Will GM's New Oil Standard Mean 10,000-Mile Changes?

October 26, 2010

The 2011 model year brings with it GM’s introduction of dexos oil. This is more than a type of oil; it's actually a standard for motor oil. Previously the gold standard for rating oil has always been the API (American Petroleum Institute) ratings, but with dexos, General Motors is following a practice European OEMs have followed for years by establishing their own rating standard.

The International Lubricants Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) is a rating agency that works with car manufacturers and the oil producers to standardize motor oil specifications. In the past the API and ILSAC have worked well together. So dexos is a departure from institutional specifications to one generated by a car company itself.

GM’s use of dexos is a game changer in other ways as well. The company describes it as “a high-quality, robust oil that will contribute to longer drain intervals (meaning a customer can go longer between oil changes) as well as improved emissions performance, fuel efficiency and engine protection.”

The idea of an extended drain feature being part of factory fills at General Motors will not be greeted enthusiastically at Jiffy Lube and Valvoline Instant Oil Change. The idea is that oil-life monitoring systems and the improved quality of the oil will send the 3,000-mile oil change to the showers. It could be that every car’s interval will be different depending on the type of conditions the oil experiences while in the crankcase.

By the way, the extended drain model was attempted in the 1970s, but was abandoned when it became evident that this length of oil life exceeded the ability of the filter to keep the lubricant clean. The advent of oil-life monitoring may be just the technology that will ensure success this time around.

If you are already spending all the money you are going to save by changing your oil only every 10,000 miles or longer – not so fast. Oil that complies with the dexos spec is expected to cost 25 to 30 percent more. If you are glad that you are not driving a GM car – not so fast either. The ILSAC specification GF-5 is expected to start showing up in non-GM cars in the 2012 model year. This oil will be of higher quality and cost 15 to 20 percent more than today’s oils.

Other important points to remember:

--Oil choice could affect engine warranty

--Consult your owner’s manual for the recommended oil for your car

--Oil producers like Mobil One, Pennzoil and Quaker State have products that are dexos certified (check the front label).

[AOL Autos & General Motors LLC]

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