The MK2 Jaguar is all ready for “Drive It Day” tomorrow having recently been serviced – an occasion which brings us to a total mileage of nearly 10,000 since we acquired the car at the beginning of February 2011. To be honest, every day is “drive it day” for the Jaguar which has proved to be an excellent car for modern road conditions, but we will still of course be making sure that it will be contributing to the number of classics out on the roads tomorrow. Regular readers may also notice that the Jag is still called “it” in the absence of any other name – although we did briefly consider “Tabitha” since the longer it is in our tenure the more it becomes “full of good works” (Acts 9:36)
Servicing cars brings me neatly to a subject which seems to have been cropping up often of late: Choice of oil. I have been meaning to write about this for a while and my inspiration has come from (of all things) my lawnmower. The mower in question is of American make and although it is now twenty years old it continues to perform faultlessly and never troubles me with the need for repairs. That’s worth a lot as far as I’m concerned so I consider it worth looking after: The manufacturer specifies SAE 30 so I put in a sump full of one of the more expensive brands available
I’m often asked which brand of oil to buy for a vehicle and without fail I always suggest something which meets the following criteria: It has the name of a lubricating oil manufacturer on the container, not the name of a shop or a motor factor. It is one of the more expensive available products. It comes either from one of the “big names” in petro chemicals or from a highly specialised smaller firm catering specifically for a niche market. There are exceptions to these criteria, but off the top of my head I can think of only one that I would be happy to put in anything that I work on.
People often decide that it will be fine to use something cheaper because the car “isn’t worth very much” or “it’s old and doesn’t need anything too sophisticated” but I’m inclined to disagree: I use a “top brand” semi synthetic in my 14 year old Peugeot diesel – it’s the most sophisticated oil I could fill it with without risk of glazing the cylinder bores and since the car is worth hanging on to, then I’m going to keep it in serviceable condition for as long as I can. A sump full of semi – synth is an awful lot cheaper than buying another car. Besides, I’ve had some very disappointing experiences with supposedly reputable but cheaper products: I once ran in a 40 year old Austin engine using half a sump of good quality classic 20/50 and half of the same grade branded by a well known motoring shop. After 500 miles I changed the oil and put in a sump full of the high quality oil. The result: 6 psi higher oil pressure at 1500 rpm. Other more dramatic indications I have seen of incorrect or poor lubricant over the years include damaged big end bearings, excessive oil consumption and, in modern engines, hydraulic valve lifters which “pump up” and cause the compression to fail.
I’d rate the oils which cause these sort of problems as very expensive choices indeed and on that basis we’ll be driving out tomorrow knowing that the “big name” branded oil in the Jag is probably the cheapest thing we could have filled it with.