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How to Reduce our Foreign Oil Dependency While Saving you Money at the Pump

If you watch or listen to the news, discussions come up all the time about the price of a barrel of oil and the cost of fuel at the gas pump. The sale of large SUVs has plummeted and manufacturers have been giving huge rebates to manufacturers just to get rid of them. With gas prices climbing, people are seeking other ways to save on fuel such as buying small or mid-size SUVs, smaller cars or Hybrids. When listening to the news, you may also hear about alternative fuels such as E85, Hydrogen or anything else to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

Crude oil is pulled from the ground and sent to refineries to create our fuel. The sludge that is left at the refinery is then used to create oil to lubricate the internals of the engines in our vehicles. Did you know that conventional oil from the ground is full of impurities, paraffins and waxes? Crude oil from the ground has millions of different kinds of molecules. Many of these molecules are similar in weight but not in structure. Refining the oil does not remove all of the critical impurities. The lubrication and performance qualities of refined petroleum are limited. The refining process cannot distinguish such molecules, so a wide assortment of molecules is present in the finished lubricant made from crude oil. Many of the molecules from the crude oil contain paraffin (a wax-like substance harmful to your engine), which cause the lubrication to thicken and flow very poorly in cold temperatures. There is also sulfur, nitrogen and other nasty elements in refined crude oil that cause the build up of sludge and varnish inside of an engine. The sludge and break down of molecules are what significantly cause wear and breakdown of the oil in your engine.

That same crude oil is also used to make tar for the roads. Is that something you want lubricating your engine? The automobile manufacturers and car dealerships seem to think so. That low-cost conventional oil guarantees profits all across the board. How is this possible? Manufacturers like the low quality oil because its just good enough to get a car to get passed the warranty period before major wear starts to be noticeable, such as your valve guides wearing out. Thats when you see that puff of smoke when you first start your car in the morning once you have put high mileage on it. Since conventional oil is loaded with all of these impurities and non-uniform molecules, it breaks down quickly and creates sludge and varnish; hence you need to change it at approximately 3,000 miles. This is a perfect excuse to create foot traffic at the dealership and the quick lubes. The last thing the dealerships or quick lubes want is a long lasting oil or an oil that will extend the life of an engine or transmission. Marc Graham, the president of Jiffy Lube, stated in an article that if they could get their customers to shorten their drain interval by only 100 miles (changing the oil at 2,900 instead of 3,000 miles), that it would mean an extra $20 million dollars in revenue for the company each year. If they could get all of their customers to get one extra oil change per year, the company could make an extra $294 million. I hope you can now see their motivation for the short intervals. Its in their best interest, not yours.

Heres your chance to participate in the movement to reduce the need for foreign oil dependency.

Not only can you reduce to dependency on the importing of oil, you can also save at the pump while doing it. On top of that, you can also dramatically extend the life of your engine and transmission, and that folks, is definitely not on the agenda of the vehicle manufacturers. The hidden agenda of the auto manufacturers is to have your drive train wear out after the warranty period so you can keep coming back to buy more vehicles. It is not in their best interest for any vehicle manufacturer or mechanic to tell you how to extend the engine life of your vehicle. If they told you how to get your engine to last longer, they would kill their profit margin.

So how you can reduce the foreign oil dependency?

Thats easy. Stop buying conventional petroleum oil to lubricate your engine, transmission and axles. The next time you are due for an oil change, only buy synthetic oil. And dont buy the blendsť as they have all of those nasty impurities that I just mentioned above by mixing synthetic with conventional. Just buy 100% synthetic. You dont want any additional impurities in your engine.

But synthetic oils are expensive! Thats why I have been buying conventional oil in the first place.

That is the biggest myth. If you use 100% synthetics in your entire drive train, synthetic oil can end up costing you nothing. How can that be, you ask?

First let me explain the benefits and then I will do the math. Fully synthetic oils are chemically engineered from pure chemicals rather than from crude oil. Fully synthetic oils do not contain that nasty sulfur, nitrogen and other elements that can cause sludge and varnish in your engine that conventional oils do. Fully synthetic oils also have a much higher flash point and can handle much higher temperatures than conventional oil without breaking down. Since their resistance to break down is dramatically reduced, they can be used for a much longer timeframe than conventional oils. Fully synthetic oils stay much cleaner and last significantly longer than conventional oils. Unlike conventional oils, fully synthetic oils have uniform molecules which ensure low friction as the lubricant layers slide across each other (which is what you want in your hot running mechanical engine.)

If they can land a space ship on the moon, cant they make an oil last longer than 3,000 miles?You bet they can and they do just that.

So what are the financial advantages of spending a little more money on a quart of oil?

For one, 100% fully synthetic oils can last up to 11 times longer than conventional oil depending on the vehicle, application and fuel type. A small company called Amsoil is the only company that has such long lasting motor oils. The Amsoil corporation is the very first company in the United States to make synthetic motor oil for passenger cars, years before Mobil 1, Havoline, Valvoline, Castrol or any of the other big-named companies. Amsoil owns the trademark for the phrase First in Syntheticsť because of this. The thing is that most people dont know is that Amsoil is the only company that makes motor oil last up to an incredible 1-year or 35,000 miles and has been doing this since 1972. This oil is guaranteed in writing.

If fully synthetic oils can last up to 11x longer and can virtually eliminate wear in your drive train, then what are the benefits of using conventional oil?

Well, not a whole heck of a lot. Their initial low cost gets people to buy them. Using it for engine break-in to help seat valves and other components during the first several hundred miles. Other than that, its actually costing you a lot of money to keep using conventional oil. Look what happens to a transmission once you put high mileage on it while using conventional transmission fluid. You can end up spending $1,500, $2,000 or even more on rebuilding a transmission on a passenger car. If you would have had used a fully synthetic transmission fluid which resists heat and break down of molecules, you could potentially eliminate that need for a transmission rebuild. For every 20 degrees above 175 degrees, your transmission life is CUT IN HALF! When facing up to $2,000 on a repair bill, do you really want to risk that chance by sticking with old school crude oil?

Other savings of switching to synthetics are the fuel mileage increase that most everyone notices. I will give you an example in my own personal vehicle. I was initially getting 22 MPG on the highway with my car with conventional oils. I switched over my engine, transmission and rear differential over to Amsoil's synthetics. Afterwards, I realized a gain of 4 MPG due to the reduced friction of the synthetics. I paid approximately $250 (including labor costs) to have all of my fluids changed over. That change over lasts up to 1 year on the oil and several years for the other fluids. At the time of my tests, fuel was $3.19/gallon for premium that I was using. That same $250 is close to what I would pay for a years worth of oil changes at a quick lube for conventional oil, but with conventional oil, Id still be getting 22 MPG, not the 4 MPG increase from synthetics.

When driving 2,000 miles per month at 22 MPG, that comes out to 90 gallons of fuel per month.With the increase in gas mileage to 26 MPG, the same 2,000 miles per month now only uses 76 gallons of fuel. Thats $44 per month that I saved right there. $44 x 12 months = $535 per year in fuel savings.

Thats not too bad of an investment. Not only am I saving money on the fuel (actually saving more at the pump than I paid for all of the oil, which basically makes the oil free when you do the math), I am also saving on time because the oil changes last up to 1 year or 35,000 miles before I have to get them drained. Not to mention the fact that I am cheating the manufacturers planned obsolescence of my vehicle. By using the 100% fully synthetics, my drive train will now last much longer than what the manufacturer designed it to last for.

And to think¦ thats just for me. Imagine if I owned a company with a fleet of vehicles. How much money would I save then? Our governments could save millions of dollars if they sat down and ran the numbers in spreadsheets to figure out savings over time. Thats millions of dollars of our hard earned tax dollars being saved. Think of all of the police cars and utility vehicles that the governments currently use that could keep going for an extra few years before getting rid of them as long as their engines ran like new (which they typically do when using synthetic oils in the drive trains.) Those long-term benefits and savings are not thought about when using conventional oil.

Lets look at how much oil is saved on an annual basis. If I drove 1 year on 6 quarts of fully synthetic oil for 24,000 miles, if I would have done it the old way, I would have had to get 8 oil changes and use up 48 quarts of oil to travel the same distance. Thats 48 quarts of oil imported from another country. By using the fully synthetic oil, I have saved the country 48 quarts of oil that I did not have to use for the year.

But how many people drive 24,000 miles in a year? LOTS! With the crazy prices of homes, people have been moving farther and farther out to the suburbs. Over 50% of the people are driving more than 1 hour to get to work just to live in affordable housing. If everyone stopped using conventional oil for their cars, the demand would go down and the price of fuel would most likely plummet. If gas prices went down like crazy, then the sales of large SUVs such as Hummers, Chevy Tahoes and Ford Expeditions would probably dramatically increase.

About The Author Robert Riley is a programmer/analyst who comes from a family of auto mechanics who have owned a fleet of automobile service stations and quick lubes such as Enco, Texaco and Amoco since the early 1960’s. The Riley family has as a history in working in automobile repair shops as far back as the early 1900’s. Robert Riley is an indendent dealer for Amsoil where you can get a really great education on engine oil.
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