E85 and engine oil

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E85 and engine oil

Post by WANTED on Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:52 pm

I bring this topic up because there are more and more guys making the switch to corn oil. However, in doing this there is one thing that many people don't take into account, and that is the longevity of their engine oil. Now I bring this up not to scare anyone off from switching to e85, but to give you something to think about.

Something a lot of people do not realize is that fuel in general contributes to the contaminates in your engine oil. This is nothing abnormal to a limited extent from mile 1. If you were to take an oil sample on a perfectly healthy bone stock car and have it analyzed after running it say 3-5000 miles, you'll find fuel in there. So long as it's within a certain threshold will it not accelerate oil breakdown.

Now, as we modify and increase the amount of fuel we'er supplying to the motor, we are also increasing how much fuel will be present in the oil between change intervals. For the guys that are making the switch to e85, keep in mind that your fuel demands just went up by 30%, which is nothing to sneeze at as far as increases go. So now you're going to find a lot more ethanol in your oil than you would normally. Why do I say that? because where 91oct typically has 10% ethanol, now 85% (and sometimes more) of your fuel is ethanol.

So now let's take a step backwards and revisit that threshold I was talking about. There comes a point where if your oil is too contaminated, it will break down faster than it should AND FAIL TO DO IT'S JOB OF LUBRICATING YOUR INTERNAL ROTATING/MOVING PARTS. This is a bad thing.

So a couple of things you need to watch and consider when introducing your car to e85, meth, leaded fuels, or simply a lot more fuel than the car was using in stock form. First things first, make sure you are using a good quality synthetic, especially if this is to be your DD. Do your homework as to what to use, as there are a few good quality oils out there that will meet your needs based on your preferences. Believe it or not, diesel oil of the same weight you wish to run is a reasonable option due to the acid neutralizers present.
Next, monitor your oil and change it more frequently. Smell is a very good indicator of your oil being heavily contaminated on ethanol. How so? It'll smell like ethanol. A more precise method of figuring out how soon you need to change your oil is to take samples at different mileage intervals and send it off for analysis. Blackstone is a rather inexpensive company that will give you precise analysis. Don't want to go through that? Then you can always reduce your oil change interval by half (ex. most modern engines recommend 5-7500 miles between oil changes. Take whatever interval your manual recommends and go half that). For the guys running pig rich like myself, you'll probably have to change it more frequently than that.
After your initial tune on to e85, change your oil as it will have a lot more ethanol present than it would between a normal interval.
Finally, regardless of what ANY OIL MANUFACTURER ADVERTISES, if you leave enough ethanol in your oil for enough time, it will turn into a clumpy "jelly like" consistency. I damn near caused an uproar in the "Brad Penn vs AMSOIL" debate when I showed my 20w50 AMSOIL flowing like jelly after leaving the car sitting for 7 months, but ethanol will do this.

Have something to add to this? By all means, please contribute.

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