Tuning and Technology

Synthetic vs Conventional Oils and How To Pick the Correct Engine Oil Cooler – Hot Rod

Get rid of destructive heat with an external oil cooler for your engine, transmission, power steering and rearend.

Have you ever considered how hot oil gets inside your engine, transmission, differential, or power steering? Excessive engine heat can cause unnecessary wear and tear along with premature failure. In normal operation, engine oil temperature needs to be at least 212 degrees F to get rid of destructive moisture and combustion contaminants. Moisture comes from the atmosphere and from the fuel itself. The same can be said about combustion contaminants. Both contaminate the oil if they don’t burn off with enough oil temperature. If engine oil temperature doesn’t exceed 212 degrees F, which is the boiling point of water at sea level, moisture in the oil will mix with sulfur, which is one combustion by-product, and generate acids that can ultimately damage moving parts.

By the same token, excessive engine oil temperatures do another kind of damage. Conventional engine oils can tolerate temperatures of up to 250 degrees F. After that, they begin to cook and ultimately break down at 275 degrees F. Ideally, we will hold engine oil temperatures between 230 and 260 degrees F. Synthetic engine oils, such as those from AMSOIL, are far more tolerant of temperature extremes well above 300 degrees F. They can take the punishment of the high engine temperatures encountered in motorsports.

Conventional lubricants are refined from crude oil that gets pumped out of the ground. Contaminating elements such as sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen and metal such as nickel or vanadium are always in crude oil and cannot be completely removed through refining. Oil refining processes separate the various types of molecules in the oil by weight, leaving molecules similar in weight but dissimilar in structure, which hurts performance. Although synthetic lubricants are considerably more expensive, they contain no contaminants. The dividends they yield over the life of an engine cannot be measured. We’ve torn down engines that have had a steady diet of synthetic lubricant over their 200,000-mile life only to find no visible or measurable wear on journals, bearings, cylinder walls, and piston rings. Therefore, AMSOIL synthetic lubricants are money well spent in what they yield in engine life.

How Engine Wear is Defined

Abrasive wear begins with contaminants from outside the engine, such as dirt and soot. These contaminants get into the engine via the air intake and circulate throughout the engine, grinding and doing damage to metal components. Most abrasive wear can be eliminated with high-quality air and oil filters. Never buy cheap filters.

Corrosive wear, also called chemical wear, results from chemical attack on a metal surface, such as cylinder walls and bearing/journal surfaces. Chemical corrosion is a problem for vehicles we seldom use, such as street rods and muscle cars, because they sit for long periods of time.

Adhesive wear is caused by metal-to-metal contact under high loads, speed, or temperatures where oil breaks down and doesn’t provide a barrier between moving parts. Although the metal surfaces in your engine appear smooth to the naked eye, they contain microscopic high spots, known as asperities. As asperities slide against each other, they can bond causing the two surfaces to adhere and tear each other up. As these metals pull apart surface imperfections accumulate over time leading to failures. Engines lock up due to asperities where parts fuse together.

Fatigue wear occurs when regular stress on a lubricated surface causes fractures over time. Fatigue wear occurs predominantly in rolling-element bearings according to AMSOIL.

Engine oil isn’t just about lubrication, but also heat transfer just like your engine’s coolant in the radiator. Because oil has intimate contact with your engine’s moving parts, it has the task of carrying heat away from the engine’s hottest components like bearings and valve stems. When oil temperatures reach 275 degrees F and oil begins to “coke” and stops being a lubricant. It also stops carrying heat away from the hottest parts. Sludge is a good example of what happens to engine oil when it overheats and becomes contaminated. Sludge is nothing more than cooked engine oil and contaminants.

When engines are competitive and power demands increase, oil then has the tougher task of taking on increasing temperatures and extreme shock loads. Oil temperature can be controlled by giving it a place to get rid of excessive heat. The installation of an engine oil cooler gives excessive engine heat a place to go. An engine oil cooler does the same job as the radiator. It also does the same job as cooling fins on air-cooled engines. It is a heat sink that transfers heat away from the engine to the atmosphere. An oil cooler is plumbed to the engine’s oiling system via an oil filter adaptor and braided hoses that can withstand the heat and pressure. It must also be located in the slipstream in front of the radiator or be equipped with a cooling fan if it is placed underneath the vehicle.

Another important issue with oil coolers is temperature control. You want to keep oil from getting too hot. You also want temperatures to reach at least 212-degrees F in order for moisture and contaminants to evaporate out of the oil. This sometimes calls for the use of an inline thermostat, which controls oil flow through the cooler.

Getting the Heat Out

Oil coolers, like radiators, conduct and transfer heat to the atmosphere. The humble automotive radiator is a large heat sink with tanks at each end (cross flow) or top and bottom (vertical). In between, these end tanks are a series of tubes in which coolant travels. Around the tubes are cooling fins that carry heat from the tubes full of coolant to the air passing through. The more tubes and fins you have in a cooler, the more effective the heat transfer. Your engine’s water pump moves coolant from the radiator to the engine and back to the radiator again. Coolant flow is controlled by a thermostat, which controls the flow of coolant based on engine temperature. When the coolant inside the engine reaches a given value (160, 180 or 195 degrees F), it opens releasing hot coolant to the radiator.

What makes most oil cooler applications different than an engine’s cooling system is the absence of the thermostat just mentioned. Depending upon what you subject your engine to, you might need an oil cooler thermostat to control oil temperature. Otherwise, oil flows continuously from the engine’s oiling system through the cooler and back to the engine. Like the radiator, the oil cooler is a series of tubes and cooling fins. Cooling fins take the oil’s heat and radiate it to the atmosphere. The larger the oil cooler, the more effective it is at heat transfer. And larger isn’t always more effective. Better oil coolers have more tubes and fins within a given area to conduct heat.

How To Choose An Oil Cooler

Engine oil coolers come in many types and sizes. Choosing the right oil cooler for your street rod calls for these six basic considerations.

Total oil capacity in your engine’s lubricating system
Power output of the engine and how the vehicle will be used
Amount of airflow needed and available mounting area available
Radiator size
Inlet/outlet Size
What you can afford

    There are two basic types of oil coolers: tube and fin, and plate or stacked plate, which works the same way but employs a different architecture with more surface area. Tube and fin coolers are typically referred to by the number of passes the fluid/oil makes through the length of the cooler before returning to the engine. A two-pass cooler is a design that allows the oil to run through the cooler length twice. The more passes a cooler offers, the better the heat-transfer qualities.

    There is also inlet and outlet size. Be sure to choose a size that will not be too small and restrictive, as this will result in oil pressure drop that could cause engine damage. Most engines will use an -8 AN or -10 AN size fitting, though high-capacity/high-flow engines can also go to -12 AN port sizes on occasion. You want liberal oil flow through the cooler in order to afford good heat transfer.

    The main thing you want to remember with any engine oil cooler installation is air flow across the cooling fins, whether it’s in the slipstream in front of the radiator or with help from a cooling fan. Also keep in mind you can have excessive air flow to where the boundary layer keeps air away from cooling tubes and fins. You want air to flow over the fins and tubes to where heat transfers to the atmosphere. If air travels too fast over the tubes and fins, heat is trapped and doesn’t have a chance to escape.

    The best placement for oil cooler (with no electric fan) is in a location exposed to a maximum amount of airflow, which allows the cooler to operate as efficiently as possible. You must watch out for air conditioning condensers, transmission coolers, and the like, which can hinder airflow across the oil cooler. Also keep in mind an oil cooler should never be placed where road debris can inflict damage such as a wheel well. If you’re going to place a cooler underneath the vehicle, you’re going to need an electric fan to keep air moving across the fins.

    The best place to tap into the engine’s oil supply is at the oil filter because the filter follows the oil pump, so the oil supply will have adequate pressure to move through the lines and cooler efficiently. Trans-Dapt has sandwich adaptors that enable you to tap into your engine’s oil supply safely and effectively. This approach also enables the oil cooler to cool oil before it is used by the engine. Minimize length and the number of bends in your oil lines where possible, which can cause fluid turbulence in the lines. The best way to add an oil cooler is via a sandwich adapter, where a spacer plate is positioned between the filter mount and the factory filter. Another option is a spin-on adapter that uses a filter relocation kit that locates the filter mount to a more convenient spot. A round two-port O-ringed metal hockey puck style mount replaces the factory filter and routes oil lines to the new filter location.

    You also might want to consider a remote oil filter location for the engine primarily, which will enable you to improve filter access and even add a second filter depending upon the kind of driving you intend to do. Dusty desert conditions mandate as much filtration as you can give your hot rod. Never cut corners with hoses and plumbing. Opt for the best braided stainless-steel hoses and hard lines where possible. It is also a good idea to have an oil temperature gauge inline in order to keep an eye on temperature.

    Speedway Motors offers a variety of engine and transmission coolers and adaptors from AFCO, Earl’s, B&M, TCI, Mr. Gasket and Barnes Systems. Earl’s race-proven lightweight and efficient aluminum oil coolers are engineered to fit in the kind of tight space constraints we find in street rods. Speedway Motors tells us race cars have employed brazed aluminum modular oil coolers since World War II. It was state-of-the-art technology then and remains the choice of racers and enthusiasts now.

    The stacked plate modular oil cooler so common today dates to the early 1930s when it was developed for use with the Rolls Royce Merlin V-12 engine that powered the Spitfires and Hurricanes that won the Battle of Britain. This type of cooler with its “turbulator” plates and dense cooling fins provides maximum liquid and air side surface area. The large collector tanks at each end ensure minimum flow restriction. What this means for you is maximum heat transfer from a compact oil cooler.

    The main thing you want to understand with fluid coolers is what they’re designed for. Engine oil coolers are designed for greater pressures and temperatures than transmission or power steering fluid coolers. This means you need to know what the cooler you have in mind is designed for. You do not want to run a transmission or power steering fluid cooler as an engine oil cooler.

    Here’s what you need to know about Earl’s engine oil coolers from Speedway Motors.

    • They are manufactured in the United States from aviation-grade aluminum alloy using the latest vacuum brazing technology. This means durability.
    • Corrugated screen internal turbulator plates in Earl’s coolers increase both thermal efficiency and mechanical strength resulting in the most efficient, smallest and lightest practical package.
    • Manufactured from thin aluminum plates for the most efficient possible heat transfer.
    • Inlet and outlet fittings O-ring to the top plate assembly for easy service.
    • They are designed for the range of oil flow and air speeds encountered in high performance automobiles, which means they will exceed your expectations.
    • Every Earl’s cooler is pressure checked to 175 psi. Periodic samples are burst tested to 350 psi to make sure they meet standards.

    Speedway Motors also offers several different types of oil filter adaptors for street rod applications. These are universal oil filter adapters that come with four different thread size adapters to make installation straightforward for GM, Ford, or Chrysler applications. Most of these adaptors are designed to be installed between the engine and oil filter to route oil under pressure through an oil cooler. Here’s what you need to know about these adaptors before selecting.

    • 3/8-inch NPT side ports
    • Special thread adapters cover most engines
    • Die cast aluminum construction
    • 1-7/8-inch thick
    • All O-rings included with kit

    Threaded adapters included:

    • (1) -inch-16
    • (1) 11/16-inch-18
    • (1) 13/16-inch-16
    • (1) 7/8-inch-20

    All are 1-inch-12 thread OD.

    Coolers for Other Purposes

    Transmission, differential, and power steering coolers do the same thing an engine oil cooler does. They transfer heat away from the lubricating oil. Although it may seem like transmissions, differentials, and power steering run cooler than engines, exactly the opposite is true. Automatic transmission temperatures can run as high as engine oil temperatures because there’s a lot of friction and pressure going on in there. Differential temperatures can run as high as 300 degrees F depending upon your driving. Ditto for power steering fluid, which is hydraulic and always under pressure. It is a rare occasion a street rod is going to need a differential cooler, which is typically found only in racing. Differential cooler pumps can be electric, or driveline driven.

    The same rules apply with these fluid coolers. They should be placed in the slipstream in front of the radiator with proper airflow management conducive to good heat transfer to the atmosphere. If you must place the cooler underneath away from the grille, such as the differential, power steering, or automatic transmission, you’re likely going to need an electric cooling fan, which calls for the electrics necessary to power the fan. You will need a switched power source from the ignition switch with a relay to handle the electrical load. A differential cooler will need to be in back near the rearend, yet never in a wheel well where it could be damaged by road debris.

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Tuning and Technology

2020 Mazda CX-30 earns Top Safety Pick award

The 2020 Mazda CX-30 small crossover SUV earned a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS when equipped with certain headlights, the automaker announced Friday.

New for 2020, the CX-30 earned “Good” ratings on all six crash tests performed by the non-profit safety agency, which for 2020 instituted more rigorous requirements to qualify for the industry’s most coveted safety award. Included in those requirements were the standard headlights had to earn a “Good” or “Acceptable” rating, whereas last year the safer headlights could be optional equipment.

The 2020 CX-30’s headlights earned a top “Good” rating on Base, Select, and Preferred trims, but in an unusual reversal, the adaptive headlights on the Premium top trim earned the lowest rating of “Poor” because of the excessive glare inflicted on other drivers. 

The small crossover that is larger than the CX-3 in Mazda’s lineup comes standard with active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, which was another requirement for 2020. The CX-30’s AEB earned “Superior” ratings for stopping the vehicle to avoid collisions with vehicles and pedestrians in both the 12 and 25 mph tests.

The 2020 Mazda CX-30 joins other small crossovers such as the Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Kona, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Soul, Kia Sportage, and Toyota RAV4 with a 2020 TSP award. 

The NHTSA has not yet crash tested the 2020 CX-30.

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Tuning and Technology

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid nabs Top Safety Pick award

The 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid joins the conventional CR-V in earning a 2020 Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, the automaker announced Tuesday. The 2020 CR-V Hybrid earned top “Good” ratings in all six crash tests, and a “Superior” rating in front crash prevention with both other vehicles and pedestrians.

The only thing stopping the 2020 CR-V Hybrid from earning the coveted Top Safety Pick+ award is its “Acceptable” headlight rating. Visibility on some left curves was deemed inadequate by the insurance industry-funded association. 

TSPs are harder to come by for 2020, with the IIHS requiring a top “Good” rating on the passenger-side overlap crash test, automatic emergency braking to apply to pedestrians as well as vehicles, and standard headlights that get at least an “Acceptable” rating to help curb the number of traffic fatalities at night. 

Still, the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid and gas models received five-star ratings from the NHTSA, and come standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.

Other crossover SUVs to earn 2020 TSP awards include the Kia Soul, Subaru Crosstrek, Subaru Outback, Subaru Forester, Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, Hyundai Kona, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-3 and CX-5, and Toyota RAV4.  

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Tuning and Technology

Here's How The Skoda Octavia vRS Looks As A Shooting Brake And A Coupe

Skoda Octavia RS iV ShootingBrake

Egy Facebook kommentből jött az ötlet, hogy milyen lenne az új Octavia 3 ajtós kombiként. Íme, itt a végeredmény.


As much as we love the idea of the incoming Arteon ‘Shooting Brake’, the name of it – if that’s what VW actually ends up going for – is a little disingenuous. We’ve seen the Arteon SB undergoing testing, and it isn’t a true shooting brake – rather, a nicely stylish estate. For an example of a true, two-door shooting brake, we’ll allow the poshed-up Passat’s VW Group relative, the new Skoda Octavia vRS, to demonstrate.

At least, it’s able to do so via some digital manipulation, here at the mouse/keyboard of X-Tomi Design. It works brilliantly in this body style, we reckon.

Skoda Octavia RS iV Coupe

Bemutatkozott a hibrid hajtású Octavia RS, így nézne ki coupe modellként.


X-Tomi being an especially prolific renderer, he didn’t just leave it there. Also on the Octavia vRS Photoshop agenda is this gorgeous coupe. There’s as much chance of this happening IRL as the shooting brake, and by that, we mean no chance at all. But hey, we can dream.

Skoda Octavia RS iV Pickup

Egy kósza gondolat, ilyen lenne az új RS Octavia 2ajtós pickupként.


But is an Octavia vRS pick-up truck an imagined derivative too far? We’ll let you argue that one in the comments. But given what Car Throttle’s video team have been up to when it comes to utes, we’re inclined to dig it.

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Tuning and Technology

ProCharger Centrifugal Supercharger adds 300 HP to a Stock LS3 Crate Engine! – Hot Rod

More ways to make boosted LS power
How to Make 1,000 hp with a Supercharged LS
LS3 Supercharger Swap Kit

If you have the cash, a shiny new LS crate engine is the way to go. But what’s the best way to add big power to your otherwise-stock crate engine? Well, we picked up an LS3 offering from Blueprint Engines (PN PSLS3760CTF) and decided to find out. Blueprint now offers a crate engine that has all the GM goodness inside we’re used to, but with a few nice features that, to be honest, we typically end up doing ourselves to our stock crate engines.

Dyno Testing a stock LS3 crate engine

The new LS3 crate engine was rated and verified by Blue Print Engines (BPE) at 530 hp and 495 lb-ft, so we decided to find out how close to those numbers it was. We strapped it to the Westech Superflow dyno to find out. Before that though, let’s see what showed up on the pallet from Blueprint.

Now, if this was a Chevrolet Performance crate engine, our first story would be installing a bigger camshaft, but the LS3 crate engine from Blueprint, already comes with a fairly healthy stick from Comp sporting a 0.612/0.585 lift split, a 225/238-degree duration split and 113-degree LSA. Not huge, but it’s big enough to make power and still have great street manners.

Of course, the stock Blueprint engine made great power right out of the crate, but in true gearhead fashion we wanted more, and we wanted it all the flippin’ time. So, given that desire the best solution was boost. We could have dumped in race gas and made over 1,000 hp, but that’s not really realistic on a stock-ish crate engine. Our goal was to push the max of what you could do on high-octane pump gas, which is about 9-10psi. But before adding atmosphere, let’s take a look at what the stock LS3 put out.

How much power does boost add to an LS3?

Adding boost is super popular these days and for good reason. No other power adder gives you so much performance all the time. There are many different ways to stuff atmosphere into your engine: turbos, roots, centrifugal, etc. But we really love the centrifugal systems from ProCharger. Why? Because they’re stupid simple to install on our dyno engines, and it’s easy to dial the boost into exactly where we want it.

Key Points of Blueprint Engines’ LS3 crate engine (PN PSLS3760CTF):

  • All new parts including GM LS3 block, crank, rods and hypereutectic pistons
  • Dyno validated by Blueprint Engines at 530hp and 495 lb-ft
  • Comes with upgraded Comp camshaft and matching springs
  • Blueprint’s own rectangular-port heads with billet rocker stands
  • Delivered complete with LS3 water pump, LS3 intake, and factory injectors
  • Aftermarket parts such as Holley valve covers and GM LS swap oil pan
  • Includes electronics such as coils, wires, and all engine sensors.
  • 30 month / 50,000 mile warrant

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