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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know many people have already heard that wear additives in oils have been dramatically reduced in the past couple of years due to new EPA regulations. It is documented that people have worn down camshafts within few hundred miles who ran common name brand oils not knowing they had been changed, especially with new engine break ins. Do a web search for more info. The engines most affected by the decreases amounts of zinc and phosphorous are push rod and flat tappet engines (which category our old Alfa engined fall into). I have 3 old Fiats & Abarth that are push rod engines as well.

I have switched over to Shell Rotella t HD 15 40 after reading recommendations from many classic car and motorcycle experts. It is a very high grade oil that can be used in any gas or diesel powered vehicle. I found out today from the Shell Tech person that due to new requirements, Shell did have to reduce slightly the zinc content a few months back, but it is still .12% down from .14%, which is about what classic oils had in them. By contrast, many modern oils do not have even half of that anymore, even many of the expensive synthetics. Rotella comes in gallon containers and cost about $12 gallon at Walmart and Kragens . I highly recommend it.

So be carefull what oil you run in your Alfa, especially if you are breaking in a new engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The reason I posted this info was that I have found that many of my customers are still not aware that oil formulations have recently changed again to the detriment of older cars. Some folks are still running the same name brands they have used for years and don't realize the no longer offer the protection they used to for older engine designs. I also wanted to add that an "LE" (low emissions) indication on any oil bottle is a dead give-away to not pour it into your classic car. As of a few months ago, the other major brands of diesel oil (that had been recommended a year ago) now do not now contain enough zinc and other anti wear additives for push rod and flat tappet cam engines. Chevron's Delo now has "LE" and "SG" on the bottle,which signify the latest reformulation without most of the zinc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I asked the head tech person at Shell last week if I should stock up on the current oil, and he said there were no more revisions needed at this point, and the current formula would meet federal regulations for at least the next 3 years, if not longer.

He also said that the industry underestimated the affect removing the zinc would have on older engine designs. Now that they know, you think they would be required to put a warning on the products that no longer have the needed stuff to protect earlier engines.

He was recommending to their marketing department to change the label on Rotella T to inform people of its appropriate use for older designs of gasoline engines. Because as of now, the label just talks about using it in diesels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
The problem with racing oil is most have little or no detergent packages in them like street formulations do. Probably won't make much of a difference on an occasional driver, but could end up gumming things up in the long run on a car that gets a lot of miles put on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
most chemical engineers I have spoken to don't recommend oil additives. The reason is that they can interact with the oil in ways that lead to unknown and unintended results. Better off sticking with a swill mixed up on purpose by the product designers. Marine and motorcycle oils are another alternative, as they are not affected by the new requirements. marine oils are especially good in cars that sit a lot, as they are resistant to moisture contamination. I am trying out an Amsoil marine oil in my Abarth coupe right now. Its expensive is the only draw back, but not as expensive as having my Abarth 1050CC engine damaged!

At some point, we may be having this discussion about the "New formula gasoline" that runs like crap in older cars (that kind of happened out here in CA when the MTBE stuff was forced on us-I'm glad that is gone). It will make this oil issue seem like nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Good question. As of a year or so ago, most of the common 20 W 50 formulas, especially those labeled "high mileage", still contained acceptable amounts of anti-ware additives, even though they were less than they had been before (as opposed to the lighter multigrade weights of the same exact brand which all but eliminated zinc).

Be nice if they listed these ingredients on the label, wouldn't it? Maybe a call to Castrol tech suuport would be in order. I did see a letter from Castrol online recently that told the person to not use their current line of auotmotive oil in a motorcycle because of the recent reduction iof zinc & phosphorous.

Here is a post I copied from the BB from a while back. Do not know if it is 100% true or not.

"In the Alfa Owner a couple of months ago they had a article on Zinc in the oils today and they said they contacted Castrol and they said that their Castrol GTX 20/50 does not have zinc anymore.

The article also gave a short list of oils that still contains zinc. Most of those oils were racing oils not legal for street use. One of the oils they listed that has zinc was 20/50 Valvoline Race oil that is only availble at NAPPA."
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
good job! Thanks for getting the latest info directly from the source-that is what I did with Shell Rotella.

From the response you got, I'd say it was safe to say the regular 20W50 old stand by Castrol probably isn't the best choice anymore.

Synthetics are fine if your car doesn't already leak and you don't mind the extra $.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
try the 15W40 Shell Rotella I started this post about. Its not expensive, (10.99 a gallon at Kragen, a bit cheaper at Walmart if you are not boycotting Walmart) its readily available, its not synthetic. It works for 18 Wheeler trucks that put 1,000,000 miles on their engines! Many bike owners have been using it for years, and their high revving engines are harder on oil than the Alfa engines. Lastly, it is one oil that always seems to come up as a recommendation when you read articles about this Zinc/phosphorous reduction issue, and it still has the detergent package, unlike the racing oils.

I haven't noticed any increase in oil temp, reduction in oil pressure, or increased leaking compared to the 20 50 formulas I had been using. In fact, my Fiat 500 seems to start better in the morning.
 
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