Many people love the fuel efficiency they get from smaller European engines. European engines have traditionally had a smaller displacement than their American counterparts largely for fuel efficiency reasons and European road conditions (it’s hard to drive a Hummer through the streets of Prague or Paris, for example). Though European engines were smaller, Europeans had just as much of a desire for good performance as Americans did. Thus, European automakers were some of the earliest innovators in turbocharged engines.
Here’s the bad thing about turbo chargers: they get oil hot -really, really hot. You can get your oil so hot that on many Volkswagen, Saab, Audi, and Porsche vehicles you’ll void your warranty if you don’t use fully synthetic oil. So, when you’re changing your oil, you need to make sure to ask for synthetic. Please note that at many quick lube places, they will try to upsell you on a “synthetic blend.” Many consumers think this is synthetic oil, and go for it. It’s not! You want fully synthetic oil only.
Personally, I use Amsoil European Car Formula 5W-40 in my 1997 Audi A4 (it has a 1.8L Turbo engine in it).
Many people ask me about extended interval oil changes. In any vehicle that doesn’t have a turbo, they’re fine. In my Toyota and Honda vehicles, for example, I use Amsoil extended interval synthetic oil and an Amsoil extended interval filter. Because of this, I only have to change the oil every 25,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first. Such is not the case with my turbocharged Audi engine. I change the oil and filter on it every five thousand miles.
You might be asking what can happen if you don’t use synthetic oil in your turbocharged vehicle or try to change your oil at an extended interval. Remember when I talked about turbochargers getting really hot? Many mechanics I talk to say that this can almost literally “cook” the oil. I think they just took the term “coke,” dropped the “e”, and added an “o,” because we’re dealing with the problem of oil coke. Coke is the residue left when oil burns off. You can read more about it by clicking here– and it’s not pretty. An engine with a lot of coke in it is commonly referred to as a “sludged up engine.” Toyota calls it “oil gel,” and in some years their luxury brand, Lexus, will extend your warranty if your engine has an “oil gel” problem.
If you have a turbocharged European vehicle, you’re effectively nuking your engine if you don’t use fully synthetic oil. You’re clogging up the oil lines in your turbo, the oil lines leading to your head, and probably even clogging up your oil pickup tube. The result is oil starvation to the critical areas of the engine, even if your oil level is right where it should be. It’s like your oil is in a reservoir, and the dam isn’t letting it out.
Synthetic oil is great because it was originally designed for applications in jet engines. Flat out, it withstands the higher temperatures turbocharged engines subject their oil to. I’m not an Amsoil rep, but if you have a Turbocharged vehicle, I can heartily recommend my Amsoil rep to you. Of course, you can always find a dealer in your area, and any fully synthetic oil is going to be better than old style oil in any turbocharged vehicle.
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