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If you hadn’t realised by now, diesel fuel comes from refining crude oil. In fact it’s so close to crude oil that some light crudes will run a diesel engine. So how do we save fuel by using oil? One way we are sold is by way of special engine oils saving fuel for us. Is it possible? Well I’m a sceptic when I see bottles of engine oil selling for $70 upwards for five liters, promising better economy.
We all know that there are no free lunches in this world, and perpetual motion does not exist.
Same goes for free fuel economy gains. If you take a look at the current crop of high-end engine oils promoting fuel savings, you will see two things; a pretty hefty price tag on the bottle and a very thin viscosity rating of that type of oil. If you try to calculate any dollar savings made to fuel usage by using this expensive oil you will find you are not ahead. If you look at the viscosity of this ‘fuel saving’ engine oil you will also see it may not be suited to your engine’s operating conditions.
I think this is the biggest concern I am seeing nowadays. Very thin viscosity engine oils suited for a Japanese, North American or European market, which are not really suited for our Australian conditions. Sure these oils may lubricate your engine, but how well, and are these thin oils good for engine life? From what I am seeing, the crop of new age common rail diesels are coming in with problems far earlier in life than the older ones. I believe that there are more troubles to come from using super thin oils in our generally hot weather rather than any benefits. The amount of engine blow seen in new diesels and the ever-growing need and use of oil catch cans says something for my concerns. Consider the ‘real’ benefits of a ‘special’ engine oil before you grab the bottle.
My advice is to choose one that will look after your engine than one offering questionable fuel savings. It’s worth spending a moment talking to your diesel expert the next time you are looking for a suitable engine oil for your diesel.