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Dirty Motor Oil

Mystery of Dirty Oil




Over 144,000 unique visitors to our web have read the "Dirty Oil" article since it was first published in 1996.

We have received more comments and "nasty messages" about this item than any other page on our web.

Most of the people who commented, did not take time or made effort to understand our point.

Most of the responses correctly claim that the motor oil must be changed - eventually - or "else".

That is TRUE, of course, if you use PETROLEUM or conventional "Synthetics" (See more about synthetic, click this link).

The intend of this article is to explain what really happens in the Internal Combustion Engine as is currently used on most vehicles world over.

The REAL reason for frequent oil changes are the chemical changes of the motor oil itself, depletion of additives and effects of oxidation and heat.

Therefore a Motor Oil that is chemically inert like SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life® does NOT need to be changed as often as CONVENTIONAL lubricants, both PETROLEUM or SYNTHETIC.

In most applications SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life® can be used for the "design life" or "certified useful fife" of the vehicle (as defined by EPA and CARB) without ANY oil changes.


Popular belief is that Motor Oil has to be changed every 3,000-miles, because it gets"dirty".

Oil industry spends millions of dollars annually to promote that idea.

95% of auto mechanics believe it is true and promote it to their customers.

The "DIRT" in a Motor Oil is ancient MYTH, passed on from father to son, and now to some daughters too!

But it is FALSE assumption!

It is not true and not based on any scientific fact or ANY evidence.

The proven FACT is that you do not have to change Motor Oil for up to:

But it is ONLY possible if you use:

SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life®

The FIRST Oil you do NOT change !

Want to learn the TRUTH ?

.... read on !


Perhaps you have seen popular TV game show "Family Feud".

This more than four decades old, and still on the air show is very popular.

Unlike some other popular more recent "game" shows, such as: "Who wants to be a millionaire?", it is not based on fact or knowledge, but on an opinion.

Contestants get points not for knowledge, but for guessing what:
"100 people surveyed SAID:".

In a Democratic system, the majority opinion rules, even if it has no substance in truth or scientific fact.

In the past majority of people have thought that EARTH must be FLAT or else things would fall off the edge, and that was perfectly reasonable to majority of people for centuries, until the first sailors circumnavigated the globe.

The EARTH was also thought to be center of the universe for many centuries.
There was NO doubt about it either, even among men of science and great learning.

Later the SUN became the center of the universe.

Today we know that there MUST be a center, but we have really NO IDEA what or where it really is.

For thousand or more years Alchemist searched for Philosophers stone or Elixir that would turn a base metal like Lead to Gold.

They KNEW that it MUST be possible, they just never found it.

Their diligence in experimentation and maintenance of notes of experiment gave birth to chemistry and later to modern atomic theory and we now know that such reactions are not realistically possible, but not impossible.

However, historically more human energy and thought was spent how to make a "cheap" stuff like Lead into expensive stuff like Gold, then the energy that was spent to mine "real" gold from where it was known to exist!

Most of the known Gold reserves on Earth are still in the Earth!

What does all of this have anything to do with Motor Oil?


If you "survey" 100 people, with question like:

"Why do you change your motor Oil?"

The answer that would give you the most points on the "Family Feud" is:

"Because it gets DIRTY!"

It is the number ONE opinion!

It is of course an assumption - It is something universally accepted, but without any proof!

If SynLube was petroleum Oil Company, that derives all its profit from selling petroleum oil, as quickly as it could be sucked from the ground, we would only reinforce that opinion, as that would only maintain our profit base.

The #1 Motor Oil in the USA is:

Followed closely by #2:

Unknown to most consumers BOTH Brands are currently owned by SHELL OIL.

SHELL OIL also owns majority of Quick Oil Change outfits under the "Jiffy Lube" brand.

Jiffy Lube - History

In 1979, Jiffy Lube was founded by Jim Hindman as an association of seven fast lube centers in the Western United States.

Jiffy Lube grew rapidly throughout the 1980s, from 10 service centers to about 1,000 and was acquired by Pennzoil in the early 1990s.

In 1998, Pennzoil merged with Quaker State, whose Q-Lube oil service centers were then rebranded as Jiffy Lube.

Pennzoil-Quaker State = PQS was ultimately purchased by Shell Oil in 2002.

PQS spent in 1999 - $47 million on advertising to convince US motorists to change their oil at Jiffy Lube - EVERY 3,000 miles - or else something terrible will happen to your car as it will be overcome by DIRT and GRIME.

But those well advertised and promoted facts are fiction !

Mostly because they tend to imply that DIRT will somehow "get in to" your engine !

The fact, however, is that the generally low quality Motor Oil that is used for the "bargain" Oil Changes, they offer is the very reason the GRIME and SLUDGE get formed !

API SA Click the Left button for link to web page that explains the dangers of use of API SA Oil in your vehicle, and how this Low Quality Motor Oil can cause damage to any modern engine.


But, oil no matter what, still gets dirty!


WHERE do you think the DIRT comes from?

The most logical response is FROM the AIR, which we as well as all the engines in the world breathe.

Sounds good, after all we ALL know that AIR, especially in cities is DIRTY, or polluted, but is it the kind of DIRT that ends up in your Motor Oil?

Most automotive engines either burn Gasoline or Diesel fuel.

In case of Gasoline engine, about 15 pounds of AIR must be consumed to burn 1 pound of Gasoline.

In most peoples minds AIR does not weigh anything, which is yet another fallacy, but if you think that, you have to go back to Physic 101.

But never mind all the scientific education that you missed or did not pay attention to when in school, you do know that if you plug up the air intake, the engine will stop.

If you do not believe this just try it, but be careful even idling engine has more suction that ANY vacuum cleaner you ever saw, and so perhaps you should put you hand first in front of the suction hose from your SHOP-VAC.

So if you have survived this simple experiment, and still have your suction blocking hand, you now know that without AIR the engine will not run, no mater how much FUEL may be in the tank.

The EXACT "Stoichiometric"ratio of AIR and FUEL is about 14.7 units of AIR for every 1 unit of Gasoline by weight or more accurately MASS.

Since both FUEL and AIR expand with heat, and contract with cold, and in addition air density decreases with increase in ALTITUDE, the VOLUME of AIR needed for given VOLUME of FUEL, changes with temperature and altitude.

That is why cars with Carburetor are absolutely happy at only ONE engine speed at FIXED altitude and at ONLY one ambient temperature.

The fun of NASCAR racing is in guessing what the "conditions" will be during the race. Based on what the guess is the team of mechanics plays with and argue about just the right Carburetor jetting, etc. This fine tuning prior and even during the race determines more often who wins, than the drivers ability.

Yet the NASCAR regulations "Prohibit Fuel Injection and Computer Controls". That would make car with better engineering and better computer software, a car that wins EVERY TIME, and thus rest of the competitors would not have ANY fun or a chance of random win.

However, to keep this complex issue simple:

"Usually you will need a VOLUME of 10,000 gallons of AIR to burn 1 gallon of Gasoline."

This is equivalent to 14.7 (air) to 1 (fuel) ratio by MASS

It makes no difference if it is NASCAR racer, or family car just idling in the parking lot, when 1 gallon of fuel is burned, 10,000 gallons of air are consumed.

If your car has an AIR FILTER, as most cars do, then ALL this air has to go through the AIR FILTER ELEMENT.

In most modern cars AIR FILTER will last at 30,000 miles or even more.

In FORD Focus PZEV, for example, the Air Filter has expected 15 year or 150,000 mile durability, and just to verify that it is not restricted during the useful life of the vehicle, the Intake is equipped with Air Filter Restriction Gauge.

Even if you have extremely economical car, that gets 30 MPG, to make the computations simple; In 30,000 miles you will have consumed 1,000 gallons of gasoline (30,000/30).

This means that you have sucked through the engine and through the AIR FILTER 1,000 X 10,000 gallons of AIR = 10,000,000 or 10 million gallons of air!

Now if you do that "3,000-mile oil change" ritual with petroleum motor oil, you would have been through 10 oil changes.

Now if you look at air filter with 30,000 miles and ALL that accumulated dirt, it is barely gray.

The typical quality modern air filter will filter down to micron range and will trap 99% or more of dirt particles in the AIR as it passes through the filter element.

The best Air Filters available boast 99.9% efficiency rating, while even the low end inexpensive "no brand" Air Filters are at least 93% efficient.

NOW lets do ANOTHER dangerous experiment:

Take that Air Filter with ALL that accumulated dirt, which is even in poor filters at least 90% of the dirt from the AIR that went through the filter.

This means that less than 10% of the dirt that YOU SEE trapped on the AIR FILTER element made it through into your engines intake system, and ALL of the dirt that made it through was MUCH smaller than the trapped DIRT.

Now SOAK the air filter in ONE GALLON of MOTOR OIL, for a day or two, and agitate several times.

NOW your have nine times MORE dirt suspended in this motor oil, since the oil will wash out MOST of the dirt from the element.

Since this Air Filter dirt was accumulated over period of 10 oil changes, thus:

You NOW have 90 times more dirt that you would have in a single 3,000-mile oil change, assuming that all of the dirt that made it past the Air Filter would end up in the motor oil !

You should have really DIRTY MOTOR OIL after all it now has 90 times MORE dirt that you will ever see in any motor oil, or about the same, theoretically, as if you went 270,000 miles WITHOUT ANY OIL CHANGE!!! And kept all the dirt that "could" make it into the Motor Oil in the engine oil WITHOUT any motor oil filtration!

Can you see the dirt?

You better get a microscope!! About 100X power

Still cannot see it, well you know it is there!

Now care for YET another dangerous experiment?

If you do, just Pour this DIRTY motor oil into engine, and see what will happen.

Unreasonable phobia may keep you from ever making this experiment, so you will probably never know ...

Well, we will not keep you in suspense, the honey like amber fluid with the barely visible DIRT will in 3,000 miles or less turn dark or DIRTY.

But even with all that real DIRT that YOU have introduced into your engine, it will run nicely, will not self-destruct, seize or blow-up!

MAY BE what you think is dirt in the motor oil, is NOT a dirt after all.


Never mind all that mambo jumbo, we have already established that at most about 10% of dirt that is sucked through the AIR FILTER will make it into the engine manifold.

That means that it will inevitably be SUCKED into the engine!

As the air gets closer to the intake valve, the manifold runner passage gets smaller and therefore the air flows faster. As the AIR accelerates it is impossible for a DIRT particle that made it through the AIR FILTER at relatively slow air speed (10 to 16 MPH) to now fall out of the air stream, which by the time it passes by the open Intake Valve, now flows at speeds of over 200 MPH!

On many high revving engine designs at full throttle and upper rev limit the air flow through the intake valve will be supersonic or over 758 MPH

For better fuel economy and maximum efficiency as well as peak power the airflow into the cylinder is directed so that it swirls violently, it is then ignited, while still swirling about in the combustion chamber while being compressed into 1/10 of its original volume.

All of this takes less than 1/20 of a second even at engine IDLE !!
And as little time as 1/200 of a second at full engine speed !

The burning Air-Fuel mixture will reach temperature as high as 2,000°C (3632°F)

Therefore any micronic size particle from material that constitutes "Dust" will most likely burn up !

Now the exhaust valve opens and the expanded hot exhaust gasses have to flow out of the engine up to 4 times faster than when they were sucked in !

DO you really think that:

  1. In less than 1/200 of a second a one micron DIRT particle, can decelerate from 200 MPH to 0 speed
  2. Adhere magically to the more than one micron thick oil film on the cylinder bore, at just the right moment, when the bore is NOT covered by a piston.
  3. Then this dirt particle still patiently waiting in place so as to get past the three sets of piston rings on their way up. It does not get pushed up or away but stays in the oil film.
  4. And then it is swept down into the oil sump by the same set of piston rings on their way down.

If you really believe that all of the above is not just possible, but that it really happens, then you can just as well belive that EARTH IS FLAT !

Yet, majority of Automotive Mechanics with a straight face and no intend to deceive or lie to you will still hold true and insist, that indeed that really does happens, and that is WHY motor oil gets DIRTY!
By ingesting DIRT form AIR which makes it INTO your Motor Oil past the AIR FILTER !

If that is the case, you should think twice before you entrust your modern vehicle to such a highly educated person.

Well, after all what happens to that solitary micron size particle, when we have established it possibly "could" have made it into the engine through the air intake?

If it was massive enough and chemically inert enough to survive that rapid oxidation at up to 2,000 °C then it will be blown out in the exhaust stream, otherwise it will have burned.



NO DIRT in the oil from DIRT in the AIR or at least not a substantial amount of a dirt over the useful service lifetime of the engine.

In other words, the engine will have to be rebuilt, long before there would be enough dirt in the motor oil, to make much difference even if the oil is NEVER changed!


The fact that several OEMs, notably GM, then Chrysler and now FORD, have not only "noticed" our claims, but acted on our findings.

In 1998 we have demonstrated on GM 350 EFI engine that Air Filter does NOT need to be changed for OVER 100,000 miles.(In normal over the highway use)

The findings were "informally" presented at several SAE meetings.

This "shattered" the previously held belief and also OEM recommendations to CHANGE the Air Filter frequently - every 3 years or 36,000miles.

Since 2000 MY almost all GM Trucks and SUVs now have "Air Filter Gauge", that indicates when Air Filter needs to be changed.
This is based on increase of maximum vacuum in the intake tract AFTER the Air Filter, due to Air Filter blockage.

Chrysler followed with "Permanent" air filters on some of their minivans.

FORD now has both a permanent Air Filter and Air Filter gauge on the 2003 and later models of FORD Focus PZEV.

The filter is claimed to be durable for the "useful life" of the car or 15 years or 150,000 miles to be exact.

In other words, the Air Filter will last in your modern car much longer than you have ever thought to be possible.



Well now that you have been with us through all the theoretical experiments that you are perfectly free to replicate in your spare time, here is yet another one.

We at SynLube have actually conducted this experiment in 1995 on then current API SH SAE 5W-30 Exxon Ultra Flow motor oil.

We have poured 250 ccm or about 8 fluid ounces into KIMAX laboratory flask whose top was corked with a rubber stopper that allowed for a silicone rubber " tube to be pushed through.

The tube was then put into a clear cylinder that contained 1 liter (1 US Quart) of distilled water.

The Flask was placed on a asbestos pad in steel wire mesh and gas (Bunsen) burner underneath was ignited.

The flame was adjusted so that the oil temperature INSIDE the flask was at about 300°F.

The experiment was monitored for TWO hours.

During the time gas bubbles were observed bubbling through the distilled water and foul smell noticed, one of the "official" witnesses, lit a match a placed it near the surface of the distilled water container.

The bubbles, a petroleum gas, ignited every time this was done.

So, heating the motor oil to 300°F generated a flammable gas.

The fumes in the flask that were too heavy to escape through the silicone gas line, swirled about violently as the oil inside the flask bubbled, they eventually turned dark, and stained the inner surface above the fluid level in the flask.

The oil itself turned from honey like color to dark brown coffee color.

When the heat was turned off and the "experiment" was allowed to cool down to the room temperature in about an hour, the fluid volume was measured.

Of the original 250 ccm only 230 remained that is 20 ccm has evaporated in form of the gas.

The original fresh motor oil weighted at 223 grams, the remaining fluid 201 grams or about 10% of the oil have evaporated.

When poured into another flask only 212 ccm of oil poured out, reminder was gooey tar-like substance on the bottom of the flask and the pourable oil weighted only 187 grams.

Both the FRESH and the "after test" oil were analyzed for hot and cold viscosity, VI an d Friction Coefficient.

The fresh oil was in grade as specified or SAE 5W-30 according to then currentSAE J300 Viscosity Classification standard.
And had unusually good Viscosity index of 114, Friction coefficient was .16 (Steel on aluminum)

While the "after test" oil was SAE 15W-20, much thicker when chilled and much thinner when heated the viscosity index was ONLY 45 !!! Friction coefficient was .35 (Steel on aluminum)

That is just AFTER two hours of heating, no agitation, and it never was in engine!

Very nice "looking" honey colored major brand motor oil became a poor lubricant that formed varnish, sludge and turned DIRTY.

It also turned from a motor oil of average quality to oil that in real engine would have caused excessive wear and cold temperature engine failure, as well as sludge, varnish and high oil consumption.

BY NO MEANS we want to imply that the EXXON Motor Oil that we tested in 1995 was of poor quality.

If was API Licensed product, that satisfied or even exceeded all then current API SH oil quality standards and probably passed all applicable engine tests as well.

Probably any other motor oil would have performed equally.

We however were surprised how BAD it really was!

No we did not have to repeat this time consuming and rather messy experiment again, to demonstrate that API SJ quality oils are not all that much better.

BAD without DIRT

Chrysler came up with much more credible real-life test!

In winter of 1999 thousands of NEW Chrysler cars with V-6 2.7 Liter DOHC engine have failed and had serious engine damage. What was interesting was that about half had the engine problems occurred on Original OEM oil, or the "Factory Fill" oil (API SJ/GF-2), before even the FIRST oil change, and other half of the vehicles had problems with other motor oils AFTER they have been changed. The failures on the OEM oil occurred at much lower mileage than the failures that occurred on service fill oils.

The root cause was traced to poor low temperature pumpability of in-service motor oil. Although the "Factory Fill" oil had met all testing requirements for the API SJ/GF-2 category, none of the tests picked this problem up.

As of June 2001 Chrysler in collaboration with Lubrizol who formulated the original equipment oil additive package were working on "solution". The research on test vehicles has been moved to Las Vegas, NV so that oil deterioration at high temperatures can be compared to previous winter test data from Houston, TX.

But Chrysler is NOT the only car company that had motor oil trouble.

Over 9,000 TOYOTA owners have suffered "sludge" problem that were bad enough to cause permanent engine damages (see more in RECALLS - TOYOTA)

How SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life® stacks up?

Not a single Chrysler or TOYOTA vehicle that was converted to SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life® when new or at low mileage had ANY lubricant related problems even on the troubled V-6 engines, and some of them now have over 120,000 miles without oil changes, and only few oil filter changes.

You would think that considering the cost of expensive warranty repairs Chrysler or Toyota engineers would immediately switch to much better and more expensive original factory fill motor oil.

But the economies of scale make it cheaper to spend two years and millions of dollars to look for a cheap "solution" to the problem.

After all when you lose $2 billion dollars in one quarter making and selling cars like Chrysler used to, you have no intention to give your customers better motor oil that costs few dollars per vehicle more.

That is the real life, and Chrysler and TOYOTA are not the only companies in the world that suffered due to lubrication problems like that, they are just ones with the most famous motor oil related engine failures.

There were others, (VW, SAAB, VOLVO, etc.) and there will be more, but not a single engine lubricated with SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life® ever suffered lubricant related failure!

That applies to cars as cheap as YUGO or as expensive as Rolls-Royce and as rare as BERTONE BRAVO (only one in existence).



SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life®

The FIRST Motor Oil that stays DIRTY LONGER, much , much longer.

Up to 15 years or 150,000 miles to be exact!

Because SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life® motor oil is opaque black, it is DIRTY from the very start, and it stays that way, while protecting your engine, improving fuel economy, reducing engine wear, and giving you better, smoother and quieter performance!

And ALL our claims are true, only because our oil is so much better, we can afford to be very DIRTY!

There always will be those Lubrication Alchemists who will spent untold amount of money and time to find the magic "cheap" oil additive that will make even "cheaper" oil into a superior lubricant.

They will engage in fresh oil beauty contests, and judge their accomplishments on how CLEAR or PURE their FRESH oils are, totally disregarding the ultimate purpose of a motor oil: LUBRICATION and ENGINE PROTECTION.

Then there are those who will just install SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life® into their own cars and spend their time, money and energy on some more lofty efforts, like re-inventing the wheel, alas at much lower cost!

If you do not wish to wait for few hundred years more till the Lubrication Alchemists come up with better "cheaper" petroleum oil, you can install the "best" non-petroleum colloidal synthetic super lubricant into your vehicle, right now !

SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life® is available as Motor Oil, ATF, Gear Oil and PSF.

Or you can wait and do what every oil company and every car mechanic will be grateful to you for, that is keep on doing the status quo: change your oil EVERY 3,000-miles, and do it over and over and over and over again - because it gets DIRTY !

And buy a NEW car, that you can barely afford, every few years, which is what ALL automotive companies want you to do.

The alternative is to get a car that you really want,
put SynLube™ Lube‑4‑Life® into it when NEW and keep it for almost forever!

The result ?

But you will just LOVE that !

Happy Syn Drop

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