Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Tammy asks: What do you think about oil additives that claim they will reduce wear and tear, improve mileage and power? Are these claims bogus?
My reply: These claims may – or may not – be valid. The problem – at least potentially – is that modern engines, especially those with variable cam/valve timing systems that use the oiling system to do their thing, can be very sensitive to oil viscosity and other such parameters. Unless the manufacturer of your vehicle specifically – in writing – okays whatever the additive in question is, I would recommend against using it, particularly if the vehicle’s engine is still under warranty. If a problem does arise and it is determined it arose because an additive not recommended by the car’s manufacturer was used, the damage will almost certainly be paid for by guess who… .
My “50” on this is that your best bet is to use the exact grade (and viscosity) oil recommended by the car’s manufacturer – and to not use off-brand/no-name-brand Mystery Oil or additives to make up for the sketchy quality of the cheap oil.
As an aside: Some older car engines do need a specific additive – it’s an anti-wear additive that used to be in most oil but has been largely removed from most store-bought oil. It is generally marketed as “ZDDP.” But you’ll only need to worry about this if you buy a car made before what are called flat tappet camshafts stopped being used in cars, which was about 35 years ago.
If you do have – or buy – a car made before the early 1980s, then you will want to add the ZDDP, or use a specialty oil such as Amsoil ZRod (which I use in my ’76 Trans-Am) that still has the necessary good stuff.
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Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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