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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2018 Stelvio Ti Sport with 13,750 miles. I just had my third oil change at my local dealer. It was a year since my dealer performed my last oil change but the car had only 3,000+ miles since the last oil change.
The tech noted that the oil removed was a "dark black".
Now, I've done a number of oil changes myself and seen others at a garage and I have never seen black oil before. I've never had this with any of my cars and trucks.
I've done some canyon carving but I never abuse the motor. I always take it easy at first and have never done high speed driving. I'm a handling guy.

Is it normal for Alfa 2 liter 4 cylinder with 0-20W oil turn to black after 3,000 miles?

Is black oil normal or am I in trouble?
 

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First of all, the proper oil is not 0W20 but 0W30 if it is the2.0 later gasoline engine. Second - third oil change in 4 years means the car is not maintained good enough. Oil must be changed at least ones in one year whatever the millage. Regarding the manufacturer recommendation for 10 000 miles intervals I must say I am not following that and change the oil between 5-6 000 miles. Black oil means there are some contamination which is to some degree normal , as oil not only lubricates but cleans also.
 

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First of all, the proper oil is not 0W20 but 0W30 if it is the2.0 later gasoline engine. Second - third oil change in 4 years means the car is not maintained good enough. Oil must be changed at least ones in one year whatever the millage. Regarding the manufacturer recommendation for 10 000 miles intervals I must say I am not following that and change the oil between 5-6 000 miles. Black oil means there are some contamination which is to some degree normal , as oil not only lubricates but cleans also.
A car sitting in a garage does not get the oil dirty....Oil does not magically die after 366days....0W-20 is too thin and may be the problem............it is how the vehicle is driven that matters most IMHO
In order of challenge to oil
1. Stop n Go traffic
2. Dusty climates,
3. Heat
4. Winter cold starts , short distance commutes
5. track usage (believe it or no, run at WOT oil gets filtered quite thoroughly and contaminants burn off best
6. Age of oil.....even Maserati gives biannual intervals these days

I would say 3 changes in 13.7K is VERY good maintenance.....NOT OCD maintenance

I rarely do a mid season oil change on my track cars anymore. Never seen oil get to 50% of its life expectancy. All turbos get oil dark...esp if you run it hard and shut it down hot....the oil in vicinity of the turbo gets cooked more.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
First of all, the proper oil is not 0W20 but 0W30 if it is the2.0 later gasoline engine. Second - third oil change in 4 years means the car is not maintained good enough. Oil must be changed at least ones in one year whatever the millage. Regarding the manufacturer recommendation for 10 000 miles intervals I must say I am not following that and change the oil between 5-6 000 miles. Black oil means there are some contamination which is to some degree normal , as oil not only lubricates but cleans also.
You are right about the viscosity. I made a mistake when I said 10W20. The dealer is using 10W30 oil.
I've owned the car for three years and have had three oil changes. With 12,700 moles on the Stelvio 2.0 that makes a little more than 4,000 miles per oil change.
My last car was a MItsubishi Evolution which I drove pretty hard and sometimes stretched the oil changes but I never saw black oil at the dipstick (which I used to monitor the state of the oil).

I looked at a couple of Youtube DIY oil change videos and the oil came out black. But the tech seemed very surprised at the oil being black, which was a concern.
 

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DI engines turn oil black quickly, just like a diesel. There is nothing wrong with your car, nor does the darkness indicate oil that is worn out.
I'm interested in understanding more about this. My simplistic view is that the stage of the petrol delivery wouldn't impact blowby, that would be more of a pressure issue due to the forced induction.
since diesels and turbos generally have a much higher dynamic compression ratio.
 

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I have a 2018 Stelvio Ti Sport with 13,750 miles. I just had my third oil change at my local dealer. It was a year since my dealer performed my last oil change but the car had only 3,000+ miles since the last oil change.
The tech noted that the oil removed was a "dark black".
Now, I've done a number of oil changes myself and seen others at a garage and I have never seen black oil before. I've never had this with any of my cars and trucks.
I've done some canyon carving but I never abuse the motor. I always take it easy at first and have never done high speed driving. I'm a handling guy.

Is it normal for Alfa 2 liter 4 cylinder with 0-20W oil turn to black after 3,000 miles?

Is black oil normal or am I in trouble?
At my first oil change with 1700 miles my oil was darker than I expected. Dealer service said it was normal. Seems like it is from reading other posts here from people who know more about our engines then I do.
 

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Coking’ of the Engine Oil – The critical point affecting both the oil and the turbocharger
arrives when the engine is shut off after the
turbocharger has been under rigorous use
for some period of engine operation. At this
point, the oil no longer circulates through
the shaft bearings to carry away the heat.
Consequently, the full heat of the
turbocharger shaft is imposed on the bearing
area and the relatively small volume of oil
in the bearings and galleys immediately
adjacent as shown in Fig. 2.
At these temperatures, the oil seems to
respond much differently than at the much
lower temperatures experienced in the
engine. Depending on oil formulation and
the extent of its usage in the engine and
turbocharger, oxidation of the engine oil in
the turbocharger may form a hard, somewhat porous, coke-like carbonaceous mass in the
galleys. In time, this coke formation plugs the galleys as shown in Figure 2 causing failure."


This quote is directly from a 2010 research paper on oil coking...the paper is attached. This is why smart people let the engine cool down and the oil circulate for a little bit before they shut off a hot engine.

I am involved in analyzing a current research study on this same subject, specifically as it relates to direct injection and turbocharging. What we are finding is the reason the oil gets darker, faster is due to increased coking in turbocharged, direct Injection engines and from what I am seeing, I believe this Alfa engine tends to cause the effect more than most.

According the Exxon/Mobil "oil coke" is defined as:

"...solid residue created when oil undergoes severe oxidative and thermal breakdown at extreme engine temperatures. The higher the temperature, the harder, blacker and more brittle the coke/deposit residue"

(the residue I have personally seen come out of my Alfa's engine is very hard and brittle, black as black gets. Understand I have never waited longer then 10k to change the oil and have only 44k on the car. There is alot of coke residue IMO. More than I have seen in a non-turbo, non DI engine, ever. I have seen thousands of those.)

The " coke" is normal, causes the oil to turn black faster and creates a fine silt in the engine which seems to clog up oil filters and activate the bypass valve which then allows oil to circulate unfiltered for an unknown amount of time between oil changes and is a factor in carbon build up issues, and other engine component failures at higher mileage. This unfiltered soot is also heavier then the oil, so a significant amount remains in the oil pan after an oil change.. which is why the new oil gets dirty so much faster then a traditional engine design which doesn't have the coking issues.

I strongly suggest 5000- 7500 mile oil change intervals on turbo charged DI engine like the 4cyl in the Stelvio.

Some "experts" say this residue isn't a problem, other "experts " say it is. Some "experts" believe say oil coking doesn't happen anymore too..those people are.... Well....

Believe who you want and act accordingly.

I am now running an extra quart of oil through my engine as a flush during oil changes because I noticed - at 40k miles - doing that I get oil coke residue out of the engine, the presence of which I do not believe is good for an engine.

Small turbo charged DI engines are far from the most reliable engine design in the industry, carbon buildup has been an issue in most every brand since the engines became popular, most every new oil certification and standard devised this century has had the goal of reducing problems in thos type of engine....most of which have been solved, but not carbon. (Carbon is the black residue on your tailpipes, so no one try saying the breakdown isn't happening.. the residue is obvious, touch it, feel how hard it is, clean it..see how it doesn't want to remove. Acts the same inside the engine. As much as MultiAir helps reduce residue inside the combustion chamber....there are alot of places besides the combustion chamber carbon residue will cause problems. Places like solenoids and pumps, it also wears seals and o-rings..all of which are known, if rare, fail points on this engine.)

Besides flushing the engine lightly, I am also religiously changing oil by 7500 since that's what Honda suggests for their DI turbo engines and whatever anyone wants to say about Honda...they have probably the best maintenance schedule in the business in terms of prioritizing long term vehicle reliability. Everyone else juggles that with maintenance expenses, and trying to keep them low to not scare off buyers. Honda doesn't have to worry about scaring off buyers... They just set the maintenance for what is best for the car... Side effect of engineering appliances I think.

Not saying stress about the oil getting dark fast. Trying to explain part (not all) of why that is considered "normal", and why it being normal means...... Do your oil changes early, or at least on time, don't wait. Do use the required oil.
 

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Correct. Coking is not normal in daily driving. You should not be getting solid coke chunks out of your oil drains.

From exon Mobil

"...solid residue created when oil undergoes severe oxidative and thermal breakdown at extreme engine temperatures. The higher the temperature, the harder, blacker and more brittle the coke/deposit residue"

Not normal. Extreme.

DI oil is black from soot. DI engines produce more of it. Alot more of it. Thats normal.



Soot Causes Oil to Turn Black

While heat cycles cause oil to darken, soot causes oil to turn black. Most people associate soot with diesel engines, but gasoline engines can produce soot as well, particularly modern gasoline-direct-injection engines.
 

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Definition of soot (Entry 1 of 2)
: a black substance formed by combustion or separated from fuel during combustion, rising in fine particles, and adhering to the sides of the chimney or pipe conveying the smoke
especially : the fine powder consisting chiefly of carbon that colors smoke.


Yeah, soot... IS carbon. It builds up, clogs things, makes them black. Shocking, right??


Is normal.... doesn't make it good for anything.
 

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Black oil is NORMAL. i have been doing the oil changes on my cars for a long time now, right around 7000 miles. Never seen anything else than black oil coming out...but yes the oil in the stelvio is a shade darker ..
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
DI engines tend to get the oil dark faster then other designs ... Yet another reason to not wait 10k.

I wouldn't worry about it, but would ask for a sample of the oil at the next change. Maybe do an analysis, maybe just to see how dark it is for myself.
By DI engines do you mean diesel direct injection?
My motor is the 2.0 gasoline motor.
With the 2'0 gasoline engines is it normal for oil to be black after 3,000 miles?
 

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By DI engines do you mean diesel direct injection?
My motor is the 2.0 gasoline motor.
With the 2'0 gasoline engines is it normal for oil to be black after 3,000 miles?
DI is direct injection also known as GDI or gasoline direct injection. The 2.0l and 2.9l are di or gdi engines
 

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DI means direct injection, not diesel though.

It is the same type of system used for diesel engines, but adapted for gasoline. The MultiAir valvetrain in the Stelvio's 2.0 particularly, being hydraulic, is more like that then any other system. MultiAir is essentially a diesel engine's valvetrain matched to a gasoline engine. It is not like other GDI or DI engines in that way, it is mostly unique. The 2.9 V6 uses a different, non-hydraulic valvetrain system.

Yes having the oil black at 3k in the 2.0 is normal, like it is in a diesel, the same forces are causing it.

The question in my head is does that mean you should wait 10,000 miles to change it?

Just because the oil being black is "normal", does that make it healthy for the engine?

When you consider diesel engines recommend oil changes at 5000, due to carbon issues, using the same technology.......IMO,

No, you should not wait 10,000 miles to change it, do it at 5000-7500 max because even if black oil is normal... It isn't healthy long term.

Alfa makes the recommendations it does to ensure the car won't have problems under warranty (like everyone else but Honda, maybe), not so you won't have problems at 200k. I want reliability at 200k if at all possible and my recommendations are based on that.

Dirty oil is the enemy of a reliable engine, black oil is dirty, when it gets dirty... Change it.

I should add, 4 years ago I would disagree with myself and say the black oil is fine and you should just change it at 10k, because of what I have been told by various engineers, and what is spread throughout the industry as common knowledge.

That was before I realized how much fine, sand-like carbon residue is in engines after 10k miles.... Now... No freaking way. People always say someone is wrong when they come with new information...... IMO believing a 10k oil change is OK in a small turbo charged direct injection engine is like thinking the world is flat. Which was something the majority of people thought once (some still do).


To put it another way, and maybe make it more understandable, think about how much oil your car burns between oil changes....(realize some burning oil is considered "normal")

Mine burns about 3/4s of a quart over 10k miles, normally. That is 3/4 of a quart turned into carbon residue, inside the engine. That's what happens when oil burns, highly resistant or not. The oil in your engine that disappears - unless you have a leak - it is burning, it doesn't evaporate into nothingness.


3/4 of a quart (or greater then 10% of the total oil capacity) of nasty soot circulating through the engine for thousands of miles, clogging up the filter, causing pressure variations, stressing the oil pump, clogging the internal filter which will cause the pump to fail.........but probably not till 60-80k.

If you are ok with that, (or if you are lucky and don't burn any oil between changes)..... Then, black oil is normal and totally fine. Just change it every 10k and don't stress.

If on the other hand you do burn that much or maybe more and while you realize that is "normal", you don't like the idea of all that crud in your engine for thousands of miles.... Then change it more often.

Either way don't stress or think there is a defect in the engine. No defects, it is normal, oil will be dirty at 3k miles. The experts who say keeping it in there for another 7k miles aren't saying that because they don't think it's dirty... They are saying it because they think being dirty doesn't matter.

Decide for yourself if it does or doesn't.
 
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