It’s Not Just Gas That’s Getting Unaffordable

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I got a bit of a shock today when I made the run into town to buy some oil for one of my vehicles. I use synthetic, usually Mobil 1 or Royal Purple. The stuff is now selling for almost $10 a quart. I am pretty sure that a year ago this time the same oil was going for about $8 a quart. Even regular oil is much more expensive than it used to be.

A quart of non-synthetic Pennzoil 10w-40 is about $5 a quart.

So, to do an oil change in a car that takes five quarts is now at least $25 for the oil (not counting taxes) plus another couple bucks for the filter – call it $30, assuming you do the work yourself. If you use synthetics, it’s closer to $60 – and again, this assumes it’s you doing the actual oil changing.

In 2008 – all of four years ago – the same quart of non-synthetic Pennzoil cost under $4.

I remember when it was $1.50 or so – not all that long ago, either.

Inflation, speculation – ultimately, these factors are academic. What matters to the average person is that it’s getting uncomfortably expensive to maintain a vehicle – let alone several of them. I’ve got two trucks, an antique car, five motorcycles and a bunch of farm equipment, including a tractor and a riding lawn mower. They all need oil as much as they need gas.

And man, it’s starting to hurt!

I did a little figuring and discovered I’m spending several hundred bucks a year just on oil changes. And I do the work myself – which means the cost would be probably 30 percent higher if I didn’t.

It’s a good thing that modern, fuel-injected vehicles can go longer in between oil changes. If they still needed fresh oil and a new filter every three months or 3,000 miles, we probably couldn’t afford to drive them anymore!

But if you have older vehicles that do need frequent oil/filter changes, you’re out of luck. Out of cash, actually. There’s no good option: Either you accept paying 40-50 percent more to do what is without question the most basic routine service after keeping your tires at the correct inflation pressure. Assuming you can accept it. Or you risk excessive/premature wear – and bigger expense – arising from your failure to do those increasingly expensive oil changes.

My old muscle car (and my old bikes) are the most expensive vehicles to keep up with, oil change-wise, because they need it done at least twice a year and I only use the highest quality stuff to do it. But I’m beginning to think seriously about ways to keep these costs in line without risking the mechanical well-being of my old friends.

Probably the biggest single factor affecting oil degradation in these older vehicles is raw gas washing the cylinder walls and making its way to the sump (the place in the engine where the oil sits). This is chiefly due to the way fuel is fed to these oldies – via a carburetor. They often seep and leak – the raw liquid gas sitting in the carburetor just drips down into the engine’s guts as the vehicle sits idle. And when you first start the car, incompletely atomized gas – droplets of raw fuel – pass into the intake manifold and from there mix with the oil, diluting it and reducing its ability to lubricate the engine’s internals.

The first issue can be dealt with in a couple of  ways:

* Seal the carburetor’s wells to eliminate or at least reduce fuel seepage. You could also splice an “on-off” fuel tap such as motorcycles have into the fuel line itself, just ahead of where the fuel line feeds into the carburetor. Just before you shut the engine down, turn the tap to “off” and let the engine run until it dies from lack of fuel. Now the carburetor is empty – no fuel to leak into the engine while the car’s just sitting. Or you could replace the carburetor with a fuel injection system. The aftermarket sells kits for most popular car models. Fuel is sprayed into the engine in a fine mist – as opposed to being sucked in by engine vacuum (and often still in liquid droplet form). The problem with FI is the expense: You may not have to change oil as often now, but it’s going to take a long time to amortize the cost of the FI parts you just installed.

An even better solution, of course, would be to end the Fed and get the economy back on a sound money basis. Then we’d be able to quit chasing our tails trying to keep up with inflation – and go back to doing fun Saturday afternoon activities like doing an oil change without worrying about the cost.

Throw it in the Woods?


  1. This isn’t intended to be a blatant plug for Amsoil, but many people would say that its premium oil lines are excellent (true) synthetics. Amsoil in recent years has introduced some cheaper oil lines, probably semisynthetics, aimed at the independent oil change shops and do-it-yourselfers who want to comply with stated oil change intervals to keep their new car warranties.

    The pricier Amsoil variants go for about the same $10 per US quart price you mentioned. But if you spend $20 a year to get Preferred Customer status, you can get dealer pricing for the same oil, which is about 30% less.

    That’s what I did when I wanted to try Amsoil ATF in my ’98 Taurus wagon, which had a transaxle that was infamous in prior model years for failing. After 222,000 miles the car still had its original transmission, running and shifting strong, when I sold it to the knackers after it suffered a cracked head (or possibly block, following a thermostat failure). The savings on 2-1/2 gallon jugs of ATF for periodic pan oil changes via a drain plug I installed in the trans pan repaid the Preferred Customer cost several times over.

    Couldn’t afford to use Amsoil for engine oil changes because I was a caregiver on a very tight budget, but the potential cost of a failed transmission encouraged making room in the budget for the ATF. (I used whatever semisynthetic engine oil was on sale when it was time for oil changes instead.)

    If you want to run an excellent synthetic oil, consider this option (Amsoil + Preferred Customer). Beats paying the full $10+ a quart for Royal Purple, Red Line, or other synthetics—and I am a diehard Red Line fan.

    • What bothers me about Amsoil is that because they generally do not get their oils certified, and I understand the expense, the warranty can be voided for using their oil. Then there is their multi-level marketing.

  2. I know this sounds crazy. I use Amsoil synthetic. Recommended oil change every 30K. Yes I know sounds insane. Been using it since the late 70’s N0rmally drive a car well over 200k miles (long daily commutes). I use their synthetics all around engine transmission and rear end even replace the oil in the CV joints. Since I have been using it I have never had any mechanical part on any vehicle that is lubricated Give me a problem. Cars have been replaced due to paint, or interior getting shabby or I just get bored with them. Had timing belts replaced mechanics always remark on how clean the engine is inside. Take it for what it is worth but for me it works and I am not changing. Cheep at twice the price.

    • My main concern here would be the filter more so than the oil. No matter how good the oil, contaminants will accumulate (and circulate). Great oil can’t eliminate the contamination issue; it’s a function of internal combustion. The filter takes most of the bad stuff out of circulation, but eventually, it reaches its capacity to filter effectively. The only way I’d try this would be to –

      * Use someone else’s car (with their permission to guinea pig it).
      * Check the oil at 10k by having it analyzed.
      * Changing the filter at 10k, regardless.

      • I failed to mention I do change the oil filter every 15k as Amzoil specifies. Using one of their brand filters. The most miles I ever put on a was a 89 Honda Accord. 297K It got T boned in a parking lot by a teenage girl.
        I just gave my daughter a 2001 Saturn with 205K on it. Still runs great. Have a Honda DEl Sol with 197k and a dodge Pickup that pulls a camper with 115 K on it. Now I can go through a list of cars since 1978. Not one engine transmission or rear end part replaced from wearing out. Now friend that is a lot of miles and different makes of vehicles.

        You can talk Theory, this, that whatever you like. The proof is in service. Every one of the cars went over200k before I got rid of them and not one used oil even then. Well added a quart at filter change and usually they were near a quart low at the 30k oil change. The Dodge pickup does take a Quart every 7k when towing. But hey It’s a Chrysler product LOL! and it has since new.

        I don’t sell the stuff or have any Ax to grind But if I find something that is exceptional and does as claimed or more I will tell people. So believe it or not this stuff works and has proven it to me. I am not an easy driver I run a vehicle hard But maintain them well and in TX. heat.
        I used to be a stickler on 3k oil changes. Hardest thing I ever did with a new engine was to not change the oil and filter on that first Amzoil fill up in 1978. I about wore out that dipstick smelling the oil and feeling it. I just had to pull the oil filter saw it in 1/2 when I changed it at 5k then again at 20k. When I finally just had to change the oil could not stand it anymore. Amazing it was still clean then looked at the fibers in the filters with a magnifying glass. Nothing scientific But convinced me this might work.

        I Pull a 4k lb. camper with a small V8 Dodge that has been over the Rockies and back 3 times On the floorboard in 100degree heat for miles between Silverton and Duarango. The auto Trans in these were not known to be the best.But It also has the synthetic Trans. oil in transmission and no problems yet. As I said it has made a believer out of me for whatever that is worth.

  3. Yes, if there was no Fed gold would *probably* be perfect money. But there *is* a Fed and it could persist for the rest of our lives so what’s a body to do? The uncertainty they have created is unprecedented; even the Romans had more alternative currencies than we do now. What a friggin’ mess.

  4. I wonder if environmental factors, like eliminating or adding certain additives, are also a factor, like with gasoline.

    • Bryce, I’m VERY wary of the new API standards–SN is the latest.

      The EPA is screwing us over. To prolong their precious catalysts’ lives–and it’s a debatable point*–they keep decreasing the allowable additives.

      Key in most additive packages is ZDP and ZDDP–zinc dithiophosphate, and zinc dialkyldithiophosphate. They’re the kevlar in the bulletproof vest. In older oils, they were at about 1600ppm. Now, they’re dropping to 600ppm and lower.

      For cars with flat tappets especially, it’s a no-go; you need more ZDP.

      But even without flat tappets, I appreciate the extreme-wear protection of ZDP; perhaps your engine starves a little under sustained high-G cornering, or your bearings are a little looser than they were when new, and high revs starves them…etc, etc.

      Royal Purple is making three blends; there’s the regular API SN stuff, with low ZDP. There’s the HPS blend, with the 80’s and 90’s level of ZDP. And there’s XPR–with whopping amounts of ZDP and other additives, sold mostly for racing.

      Anyway, screw the EPA. I’d rather burn through a set of cats than a camshaft or rod bearing. I can always install a post-cat O2 sensor cheater 🙂

      * debatable because catalysts aren’t dying of the stuff in your oil, assuming your engine is mechanically sound.

    • tgsam–oil has not gone up!

      Rather, the dollar has gone down. Gas is as cheap as it’s ever been; it’s $0.20/gallon…IF you buy it with silver dimes.

      Relative to precious metals–the best marker of value over time–it’s the same as it was in the 50’s, perhaps a bit cheaper.

      My favorite illustration of this concept is the suit of clothes.
      In Roman times, a fine set of clothes, the belt, and finely made sandals cost an ounce of gold.
      In 1800 London, a fine suit, belt, tie, and shoes cost an ounce of gold.
      Today, a fine suit, belt, tie, and shoes costs–yes, an ounce of gold.

      Why is this?

      Because mining gold, and all it involves–the human labor, the land cost, the fuels to make it happen (donkeys back then, diesel today)–approximates the time-value of human labor and a basket of other commodities extremely well. And that approximation of time-value translates to the same time-value cost of other goods.

      It takes human labor, fuel, and land to make cotton, wool, and leather; hence, the suit’s close tracking with gold.

      This is why gold is such a brilliant form of money. It can’t be fooled; it takes real effort and resources to produce–the same as any other valuable good, therefore they are exchangeable.

      Don’t you love economics, when it’s not being explained by some academic asshole like Ben Bernanke, who’s trying to make it complicated so you won’t understand…because he’s lying to you?

      • methylamine,
        Looking at this chart of oil in terms of gold it is not at all clear that what the long-term trend has been. Indeed, if I wasn’t already a gold bug I would look at this chart and think it was a fool’s errand. Nothing but sideways movement.

        And like I always remind people, a 65 year old guy who bought gold in 1981 probably would not have lived to see any gains in gold against the dollar. It’s unlikely that we’ll see such a pattern again in the near future, but who really knows?

        • There isn’t a free market in gold in western countries. Probably the bedrock cause of all the interventions, controls, and welfare transfers is to enable the Gold Cartel to maintain their grip over their economies.
          Unlike OPEC, which raises or lowers oil production to keep prices high, the Gold Cartel hoardes and then dumps their gold to keep gold prices low.
          The central banks accrue staggering losses by selling gold low and buying gold high. They do this to maintain the brand of the US Dollar and it’s being the most stable and secure store of wealth anywhere in the world.
          The concensus is, they’ve given away all their gold, and China, India, Iran, and the free Middle East will not trade their gold for greenbacks at any price.
          The wholesale murder of millions in the middle east and the violent police state repressions occuring everywhere are mostly a means to an end.
          The end being the Dismal Science of maintaining the hegemony of the greenback through brute force.
          The NATO countries reputation and trust have reached the level of abject bankruptcy. They have two options, kill and cage everyone and drop the pretense of a free market, or admit defeat and let the greenback fail and their lies be exposed.

        • @mikehell: I’ll grant you it’s a noisy chart. I haven’t plugged it into Excel, but just eyeballing it though it appears to average around 2.5–same as it was in the 50’s.

          It’s definitely not a perfect correlation.

          However remember, it’s not a two-variable function; you have a massive third influence, the dollar.

          And, as Tor points out in his post–there’s an awful lot of skullduggery involved in maintaining the dollar hegemony, which includes both oil and gold manipulation.

          Silver is even worse; Blythe Masters, that bitch at JPMorgan, has been shorting silver for her masters for years.

          Nonetheless–do you agree that gold remains the most nearly perfect money?

          • Warren Buffet hates gold, but he once owned 30% of the worlds’ silver, probably as some kind of super secret lynching of evil speculator varmints on behalf of the federal reserve white hats.
            The Lone Currency Rangers!

          • @Tor–

            Yes! And I laugh my ass off every time I think of Buffett’s misadventure with silver. He’s no Hunt brother; he got burned, badly, on silver.

            Which may be why he (and several of his billionaire buddies including Gates*) are vociferously against gold. Interesting, too, that all three of them–Buffett, Gates, and the other one–spoke against gold in the last few days.

            As for me…I’m using the depressed prices as a buying opportunity. Though, it will probably go even lower as the dollar levitates in the face of the Euro crash unwinding.

            * Gates against gold? WTF is he doing commenting on economics, I don’t know. One-trick pony; he made his fortune on Windows and Office and hasn’t contributed a damn thing since.

    • It’s almost entirely inflation. You can measure this by using fixed standards (gold, for instance) or by using inflation calculators, which will show you that $4 today equals $3 as recently as four years ago.

  5. Wont even pretend to be a car guy, love your site for the political thoughts. But I have a 2008 Aveo, live in Alaska, so it gets the -50 below weather and have always changed my oil out every 3k miles. Are you saying with the new engines that that is no longer necessary? And if not what is the recommended change out, cause the price has gone up about 10 bucks an oil change since I got my car. My girlfriend runs a Cobalt and I was gonna get a jack and do both our cars myself.

    • Hi Jay,

      Your Aveo should be able to go significantly longer than 3k miles before it’s necessary to change the oil. Even in -50 (provided you are using an oil rated for such extreme duty; most synthetics are). Check the recommended service intervals listed in your owner’s manual; probably you’ll find that every 6k or so is about right.

        • You bet – and, you’re definitely not hurting anything! I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to oil – when it comes to cars (and bikes) I care about. Most of these are lightly/little-used antiques, luckily. Luckily, because the upkeep costs can be kept within reason. I change the oil in my “regular” vehicles (two pick-up trucks) every six months, regardless of the mileage.

      • Its not happy about starting in -50. But we winterize our cars. Battery, block and oil pan heater, plugged in. All the places up here have car plug ins for the extension cords. I should put some kinda screen in front of the radiator, but I don’t.

        I have to mention that -50 is very rare, maybe once a winter, its more common to get down to -30. This last winter was a very very cold one. Was murder trying to heat the home.

        Its going to be “interesting” to heat the place this coming winter at $5 a gallon.

  6. Eric, great post and great site, found you through My buddy’s mechanic shop only charges $26.99 for an oil change and they use good oil so I let them do it so he can look the car over.
    I have an oil question. I just bought a ’78 Tran Am (runs good needs cosmetic work)…beware of staying on Ebay Motors late at night. Anyway it will be quite awhile before i put 3,000 miles on it. Do i wait an change it every 3k or just change it every 6 months (or whatever time frame) regardless of mileage?
    And do you think switching to synthetic oil is worth it and if so how often do i change that oil?



    • Thanks, Rob!

      And: You landed at the right spot for second gen. Trans-Am advice. I’ve been fiddling with them for 20-plus years now and owned several. I know a fair amount about them, historically, mechanically and otherwise.

      Ok, on your car: I’d change the oil twice a year, if you use regular (non-synthetic) oil and the OE GM PF24 filter. If you use high-quality synthetic and a top-line filter (K&N, Wix) you can get away with once a year if you drive the car for at least half an hour once a month. An hour’s better. This is what I do.

      My reasoning: These cars have carbureted (Rochester Q-Jet) V-8s. The Q-Jet leaks fuel (internally) and even if you plug the wells, cylinder wash is still an issue as a result of cold-start, especially after a long period of just sitting combined with brief use. As you may have heard, “just sitting” or “occasional use” is considered “heavy duty” or even “severe” use as regards service recommendations. The oil will get contaminated with gas (and possibly moisture) as well as the acids that form in that environment. I have a 455, but even your 400 is becoming rare. Your engine was last made in 1978 (a handful of 400s carried over to W72-equipped ’79s). It’s not like the Camaro guys who can get a new 350 short block (or complete engine) just like that. Take care of that 400!

      If you want to talk ‘bird some more, just let me know!

      • Cool! Thanks for all the info. It will get driven at least a few hours a week. I work from home but will still be tooling around in it every now and again.
        Surprisingly here in the People’s Republic of Maryland I was able to tag/title it as historic and get out of the State Safety Inspection and Emissions testing every 2 years…..hmm maybe I can “fix” the exhaust system to add some HP 😉

        • You bet!

          Is your TA a W72 (“T/A 6.6”) car? Four speed or automatic? What color?

          On exhaust: I highly recommend the D port Ram Air III style factory cast iron headers (see here: ) now available as reproductions from Ames, Performance Years, Year One and others.They flow almost as well as tube headers but fit the engine compartment much better (you can still change spark plugs easily), seal much better for longer, and give you better ground clearance, which is always an issue with second gen. Trans-Ams. Plug these into 2 1/4-inch pipes (assuming your engine is stock) and run either a set of Flowmasters or a Flowmaster transverse muffler behind the axle. Check out Pypes ( for mandrel bent, ready to bolt-in pipes. Then give Cliff Ruggles ( a shout and have him send you a rebuild/jet kit for your carb.

          This will give you a major boost in performance for very little outlay. If you have a W72 car (220 hp factory rated hp) the above is worth at least 30-40 hp without doing anything else to the car. The stock/factory exhaust was/is incredibly restrictive. Especially the original-style pellet converter. Lose the converter!

          One caveat: Soak the hell out of the factory exhaust manifold bolts for days before you even think about trying to unbolt the factory manifolds. After 30-plus years, these bolts are very likely to just snap off. Be careful!

          If your car is not a W72 car (and has the automatic), the single most effective way to get more performance is a new ring and pinion. The W72 cars came with 3.23 or better rear axle ratios. The non-W72 cars came with 2.41s or close to that.

          Also: If you have an automatic,for about $75 you can reprogram the TH350 to shift more positively with a B&M or equivalent shift kit. Much recommended.

          • Thanks for all the great info. Someone put on a new exhaust recently but they didn’t get rid of the catalytic convertor nor did they add headers.
            Will save all this info for future use.

            the car is an automatic. it is white right now, it was originally Chesterfield Brown according to the codes. it has a tan cloth interior. both the interior and the paint need to be re-done. I am thinking black for the interior and Martinique Blue for the paint.
            Not sure if it is a W72 car or not. the shaker does have the “T/A 6.6” decal on it but that’s not the original decal. I got an article on decoding the numbers so i need to figure that out.

            • np!

              It is probably the standard L78 400. Very few W72 (“T/A 6.6”) cars were made with the automatic. Almost all were four speeds. In ’79, the 220 hp engine was only sold with the manual transmission. So, probably, someone added the “T/A 6.6” stickers to the shaker. The standard 400 cars got “6.6 litre.”

              A clue: The “T/A 6.6” cars came with factory chrome valve covers. These were not shiny like the aftermarket ones. If your car has dull-looking chrome valve covers, it might be an original W72 car!

              Another giveaway to the car’s provenance is the axle ratio. If it was a W72 car, it will have a 3.23 or better axle ratio. If not, it will have a 2.41 or similar. You can check this easily by counting tire/drive axle rotations with the rear wheels off the ground. Or, take out the rear seats. Hopefully, the factory build sheet will still be there…

          • I failed to mention that it was originally a manual and someone switched it, why i don’t know, to an automatic in the early 90’s.
            it has chrome valve covers that are kinda shiny so i am guessing aftermarket ones might have been added.
            I’ll check the rear-end

            • This is good news! I am betting this car was originally a W72 car. The fact that it was originally a manual car weighs heavily in that direction. Luckily, it’s easy to return it to stock (manual) vs. the reverse (cars originally equipped with automatics that were converted to stick often have been hacked-up to make room for the shifter). You probably – hopefully – only need to get the correct console (and of course, a new Super T-10)!

  7. Eric, have you heard much about the old Frantz by-pass filters? Seems they were popular in the 50’s. They actually used TOILET PAPER as the filtering medium. I’ve heard many good things about them from old-timers. Seems not only to be a finer micron size filter, but they absorb water from the oil. I’ve read reports that they keep the oil a golden brown color permanently, as long as you replace the TP every 1000 miles,(and replace the quart that’s saturated the TP)

    • I’m not familiar with Frantz bypass filters, however: Using toilet paper as a filter medium strikes me a really bad idea. Toilet tissue is designed to disintegrate (for sewage disposal reasons) in water… hot, pressurized oil would surely turn it into a mass of gooey debris that would then circulate through your engine, plugging things up and in short order leading to a catastrophic failure.

      Now, there are aftermarket “super filters” that bypass the stock cartridge and these reportedly do an excellent job of filtering and also allow you to go longer in between oil changes. I have no personal experience with them, though – so I can’t give you a recommendation one way or the other.

      • My late stepfather knew of a farmer who retrofitted a toilet paper–based filtration system on his Farmall tractor in the 1950s in New York state. Don’t know if it was a Frantz or an imitator. Soon after installation the filter completely clogged, starving the engine of oil and lunching it. Apparently the salesman who sold the farmer the filter got to buy him a replacement engine.

        • I don’t doubt it!

          Toilet paper is not a filtration medium. It is designed to disintegrate when it comes into contact with water – for sewage disposal reasons. A fine mesh screen such as used by the old VW Beetle would be much better. At least, it’d get the big pieces – and oil would still flow!

  8. With a little shopping you can find some deals on oil. Recently I bought several cases of Chevron conventional oil at Costco for $25/case (12 quarts per case). I believe they are running the same special again soon.

    Also with newer cars you can usually go 5-7k miles or more depending on the car. My aging prizm needs a change every 5k but my wife’s van rarely needs a change more than every 7k.

    Not changing your oil as some have recommended is a bad idea. The problem with synthetic oil as it ages is not the oil itself but the products of combustion that get into the oil.

    If you really want to know how often you really need to change the oil you can use an oil testing service to make that determination. I believe Blackstone labs is a reputable lab that does this kind of analysis. This way you can know how fast your oil is really wearing out and how often you actually need to change it before the additive package wears out.

  9. If anyone on this discussion wants to save the maximum amount on their oil changes, then they should use AMSoil synthetic. It is far and away the best product on the market and has been for 40 years. It is comparably priced (at about $10/qt.) with all the other synthetics. However, it works about 5-8 times longer between oil changes. I’ve used it in my vehicles for 12 years now and I get incredible mileage out of my vehicles with no maintenance. I change the AMSoil once and AMSoil filters twice during every 25,000 miles. My truck has 262,000 miles with no major engine maintenance. My wife’s Pontiac got 280,000 before it even required a valve job. It works better than anything else I’ve ever tried. If you want to know more, please contact me at

  10. As the price of oil climbs, my old trick, which I’ve always felt was worth the expense, now becomes even more economical and thus your best option for the same price.


    For those of you who don’t know Lucas is an oil treatment that helps oil stick to engine parts allowing better lubrication and preventing cold start friction. Cold starts become a thing of the past even in old engines. You add one quart of Lucas in place of one quart of oil, then you can use any plain old oil and still get better protection and lubrication than you can with the best synthetic.
    I tested this in my 1984 BMW 325e many times. I had this car until 2004 and it still ran well but suffered from rough starts in the unpredictable Northeast Ohio weather. I found that full synthetic helped but didn’t totally eliminate the problem. My mechanic suggested Lucas, and the first time I tried it I was amazed. Even after sitting overnight in the snow, it fired up immediately and ran like it had been running for hours. No ticks, rough idling or anything. At the time it was an expensive proposition, being as Lucas runs about $10 a quart. Regular Penzoil was ~$1.50 a qt at the time. So replacing one of the required 5 quarts with Lucas took the price of oil from $7.50 to $16, more than double. But with synthetic at $10 a quart or regular oil at ~$5-6 the differences are negligible. To do that oil change today, costs would be as follows.

    All standard oil: 5 x $5/qt = $25
    All synthetic oil: 5 x $10/qt = $50
    Standard oil with 1qt replaced by Lucas: $10(Lucas)+(4 x $5) = $30

    So if you want better protection than standard oil, you can use Lucas and 4 qts of standard and get better protection than synthetic for $30 instead of $50. That’s a $20 (or 40%) savings. On my newer 3 series BMW that uses almost 8 qts of oil, the savings are even more significant ($45 vs $80). Try it yourself and see. To be sure the price of oil is ridiculous and the reasons behind it disturbing. But until we can fix this country, this is a great way to keep your costs down. Once you try it you’ll never do anything else.

  11. I had a similar experience with building materials recently. I remember paying about $9-12 per bundle for asphalt shingles less than 8 years ago. The same bundle will now cost at least $27. That will add substantial cost to your new roof. Go through your home and note all of the products derived from oil. Pharmaceuticals, packing materials, electronics, toys–the list goes on indefinitely. All of these increased commodity costs are driving overall prices artificially higher and I absolutely blame “our” monetized debt. Add into this the cost of transportation, especially with a logistics system that spans the globe today to deliver products–nearly all of it powered by petroleum. What is the end game? I don’t know the exact end game of all this monetary malfeasance, but at the very least it means a lower standard of living, maybe being stuck driving only one car per family and probably some uncomfortable econobox of a car at that can’t haul lots of the stuff many of us want to be able to haul either as work or recreation.

  12. My mechanic is a retired US Army motor pool mechanic. He’s been turning wrenches for over 40 years. Here’s his recommendation to all his friends and family:

    Use Royal Purple and Prolong at your next oil change.

    Than buy a fine mesh paint filter. Drain your oil at your next scheduled change into a clean pan, run it through the paint filter and reuse.

    Royal Purple doesn’t break down like regular motor oil. This means you only have to replace the oil filter at regular intervals.

    He thinks it’s a total waste to dump Royal Purple at every oil change. He told me he’s been doing this for years now.

    I just changed my oil on my Honda civic, and I used the Royal Purple and Prolong – which ended up costing me $70 for 3.5 qts. of the purple, a bottle of Prolong and a good oil filter.

    At my next scheduled change, I’m gonna buy a paint filter bag and give it a try.

  13. I find oil changes on sale for $20. I drive about 6000 miles a year (not a bunch), so I change my oil twice a year (every 3000 miles). It probably doesn’t need changing that often. The people in the car maintenance business certainly tell us to change our oil far more often then necessary.
    My dad worked for Lear Jet back in the 60’s. After Lear initially sold a lot of jets, and other companies started making and selling private jets, sales went down. My dad told me that a way Lear devised to get some more revenue was to arbitrarily half the maintenance schedule, so that planes were being brought in for maintenance twice as often. I’m sure this is done in all industries.

  14. Eric, I use the same oil you use for my corvette. Back on topic…., for me it is not that oil and fuel prices are rising but that the US Dollar is weakening. It just takes more dollars to buy everything. As the Fed Reserve continues to print fiat money we will see this trend worsen.

    • For me, too!

      I wrote about this a few months back; i.e., that we’re being screwed by devalued money, not rising prices. The good news is more people than ever are becoming hip to the scam. But it also scares me, because TPTB see this, too – and I know they are capable of doing anything to maintain their power and control.

      • I hear your sorrow, I too wish the glory of America would return. America, btw, where is that country? I remember it, but have lost it somehow.

  15. I stopped changing the oil, oil filter, and air filter in my beater about… three years ago. So far, so good. One day it will die and I will walk away from it.

    I’ll bet more People are doing the same, maybe change the oil filter the day before they sell it and say they changed it regularly?

    Altogether, I think we’ll start to see more cars on the side of the road. Is that yet one more indication of third world status?

    • I think you’re right about that… consider: A poor fellow who earns not much money drives a car worth $1,500. He can barely afford to put gas in it. Is he going to spend $40 to change the oil? I’m betting he’ll put it off as long as possible, maybe topping off the crankcase every now and then instead.

      • Wait until he gets tired of that brake squealing and takes it to Pep Boys. If he can hardly afford to gas it up, once he gets over the sticker shock on the brake job, he’ll tell the mechanic to keep the car. Want to wager on whether that character is keeping up on even the state-mandated auto insurance?
        Still, the cheapest route is to periodically inspect, tighten, adjust, and perform minor repairs ASAP. I replaced a set of brake pads on my 2007 Pacifica with 60K miles and had the rotors turned (the pads being Autozone’s best for that car) for about $65. Just for grins, I got a quote for a simple front axle brake job on this car (which does not require wheel bearing repacking, nor pulling the hub off the CV axle) from a chain auto service place. They “Purrfectly” quoted me $325 for a job I did myself in two hours. Hmm…saved about $130 an hour. Compares fairly well with even what I bill my time as a Professional Engineer.

        • Doug –

          Agreed! If you do things such as check your pads periodically, you’ll know it’s time to replace them before they reach (or exceed) the maximum wear limits and dig into the rotors, ruining them. This way, the “brake job” only involves the pads (and maybe some grease for the wheel bearings, etc.). $60 vs. $325…

      • It’s not just the fellow who earns not much money and drives a car worth $1,500. Lots of guys in flyover country who have a nice car buy a second cheap beater to drive through the road salted Winter.

        I think a lot of high school kids used to get those beater cars one way or another as a first car. More of them will get burned now.

        As far as not being able to pay for insurance, I know of guys who prefer to risk the ticket, it’s much cheaper.

        • Not possible to do the “risk the ticket” in Virginia. Once you let your insurance lapse for 30 days DMV is on your ass. Found out first hand on a number of occasions.

        • In Virginia at least, that is risking major repercussions. It’s much more than just a ticket. What they do – if they catch you with a registered vehicle that’s not insured – is fine you massively and (much worse) narc on you to their partners, the insurance companies. Then you become uninsurable. Meaning, they’ll insure you – and you’ll be forced to pay (if you want to keep on driving). You’ll just pay the highest rates they have – as if you’d killed a family after driving drunk. The average is $2,000 a year. For five years.

          • “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

            And what should we do after we’ve watched them?

            In human affairs one need only follow the money trail to find the Truth. Want more money? Just make more laws and legally confiscate it.

            “Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

            But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

            Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

            When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.

            It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.

            But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.

            This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.” –Frederic Bastiat

            So then, it is obvious to me that the way to salvage and preserve that American Ideal is to “punish plunder”.

            Unfortunately it has been proven time and time again that regardless of the outcome, elections alone do not “punish plunder”.

            So then, what can be done short of an armed revolution? Google provides a wealth of information about the potential power of a Grand Jury. I urge my fellow Citizens to give serious thought to the Fifth Amendment protected Grand Jury Power. Become knowledgeable and discuss it with your Fellow Citizens.

            A so-called Runaway Grand Jury could wreak lawful havoc among the Plunderers. Even when no conviction ultimately results, the unavoidable notoriety produced could destroy a scoundrel’s political future. The time to wreak lawful havoc among these de facto criminals has long been upon us.
            WE the People must bring lawful ruin to government criminals by providing the mainstream media with a legal show that they cannot ignore.

            Tinsley Grey Sammons (1936 –)

  16. I believe the auto parts stores are simply gouging on all fluids. Oil, antifreeze, washer fluid, everything. I have been buying most fluids at walmart for ages now. The prices have gone up but not as dramatically as they have at the autoparts stores. I noticed this starting a few years ago.

    But the autoparts stores will have sales… where their prices will suddenly be as good or better than walmart’s. Now they aren’t going to be losing money on these sales. Also these are chain autoparts stores and in terms of how much of these products they move they should be getting decent price breaks as well.

    We are not only looking at inflation but business models. Which is why the chain oil change places can still keep low prices. They were bottom feeding on labor quality 15 years ago or more so it’s not like they could find cuts there.

    What bothers me is the oil I want to use in my new car at the weight it requires isn’t carried in the 5qt jug at wally’s. And it takes 8qts!

          • The fake hood scoop had more of an effect than I thought it would. It was packaged with the rear spoiler, which I wanted because I disliked the standard one.

            • My scoop actually scoops!

              1976 was the last year for the old (original) style Trans-Am shaker scoop. Factory ram air was last offered in 1972; however, the scoop assembly is physically the same and all you had to do was unbolt the block-off plate at the rear of the scoop and – presto – operational ram air! You can even retrofit the vacuum-actuated flapper door, if you want.

              Beginning with the ’77 models, the scoop design changed. It is physically smaller (lower profile) and has a bone line down the center (the original ’70-’76 style sits higher and is rounded). It is also a one-piece design, without an operational rear opening. To make it functional, you must cut out the opening, ruining the scoop.

              The second-gen. TA never again had factory ram air. Interestingly, its Chevy sister, the Camaro Z28, did. The 1980-’81 Z28 had a similar-in-concept rear-opening “air induction” scoop with a vacuum-actuated flapper door like the early (1970-’72) Trans-Am!

        • Which Mustang is that Brent?

          I have the desperate hots for the new Boss 302–it is, as they say, The Shit.

          Who wouldn’t lust after a 5 liter V8, spinning to 7500RPM and making 440HP, while wailing out those awesome Mustang sounds?

          PLEASE tell me it’s not true; I’ve heard they’re strictly limited-production. Bastards. What the hell is the matter with carmakers? BMW is only making 2700 or so of the awesome, inexpensive, rocket-quick 1M Coupes. And now Ford’s limiting the Boss 302?

          Say it ain’t so.

          • 1997 and 2012 GTs.

            Bosses, GT500s, etc are on dealer allocation. Each dealer gets only so many based on sales. Usually they order them so a customer who isn’t cozy with the dealership can’t order it the way he wants it. Then there is the “competitive adjustment”. There are some deals out there on occasion.

  17. Last week, I paid the equivilant of $60 for 5 Liters of Castrol 0w/40 Synthetic. Unlike the US though, when oil is advertised as a Synthetic here, it must be pure synthetic – which Mobil 1 in the States is not.
    Also, today I purchased Super+ gasoline. Converted to Dollars, that’s $8.31 a US Gallon. I don’t like it but at least I’m free. Coming back from a friend’s home, I drove between 85 and 120MPH in the unrestricted zones.

  18. I just use Mobil 1 0w40 in everything…still “just” $6.50 at that evil corporation Walmart. Once a year oil changes is fine with this stuff.

  19. I was actually contemplating this exact thing the last time I went to change my oil. I can’t believe how expensive motor oil has become. It’s actually cheaper to take it to the stealership for a conventional oil change if you factor in the time it takes. Then again, I hate giving my car over to grease monkeys when its something I can easily perform.

    On another note, my local Walmart sells 5 qts of Mobil One 5w-30w for $25. Its by far the best deal anywhere for full synthetic. I am thinking about picking up 4 or 5 jugs just to lock in this awesome price.

    • That’s an excellent point. As long as the house brand oil meets the latest API classification (I believe that’s “SN” now…) for the viscosity recommended for your vehicle, then whatever Wal-Mart or Autozone offers will do just fine. From what I’ve heard, it all is shipped in bulk from the same refineries, it’s just a matter of which packager and jobber bottles it.

  20. I noticed the other day that nitwit Krugman is calling for QE3 and he says we need higher inflation (whild pretending there is none right now). Of course if you say anything about the “stimulus” being a failure or about the dangers of hyperinflation you get the good old. “well when you win your nobel prize then I’ll believe you.” These types all believe that the “stimulus” failed simply because it needed to be much much more. Of couse they also counter with the argument that it would have been ten times worse without the “stimulus”. it’s also rather funny that these are the same people who complain about the 1% yet still bought into the fear mongering behind the Too big to fail BS.

    Honestly, how do you reconcile a hatred of wealthy people with trillions for billionaires? How can anyone believe that inflating the dollar supply won’t cause price inflation? For that matter how can anyone believe the CPI figures when they fully admit that they are cooking the numbers big time?

    • Did you see the Paul vs. Paul (Krugman vs. Dr. Ron Paul) debate the other day?

      Ron Paul wiped the floor with Krugman.

      Krugman directly admitted he didn’t know what a catastrophic debt level was…but he was sure 100% of GDP wasn’t it, and ventured a guess that 130% would be about right.

      These guys are just guessing; they’re a bunch of coddled academics who’ve never run a business or been responsible for a P & L statement.

      The sad part is, they’re just puppets for people who DO know what they’re doing…and what they’re doing, is stealing the country under our noses.

      • RE: Ron Paul

        Incredibly, Dr. Paul will not be elected.

        Those who think must constantly guard against those who do not.

        The key to the American Ideal discernible in the Unanimous Declaration is control of the Judiciary. The People must wrest that from the evil Brotherhood of Juris Doctors that usurped unlawful control of it long ago.

        Tinsley Grey Sammons

        • I’d like to think that having an election makes a difference, else there wouldn’t be billions of advertising monies spent on them! Yet it seems that the powers-that-be have the system “gamed” so that it really doesn’t matter who gets elected, provided it’s NOT somebody like Ron Paul. I predicted months ago that IF somehow Dr Paul’s campaign as a Republican took off, that his days were numbered. Well, I’m glad he’ll still be with in in the foreseeable future, I guess…maybe it’s just the electorate getting what they deserve for the collective stupidities and selfishness. Take the so-called issue over whether voters under 30 will factor in the student debt issue. Naturally Obama panders to them, saying, in effect, don’t worry, I’ll bail your lazy backsides out, when IF he were a bona fide leader, he’d be saying, “ya know, younguns, there’s nothing wrong with actually paying it off, even if you have to schlep pizza at nights”. And so on. Not just the fat cats are lining up for the advance auction of stolen monies.

          • Many of the larger companies/interests give money equally to both sides of the DemoPublican Janus – so they win either way.

            And of course, we lose either way.

          • Douglas, if the People would wise up and force government to obey the legitimate Law of the Land it would hardly matter who holds office.


    • A farmer had a sick horse, and the neighbor came by and said: you need to give him one tablespoon of terpentine per day. That’ll cure him.

      So for a week the farmer gave the horse a tablespoon of terpentine and the horse got sicker.

      The neighbor happened by and said: you’re not giving him enough terpentine. You need to give him two tablespoons per day. That’ll cure him.

      So for a week the farmer gave the horse two tablespoons of terpentine and the horse got sicker.

      The neighbor happened by and said: you’re not giving him enough terpentine. You need to give him three tablespoons per day. That’ll cure him.

      So for a week the farmer gave the horse three tablespoons of terpentine and the horse died.

      The neighbor happened by and said: see, you didn’t give him enough terpentine.

      This has been brought to you by Nobel Prize Winning economists.

  21. “modern, fuel-injected vehicles can go longer in between oil changes.”

    That’s part of the reason. On one hand there is less oil being sold due to fewer 3K/3M oil changes. The other part is because demand is shifting from normal oil to synthetic, which may be good old supply and demand, along with an increase in price of the feedstocks that make synthetics.

    My old car usually went about 7K miles before the oil change light came on, and I always ran Mobil 1. Since getting to the filter was such a pain, I usually took it to the Walmart. The nice thing about them is you could pick out what oil/filter you wanted off the shelf and they’d use it. And if there was any oil left over they’d leave it in the trunk for top-offs (which I never really needed, but it was good to have).

    My new diesel will run 10K between changes, and (unless I want to void the warranty) the oil has to conform to VW’s standard for the engine, which is full synthetic. I don’t know about other manufacturers, but I can see as engines get touchier and we go back to turbos for boosting power manufacturers will require specific oils to be used. As they get more specialized we’ll see the price go up. Although I can buy a complete oil change kit (includes new drain plug/gasket and filter along with 5 quarts of the VW specific oil) for $50 on line, so it may not be too bad for a while. One very good thing about the new engine is that the filters are all very easy to find right on top of the engine, so it looks like I’ll be doing a lot of the routine stuff myself. It also helps that VW TDI owners are very clubby and post a ton of DIY videos on youtube showing exactly what to do.

  22. Recent expense at dealership. 4cyl small SUV, change oil (synthetic Mobil 1), oil filter and lube driveshaft, a two minute job:

    Total Labor: 30.15
    Environmental Fee: 6.50
    Total Parts; 68.28 (oil, filter, grease)
    Total Tax 12.69

    Total Invoice: 117.63

    Now I am doing it myself again, it takes only a few minutes! If I buy oil and filter when they are on sale I pay about 40 bucks, sometimes even less! And: I can actually pour the real synthetic oil into the engine myself!

    • I thought I was getting hosed when I paid the same for a 7 quart oil change about a year ago. I just love that $6.50 fee and the $30.00 labor for having some ape grease monkey tighten the filter and drain plug beyond human strength. This is sick.

      • The oil and the filter should be no more than 40 bucks based on the overinflated prices that you pay for oil at a discount autoparts chain.

    • Werner, I second the others – that’s outrageous!

      For some contrast: I just bought five quarts of Royal Purple synthetic (just under $10 each) plus a K&N filter (about $10) for the Trans-Am. Thus, total cost for the oil change using premium/top-of-the-line stuff: $60, or about half what the stealership charged you.

      • I would strongly advise you to avoid Royal Purple. I’m a mechanical engineer and I work at a large chemical plant, we have a lubrication specialist who works in the office adjacent to me. He has done studies on all types and brands of oil with the goal of squeezing more life out of our pumps and other rotating equipment. He told me he refused to authorize use of royal purple because he could get no consistent metrics on it (viscosity, additives, ect) as each barrel of the stuff was substantially different! Their commercial engine oil may be better quality, but I highly doubt it. If they think they can slide their industrial oil past places that have dedicated laboratories, I’m sure they don’t have even a second thought about a guy on the street.

        While I am at it, I’m going to add that I would buy a wix puralator instead of a K&N as well. K&N and most other filters will catch stuff consistently down to (as I recall) 10 microns (smallest detail the eye can see) and no more. The Puralator will catch down to 5 microns consistently per experimentation here at our plant. This is relevant because the space between your piston ring and piston wall is less than 10 microns, but greater than 5. If objects larger than that space get it, your engine suffers death by a thousand papercuts as the tiny objects are ground up and down the wall. If you have objects that can fit between and no bigger, there will be far less destructive interaction and wear. Furthermore, the wix has fiberglass filter media instead of paper, and as such does not break down as readily and quickly (If you aim to let a car sit for a while, this is a good way to avoid needing to change the filter as often)

        • That’s good to know about the Purolator filter.

          I’ll have to keep that in mind for subsequent oil changes.

          Any insights about synthetics, particularly Mobil 1?

          • What is “synthetic”?

            Almost all oil labeled “sythetic” is actually just highly scrubbed (cracked) mineral oil in the US…Something the industry labels as “Group 3” oil. Even Mobil 1 is moving their synthetic line from polyalphaolefin (which is a true synthetic…made from decane, I believe) to a group 3 because it is cheaper and has better lubricity and close to the high/low temperature performance of PAO. Regular Pennzoil conventional is just fine for most applications.

        • I have to disagree, Phil.

          I send our oil to Blackstone on every change; if you buy their analysis kits in bulk it’s only about 15 bucks a pop, well worth it to really know what’s going on in the crankcase.

          My wife’s Infiniti M45 was running Mobil 1. After 6K miles, I sent the oil off to Blackstone. It came back with some bearing metals in the oil, and a very low TBN–indicating it was depleted. They warned me to back off the mileage next time.

          Well, I switched to what I was running in my track Miata–Royal Purple. On the next analysis for the Infiniti, there was absolutely no engine metal in the oil, and the TBN was so high they recommended I run it for 12K miles next time.

          They commented that they rarely see such big differences between major-brand synthetics.

          I was sold, and switched the M5 to Royal Purple XPR–the really good stuff.

          • I am going to conduct an experiment and will report the results here. I just changed the oil in my TA with RP… per usual. I will do the Blackstone test in six months and we’ll see what it says. The car is probably driven less than 500 miles in that time period. This is why I change every six months – which may be overcautious. But, we’ll see!

      • Love the word “stealership”! It almost rhymes with *banksters*!

        I used to have some more interesting invoices here from the time I had the (dis)pleasure of owning a new Chrysler product with a flaky automatic transmission. They even charged for shop towels and an environmental (emphasis on the ‘mental’ part!) fee of disposing of such, disposal of the AT fluid, etc. etc. They installed a new temp sensor in the AT, but that did not solve the problem of sporadic unpredictable transmission shudder. Nobody ever managed to find out what caused it and how to fix it! Ended up trading the lemon in on a real vehicle.

        To top it all off they forgot to screw the oil filler cap back on after they changed the oil – I drove around without it for about a week! Then I happened to look under the hood and noticed the gaping hole! The cap was still there, stuck between a bracket and the top of the radiator.

        BTW, stealership shop rate here is $ 108.00/hour.

    • I avoid dealerships and any place that uses a “service writer” (re: salesman). What the hell kind of oil did they put in the crankcase anyway to justify that “parts” cost? Actually, most establishments would list it separately under fuel, oils, and lubricants. And does your local state and county really charge $6.50 for disposal fees for used oil and filters? Ever the more reason to say screw Detroit and all the other auto makers, keep the old iron going and deep-six this so-called “economy”!!! Folks need to be awakened to the outrages that this subsidized industry is getting away with.

      • Douglas, I am writing from Canada, more specifically from British-Columbia! We have taxes and fees here which you guys don’t have! We even have a carbon tax on gasoline, diesel, home heating fuel and natural gas for home heating. A liter of gasoline costs about $ 1.34 right now – that would be about $ 5.20 per American gallon. The Canadian dollar is on par with the US dollar and we have the second largest oil reserves in the entire world! I have given up trying to figure out why and how we are being taken to the cleaners!

        Oh, not to forget that here all vehicles cost a lot more money than the same identical models cost in your country! Smaller cars may cost a grand more and with larger ones it can be as much as several thousands of dollars extra.

        Again, it’s been going on forever and the reasons given don’t hold up to closer scrutiny!

  23. [” Most two cycle engines are made/operate completely different..” — Dom


    Nope. Pistons are Pistons with the same general lubrication requirements.

    But the primary assertion here — that gasoline is the biggest engine oil degradation factor — remains incorrect.

    Oxidation is the biggest oil degradation factor. Gasoline is harmless. 🙂

      • During WWII, the Russians often actually did mix gasoline with the engine oil in their aircraft engines during the harsh Russian winter. Occasionally they would even light and tend a fire beneath the nose of their fighter aircraft.

        When the Germans had a jamming problem with their machine guns in the extreme cold, a Russian prisoner showed them that by washing the moving parts with gasoline the guns could be made to work quite well without oil.


        • True, but most of the USA doesn’t have the severe winters of Russia. A luxury obviously not available on the “Ostfront” during the “Great Patriotic War” would be an engine block heater and the ability to plug it into a convenient receptacle in the garage, let alone garaging the vehicle. If a garage is available, clear the crap out of it and park the vehicle inside. Even for relatively milder winters, fit the engine with a block heater and use it. It makes a huge difference in the warm-up cycle with respect to dilution of engine oil with unburned gasoline.

    • Have you ever pulled the dipstick on a misfiring engine, or a carbureted engine with a sticking choke valve. Sometimes the contaminated oil runs off a dipstick like water or even something thinner.

      Kevin, methinks your are uninformed, or even worse, misinformed.


  24. Since 1968 – when EFI came with the first production car – human* population and the number of vehicles has increased dramatically. I simply do not believe that, with today’s inexcusable overpopulation, clean air would be achievable with carburetors.

    “Someday people will hate one another simply because there are so many.” –Philip Wylie, FINLEY WREN (pub. 1936)

    How true. Few things anger me more than being trapped by a crowd, whether afoot or in a motor vehicle. Perhaps mercifully, the incomparable Alpha Curmudgeon, Mr. Wylie died in 1972.

    Of this I am certain: Humans do a much better job of breeding quality animals than they do of breeding quality humans*.

    Tinsley Grey Sammons, author of AMERICA’S FORSAKEN PROMISE

    *Well, ALMOST human. At least in appearance…from a distance.

        • Dunno but Lucas, the manufacturer of the injection system got its start in the business during WWII making burners for the Whittle jet engine and later, in the 50’s started manufacturing diodes and transistors so I’d be surprised if it wasn’t EFI, all the parts were there.

          • Car & Driver writes some of the wittiest stuff in the car business.

            One of my favorites came from (I think) a Peter Egan article; he refers to Lucas as:

            “Lucas Electrical; Prince of Darkness”

      • The TR 5 had a Lucan mechanical injection system, and was never shipped through dealers to the US. I rember a few of them on the sports car tracks in the late 1960’s. Mercedes had a Bosch mechanical injection system, first used on the venerable (and insanely fast, even for today) 300 SEL from about 1953. It was a six piston pump, after the design of their diesel pumps. That same system found its way onto the 220 SE four door sedan, the 110 body, built during the early 1960’s. I had one…. heavy four door sedan, four speed on the column, comfortable cruise all day long at 85 mph and delivered close to 40 mpg doing it. amazing…. some verisions a bit later on that decade used a simplified two piston pump feeding a slightly larger verision, 2.5 or 2.8 liters, squirting three cylinders simultaneously. The 280 SEL from about 1968, the 108 chassis, was a very sweet car, full independent rear suspension, larger, very commodious, Not quite the same fuel mileage when you opened it up wide on a regular basis, but it was a Bahn-burner, for sure. Mercedes went to the Bosch electronis injection system (as first found on VW Typ 3’s in about 1967 or so) by 1972.Not as efficient. The injectors mechanical injection systems fired into the outboard end of a very long tunnel manifold, one full leg per cylinder, just off a rather roomy plenum chamber that held the throttle plate. very nice design. No wonder the original 300 SEL could reach speeds in the top half of the hundreds, and sustain them for long runs. In 1953…….

        • Those were, in my opinion, the Golden Years for Mercedes. Beautiful cars that were built to an incredible standard. Today’s MBs hold little appeal for me.

    • “Since 1968 – when EFI came with the first production car…”

      What about GM’s factory fuelies of the 1950s?

  25. [ “Probably the biggest single factor affecting oil degradation in these older vehicles is raw gas washing the cylinder walls and making its way to the sump… “]


    That ain’t correct. Just consider 2-Cycle engines — where the gasoline & lubricating oil are directly mixed in the fuel tank !

    A bit of gasoline getting into the oil is no problem at all.

    Also, you recently had a pretty good article & discussion-thread here on proper oil-change-intervals. The ‘recommended’ intervals by engine/car manufacturers are much too frequent… wasting huge amounts of oil and $$$.

    Typical American drivers can easily & safely save on expensive oil-changes… by changing their oil much less often.

    • Umm.. Cylinder wash is a huge issue. Most two cycle engines are made/operate completely different and don’t have separate oil in the crank case. Apples to Oranges…

      • Cylinder wash is indeed a huge issue with carbureted engines. With EFI, the necessary amount of fuel is PRECISELY CALCULATED prior to arriving at the intake valve. Also, at a certain rpm when the vehicle is overrunning the engine the signal to the base of the power transistors that supply voltage pulses to the injector coils is no longer applied. No signal, no fuel. No fuel no wash.

        Carbs suck, both literally and figuratively. Those of us who serviced and repaired vehicles during the transition years took one helluva beating. It is we tenacious callused souls who stuck with it, often working into the night for $0.00 to spare our customers the inconvenience and expense of downtime.

        Tinsley Grey Sammons

        • I won’t defend the efficiency of carbs (because I don’t like to fight losing battles!) but they do have a few merits – chiefly, low cost, simplicity and – biggest thing – the sound!

    • Well, two strokes are a different animal and haven’t been used in a production vehicle in the West (outside of off-road motorcycles, etc.) in what, 50 years? The last street-legal two-stroked bike was sold back in the ’80s – a quarter century ago.

      Cylinder wash, per Dom, is a major problem in engines – especially four-stroke carbureted engines.

      • Nearer forty years than fifty. The Goggomobil was in production until 1969, to name but one. And, of course, some grandfathered two stroke vehicles have stayed road legal to this day.

        • Ok, 43 years… and sure, “grandfathered” antique two-strokes are still street legal today. How many are out there? Maybe they are more abundant in your neck. I haven’t seen a two-stroke car on the road in more than 30 years.

  26. Damn, the price between regular and synthetic oil is quite significant. Is the quality higher enough to justify the expense?

    My mom got new tires from goodyear yesterday. One of the hubcaps was broken when we got it back. They are so negligent.

    Nice BMW in that picture.

    • It’s sad, but you have to check a lot of the work performed at shops these days. The worst is when you notice it weeks/months later. That really upsets me.

      About the earl, yeah there is a huge difference. The stuff for my new motorcycle engine is around $16 a quart on a bad day. Mobil 1 20w-50

      • One of the potential problems with the quick-lube joints is over (or under) filling the crankcase. Either can cause big problems, fast. I tell people to always check the level before they leave the place.

        These joints often use hose dispenser systems. Meaning, they don’t pour the new oil in a quart at a time, as you would if you did it yourself. They stick a “gun” in the engine and let ‘er rip. If they don’t watch what they’re doing (or the “gun” is inaccurate) it can easily spew too much – or too little – oil. Or, the ape might not be competent. He might have given your four-cylinder car the amount of oil specified for the same car with the optional V-6 (or the reverse).

        I’d never take a vehicle of mine – or anyone else’s – near one of these places!

        • You’re right. Problem is many people are trying to save a dollah. The labor rate is well over $100 an hour now! That is madness!

          • You got that right. Oil isn’t he only thing that these apes screw up either. I had to take the Jag for an emergency repair to the local Firestone dealer. For the paltry sum of $1045.00, they swapped out two radiator hoses, drained and refilled the cooling system. When I got the car, I drove it around and the “low coolant” light came on. I could also smell coolant leaking. I was HOT when that took place. They were about to close and I told them about it. They said that I should come in and have it checked out. I told them that they were going to give me a gallon of anti-freeze now. Filled it up and the next day still smelled like coolant. I took it in and they told me nothing was wrong and that they had spilled coolant. I told them that for $1k the car should smell like flowers underneath. In any case, I emailed Firestone. All I got was a call from the store manager telling me to bring the car in again. I have torn up the Firestone card, never to use them again. I don’t think I will even buy their tires again either. They lost a customer after 15 years with this gross arrogance. I hate chain repair shops. HATE them.

          • Shit, listen to this: I usually purchase my tires from Pepboys and install them myself. I don’t have as much time as I used to with the family, home, and a small fleet of vehicles to tend to. So anyhow I got Pepboys to install some tires for me on the 4Runner. The wife normally drives it. One week after the tires had been installed I ended up driving it to UPS to mail some motorcycle parts. As I stepped out I looked at the tires (something I should have done right after the repair, but had a busy week). I’m a guy who puts axle grease on all my lugs nut threads, anti-seize everything, and torque what is necessary. Anyhow, I look down and I am not only missing a fucking lug nut, but the damn stud is busted off. I was pissed! I called the shop and this is what they told me. “Because the temperature is below freezing the lug nuts snap, please bring it back and we’ll fix it.” My wife and kid had used that vehicle the entire week too. I was like naw dood, fuck that. I’m coming over right now and want a new stud and lug nut. I got it, installed it myself, loosened all the other OVER TORQUED lugs they put on and sent corporate an email. Fucking assholes. This asshole (manager at the shop) on the phone even told me they used torque sticks. Which there is no fucking way because I was struggling to loosen the lugs. And to top it off I had just installed new brakes and rotors on the front a week before. So they very well may have cut the life expectancy of my rotors down. NEVER GOT A REPLY FROM CORPORATE!

            Pep Boys
            2001 South Pleasant Valley Road Winchester, VA 22601

            • This happened to us, too!

              When I was dating Jill, she had a ’96 Corolla. We had just started dating – maybe a couple weeks in – when she comes over to my place one afternoon and I notice two studs are snapped off the right rear wheel. She had just been to Meinecke for a brake job (something I now do for her). The motherfuckers let her drive a car off that had two of its four lugs snapped off. Just unbelievable.

          • Dom, the three stooges have as many horror stories as jiffy lube.

            They are never ever touching one of my cars.

          • Some manufactures are making it much more difficult for DIYers because they want to control maintenance of their products. A lot of people will use crap that they “think” is better than what the manufacture recommend and then end up loosing an engine or transmission…Which they are forced to replace for free thanks to Magnuson–Moss Warranty laws and such.

            The corrupt Franchise Laws also disconnect manufactures from the product sales/maintenance/repair which turns the dealerships into corrupt stealerships since they are not accountable to, um, anyone…The dealership owners give big money to political terrorists for “protection”. Can you imagine what it would be like if you had no control over your product after the sale? I mean a total disconnect from your customers via a corrupt 3rd party? I feel for great competitive producers like Toyota and Honda.

        • It takes me less time for DIY oil change, including cleanup. I do my cars (not like I “do” my g/f, though) every four months regardless of mileage. The time interval, I find, takes care of what kind of driving and is easiest to manage. Plus I KNOW exactly what oil is going into the crankcase, and I get an opportunity to lift up the hood and get under and have a look at the business end (come to think of it, same principle works on the g/f!!). Grease what few suspension points have zerk fittings, look at hoses, tighten the oil pan nuts, etc, etc. At least one a year I’ll yank the wheels off and look at the brakes as well. Nothing like proactive maintenance, whether I do the actual repairs myself or not.

          • That’s me, too. I like to know. And it’s also (as you say) a great way to keep up with other things that would otherwise go unnoticed until they became larger problems, such as frayed belts, leaks, low fluids, etc.

            I can do all this stuff faster than going to some chain store or stealership, too.

          • I have always changed the oils in my cars since I was 12 years old. You can get a top sider and suck the oil thru the dipstick tube which is what I do now. I have NEVER been to a car dealership in my life (I imagine it is similar to walking into Congress). Always use OEM oil and air filters! Don’t be suckered by pretty colors and lying-ass advertising (I repeat myself). It really is simple to change oil in a car.

            • I’m with you, DD!

              There are, however, vehicles that seem to have been designed to make changing the oil – more specifically, changing the filter – a mighty hassle. One example: My father-in-law had a ’90s-era Northstar-equipped Cadillac. The oil filter on this engine is mounted in the “v” – underneath and behind various brackets and wire bundles. It can be a real challenge to get that thing off because it is damn near impossible to get at it with a filter wrench or tool of any kind and if it’s at all snug, turning it out by hand is almost impossible unless you have very strong hands. Some others I’ve seen are similarly difficult – or worse. For the average DIY’er, it can be daunting.

          • I have a confession. It’s something I did that’s been burning a hole in my conscience; since I’m not a sociopath like our “betters”, I simply have to put this out there. mea culpa, and please say “te absolvo a peccatis tuis“.

            I was changing my oil a month ago. I pulled out my trusty torque wrench and set it to 30…on the wrong side, lb-ft instead of Newtons.

            I snapped off my designed-to-fail sump nut and had to helicoil the hole and replace the nut.

            There. I feel so much better now. I too am capable of fucking up as badly as the idiots at Jiffy Lube.

            I vow to repeat “Newtons not pound-feet” 50 times in contrition.

    • The answer is – it depends.

      I use synthetic in my old muscle car because the engine is subjected to occasional extreme use (WOT runs, etc.) and synthetics offer superior protection. They also have higher “safe” operating ranges – extremes of cold and heat. Also, synthetics will film/cling to cylinder walls and other wear surfaces better/longer than conventional oils, which is important if the engine sits for weeks at a time – as my muscle car’s engine does. It is neither easy nor cheap to find 455 blocks and cranks anymore – so I figure the extra cost of the synthetic oil is worth the additional protection.

      Similarly in my motorcycles – especially the sport bike (11,000 RPM) and the air-oil cooled bikes, which are more vulnerable than water-cooled engines.

      But for normal everyday driving in a standard-type car not subjected to hard use or extreme conditions, a good-quality conventional oil is just fine.

      • Thanks for the replys. I’ve been using regular in the oil-burning accord. I’ll probably keep doing that until I get another car this summer. One I like.

        By the way, Eric, what in the world in this red-pink octapus thing as my avatar? They’re all really funny looking but I’m just wondering why XD

  27. Mectecs hate to do an oil change. Now that I’m retired I go to my Regular for my oil changes. I tip the Wretch who does the oil change $5.00 to torque the drain plug to specs. I also keep a new drain plug in the glove box with new gaskets.

    To prevent warped rotors I tip the Wretch $5.00 to hand torque the lug nuts to specs whenever wheels are removed. When a customer complains of pulsating brakes the first thing to do is use a torque wrench to break the lugs. I’ve found some that were torqued to 150 ft/lbs., or double specs.

    I keep a torque wrench with the necessary sockets, along with anti-seize handy in the luggage compartment.

    To do them properly, a certain knowledge is necessary to perform even the simplest and least rewarding jobs.


  28. I noticed the same thing. It is interesting how the corner Goodyear can still advertise an oil change for $16.95. I don’t get it. I have been jumping on a deal for extended mileage Mobil 1 at Autozone down here. $34.00 for 5 quarts plus a filter. I still need to buy 2 extra quarts for the Jag, but its a pretty damned good deal. The car goes 10,000 miles between changes (which I do), so I have oil for 2 years.

    I have noticed that everything that I do costs about 30% more than it did five years ago. It’s insane. Water bills have skyrocketed. It was not too long ago, water bills were $35.00 per month. Now they are $50-55. Companies aren’t shy about charging “fees” for what used to be free. I feel like every day that so-called service providers are coming up with a new con to rob us blind.

    • I’d be very wary of the corner Goodyear – of any “quickie” lube place. They probably use the lowest quality shit oil they can buy in bulk (shit filters, too). And as bad or even worse, the apes doing the work. The horror stories are legion. Often, these are not trained technicians (what trained technicians wants to spend all day doing oil changes?). They’re just random guys – not high quality types – willing to work on an assembly line for low pay in poor conditions with no future. I prefer not to give such apes access to the underside of my vehicles!

      • Absolutely! I won’t let them touch my car. I have a friend who is a mechanic. I pay him, but he’s a lot less expensive than those cheats at the chain shops and the stealerships. I have grown to despise these places over the years. At first, around the middle 1980’s until the early 2000’s, they were a good deal, but since then, they extract $100.00 per hour and do a lousy job in their grimy shop while you are waiting in their grimy waiting room, in exchange. I don’t even trust people like that to change tires. Next time, I am ordering them online and giving them to my buddy.

        • Here’s another one:

          About 13 years ago, my mom calls me up one day and asks whether I can come by their house to look at her car. She had just had her oil changed by Jiffy Lube. So I get over there, crouch down and see the oil puddle underneath the car. I get my floor jack, raise the car and crawl under to investigate. Oil is dripping from around the drain plug. Ok, I figure it worked loose or they forgot to tighten it all the way. I start to turn it by hand and it jiggles. You can probably see where this is headed… the bolt was cross-threaded, then tightened with an air gun. It was barely hanging in place. And they had to know they’d fucked up. But they topped her off, took her money and let her drive down the road. Amazing the damaged bolt didn’t just fall out – and along with, all the engine oil (and about 20 seconds later, the engine itself).

          Filthy motherfuckers! I try not to cuss but these cretins bring it out of me.

          I was able to fix the damaged thread, luckily. And of course, had to do the oil change for her again.

          • Nice. Unbelievable. I can’t stand that crap. Here’s a good one. Back in 1992, my Dad got an oil change from Montgomery Ward before he took his trip from Florida to CT. They left the engine oil cap off and in North Carolina, he lost the engine on his 1986 Taurus. After that, I always checked the cap after the change. Now, I won’t even use those types of places. Assclowns.

          • It’s not uncommon to cross thread an oil drain plug. Happened to my father at one of those joints in the Late 60’s.

            Impact wrenches should be banned too!

          • I had almost the same thing happen in ’68. Paid a gas station to change oil in my ’61 Impala. Thirty miles later had lifter noise, and the pressure gauge showed zip. Pulled off and looked under the car. No drain plug! A buddy brought out a new plug and six quarts out to me. Went back to the gas station and they denied any wrong doing and accused me of trying to scam THEM for a new engine! I was a GI making a little over $100 a month back then. The engine lasted another six months. Today I am very well off financially and slightly crippled, but from that lesson I still do everything myself on my vehicles, from oil changes to rebuilding engines.

            I bought a new low end F150 in ’95 for $14.5k that now has over 235k miles and a shot interior and noisy transmission countershaft. Looked at buying a new one, but the same truck is over $30k MSRP! Thanks to the brilliant Cash for Clunkers program, used car prices are higher than they would have been without gunvernment junking out good cars by the thousands (millions?) to promote selling new cars (mostly foreign at that).

            And speaking of junk, the Fed over the past 100 years has given us junk money. Gas is cheap, about 15 cents a gallon, using old silver coins, but using junk money how high can gas prices go? By printing (quantitative easing) how about $40/gallon or $400? Many say “it can’t happen here”. Bad news guys, it has already happened here! Want to have a real savings account? Buy gold and/or silver. Henry Ford sold his first cars for $600 or 30 ounces of gold (using $20 coins). Today with gold near $2,000, that same 30 ounces is worth $60k= very nice car! But then again I’m probably preaching to the choir.

            • I think part of the problem with those “quick lube” places is the inherent problem of expecting competent service from low-wage, unskilled people.

              A real mechanic doesn’t spend his days doing oil changes for minimum wage. So who does? The same type of person you’ll find at the pictographic cash register at McDonalds who cannot calculate the change you’re due for a $1.56 cheeseburger after having tendered a $5 bill.

              Now give him an air gun and access to your car….

          • Impact wrenches should be banned for TIGHTENING fasteners. They are a blessing for loosening well corroded fasteners (have one in my home garage).
            Ever seen a garage or dealer mechanic use a torque wrench? I haven’t. Again, I have a 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ torque wrench in my tool chest.
            Had the tires changed on my car a while back. I always check the torque on the lug nuts because I know they put ’em back on with an impact wrench. The torque (which was supposed to be 85lbs/ft) varied from spin with fingers to 150lbs/ft. – I am not making this up!!!

            • This (over-torquing) is a common problem – one to be especially concerned about these days because so many late-model cars have relatively fragile disc brake rotors that are susceptible to being warped by an over-active air gun jockey. Back in The Day, brakes discs tended to be thicker and so could stand abuse better. Today, it is pretty easy to ruin a set of often very expensive rotors by over-torquing the lug nuts. Another reason to do your own work!

        • I’ve been buying tires on the web for a while.
          my last buy was 4 Hankook Optimo H727
          P215/60R-16 94T for the Camry, for $408 delivered. The wife failed to stop as quickly as the tow-hook in front of her one day and we had the bumper replaced. At the same time it threw the alignment out which we didn’t pick up and before I caught it we’d scrubbed the two front ones after only 25k miles (disadvantage of hi-milage oil changes is that that’s when I routinely look at other crap.
          I called the tire vender who’d provided a 100,000 mile warranty on the tire and with one call and one email got two replacements for $25 each. No fuss, no histrionics or denials.
          I will never buy tires from anywhere other than
 nor should you.

          Sorry for the shameless plug but these guys are worth it.

          • Amen brother! Me too. Shipping is offset by sales tax, plus it provides jobs to people in the shipping business. Sales tax money just goes down the toilet. But shop the other on-line tire dealers too. I would recommend check the date code on all tires (look it up on the internet). Little wonder the powers that be want to kill the internet!

      • Yeah, those places also try to upsell you and drive that $19.95 oil change special up into the stratosphere (that’s okay, Cletus. I can change my own air filter and wiper blades).

        What I don’t like about those places is that a lot of the young guys who work in them are genuinely interested in cars and want to learn. They are undoubtedly pressured to work as fast as they can and cut corners in order to move vehicles through quickly, thus developing poor work habits that need to be unlearned later.

          • Traditionally, being a tire buster and a battery / oil change / lube guy is what an entry level employee does in an auto repair shop. I don’t think there’s any shame in it per se. It’s honest work, and we all have to start somewhere.

            The issue I have is that these places push these kids to get these cars turned over quickly so that the quickie lube place can make more money. Mistakes are made, and made often. That’s no way to start out in a career.

    • Looks like you get your water a lot cheaper over where you are than we do over here in the UK. I have a 3 bedroom bungalow occupied by just my wife and I – our water bill works out at close on $85.50 per month.

      As far as oil goes I use a fairly standard semi-synthetic in the Toyota, usually Castrol, at around $43.50 for 4 liters. In the ‘bike I go for a full synthetic such as Castrol Power 1 which works out at around $67 for 4 liters.

      Seems like we always pay more for our goodies than you do – maybe it is time to move.


      • There is always the option of making friends with someone in America, or somewhere else. Then having them ship high dollar items. Wait, wonder if the numbers work out to be the same with shipping included? Probably do don’t they.

      • One of the perks of being out in the sticks is “free” water. The water itself is free, anyhow. We have a well. The only cost is the electric bill – to power the pump that brings the water up!

        You guys do pay exorbitantly for almost everything, from what I can tell.

        PS: My S1’s new pipes from Higgspeed ought to be arriving within the next three weeks. Almost $1,000 for ‘e, but I think worth every inflated dollah!

        • You are lucky you can get free water. In Houston area anyway, even if you are out in the “sticks”, the government does not allow you to have a well. You are required to be metered by the deregulated “utility,” paying $50-150 per month in a water bill. If you have sewer, it is double. I am sure what happened is that water “service” companies came in, phonied up some environmental sob story, paid off legislators, city council members and bureaucrats in exchange for the privilege of gouging hundreds of millions of people at $50 per house. I would like to send them all down the sewer. The more I see, the more this is pissing me off. I don’t understand why we don’t hold these assclown politicians accountable for this crap.

          • That’s ridiculous. Just when I thought I’d heard to all…. at least VA does not do that. Yet. But I suspect stuff like that is coming. This Agenda 21 thing has me worried.

          • Hey swamprat–you live in Houston too?

            We should start a ‘phyle. Dunno what a “phyle” is? Here’s a start:

            Or read Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” and “The Diamond Age”…both bitchin’ science fiction.

        • I bought my second water pump in 14 years last summer. Last one $900, this one $2100.
          New Septic system too, $17k.


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