Show of hands ? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
1987 to 2007 Wrenching & Mods For maintaining, repair or modifications of Generation 1 KLR's. 2007 and earlier.

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post #1 of 17 Old 10-08-2006, 08:12 AM Thread Starter
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Show of hands ?

How many have had an oil related engine failure ? If I knew how to do a poll, Id list the following : I have ( or have not ) with dino ( or synthetic ) oil. If someone wants to set up a poll, be my guest. I post this because I tend to smile when I read that such and such is better to use but never read about failures using such and such oil. Just a twist on the same old subject I guess.. :wink:
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post #2 of 17 Old 10-08-2006, 02:16 PM
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Oh now, Ive read about many many engine failures of KLRs and other bikes on the various different scooter forums, but nobody ever says what oil they were running. I guess its a mystery. I set a poll up for it.

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post #3 of 17 Old 10-08-2006, 03:32 PM
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Biggest problem I see here is that it may not be very scientific, as the cause of failure on many engines might be blamed on oil but in fact be something else. Improper assembly, poor maintenance procedures, defective parts or subparts might not be diagnosed properly. Truth is, Synth or Dino, changed at the proper intervals, is unlikely to cause engine failure. The poll should have the proper parameters to help avoid hearsay and opinion. Just my .02
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post #4 of 17 Old 10-08-2006, 04:58 PM
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I am a professional mechanic and this is my 2 cents on oil & engine failures:

Wrong grade oils will cause failures. Too light is usually the problem in motorcycles. If the film is too light it can be sheared and metal to metal contact occurs.
Too light will also cause shifting issues in MC engines that share the engine and trans oil, ala KLR.

Too heavy in modern automotive engines is causing lifter failures. I see this in Ford 5.4 & 4.2 engines routinely.

Not enough oil. The oil pump will draw air and the engine will suffer metal to metal contact.

Too much oil resulting in blown seals causing leaks and low oil levels.

Oil has two main functions: provide a film between metal parts and remove heat.

Synth has higher thermal capabilities and longer and stronger molecular carbon chains. Not a big advantage in a temperature controlled engine, ala KLR.

This could require a huge reply to get into all the variables. So in a nutshell:

Use a good quality oil of the proper viscosity. Change it at the proper intervals. Check and maintain the proper level in between oil changes. If your engine overheats, immediately change the oil. Do this and I promise that you will never suffer an oil induced engine failure.
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post #5 of 17 Old 10-08-2006, 05:13 PM
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Kawioops, you are right that the engine oil you choose is not the cause of a breakdown or a part failure, but if you run your KLR without any oil for just a few minutes you will more than understand the reason for the oil, and hopefully begin to understand the reasoning for making and using better oil.

The old ignorant saying that "oil is oil" is exactly that, old and ignorant.

There are a few problems I see and keep seeing. They are #1 that most people just dont pay attention to whats going on with their engine. #2 Most people simply will not read a bonafide certified test and accept the results. #3 Most will dump whatever oil their buddy, Dad, or Kwik Lube Mechanic said is the best without any info to back up the claims. Last but not least #4 there is a large group of people who will simply use the cheapest oil they can find to dump into their multi thousand dollar investment vehicle. Consequently these seem to be the same people who cry foul the loudest about a particular brand vehicle and its workmanship when it fails.

The simple fact of the matter is their is a best of everythig that performs. Performance is how you measure these things, and the one that performs best is the best. You wouldnt judge an oil by the color of the bottle it comes in, just as you wouldnt pick the fastest car by the color of its paint.

Putting all performance issues between oil and engine aside, an engine and its parts will eventually wear out despite brand, workmanship, or tech using even the BEST oil.
A big part of an engine lubricants job is to fend off this inevitable demise for as long as possible. There are many ways this can be achieved, but 2 stand out to me. #1 Reduce friction. Without friction our engines would run forever, consequently if friction didnt exist we really wouldnt need the engines too begin with. #2 Resist breaking down. The ability for an engine oil to resist shear and to remain in grade is vital to #1.

Case in point:

409,000 miles without an oil change!

The engine showed light to moderate wear throughout, just as an engine in similar service and lubricated with conventional oil changed at 15,000- to 20,000-mile intervals would show. In fact, according to the engine rater the parts he examined cylinder liners, pistons, rings, bearings, valve train components could have been put right back in the engine and would have continued to provide the good, dependable service they had provided all along after 409,000 miles without an oil change!

Probably 95 percent of the crosshatching is still in the liners. No scuffing, no cavitation in the liners. The liners could go back in the condition theyre in.

The pins show no wear at all. The piston crowns and lands show a normal amount of carbon. The skirts are very clean with a few fine vertical lines.

The rings are very, very good. All the rings are free. None are broken. No plugging whatsoever in the oil rings.

Light wear. They compare to [those in] an engine that had 15,000- to 20,000-mile [petroleum] oil and filter changes.

Rod bearings
Minimal wear. These, too, compare to [those in] an engine that had 15,000- to 20,000-mile [petroleum] oil and filter changes.

All these facts were the conclusions of an independant engine rater.

No other company I know of publishes tests like these for all of us too see. These results year after year, time after time simply can not be ignored by someone who REALLY wants too use the best oil they can to protect their investment.

I dont really care what oil anyone else uses. Really. It doesnt cost me a cent when your new truck needs and engine rebuild before 100,000 miles or your scooter is toast before 50,000. However I feel it is my duty to help out friends with common interests so I try to posts the info and experience I have in order for everyone to have the good fortune Ive had for the last ten years.

Ive built and rebuilt many engines from many different vehicles. From weedeaters, chainsaws, and lawn mowers, 2stroke outboards, single and multi cylinder 2 and 4 stroke motorcyle engines, and high HP V-8's from the big 3. Ive seen the effects of just about every kinda mechanical breakdown an engine can face while tinkering in my garage. There are few things that stand out though.

One of which is how paper thin my rod and main bearings were when I rebuilt the family suburban's smallblock 350 years ago with only 230,000 miles on it. The majority of which my wife and I put on it, and through which I maintained it meticulously, never running over the 3,000 mile mark before it got a new batch of Penzoil 10/40. This truck was not a race car, never hot rodded, never driven hard. It was a daily driver for my wife and a vaction vehicle for the whole family. It was a freakin custom Cowboy Conversion Suburban for cryin outloud. Yet the rod bearings looked as if I had ran WD-40 in it for the last 100K. Since then Ive seen many like it. Between that example and the sludged up heads on many of the other engines Ive built who were run with a premium mineral oil I have too say the comparisons to the ones Ive tore down that had been running either factory synthetic fluids or by owners choice synthetics were very very different animals. The failure point on my old truck was the oil pump shaft by the way. Right at start up one winter morning. Soon as I heard the knock I shut'er down. That sound is akin to fingernails on a chalkboard through an amplifier when you hear it coming from your only vehicle, ya got 20 bucks in your pocket, 2 kids ta feed, and your lookin for work cause your steady job barley makes the bills. Fireman get payed the big bucks! :lol: Seems penzoil 10/40 flows like honey in a freezer at 40F. I live in West Texas where winter is very mild. According to both Penzoil's data and Chevy a 10/40 should not flow that poorly at such a moderate temp, but thats mineral oil for ya.

Ive seen both sides first hand. I always tell people not too believe the hype, but to do a few tests themselves. Few ever do. Seems some humans would rather argue using hersey as proof than too actually find the proof themselves. Ive done many tests on oil in my garage just to see for myself if oil companies claims and numbers were the truth. Some were, some werent.

I can say from experience, testing, third party documentation, and I witness proof that PAO or Ester based, 100% synthetic oil is better at reducing friction and resists breaking down better than ANY mineral/conventional oil. Those are facts. That other stuff was just fluff.

I'm not a mechanic by trade. Workin on cars, trucks, and sickles is a hobby Ive had since I was a kid in my Dads garage, and I have made a little money doing it. I make an effort to be informed about as many things inthe field as I can, and I have good sources since most of my family are either mechanics, engineers, or builders for Ford. With my brother being a traitor being ASE Certified for Honda, Toyota,and currently certified and works as a Lexus mechanic. I decided to be a Fireman and do the wrenching as a hobby.

Ham, I didnt see your post till I had written mine. Good info, I agree except for the temperature controlled KLR part.

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post #6 of 17 Old 10-08-2006, 06:02 PM
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I've seen several oil related failures. Most of them were running out of oil - oil related, yes? I'm sure some of you've seen TOBJ's pic's. I have a cyl head I'm going to save that was damaged.

I have a 47K miles engine that was run with one of the premium synthetics, changed 6K to 8K. The owner maintained the bike well, and had the read the info about extending the changes. At this mileage on the bike, the cylinder has a groove you can easily feel. The cams were worn down about .020 inch, or .5mm, on the lobes. Based on this experience, I will continue to change my oil every 2K to 3.5K miles.

all the best,

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post #7 of 17 Old 10-08-2006, 06:37 PM
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I've seen the same rod bearing failures in SBCs and the general consenus is the problem is caused by pre-ignition. When the fuel charge is ignited too soon before TDC, incredible forces act on the piston and rod assembly and can force the oil out of the tops of the journals. Carbureted and TBI engines are considerably more prone to this condition. Again, there are several variables at work here. Even when fitted with a knock sensor, the reaction time in altering fuel spray milliseconds and ignition timing come in too late, not to mention a high failure rate of Chevy knock sensors (the standard test to check a knock sensor is to smack the engine with a hammer and watch the timing marks for spark retard). Newer engines with multiport EFI typically have way tighter machining tolerances and considerably better electronic engine management controls. When the newer breed engines are maintained properly, rod bearing wear should be minimal even in high mileage engines, and that would include engines using dino oil.

The statement I made in regards to dino oil in a temperature controlled engine is accurate in a "perfect world". If we remove ultra cold starts, carbon build up, poor fuel quality, poor maintenance, and all the other plagues of an engine, dino is fine. For peace of mind and real world applications, synth is better. That should be a given. Synth has higher shear strength, better heat removal capabilities, and in most instances, pours better in extreme cold.

Typically, sludge formation is the result of moisture introduced into oil. The most common causes are faulty crankcase evacuation systems and short tripping: not allowing the engine to fully warm up. Some oils contain a high parafin content, e.g. Pennzoil, which can add to this. These are maintenace issues that need to be addressed at the owners level.

As just a random thought, I would wager that most of those who run synth are going to typically be the more fastideous people who also tune and maintain their machines to a high level. It just makes sense that they would go the extra yard, eh?

I fully agree that it takes an informed decision to choose the right oil. I run synth in all my aircooled engines and premium dino in my liquid coolers. My KLR is just out at 3000 miles, and that is what I consider adequate for break in and during the time I have owned it (2000 miles) I have run with Valvoline 20-50 dino with Wix filters (6 micron filtration). BUT. Due to it being a single cylinder, carbureted, engine and trans sharing the same oil, I am highly considering using synth in it. There is no denying that KLRs spark knock on mid grade gasoline when the throttle gets whacked.

Oil is well that ends well!
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post #8 of 17 Old 10-08-2006, 06:53 PM
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I'm 100% with you on not doing extended intervals in the KLR engine. Primarily, because the engine shares trans-engine oil and secondly, the KLR has a large end gap on the piston rings which allows fuel dilution of the oil. Considering the sump volume, suspended pariculates (metal bits, clutch fibers, etc.) and dilution can cause the engine gremlins to come out to play.

Just a few more words on the subject. I will not use an oil filter that does not give the the particulate filtration in microns, 6 to 8 being optimal. And for new to oil changing people out there, always run the engine up to operating temp before changing the oil to get as much crud into suspension as possible. The stuff we really want to remove falls out and settles into the sump when the engine is cold or inadequately warmed up.

Good to see you here Mike!
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post #9 of 17 Old 10-10-2006, 05:54 PM
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Well, this IS a can of worms, Eh? firemedicntx, You sir, are well informed to be sure. However, with me ,You are preaching to the choir. I have been using synth since the esrly 80's in all my machines. My jeep has synth in every lubed unit. To clarify, I simply meant that a good oil of proper rating and viscosity, designed for our application, ( wet clutch, or motorcycle specific ) and changed at recommended intervals, is HIGHLY unlikely to be the cause or source of engine failure, ALL ELSE BEING EQUAL. I quit trying to change people over to synth years ago as MOST don't have a clue, except what their favorite NASCAR guy says. My point is about PM, nothing else. Everyone should do as they please when it comes to their oil choice, IMHO. Of course, I will be riding with the same engine long after they have to rebuild their clutch and topend, but, what the hell, they made their choice. Ride Safe!
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post #10 of 17 Old 10-10-2006, 08:12 PM
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So whats the verdict?

I read everything in all your posts, and you all seem like you know what you are talking about. Kawioops, eaglemike1, Ham, Fire. What are your recommendations, specifically with regard to viscocity/Synth-Dino, Brand. Come on? Give it up? Thanx
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