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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Engine oil alternatives.

Getting ready to put my 1979 midget back on the road after some body work and a general tidy up and thought I'd give it a service. Perhaps I'm thinking too deeply but is there a modern engine oil as an alternative to the classic 20W50 that would be suitable? I'm thinking that the technology in modern oils would be better for the engine than the traditional oil.
Eamonn Spencer

Stick with 20/50 unless you want puddles of oil on the garage floor and to be constantly topping up. Modern oils are far too thin to suit the tighter tolerances of modern manufacture.
Dominic Excell

as important, especially with a recently rebuilt motor, is the zinc content of the oil used because most modern oils have far less than what a solid lifter engine needs (modern cars are designed to use a very small amount in their oil).

In the US, Valvoline racing VR1 20W50 is one of the few with the 1200ppm of zinc ("ZDDP") that is ideal for our engines. Also, diesel oil and motorcycle oil usually have the necessary amounts of zinc (still, use 20W50).

When in doubt, check the label. If it has 1200ppm of zinc, it will say so clearly on the bottle, if it does not mention zinc it most likely does not.

Norm Kerr

I use modern oils and I'm not constantly topping up and the puddles are the same as when I used Castol XL20w/50 and Halfords 20w/50 (most of the puddle is from the g/box where I made an unfortunate choice of supplier/installer)

if the engine has been fully run in say at least 6,000 miles then you could consider a synthetic oil and be able to extent oil change periods

I've been using synthetic Mobil 1 10w-60 (Extended Life) and only doing one oil change a year now

when I had my previous Spridget and MGBs I was told at the time that using Mobil 1 would ruin my engines, rot my teeth and steal my good looks but despite many, many 10s of thousands of miles of use over many years the engines remained in very good order (and I've still got my teeth and good looks)

the people who told me these things were normally the people that either never used their cars or had very low annual mileage

yes it is a little thinner but consumption (and leaks) are still very moderate on my Midget

personally Im not convinced by this absolute need of x amount of ZDDP or that modern oils dont have sufficient additives to cover this need but if your engine is not run-in then then you might as well go with an oil as Norm suggests and if you like it stick with it and do oil & filter changes every 6 months or 6,000 miles rather than after the run-in extending the oil change periods

here are some differing views on oils if you or anyone else is interested , not all agree with what Im saying so a balance-

below a chart to show how wide the bands are

Nigel Atkins

Thanks guys, looks like it's a very subjective topic. I've taken the cowards way out and stuck to Comma 20W50. The engine is an unknown quantity, as I've only had a summer's use since buying it, covering less than 1000 miles. As it has covered 85k I will treat it carefully, although there has been no signs of wear with no smoke or oil drips at all.
Eamonn Spencer

fair enough, personally I'd push the boat out a bit next time and use Castrol XL20w/50 or Halfords Classic 20w/50 and but it when it's on special offer

whatever oil thorough oil (& filter) changes help no end, get the existing oil as warm as possible and leave to drain as long as possible to get as much existing oil and muck out at every change

if you've only done a 1,000 miles summer (use hopefully in 12 months or less) then probably your need to change the oil is greater than if you'd done 6,000 in 6 months
Nigel Atkins

This thread was discussed between 04/05/2014 and 07/05/2014

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