Engine oil alert 2010


There is something going on in the automotive oil industry today that will effect all hot rodders, hot boaters and high performance engine enthusiasts. Performance Jet would like to bring this issue to your attention in the hope that you can avoid the costs of premature cam shaft failure on your jet boat engine.


With today's engine oils we are seeing the reduction or complete elimination of Extreme Pressure oil additive packages (EP). This EP package is known as ZDDP or zinc dialkylidthiophospate. Basically this is a mix of Zinc and Phosphate. ZDDP has been an important additive to engine oils for over 70 years. It has an excellent track record at protecting the sliding metal to metal cam interface on your high performance engine.

Why is this EP package being removed from engine oils? As part of an effort to reduce vehicle emissions the U.S. EPA offers vehicle manufacturers "credits " for early implementation , as well as penalties for violations of emission standards


By this year the EPA has called for the life of catalytic converters to reach 150,000 miles. The rub here is that the EP package of ZDDP is poison for catalytic converters so the manufacturers have pushed for the elimination of Zinc and Phosphorus from all motor oils. In the last ten years all motors are built with roller tappet cam shafts so this change does not effect the new generation of engine owners. Unfortunately, the folks with high performance flat tappet cam engines are left out in the cold. Without the EP package you run the risk of premature cam and lifter failure at break in or on normal high performance use.


In the past, ZDDP has been added to oils in amounts resulting in approximately 0.15% Phosphorus and 0.18% Zinc. The film of the Zinc and Phosphorus compounds provides a sacrificial wear surface protecting the base metal of the cam and lifter from wear. According to the S.A.E. tech bulletin #770087, operation of a flat tappet engine without adequate EP additives quickly leads to lifter foot scuffing and cam lobe wear.


Grading engine oil has aways been done by Automotive Petroleum Institute, known as API.  There are two grading categories of oil; "S" is intended for spark-fired combustion engines (diesels).  The second letter in each grade started with the letter A and went up the alphabet as new grades were introduced.  For example, the grade SF was the last oil that had sufficient amounts of ZDDP in the additive package.  This oil was phased out in 1988.  The first oils were pure mineral oils and were graded SA.  The current oils graded SL, SM, and CJ have no ZDDP at all.


Historically, every new grade of oil introduced since the 1930s was better than the previous grade.  While it is true that SM oils are better for new cars, they are not better for vehicles equipped with flat tappet camshafts.


Because of this problem, Performance Jet did some research and found a product that addresses the problem of inadequate engine oil EP packages for our jet boat customers.


ZDDP Plus is a 4 oz. bottle of concentrated ZDDP that will treat 5 quarts of the oil of your choice and bring the level of ZDDP up to an acceptable 1600 parts per million.  To date, this is the only product that provides this much ZDDP.


In the past, the only ZDDP supplement available was offered by GM and was called EOS.  This additive came in a 16 oz. bottle and contained half the ZDDP found in the 4oz. bottle of ZDDP Plus.  The GM EOS additive was discontinued in 2007.


Additives offered by the cam manufacturers for cam break in contain marginal amounts of ZDDP, while in other cases, they offer none at all.  These products are designed for initial engine "run in" and rely on other additives such as MDS (molybdenum disulfide).


These products are not recommended as continuous use after break in, as they may enhance the risk of detonation in some applications, and they do not provide enough extreme pressure protection throughout the life of an oil change.


Note:  For break in for flat tappet engines, avoid any engine oil if the container features the API small starburst logo.  The star indicates that the oil has been formulated for new engines from an energy-conserving standpoint.  The stuff is for passenger car gas engines equipped with roller cams.  Avoid the star like the plague, at least for break ins.  Besides, since when does a jet boater give a crap about energy conservation, anyway?


The bottom line here is that ZDDP Plus is the only additive on the market today that will restore 5 quarts of oil to pre-1988 levels.  The additive package in all oils dissipates with use over time, and engine oils should be changed out every 2000 to 4000 miles, twice a year if you are running your jet boat hard all season.


What oils on the market today still contain an adequate EP package?

That is a good question.  The market seems to be changing on a regular basis, and what was acceptable a year ago may have changed for today.  Case in point, Valvoline Racing Oil VR1 had 1300 parts per million of ZDDP in January 2008, and the last I heard it was down to 900 parts per million just a few weeks ago.  Be aware that most racing oils are designed for short-term use before being changed out and may lose the additive package before the next oil change in your boat.


I also heard that Red Line Racing Oil still maintains a full additive package.  ZDDP Plus is compatible with synthetics.  I used to really like Mobil 1 Synthetic but I have heard that the ZDDP is being phased out of this oil.


Some diesel oils contain adequate ZDDP levels, but be aware, diesel oils contain excessive amounts of detergents and may not be good for a gasoline engine.  Chevron Delo 400 is still good, and so is Mobil Delvac (diesel rated).


Castrol has recently introduced its new Castrol Syntec 20W-50, which contains zinc levels and proprietary additives for older engines.  Be careful, you do not want to use synthetic oils on initial break in of your engine because the rings may not seat properly.


SWEPCO 306 15W-40 is another acceptable oil.


There are a number of break in oils on the market as well but are not to be used full time.  Brad Penn break in oil and MicroZol BR break in oil are just two that I know of today.


The thing that bothers me the most about all this engine oil stuff is that the companies are constantly changing the EP packages.  Oils that are good today may have their EP package reduced or completely eliminated six months from now, and nobody tells anybody about the changes.  Hot rodders and hot boaters are left hanging in the wind.  Basically, if you are not sure about your oil, you are stuck to buy an additive, or, just take the risk.  It's hell to live in America, that's all I gotta say.  Good luck.




Performance Jet is now a dealer for ZDDP Plus and is selling this product for $9.95 per bottle.  I know.  It sounds expensive for just a 4 ounce bottle but remember, this is a concentrate, and it is guaranteed to bring 5 quarts back to pre-1988 EP levels. Put it in perspective... How much does a new cam and lifters cost with parts and labor?


It's your motor.  Dude...Roller cams are sounding pretty good right now, huh?

Performance Jet sells ZDDP Plus
by the bottle, 6 pack, or 25 pack.


4 oz. bottle       $9.95


6 pack       $9.25 per bottle


25 pack      $8.95 per bottle

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