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Which Oil Is Better?

Q. I'm really concerned because Honda makes owners use ONLY 5W-20 motor oil in a new 2001 Honda Accord V-6 engine. I don't see how a 5W-20 motor oil can protect this engine from damage with Honda's extended oil change intervals.

Please consider the following:

  1. A new 2001 Honda Accord 200 HP V-6 engine holds only four quarts of motor oil.

  2. Honda has extended the oil change interval. That's a problem because the oil is so black after 3,000 highway miles (driven in 6 weeks) that it looks like used diesel engine oil.

  3. The new 2001 Honda Accord V-6 has cooling fins stamped into the oil pan which makes me think Honda expects the oil to get very hot.

  4. I know fleet managers get 500,000 to 1,000,000 miles out of gasoline and diesel engines using 15W-40 conventional motor oil or, a 5W-40 synthetic motor oil. Fleet managers don't protect gasoline engines with a 5W-20 conventional motor oil.

  5. I've also read that HONDA only claims "useful life" as 7-years or 70,000 miles in EPA certifications for their cars which uses SAE 5W-20 Motor Oil, while the previous model that utilized SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil was certified for 10 year or 100,000 mile durability.

  6. I just phoned the local Mercedes-Benz service manager who told me they use SAE 5W-50 synthetic motor oil in new Mercedes-Benz cars. I asked him why Mercedes is using a 5W-50 synthetic motor oil and he told me because Mercedes increased the oil change interval to every 10,000 miles.

Who better protects the engine? Honda with 5W-20 conventional motor oil OR Mercedes-Benz with 5W-50 synthetic motor oil?

A. Mercedes Benz is a whole different animal. I would hesitate to compare a Honda to a MB at any level. And I fail to see what the weight of oil has to do with the service interval.

As for the 5W-20 engine oil, that seems too light for normal use. It would be okay for 10° or below weather, but not for normal weather driving. If it were my car, I would use the 5W-30 oil in it and change it every 3,000 miles.

MB is now using an electronic Flexible Service Schedule system. The FSS permits a flexible service schedule that is directly related to the operating conditions of the vehicle. So the car, in essence, tells you when to change the oil.

You can get an oil and filter change for your Honda using 4.5 quarts of 5W-30 or 10W-30 for about $30.00 and only do it every 3,000 miles. An oil and filter change for a MB with 10.6 quarts of Synthetic 5W-50 is about $125.00 and the car may tell you to do it every 1,500 to 2,000 miles.

Bottom line is this, the 5W-50 synthetic motor oil will protect the Mercedes engine better then the 5W-20 will protect the Honda engine. But the 5W-30 will protect the Honda engine as well as the 5W-50 synthetic motor oil will protect the Mercedes engine.

Additional Information provided courtesy of ALLDATA

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