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Thread: Is BMW's 20W-50 a semi-synthetic?

  1. #1
    Registered User hjsbmw's Avatar
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    Is BMW's 20W-50 a semi-synthetic?

    That's what a salesman at a local BMW dealership told me. This was regarding the less expensive oil that sells for something like $8/liter. I always thought that was a regular, purely petroleum based stock.

    Looking online I can't find any information that affirms or rejects the salesman's statement.
    Harald
    2007 R1200R

  2. #2
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    It depends on your definition of "synthetic" - almost every oil in the US could be called a semi-synthetic based on the rulings for using the word "Synthetic" in relation to oil. The 20-50 BMW oil may be a bit more highly refined then some other oils, but in the grand scheme of things, it's probably what most people would consider a non-synthetic oil.

    I haven't had a Blackstone analysis done on it to see what the additive package looks like, or what the flash/ash point is after 6,000 miles of use, so I can't address if it's a good oil or a great oil. I have had them done on the BMW Synthetic, and that oil looks quite suitable for the application it's used for.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
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  3. #3
    Registered User mneblett's Avatar
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    BS.

    I have a case of the BMW 20W50 in the garage -- the "Special Performance" text on the label is marketing-speak for "a label that makes you think the extra bux you're spending is getting you something extra." The label sez it's packaged by Spectro; nothing on the label to begin to make you think it's semi-synthetic.

    [EDIT] You really do get "something extra" for your extra cash: (i) a BMW-specified (and apparently better) additives package, and (ii) the ability, particularly while still under warranty, to say "what engine failure wasn't due to using a not-recommended oil."


    Does your sales guy really think that BMWNA wouldn't be splashing "Semi-Synthetic" in big neon letters all over the label to justify another $3-4/qt. if it really was semi-synth??

    I really appreciate straight-shooters in a showroom (fortunately, my dealer has 'em). This is the sort of exact opposite response that raises my BS-detecting antenna and makes me walk away from a salesman. If you don't know your product, you'll get a lot more respect if you are willing to say "I don't know," rather than try to fake your way through a conversation -- particularly with this audience, which is generally knowlegable enough to know the right answer and instantly detect the BS job.
    Last edited by mneblett; 08-17-2010 at 06:24 PM. Reason: Added material
    Mark Neblett
    Fairfax, VA
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  4. #4
    XTrooper
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    If it were a semi-synthetic, it would state so on the label.

    It doesn't; it isn't.

  5. #5
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by XTrooper View Post
    If it were a semi-synthetic, it would state so on the label.

    It doesn't; it isn't.
    And if stated on the label, it is usually called a synthetic blend. Sounds better.
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

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    Registered User f14rio's Avatar
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    what's the advantage of...

    a semisynthetic over a pure synthetic?
    "Enemy fighters at 2 o'clock!...Roger, What should i do until then?"

    2010 r1200r, 2009 harley crossbones, 2008 triumph/sidecar, 1970 norton commando 750

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    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    Dunno if this is true, but I've been told that with a "semi"-synthetic, you can top it off with anything available. Hmmm... at < 30% synth (by the definition in the prior link), I have to wonder...

    I stick with (pardon the pun) squeezed dinosaurs - I can top it off anywhere.
    (two-thirds of a pun = P U)

    Question: BMW's oil is made by Spectro, yes? Is this the same as "Golden Spectro"? Also - a couple of years ago, there was an oil comparison in the MOA News - I think it was by PAUL GLAVES? - that showed the official BMW oil had more of the requisite "motorcycle additives" than the standard Spectro ... Is this still the case?

  9. #9
    jduke
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    Since WWII, all oil must be compatible, synthetic or conventional.
    I'm sure BMW has Spectro make their oil to their specifications and additives package.

  10. #10
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pauls1150 View Post
    Question: BMW's oil is made by Spectro, yes? Is this the same as "Golden Spectro"? Also - a couple of years ago, there was an oil comparison in the MOA News - I think it was by PAUL GLAVES? - that showed the official BMW oil had more of the requisite "motorcycle additives" than the standard Spectro ... Is this still the case?
    The 20W-50 is. Dunno on the 15W-50 synthetic. And it wasn't Paul who did the comparison.. it was Jeff DeCarlo who did it. Anyway - he'd managed to find a testing lab that was willing to do samples of oil at a reasonable price (free IIRC) for the article. I don't know of anyone who has tested Golden Spectro vs BMW's repackaged Golden Spectro to see if the additive package is different. If someone wants to pay - I'm sure Blackstone Labs would be happy to do it.

    FWIW - Blackstone did do a sample of BMW's 15W-50 Synthetic (unused) for me. And I had them do a sample of oil after 6,000 miles. The comparison:

    VIRGIN OIL SAMPLE:


    6,000 MILE OIL SAMPLE:


    If anyone cares to do the same with the 20W-50, it would make an interesting, and perhaps informative comparison.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders
    '12 R1200R - I love this bike!

  11. #11
    jduke
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    Don, was your test their Standard Analysis?
    I'm thinking of doing one for Mobile 1, 15W50.

  12. #12
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jduke View Post
    Don, was your test their Standard Analysis?
    I'm thinking of doing one for Mobile 1, 15W50.
    The virgin sample was. The used sample had the TBN numbers run also (extra $15) - which helps determine if the suitability for extending the oil change intervals.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders
    '12 R1200R - I love this bike!

  13. #13
    jduke
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    Thanks Don, I'll remember that.

  14. #14
    Registered User mneblett's Avatar
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    Geez, with results like these, why are we changing oil at 6K??

    The 6K sample is darn near fresh oil for zinc, phosphorous, calcium and moly, has essentially no water, has picked up only traces of iron and aluminum, and has virtually no solids. At this rate it looks like at *least* 12K oil.

    And to think, some folks start hyper-ventilating when they go 50 miles beyond the official interval.
    Mark Neblett
    Fairfax, VA
    #32806

  15. #15
    jduke
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    You're right Mark. Plus I've never heard of an engine failure related to oil. Lack of maybe, but not old or synthetic versus conventional.

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