Why 5W20 Oil?

My 03 Windstar specifies 5W20 oil, which is rather hard to find. Is it really necessary to use this grade? I've always used 5W30 and I have a several jugs of it. Would a different grade invalidate the warranty?

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Denis Roy
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wrote:

5W-20 isn't too hard to find. Personaly I don't like it and would use 5W-30.
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Denis Roy wrote:

Ford specifies 5W20 for slightly better fuel mileage. particularly on short runs where the engine never fully warms up. BTW, I see 5W20 at A-Z, A-A, or W-M, in several different brands, so it's not that hard to find.
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Around here Walmart sells it only in 1 litre bottles, and have only the one brand. I guess I'll keep looking for it or will have to see how much it is at a Ford dealer. I have no idea what A-A or A-Z refers to. Perhaps you refer to stores we don't have in Canada.
Thanks for your reply
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Denis Roy
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Denis Roy wrote: 03 Windstar
Ford specifies 5W20 oil, which is rather hard to find. Is this really necessary? I've always used 5W30 and I have a several jugs of it. Would a different grade invalidate the warranty? Walmart here sells only one brand of 5W20, and only in 1 litre bottles. ___________________________________________
If 5W20 was impossible to find, I would not be afraid to use 5W30. I don't believe it would invalidate the warranty, but I wouldn't tell the dealer to find out.
There is nothing wrong with a one-litre bottle if you like the brand. The crankcase is filled according to the dipstick so bottle size is unimportant. Mix the new bottled oil with the old jug oil until you get a viscosity that makes you comfortable.
Good luck.
Rodan.
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wrote:

Most likely if you look in the owners manual, and sometimes even on the dipstick, it will show alternative oil weights that can be used. I think it would be very difficult to reject a warranty claim since they used 5w30 and 10w30 in the same engines for years with no warranty issues.
The reason they went to 5w20 was to squeeze another 0.1 mpg out of the ratings. In order to create a 5w20 oil that provided the same protection as the "old" 5w30 and 10w30 oils they had to resort to the use of some synthetic oil in the mix and do a lot of other reformulating. And even after that the best they could say about the new oil was that it didn't seem any worse. I think you are far better off using Mobil One 10w20 or 30 .
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This question comes up regularly. It is not just Ford that recommends 5W20. Honda and Toyota (some vehicles) do also. It is unlikely that using 5W30 oil will invalidate your warranty. You would have to have an oil related failure that Ford could prove was the result of using 5W30. However, if you go to Ford and complain about lifter noise, or piston slap, or other engine complaints, one of the first things they are likely to ask you is "Are you using 5W20 Oil?" It should also be noted that the 5W20 oil is not a blanket recommendation for all Ford engines. The 4.0L V-6 in Mustangs and Explorers still requires 5W30 Oil. Here is some old verbiage on the subject from a prior post (some of the info is getting old):
There have been a number of SAE papers by US and Japanese engineers on the subject of 5W20 motor oil. Not one found that it caused durability problems. GM engineers had one paper that found that the 5W20 oil had slightly reduced bearing oil film thickness compared to 5W30, but the difference was trivial and the paper was actually describing a measurement technique. Toyota and Honda engineers have published papers that were positive about the use of 5W20. These papers claimed that their were no reliability problems associated with the switch to 5W20 oil. Here is what Ford had to say when the 5W20 was initially released (2001):
TSB 01-4-7
ISSUE:
Engine oil recommended for use in 2001 vehicles is SAE 5W-20 motor oil. This oil has an improved formulation to improve fuel economy. This oil can also be used to service some previous model year vehicles.
ACTION:
Use SAE 5W-20 engine oil at recommended oil change intervals for 2001 vehicles, with the exception of the following vehicles listed in the "Exception 2001 Vehicles" chart. All 2001 vehicles other than those listed in the "Exception 2001 Vehicles" chart are being filled with SAE 5W-20 motor oil at the factory and should also be serviced with SAE 5W-20 oil.
Vehicle Application Listing Approved For SAE 5W-20 Motor Oil: 1995-2000 2.5L Contour/Mystique 1999-2001 2.5L Cougar 1996-2001 3.0L 4V Taurus/Sable 1999-2001 3.0L (Vulcan) Ranger (Flexible Fuel and Gas), Windstar, Taurus/Sable (Flexible Fuel and Gas) 1996-1997 3.8L Thunderbird/Cougar 1996-2001 3.8L Mustang and 3.8L SPI Windstar 1997-2001 4.2L (SPI) F-150 (under 8500 GVW only), Econoline 1996-2001 4.6L 2V Mustang 1992-2001 4.6L Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis 1991-2001 4.6L Town Car 1994-1997 4.6L 2V Thunderbird/Cougar 1996-2001 4.6L 4V Mustang Cobra 1995-2001 4.6L Continental 1993-1998 4.6L 4V Mark VIII 1998-2001 5.4L 2V/4V Navigator 1997-2001 4.6L 2V Triton F-150/250 (under 8500 GVW only), Econoline, Expedition 1997-2001 5.4L 2V F-150/250 (under 8500 GVW only), Expedition, E-150/250/350, E-350 Chassis/RV/Cutaway 1997-2001 6.8L E-250/350, E-350 Chassis/RV/Cutaway 1999-2001 6.8L Super Duty F-Series 250 HD/350/450/550 Motorhome 2001 2.0L Zetec/2.0L SPI Focus 2001 2.0L Zetec/3.0L Escape 2001 2.0L SPI Escort 2000-2001 5.4L/6.8L Excursion 2000-2001 3.0L Lincoln LS 2001 2.0L Zetec Escort ZX2
NOTE: THE "EXCEPTION 2001 VEHICLES" SHOULD BE SERVICED WITH SAE 5W-30 MOTOR OIL.
Exception 2001 Vehicles: Engine Vehicle 2.5L Ranger 3.3L Villager 3.9L Lincoln LS 4.0L Ranger, Explorer/Mountaineer, Explorer Sport, and Explorer Sport Trac 5.0L Explorer/Mountaineer NOTE: IF VEHICLE IS NOT LISTED IN THIS APPLICATION, SAE 5W-30 OIL IS RECOMMENDED. REFER TO TSB 99-8-16.
The following Q&A's were originally posted to the Mustang newsgroup several years ago -
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS REGARDING MOTOR OIL .... [ info on ATF deleted ]
Q. Why did Motorcraft release SAE 5W-20 motor oil? A. It was the right thing to do for the consumer and for the environment. It was one of Ford's first steps in improving the fuel economy of our SUVs by 25% by the 2005 calendar year. SAE 5W-20 improves fuel consumption by approximately 0.6 percent. For the 2001 fleet, this amounts to reducing fuel usage by more than 21 million gallons per year. This reduction in gasoline consumption leads to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 190,000 metric tons per year, which is equivalent to taking nearly 23,100 cars and trucks off the road each year.
Q. Is there really a difference in quality between 5W-20 and 5W-30? A. It is important to separate the differences in viscosity grade, and also the differences in the performance standards set by the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) and the accompanying American Petroleum Institute (API) performance categories to answer this question. First, SAE 5W-20 oils are slightly less viscous at operating temperature than SAE 5W-30 oils. This reduction in viscous drag contributes to reduced friction in the engine and thus improved fuel economy for an SAE 5W-20. Second, there are differences between the present ILSAC GF-2 standard (GF stands for gasoline fueled) and the soon to be commercialized GF-3 standard. The performance of a GF-3 oil will be significantly improved over a GF-2 oil. When Motorcraft released it's SAE 5W-20 formulation we wanted it to perform at the GF-3 level; but the GF-3 spec had not been finalized, so we 'guesstimated' what GF-3 would look like. In so doing we doubled the length of the standard dynamometer Sequence IIIE test (which duplicates high temperature trailer towing) which increases wear protection and reduces oil thickening. While GF-3 also improves on the standard GF-2 Sequence IIIE test, it went nowhere near as far as Ford did. This provides Motorcraft SAE 5W-20 with a significant increase over 'standard' GF-3 oils, which most SAE 5W-30 oils will meet. Taking all this into account, the Motorcraft SAE 5W-20 will be a significant improvement over most SAE 5W-30 oils.
Q. Does the difference in price between Motorcraft SAE 5W-20 and SAE 5W-30 really reflect a better oil? A. Yes. The better base oils, and increased additives such as friction modifiers and anti-oxidants used to formulate for the performance levels in the SAE 5W-20 do cost more, but reflect the significant increase in performance.
Q. What Ford and Lincoln/Mercury vehicles use SAE 5W-20 oil? A. Approximately 80% of 2001 models should be serviced with SAE 5W-20 oils. By 2003 model year all Ford and Lincoln Mercury vehicles will be filled with SAE 5W-20 at the factory. But there are a significant number of older vehicles, some as old as 1991 models where Ford now recommends servicing with SAE 5W-20. Refer to the chart listed in Technical Service Bulletin Article No. 01-4-7 for details of which older models should use SAE 5W-20 and for the 2001 'exception' models which should continue to use SAE 5W-30.
Q. What happens if someone uses SAE 5W-20 in older vehicles? A. As stated before some older vehicles have been approved for SAE 5W-20. However, there are many older vehicles not covered by TSB 01-4-7, and Ford is presently testing these to determine whether durability and performance would be compromised if SAE 5W-20 was used. Until this testing is successfully completed (and a TSB is published to this effect), it is not recommended using SAE 5W-20 in an older model unless specifically mentioned in TSB 01-4-7.
Q. Is Motorcraft the only brand for SAE 5W-20 motor oil? A. No. Although SAE 5W-20 is not yet a popular viscosity grade, major marketers including Pennzoil, Quaker State, Valvoline, Exxon and others have either already begun marketing an SAE 5W-20 or have plans to do so. Customers should find this viscosity grade increasingly available in coming months, including at some retail outlets.
Q. Will SAE 5W-20 provide longer oil change intervals? A. At the present time Ford recommends no change to the existing drain interval for SAE 5W-20. However, Ford is investigating allowing longer drain intervals since the performance level of Motorcraft SAE 5W-20 is significantly better than today's GF-2 oils.
Q. Why does Wal-Mart have Motorcraft SAE 5W-20 so much cheaper than dealers can now buy it? A. Oil and Filter change is the number one Do-It-Yourself repair. Many Ford Motor Company customers are avid Do-It-Yourselfers. Some may purchase required products from our franchised dealerships, however, most prefer to purchase products available at mass merchandisers. If our product is not available they will buy other brands available at these retailers. Ford Motor Company has an obligation to the EPA to ensure all of our customers have access to this new oil and Wal-Mart is one of several retailers carrying Motorcraft products. Wal-Mart bought several truckloads of Motorcraft SAE 5W-20 at the original introductory price. These original quantities are still available at Wal-Mart. As Wal-Mart re-orders Motorcraft SAE 5W-20 in the future they will purchase it at the increased price.
[ ATF Info Deleted ]
---------------------------
I used nothing but 5W20 Oil in my 2001 Mustang as long as I owned it, and in my 2003 Expedition for the first 85,000 miles. I never had any oil related problems for either vehicle. However in the case of the Expedition, I did have what I considered to be minor piston slap on cold mornings. I changed to 5W30 Mobil 1 at around 85,000 miles and it seemed that this reduced the noise, but to be honest, the noise was infrequent and not particularly noticeable, so I am not sure the 5W30 actually made any difference. Ford specifies 5W20 Oil for my 2004 Thunderbird, but I decided to use 5W30 Mobil 1 instead. The Thunderbird (and Lincoln LS) use a version of a Jaguar V-8 and in England, 5W30 is listed as the preferred viscosity for most conditions for this engine (5W20 is allowed even in the Jaguar Owners Guide for many conditions).
Ed
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No. The manufacture used 5W20 in the engine when it was certified for CAFE, thus must recommend owners use that grade.
mike

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What oil to use and at what grade to use is the subject in almost every newsgroup. It makes for a very good discussion and it educates those who have zero knowledge of oil or lubricants...including me. I live in south Texas, and down here, 5W anything is way too thin, regardless of what the OEM say's. In this hot, dusty environment, 10W-30/40 is the preferred choice in every vehicle. I'm sure those folks living in the snow belt have their preference to thinner oil, as they should. Best of luck with your research. :-)
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On Tue, 17 Oct 2006 16:22:58 -0500, "juanalong"

WRONG! Modern engines have much narrower oil galleries and passages and run with narrower clearances...they are designed to use multiweights with a low end viscosity of 5W. 10W-40 is almost an obsolete viscosity for gasoline engines anymore, only used now for old timer V8s and really high miler beaters...which, in South Texas, are probably plentiful.
SAE 40 is too thick for any good, low mileage engine, and has been for decades. Example: Honda, way back in the '70s, issued a bulletin that CVCC engines should NOT use 10W-40, as it was too thick when warm to provide adequate cam lobe and valve guide lubrication. Sure enough, a look inside many a CVCC of that era shows flatten cam lobes and bell shaped exhaust guides. The door sticker in these case reliably showed use of 10W-40. The use of straight 30, or 10W-30, eliminated the problem.
I live in an area that's hotter than yours and I NEVER run anything thicker than 10W-30...period. If someone has to run 40, their engine is worn out or is running way too hot. Proof of the pudding is that my FE in my pickup is nearing 200K miles and uses a quart at about 1800 miles. Of course, FEs were one of the most hardy of all Ford engines, bar none, but I've seen them worn out at 125K miles due to bad maintenance and use of overly thick oil.
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Like I said, it makes for a very good discussion. You can reference as many reasons why not to use thicker oil as I can why 5W anything is too thin. WRONG implies you have substantial research proof that 5W is better the 10W. Again, depending on which website you visit and whose opinion you favor, added with your own success, then you will certainly support the oil grade you're currently using. By the way, what research have u to prove thinner is better?
Your FE w/200K is using a qtr every 1800 miles? Not surprising. My 1989 Aerostar ate about the same amount of oil. I was so fed up with having to monitor the oil consumption I finally traded it for a 1999 Nissan Quest. Now after almost 150K miles, the Quest has NEVER ate a drop of oil. I change every 4K and run only Mobile One 10W-30. Maybe that's why Ford is in trouble !
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For a 5Wanything oil, the 5W is the cold viscositiy that is measured at 32 degrees. In Texas, you should be worried about the anything part (i.e., the hot viscosity). For a cold engine, the viscosity of the 5Wanything oil is greater than the viscosity of hot 10W40 oil (hot being around 200 degrees). So if the viscosity of hot 30 or 40 oil is sufficient for your engine, why would you thik that 5W oil which is actually more viscous when cold is not high enough? In fact, you want the oil to flow freely when cold, so 5W oil is probably better for your engine.
Something else for you to consider - as motor oil ages, it's viscosity increases (assuming it is not contaminated by blow-by products). So if you start out with a 10W40 oil, you are liable to end up with a 20W50 oil afer 3000 miles. Most manufacturers no longer recommend 10W40 oils becasue they have a tendency to break down. For several years GM mostly recommended 10W30 oil becasue they were worried 5W30 oil would break down more rapidly. However, even GM now recommends 5W30 over 10W30. As for 5W20 - Why do you think it is not good enough? I've read SAE papers by Ford, Honda, Toyota, and even GM engineers discussing 5W20 oil. Not one paper indicated that the use of 5W20 would harm an engine.
Ed
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C. E. White wrote:

There's a lot of "old school" thinking involved among people that insist on using 10W40 (or whatever) oil in the crankcase of a modern engine. Back in the day when 100,000 miles on an engine meant it was time for an overhaul, just about any oil you put in there was meant to keep the parts from banging together. Today, a 100K miles isnt that much - my LOWEST mileage vehicle has 110K miles on it, and oil consumption is about non-existent, with hot idling oil pressure at 35~40 psi. I use 5W30 Mobil One on all my vehicles, the highest mileage one having 242K miles on it, using maybe quart between 5K mile changes. Another thing thats changed is the cooling systems on cars have become much more reliable than the good old days, and a properly operating cooling system will KEEP the oil temperature around 200 F (where you want it) after engine warm-up even if the outside temperature is 0 F or 130 F. Point is, if the oil is temperature-regulated by the cooling system, and the temperature gauge doesnt go up & down with the outside thermometer, what possible difference does the viscosity of oil make, after engine warm-up? If someone worries about oil shearing and rapid viscosity loss, an actual oil pressure (OP) gauge in the vehicle will give peace of mind, constantly reporting on the OP at the mains.
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wrote:

Show me. Show me the significantly lower clearances. Even show me the smaller oil galleries. Give me real factory specs. As a (retired) mechanic, I've not seen it. I've always been a proponent of higher viscosity oils in high operating temperatures, and when cold, a 10w and a 10w40 are virtually the same viscosity. I'm still running 10W40 in my GM 3.8, and Ford Mystique 2.5 during the summer and I've used 5W30 for the one change in December, going back to 10W40 in March - and I'm in central Ontario. In my daughter's twin-cam '98 neon, we've gone to 20W50 in the summer. 5w30 would pretty well "change itself" - a litre every 100km or so was normal. I put a quart od MMO in, and switched to 20W50 on the next change and it has not used a liter between changes since. The MMO may have freed up sluggish rings, or it may be the 20W50. It'll get thinner oil for the winter, and we'll see.

To be fair, there were other issues with that engine and just using lighter oil did NOT solve all the valve guide and cam issues. Also, not all engines running 10W40 or 20W50 had the problem. I knew of quite a few 250,000 mile hondas in those days that ran nothing but 10W40 and 20W50 Castrol GTX.

I've personally never seen a lubrication related engine failure on any engine running 10W40 or 20W50 oil if a QUALITY oil was used, and changed regularly. In 10 years as service manager at a Toyota shop, the only timing chain and camshaft issues I EVER saw, were on engines serviced with 5W30 and 10W30 oil, and even most of them either went over on the change intervals or ran CHEAP oil. We used Cstrol GTX and Valvoline fleet master (premium grade bulk) oil in those years.
My choice for a top quality oil today is Rotella "T" 15W40 all-fleet, but I have not been using it on my current vehicles.
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Mike Hunter wrote:

If the warranty was of no concern, what oil would you prefer to use in a new Ford for which 5W-20 was recommended by Ford?
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Denis Roy wrote:

I recently saw 5W20 Pennzoil even at the local Pep Boys, and I'm in Arizona, where the hot climate tends to favor thicker oils. OTOH I haven't seen 0W20 anywhere.
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On 17 Oct 2006 19:39:12 -0700, "larry moe 'n curly"

And with the experience I've had with Penzoil, it would be the LAST oil I would put in my car. The ONLY oil I have ever personally experienced "spontaneous viscosity loss" with under normal operating conditions. Less than 1000 KM on a fresh oil change on a Mopar (3.3 Liter?) mini-van and the oil light came on at highway speeds. Went to the first shop I could find - no oil pressure at idle, oil thin as kerosene (and NOT diluted with fuel). Dropped the oil, put in Shell super 10W40, and never had the problem again (have never used Penzoil again either).
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clare wrote:

But what about now that Shell owns Pennzoil/Quaker State? Also there's an old antifreeze FAQ, maybe 8-10 years old, showing that Shell antifreeze was among those that failed a corrosion test (Texaco Havoline, Zerex, and Prestone passed).
Is it possible that Pennzoil forgot to put in enough viscosity improver at the factory, meaning that your 10W-40 (I admit I don't know if that's what you bought) was actually something like 10W-20 or even straight 10 weight? I've heard of bottling factories making mistakes like that at the start or end of a production run because they don't flush out the lines (this often happens with milk -- the first bottles of skim may be whole milk).
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On 18 Oct 2006 21:46:52 -0700, "larry moe 'n curly"

It's possible, but the oil produced pressure for about 4 days, then all of a sudden lost all semblance of viscosity. It was like fuel oil. I've had other reports of the same thing happening - several Penzoil and one cheap 10W30 from Esso. Putting good oil in restored pressure immediately.
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