The synthetic oil being high detergent will clean out the "plug" of wax build up in the breach thus causing a "leak" when the real problem is not the synthetic oil but the "breach" in the gasket or the mating surfaces.
You hit the nail on the head. The dyno oils (especially cheaper ones) have high concentrations of paraffin (wax) that will plug any small leaks you may have. Along comes high grade synthetic oil and cleans it all out...you now have leaks.
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post #16 of 22 Old Jan 9th, 2007, 1:31 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackd
My tranny seems to shift better with the synthetic. But I will go back if the leak intensifies. Maybe it will delay the tear down. Or if there is another problem I can correct that at the same time.
If you do go back to dyno oil, try adding 1/4-1/2 a bottle of GM's limited slip additive. Doing a little snooping around I found some BMW auto forums where people had been complaining of noise in their trans and differentials. They said the BMW service centers put the GM additive in and had no more problems.
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post #17 of 22 Old Jan 9th, 2007, 1:25 pm
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I have ran synthetic oils in everything I have owned over the past 7 to 8 years. Most came with dino oil and on the first change went to a synthetic and none of then have ever started leaking. GM recommends only synthetic in the Corvette and my 01 has almost 70k on it and not a leak anyplace. Heck Harley now recommends it for all their engines and if anything is going to leak and need paper training it's a Harley.. lol (I traded an 03 Ultra Classic for my 06 LT. Even though it's more expensive and they say you can go longer between oil changes I still go with the manufactures recommendation on oil change intervals. I did notice on the Harley that it lowered the engine cylinder head temperature about 10 or 15 degrees. It had the big bore kit and the heat on your right leg was almost painful.

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post #18 of 22 Old Jan 9th, 2007, 7:03 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morley
If you do go back to dyno oil, try adding 1/4-1/2 a bottle of GM's limited slip additive. Doing a little snooping around I found some BMW auto forums where people had been complaining of noise in their trans and differentials. They said the BMW service centers put the GM additive in and had no more problems.
Thanks for the tip... I don't mind cleaning up the oil stains as long as I don't see drips on my garage floor. No spots on the floor tells me it is still not a out of control problem. I just like the way the synthetic helps smooth the transmission shifts. With the SAE 90 I occasionally would miss a shift.... sloppy foot work... but I guess the synthetic overcomes my bad habits..

Jack D. (Southern Connecticut)
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post #19 of 22 Old Jan 9th, 2007, 7:23 pm Thread Starter
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So The Answer Is...

yes AND no!

Sounds like the answer I had heard from most mechanics. If you have a relatively new motor with no leaks, synthetics are great. If you have an older engine/trans/etc. with older seals and gaskets, switching to synthetics can cause/expedite leakage.

Pretty much the conclusion I had reached personally. I am glad for the wisdom of this forum! Thanks for all the input!

Jack Homesley
Cornelius, NC USA
'06 Goldwing - "The Black Pearl"
Too many others to list...


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post #20 of 22 Old Jan 10th, 2007, 8:32 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cccpastorjack
yes AND no!

Sounds like the answer I had heard from most mechanics. If you have a relatively new motor with no leaks, synthetics are great. If you have an older engine/trans/etc. with older seals and gaskets, switching to synthetics can cause/expedite leakage.

Pretty much the conclusion I had reached personally. I am glad for the wisdom of this forum! Thanks for all the input!
I have heard the same thing. I just aquired a 1986 Honda Accord as my daily driver and it has no work history on it. I have an appointment on Thursday to take it in and have all the fluids changed and Amsoil put back in. The mechanic also said that it will not make a car leak but if it had one already, it would show up more. I will find out as I drive a 21 year old car around town.

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post #21 of 22 Old Jan 10th, 2007, 8:36 am
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morley
If you do go back to dyno oil, try adding 1/4-1/2 a bottle of GM's limited slip additive. Doing a little snooping around I found some BMW auto forums where people had been complaining of noise in their trans and differentials. They said the BMW service centers put the GM additive in and had no more problems.
Some gear lubes such as the Mobil 1 and AMSOIL already have the limited slip additive already mixed in, so you might check or end up with a double dose.
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post #22 of 22 Old Jan 10th, 2007, 10:55 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimVipond
Some gear lubes such as the Mobil 1 and AMSOIL already have the limited slip additive already mixed in, so you might check or end up with a double dose.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morley
If you do go back to dyno oil,
Neither of those 2 are dino oil.
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