Synthetic Performance Solutions Group
            A wholly owned subsidiary of an Amsoil Dealership, El Paso, Texas

Oil Sludge Problem

The Oil Sludge Problem

Oil Sludge Problems can be a huge issue, inconvenience, and expense.  In order to avoid sludge related catastrophic problems, always use the best synthetic.  When you change your oil, please recycle.  If you don't know where to recycle, please ask your local automotive parts store and they will provide guidance to you as to the nearest recycling location.

Oil Sludge Problem:  Oil sludge is a real problem today.  A vehicle cannot be adequately protected with a $19.99 oil change.  Let's be realistic.  Maybe better stated, you get what you pay for...and quality oil changes are the most important maintenance you can do for your vehicle.  If an oil sludge problem develops in your vehicle, it will be an extremely expensive repair.  More and more people experience issues with poor oil flow due to sludge (where the oil turns to gel).  What is the cause of this problem and is it avoidable?  The cause is the properties and characteristics of conventional oil becomes stressed.  Once a conventional oil reaches the engineering specifications for which it was designed, it will then breakdown into a gel that sticks to your engine and all moving parts in lieu of circulating and keeping your engine cool.  As the gel settles in the engine, it actually stores heat instead of providing the cooling necessary for your engine.  Sludge is the thickening and breakdown of the oil as it deteriorates, and as moisture and contaminants build up. This is what causes the oil to gel, resulting in excess wear as friction increases or, in extreme cases, a catastrophic failure of the engine due to lack of lubrication between moving parts.  There are currently many legal issues and manufacturer litigation around sludge build up.  Many companies, such as Volkswagen, have sent out technical service advisories to immediately switch to a fully synthetic oil.

Oil sludge usually starts in the top end of an engine (valve cover area) and the oil pan.  The immediate damage begins to occur when the sludge or gel begins to block the oil screen siphon.  Once this blockage occurs, catastrophic failure of the engine is eminent.  The oil level of the engine may actually look fine...but your engine is truly being damaged by every stroke of your crank and camshaft as your engine loses oil pressure and no longer lubricates correctly.  This is a huge issue for cars built in 1996 and newer.


Why did this start occurring in 1996 and newer vehicles?  There are several issues...

  • Quick Lube shops that are competing for market share are trying to differentiate themselves as being the low cost leader and thus competing for consumers that think they are getting a bargain.  How do they give oil changes for $9.99 or $14.99?  Very low performing single grade oil that is purchased in bulk along with very cheap oil filters.  Combine the very cheapest products along with very low skilled or inexperienced technicians and you have a $9.99 oil change that will only add to sludge and other damage, as well as low performance to your engine and shorten the life of your vehicle. 
  • Federal Emissions Specifications have really got tough from the mid 1990’s.  In 1996 the tighter federal emissions standards were enacted.  Combined with leaner fuel mixtures and higher combustion temperatures, sludge starts to appear as a real industry problem. 
  • Fuel economy pressures have led the manufacturers to engineer their vehicles for lower viscosity engine oils.  When conventional oil is used, these oils break down very fast in day-to-day driving. Great additional resource information:

        Amsoil Technical Bulletin on Sludge

The following engines were reported by the Center for Auto Safety and/or their manufacturers to have a problem with sludge accumulation:

This problem can be avoided or mitigated if the sludge formation has begun to occur (something you may not be aware of until it is too late).  The only action that can be taken is to change your engine oil to a top quality synthetic oil.  Amsoil is recommended to replace the conventional oil being used that causes the damage in the first place.  Anyone that chooses to use conventional oil is simply asking for severe engine problems.  That is not an opinion; it is a proven fact.  That is exactly why conventional oil must be changed at 3,000 miles to maintain the minimum protection properties, and Amsoil at 25,000 miles - pretty significant difference.

When changing from a conventional oil to a synthetic, such as Amsoil, it is best to first flush the engine and try to clean out the sludge build up. 

Don't put clean synthetic oil in a dirty engine!

When an engine gets dirty, even regular oil changes can't help restore its operating efficiency. The detergen/dispersant's in most conventional engine oils can't handle the abnormal amounts of contamination found in a "dirty" engine. The new oil becomes dirty long before it should, losing much of its ability to lubricate and protect your engine and actually accelerating the formation of more sludge and varnish.

In this age of longer recommended drain intervals, it is especially important to have a clean engine before changing oil. Using AMSOIL Fast Acting Engine Flush when you change oil is an excellent way to guarantee your engine stays clean. It has special solvents and cleaning agents that act fast but gently to remove harmful deposits that can cost you money in excessive fuel consumption and mechanical repairs.

AMSOIL Engine Flush is especially recommended for use before changing to AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils, assuring that these super premium long life oils provide the maximum protection and service life they are designed to deliver.

The AMSOIL Formula
for Better Engine Performance

1) FLUSH:  To quickly clean residual sludge and engine deposits, AMSOIL Engine Flush is recommended: Change the oil filter and add the flush (about 10% of the oil capacity). Do not overfill the crankcase. Idle the engine 15 to 20 minutes, then immediately drain the old oil and flush.

*Note: Engine Flush is not recommended for use in transmissions, differentials, air-cooled engines, engines that share a common oil sump with the transmission (motorcycles & ATV's) or engine not equipped with an oil filter.

2) INSTALL:  Remove the old oil filter and replace it with an AMSOIL Ea Oil Filter. Ea Oil Filters feature advanced full synthetic nanofiber technology, making them the highest efficiency filters that are available for the auto/light truck market.

3) POUR:  Fill the engine's crankcase with the AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil of the viscosity grade recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer. AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils are highly resistant to oxidation and provide exceptional detergent/dispersant properties, helping keep your engine free of further sludge and varnish build-up.