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Old 04-10-2011, 04:01 AM   #1
tmhutch
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Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Hopefully putting this info its own thread will help clear up the confusion caused by the oil viscosity change in 2001.

The bottom line is, we really shouldn’t be running 5w20. The switch from 5w30 in 1999 to 5w20 in 2001 (on identical engines) had nothing to do with wear or reliability issues and everything to do with Ford saving a few bucks by meeting CAFE standards. At the time Ford was fined $5.50 for every 1/10th of a MPG under the target average of 27.5 MPG for every vehicle manufactured. To help meet the target Ford changed from 5w30 to 5w20 and was able to improve mileage by 1/16th of a MPG and meet their goals.

Here are a few quotes from people with first hand experience:


Mike Riley, Product Design Engineer with Ford Motor Company:

Quote:
"Moving to 5w20 was driven by ... CAFE requirements. The company believes the switch to lighter viscosity 5w20 oils will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 190,000 metric tons a year and reduce US fuel consumption by over 21,000,000 gallons a year."


While most people understand the main function of oil is to protect the engine, Ford's only concern in that respect is that a stock engine survives the warranty period.



I especially appreciate Scott Whiteheads insight on this topic. He worked for Ford testing different oils in modular engines and here is what he had to say:

Scott Whitehead - Engine Development Systems Engineer, Ford Motor Company:

Quote:
"I've seen the dyno testing. I've probably looked at several hundred engines disassembled and spread out on inspection tables. And I've been involved in testing to resolve issues where varying the oil viscosity was part of the test. Please do not put 5w-20 or less into a mod motor. Please. This is especially true in 4v motors. 5W-30 is probably a good oil for the street with mixed temperatures."


Ford Racing Group apparently feels the same way:

FRPP Group:

Quote:
"DO NOT go back to using 5w-20"



Some of the best data from the modular community has come from Nick McKinney:

Quote:
"I have said it a few times now, heavier oil has better protection especially in the cam bores. ---I get 2-3 sets of modular heads a week through here, and any lay person just from looking would pick the 500,000 mile cores run on 15W-40 diesel spec all their lives over the typical Mustang head run 50,000 miles on the light stuff"


Fleets typically run their vehicles 250,000 to 500,000 miles! I've heard Nicks experience echoed several times by fleet managers. They wouldn’t run a 5w-20 oil for one minute.

There have been concerns over bearing tolerances and lash adjuster pump up with heavier weight oils but these are largely overblown. Bearings tolerances haven’t changed since the 60's and much of the small difference found at the crank bearings is because of the aluminum blocks different expansion rate. A reality check for those concerned is the fact that while the 01+ modulars were spec'd to 5w-20 oil, the exact same engine pre 01 was spec'd with 5W-30. When Shelby modifies the 4.6's he covers the 5w-20 spec sticker under the hood with a 5w-30 spec sticker. In Australia all their modulars are spec'd for 5w-30 and higher because they have no CAFE standards. And the GT500/GT's with the exact same bearing clearances are spec'd for 5w-50w oil.

Bottom line, the thicker the oil, the better the protection. Just make sure you're running the proper weight if you live in colder environments.

As far as which brand oil to choose, there are lighter weight oils made from better stock that also contain anti-wear additives that provide superior protection (Red Line, Amsoil Etc.) but these additives often preclude the oil from meeting CAFE standards, not that I care about that for my limited use hot rod.

In the end I think it is best to stick with the wisdom and experience of a Ford engine development engineer who spent hours blowing up DOHC engines using different oil viscosities. So for now, 5w-30 Red Line, Amsoil, Mobil 1 and any straight 30 weight or diesel spec oil get my vote.

Todd

Last edited by tmhutch; 04-12-2013 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 04-10-2011, 04:41 AM   #2
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

i want to use the best for my built motor so i'm going to switch to the 5w-30 for next oil change its only had one done witht he new motor on 5w-20. thanks for the info

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Old 04-10-2011, 04:42 AM   #3
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Great Info!

How does Mobile 1 0w-30 stack up?
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:57 AM   #4
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

that is some good info, I just take my car to ford and they use 5w-20, like it says to on the oil cap! Next time, will be a different story!
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Old 04-10-2011, 08:28 AM   #5
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

ive always used 5w30
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Old 04-10-2011, 08:47 AM   #6
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Excellent post and as stated hopefully this will clear up the confusion.
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:06 AM   #7
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

An article I did sometime back on oil for these motors:

Nicks Modular oil article

I had some long conversations with a GM powertrain engineer that worked on the Corvette oiling system. His basic answer was diesel spec for everything you care about because of the higher additive levels. Local fleet program I get all my PI head cores from use 15/40 diesel spec in all their vehicles, and I have seen MANY 500,000 mile heads with zero wear in the cam bores. Those heads at 500,000 miles make typical 50,000 mile Mustang and truck heads look like junk.

Since I live in Florida I run straight 30W diesel spec year round in just about everything. If I lived up north I would run 10-30 diesel spec since you can get it easily up there. It doesn't matter whose name is on the bottle anymore these days thanks to the EPA.
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:15 AM   #8
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Good info. I've seen this on a couple other mustang sites in the last year or two, thanks for posting it here.

AMSOIL even uses the same quote: http://www.synthetic1.com/amsoil-5w2...-motor-oil.htm

Last edited by na svt; 03-08-2013 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:27 AM   #9
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Yes very interesting information. I had always thought (and heard) that the reason for the 5W20 was the tighter tolerances of the modern DOHC motors as well as greater MPG. At one time I even ran 0W20 Mobil One in my engine. In 70,000 miles I never had any problems and each oil change made me wonder as the oil was the consistency of water when I drained it. I always used a full synthetic like Mobil One and changed it every 5,000 miles. The Shelby GT-500 DOHC 5.4 motor calls for a 5W-50 weight oil. It's a very difficult weight oil to find locally and I've had to order it on-line. Doing the oil change myself still cost me over $100 bucks each time.

The Shelby guys are very "anal retentive" about small details on their cars and many send their oil to labs for analysis. From what I can gather, Royal Purple and Redline are usually the highest rated in the 5W-50 range. Motorcraft’s 5W-50 synthetic is down around fourth or fifth on the order of preference of oils for Shelby GT-500’s.

Good info, thanks.
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:52 AM   #10
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

The tolerances and clearances are no different than the pushrod motors they replaced.

One version being speced for 20W and another for 50W and they have the same clearances internally with many of the same parts should tell you that you can run any viscosity you want in these motors.

The thicker the oil the happier the cam bores, the thinner the oil the happier the cold start gas mileage is what I have seen.
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:57 AM   #11
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

BTW - to meet SM-GF4 spec all oils a few years ago became semi synthetic even if it doesn't say so on the bottle.

A modern full synthetic only gives you about 30F more heat capacity before it breaks down over a modern "dino" oil. That gap was closed dramatically in the last 15 years. Many times its speced on the performance cars just so the manufacturer doesn't have to install an oil cooler for all units to account for the few that actually will autoX or road race them (true in the case of the Corvette)
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Old 04-10-2011, 10:00 AM   #12
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Quote:
Originally Posted by nickmckinney View Post
The tolerances and clearances are no different than the pushrod motors they replaced.

One version being speced for 20W and another for 50W and they have the same clearances internally with many of the same parts should tell you that you can run any viscosity you want in these motors.

The thicker the oil the happier the cam bores, the thinner the oil the happier the cold start gas mileage is what I have seen.

In my 1970 Mach with 351C-4V I use Shell ROTELLA T Multigrade SAE 15W-40. The diesel oil seems to be the preferrred oil for old Muscle Cars. It has the zinc that is still required by the older OHV designed engines. I change it twice a year and it usually only has about 1500 to 2000 miles on it but it's very cheap and each oil change is done by me for around $20 total.
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Old 04-10-2011, 10:19 AM   #13
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Quote:
Originally Posted by nickmckinney View Post
The tolerances and clearances are no different than the pushrod motors they replaced.
Mod motor clearances are pretty tight compared to the Ford pushrod stuff. A couple of the "high RPM" guys say that oil viscosity play a large role in how the lash adjusters work at high RPMs.
These are pretty tight:
main bearing oil clearance 0.0001 - 0.0018
rod bearing oil clearance 0.0011 - 0.0027

Aren't the pushrod mains 2-3 thousandths?

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Old 04-10-2011, 10:53 AM   #14
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

In my new 2002 F150 5.4 I had to put 30w in it once due to not finding 20w. It knocked so bad on EVERY startup I was scared of major damage & even had a bystander ask what was wrong with my new truck! Sorry, my experience has been all the other way...only 20w for me.

I pull a 25ft trailer & work my engine hard! Lots of steep grades in Oregon Mt. passes and long pulls into Yosemite...I just hit 132k miles & all is well should I start to worry?
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Old 04-10-2011, 12:27 PM   #15
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Quote:
Originally Posted by na svt View Post
Mod motor clearances are pretty tight compared to the Ford pushrod stuff. A couple of the "high RPM" guys say that oil viscosity play a large role in how the lash adjusters work at high RPMs. I have a feeling the low RPM engines (7k and below) won't see any changes by running a 30w as opposed to a 20w oil.
These are pretty tight:
main bearing oil clearance 0.0001 - 0.0018
rod bearing oil clearance 0.0011 - 0.0027

Aren't the pushrod mains 2-3 thousandths?
Actually, the tolerances are very close compared to the pushrod motors. The 1964-1973 289/302 motors have the following tolerances on the Main and Rod Bearings

Main Bearing Journal Oil Clearance 0.0005-0.0024
Connecting Rod Bearing Journal Oil Clearance 0.0008-0.0026

And the oil weight recommended for the motors? Anywhere between 5W20 and 20W40, depending upon the driving conditions.

However, I don't have the foggiest idea what the differences are in how the lifters pump up between the motors.


Just something to chew on.....
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Old 04-10-2011, 01:39 PM   #16
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

only 10w-30 in mine. mobile 1 15k mile stuff....change it at 10k miles
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Old 04-10-2011, 02:29 PM   #17
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Hamilton View Post
Yes very interesting information. I had always thought (and heard) that the reason for the 5W20 was the tighter tolerances of the modern DOHC motors as well as greater MPG. At one time I even ran 0W20 Mobil One in my engine. In 70,000 miles I never had any problems and each oil change made me wonder as the oil was the consistency of water when I drained it. I always used a full synthetic like Mobil One and changed it every 5,000 miles. The Shelby GT-500 DOHC 5.4 motor calls for a 5W-50 weight oil. It's a very difficult weight oil to find locally and I've had to order it on-line. Doing the oil change myself still cost me over $100 bucks each time.

The Shelby guys are very "anal retentive" about small details on their cars and many send their oil to labs for analysis. From what I can gather, Royal Purple and Redline are usually the highest rated in the 5W-50 range. Motorcraft’s 5W-50 synthetic is down around fourth or fifth on the order of preference of oils for Shelby GT-500’s.

Good info, thanks.
ive only used 5w40 amsoil in the shleby. so far so good lol
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Old 04-10-2011, 02:46 PM   #18
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

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ive only used 5w40 amsoil in the shleby. so far so good lol
They say the original Motorcraft 5W-50 shears down to a 40W in about 1500 miles and some are recommending the Amsoil 10W-40.
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Old 04-10-2011, 02:56 PM   #19
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Quote:
Originally Posted by na svt View Post
Mod motor clearances are pretty tight compared to the Ford pushrod stuff. A couple of the "high RPM" guys say that oil viscosity play a large role in how the lash adjusters work at high RPMs. I have a feeling the low RPM engines (7k and below) won't see any changes by running a 30w as opposed to a 20w oil.
These are pretty tight:
main bearing oil clearance 0.0001 - 0.0018
rod bearing oil clearance 0.0011 - 0.0027

Aren't the pushrod mains 2-3 thousandths?

I have seen guys turning 9000-10000RPM with all different viscosity so I don't see it being that much of a factor. There are guys with 10W and guys with 50W and it doesn't seem to affect the adjusters as much as people would have you believe. If you believe you are having adjuster pump up then use the GT adjusters and rockers which are anti pump designs. I remember Cushman making a comment once that he was turning 9500RPM with 15W40 in his 4V.

Those main bearing clearances are for a cold aluminum block probably which sure doesn't keep that spec hot. Every stock modular rod I have ever measured has been dead on at ~0.002" for these motors. Basic rule of thumb is 0.001" for every 1" of diameter, seems to work on every motor from a Honda to a Hemi.

Like I said though, the lighter weight oils you see the differences in the cam bores more than anywhere else. The heads run at like 50% of the oil pressure you see on the gauge and I have measured as low as 5PSI in a modular head. We did a lot of testing with the head pressures when testing the GT rockers and adjusters vs the stock ones and learned a ton.
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:01 PM   #20
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Hamilton View Post
They say the original Motorcraft 5W-50 shears down to a 40W in about 1500 miles and some are recommending the Amsoil 10W-40.

All multiweights will shear down faster than a straight weight, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If its spring time in your area (its hitting near 90 here) then just use a straight weight diesel spec IMHO. If they have to add VI modifers to the oil for it to meet its multiweight spec those are the last things you want in your oil once its up to temp.

IMHO - forget the name on the bottle anymore unless its a race only oil as that is the real stuff for the track (and not for the street since it has near zero detergents in it) Most diesel specs have the antiwear of the race oil but also come with a ton of detergents which will keep the inside of your motor totally spotless I have found.
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:15 PM   #21
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

I wonder what weight they use in Alaska for a mod motor?LOL<LOL I think people should pay more attention to where and how they drive when selecting an oil. The weather is a biggger factor when selecting 5/20 or 5 /30 to me .
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:35 PM   #22
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

In my area I only run 5w 30 and my next oil change will be AMSOIL. I currently have full syn mobil 1 in it. Its only 60 cents more than a quart of Mobil 1 and I think its worth the little extra in price. However, I will probly still use the mobil 1 extended performance oil filters.
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Old 04-10-2011, 11:10 PM   #23
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Good read. I was considering switching to 5-30 anyways, I dont think the extra thickness would hurt anything
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Old 04-11-2011, 12:50 AM   #24
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

Thanks for the comments and all the great info being shared. I've heard the same thing about diesel spec but do have concerns about the heavier weight and how well it protects during cold start. However, sounds like the film strength may be strong enough to protect the engine during the interval before oil circulates.
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:51 AM   #25
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Re: Oil Viscosity for DOHC Ford

High Temperature High Shear viscosity, learn it, use it. It's a viscosity measurement when exposed to heat (302 F) AND shear/pressure, as in the main and rod bearings. The SAE/kinematic viscosity measurements don't take shear into account.

There are 5W-20s out there that have higher HTHS viscosity than just about any of the off the shelf synthetic 10W-30s.

That's why I like Red Line 5W-20 for Mod motors besides the Shelby. It's a natural multigrade (no viscosity index improvers), has a bit more ZDDP than the diesel oils, a ton of soluble moly (friction modifier and anti-wear), and a 3.3 cP HTHS viscosity.

Compare that HTHS viscosity to the major 30 weights

Mobil 1 5W-30 - 3.13 cP
Mobil 1 10W-30 - 3.26
Pennzoil Ultra 5W-30 - 3.1
Pennzoil Ultra 10W-30 - 3.2
Amsoil 0W-30 (Signature Series) - 3.1
Amsoil 5W-30 - 3.2
Amsoil 10W-30 - 3.2
Red Line 5W-30 - 3.8

The 20-weights for comparison
Mobil 1 0W-20 - 2.6
Mobil 1 5W-20 - 2.77
Pennzoil Ultra 5W-20 - 2.7
Amsoil 0W-20 - 2.8
Amsoil 5W-20 (XL) - 2.8

Basically the more VIIs (polymers) in the oil the more compressible the fluid becomes under shear. Base oil polarity also plays a part in how much viscosity is retained under heat and shear, and PAO and group III are essentially non-polar, POE is highly polar.

I agree the a 5W-30 is preferable when dealing with off the shelf oils, but there are some exceptions...mainly the ester based oils like Red Line, Motul, Neo, etc.
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