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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday I got the second oil change on my 21 EL High roof 350 HD passenger van. It was prompt at 5000 miles using synthetic oil. The tech (non-dealer because I don't trust either of the two closest dealers) indicated that the oil coming out of the engine when he drained it was black as night. He tried to sell me an engine flush, which I politely declined.

What would be causing the oil to be come so black at a normal service interval under fairly normal driving conditions. No towing or hauling heavy loads. We do have it set up as a camper van and completely loaded it is under 10K lbs.

I'd appreciate any insight you may have, or if this really isn't a problem. I've never really owned fords before. Is this a normal thing?

Thanks,
 

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The Ford dealer did an engine flush on my Econoline van. Shortly after, my van developed an oil leak through the rear main seal. I think it was due to the engine flush. There was no way to prove this was caused by the engine flush so I had to pay for the repair. I'm skeptical whether an engine flush is mostly just a way for the dealer to make money on an unnecessary service.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The Ford dealer did an engine flush on my Econoline van. Shortly after, my van developed an oil leak through the rear main seal. I think it was due to the engine flush. There was no way to prove this was caused by the engine flush so I had to pay for the repair. I'm skeptical whether an engine flush is mostly just a way for the dealer to make money on an unnecessary service.
Yeah, we aren’t doing one of those. Especially after 10k. Maybe after 210K but the engine shouldn’t need a flush so soon.
 

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I have been changing oil in equipment for the last 40 years. Oil may "look" black but get some on your finger and smear it around and it's not. Next time have him show it to you if he wants to up-sell you. My last Transit was a 2019. Went to 110k before it was replaced with a shinny new 2022 T250 and with regular 5k oil changes it was fine.
 

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FWIW - I go up to 11,000 miles in my EcoBoost Focus and 17,000 miles in the EcoBoost Fiesta. All oil analysis have come back clean. The Oil Life Monitor seems perfectly fine to use for your intervals, if you run Full Synthetic.
Bingo. Quit guessing or being superstitious and get the facts. Modern synth oil is quite good.
 

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Black oil is somewhat normal - as is a heavy "fuel" smell in the oil - especially on turbo and direct injection engines - unfortunately due to emissions requirements exhaust gasses are also heavily recirculated and they contaminate the oil faster - hence no matter what the manufacturer says - you are ALWAYS better off changing oil at 5K , sooner if you are towing or idling for long periods. Ecoboost engines in particular, but other DI engines suffer from "fuel dilution". Its a real phenomenon and it does effect oil lifespan and viscosity. There are several things you can do to help prolong your engine (and its turbos) life :

1> Use GOOD oil - Mobile 1, Castrol Edge, Amsoil (we use the latter) and change it no less than every 5K or 6 months.

2> Invest in an air / oil separator - you will be surprised what gets dumped back into your intake from the crankcase - this oil goes into the intercooler and turbo intake - causing bearings to coke up and varnish. BAD

3> Disable that IDIOTIC auto start / stop "feature", the most wear on engines occurs on start - why do it 50 more times than necessary ?

4> Don't "grandpa drive" your vehicle - meaning actually USE the accelerator, don't floor it, but don't dog it either - some drivers think they are making their engine last longer by not accelerating, its actually harming it. Higher RPMs and crankcase pressures help get lubrication deeper and help it expunge harmful fumes.

5> Change your spark plugs out BEFORE the manual suggests (cleaner burn = less deposits , less unspent fuel, better gas mileage)

Say what you want about maintenance intervals. Vehicle manufacturers have 2 goals - 1 - to make their vehicles last at least as long as the warranty period so they don't have to take a loss, and 2 - to sell you a new vehicle. That is it. They are going to specify lubricants and maintenance based solely on those two facts. Do what the manual suggests and you'll get a vehicle that will at least last until 36K, 100K or whatever the warranty is - if you are lucky. Beyond that, roll the dice.

If you want to drive a vehicle WELL beyond its warranty miles, then do the above recommendations. I assure you, you will not have to buy a new vehicle until you want one - at least not from engine wear. I have routinely owned normally aspirated and turbo vehicles with more than 300K miles on them with little or no major breakdowns or catastrophic wear. I had two Harleys that made it over 100K. Sure, I spent some $ on oil, spark plugs, and a few other things - but it beats spending it on new engines, new turbos, or new vehicles. I've torn down / rebuilt a lot of engines for tuning, I can ALWAYS tell the ones who's owners change oil regularly and took care of them - and the ones who milked it. And engine flush ? LOL LOL - waste of $. That is the equivalent of paint protection, rust proofing, and window tint at the car dealer. Nothing but a money grab. Maintain your engine properly and you will never need one. Spend that $ on oil instead. My brother's F150 has 288K miles on it and it never had an "engine flush" LOL

Here is a link for the auto start / stop eliminator. And no, I am not affiliated with that company and I don't receive any commissions. I just think it is a WISE investment. That "feature" does one thing and one thing only - it allows automakers to pad their fuel mileage numbers - there is ZERO benefit for vehicle owners. It also causes a lag in acceleration if you encounter an emergency start situation. Dangerous and dumb. You may save a couple gallons of fuel over the lifetime of the vehicle, but you will reduce your engine life down the road. Worth it ? F no. Every one of my vehicles has one, it literally takes seconds to install on the Transit.

 

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Why 5K? Where does that particular number come from, rather than some other?
I don't have the specific report - but it was an ADOT recommendation for Ford police vehicles and a study over time that suggested they would get the most miles out those engines using 5K intervals - anything lower was wasteful, anything higher may push the limits of the lubricants. I'll see if I can find the study - but most engine builders and tuners will tell you the same thing. If you are going to err on any side - change more often than less. It is also the upper limit for how long you want to allow fuel diluted oil to remain in your crankcase.

Large fleets (police, fire, delivery companies, etc) also tend to follow that recommendation based again, on historical police fleet data.

Is it a hard, fast rule ? Nope. Climate, usage, and other factors always come into play. New data comes out all the time, as does oil technology advances - however in my experience fuel dilution and blow-by is a real thing and when oil starts to stink , its time to replace it and 5K is pushing it.

My eco boost 250 has 3.5K on its oil, and 5 months. While its not black, its definitely got that fuel smell to it. I will be changing it prior to my next long trip.


Hope this helps !
 

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My ecoboost ford transit Intelligent Oil Life Monitor on average tells me to change the oil every 4,000 miles, How it choose this number is explained in the owners manual.
If you are too lazy to look in the manual this video pretty well explains it

 

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I don't have the specific report - but it was an ADOT recommendation for Ford police vehicles and a study over time that suggested they would get the most miles out those engines using 5K intervals - anything lower was wasteful, anything higher may push the limits of the lubricants. I'll see if I can find the study - but most engine builders and tuners will tell you the same thing. If you are going to err on any side - change more often than less. It is also the upper limit for how long you want to allow fuel diluted oil to remain in your crankcase.

Large fleets (police, fire, delivery companies, etc) also tend to follow that recommendation based again, on historical police fleet data.

Is it a hard, fast rule ? Nope. Climate, usage, and other factors always come into play. New data comes out all the time, as does oil technology advances - however in my experience fuel dilution and blow-by is a real thing and when oil starts to stink , its time to replace it and 5K is pushing it.

My eco boost 250 has 3.5K on its oil, and 5 months. While its not black, its definitely got that fuel smell to it. I will be changing it prior to my next long trip.


Hope this helps !
If I remember correctly, police cars are famous for staying long times on idle and logging low miles for large engine use. Maybe that is why they recommend oil change at shorter intervals. Data from a large fleet of delivery vehicles, or taxis, would be more valuable.
 
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