Home » Cummins Has A Super Fancy Oil Meant To Kick Engine Rebuilds Down The Road. Here’s How It Works

Cummins Has A Super Fancy Oil Meant To Kick Engine Rebuilds Down The Road. Here’s How It Works

Valvoline Premium Blue Restore Gen 2 Topshot
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Several years ago, one particular Cummins diesel engine was having substantial issues with carbon deposits leading to lubricant consumption. If this sounds familiar, that’s because oil consumption has been the scourge of many passenger car owners. I should know, I owned an Infiniti G35 with the VQ35DE engine. However, while substantial repair is the common way of fixing oil consumption, Cummins took a different approach. The solution? A special sort of oil.

If you’ve never heard of the Cummins ISX15 engine, don’t worry — it’s a now-discontinued turbodiesel inline-six used in heavy trucks and motorhomes from 2010 to 2020. In the tradition of Ford and AMG, it’s about one deciliter off of its name when it comes to displacement, clocking in at 14.9 liters. While it proved popular and ushered in more advanced emissions control systems like selective catalytic reduction, it also developed a reputation for oil consumption on early examples due to carbon deposits.

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Normally, you’d properly address carbon deposit-caused oil consumption by tearing everything down and doing an engine rebuild. However, engine rebuilds are expensive, not just in the sheer labor involved, but in the time heavy trucks spend off the road. An hour in the shop is an hour the truck isn’t earning money, so Cummins talked to Valvoline, commissioned an exceptionally special engine lubricant, and put out a technical service bulletin that states:

To address excessive oil consumption issues on engines outside of the warranty or extended coverage period in a more cost effective manner, a specially formulated lubricating oil, Valvoline™ Premium Blue Restore™, has been developed. Valvoline™ Premium Blue Restore™ can potentially reduce lubricating oil consumption rates on the affected engines by removing deposits from pistons, piston ring lands, and other engine components.

Well, that’s fascinating. Evidently, it’s been successful because there’s an updated Gen 2 formulation on the market, although you’ll have to hunt high and low to find it. It’s not available from any traditional retailers, and you might have to pop into a Cummins dealer to snag some. But how does this lubricant work, especially since there are so many snake oil products that claim to do the exact same thing?

Cummins Restore Oil Presentation Slide

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As it turns out, oil is complicated. There’s more to oil than viscosity, grade, and whether or not it’s synthetic. I’ll let Jason Torchinsky explain, from a prior article where we formulated our own engine oil in the hopes that maybe we’d pull David’s Nash Metropolitan together and it would be his LA daily driver. That didn’t quite work out as planned, did it?

Group I takes the least refinement, and as such that curve is pretty flat, with about as much being to either side of the ideal zone, so you end up with a pretty low-grade, cheap oil.

More refinement gets you to Group II, which at least has a good amount in the ideal zone, but it’s still a pretty gradual ramp up and fall-off. Group III is refined even more, with high pressure and heat, to get most of the oil in the ideal zone, making a purer base oil.

And finally we have Group IV, which is refined into a synthetic oil known as a polyalphaolefins (PAOs) oil. As you can see on that ball-point graph, it’s pretty much all the good stuff. And that’s what we used as the base for Metro Magic.

Beyond that, there are also Group V oils like silicone, phosphate ester, polyalkylene glycol, and polyolester. The ester oils that fall under Group V have phenomenal detergent and anti-wear properties, so it’s not surprising that a number of high-end engine lubricants include them. For instance, the fancy Motul 300V many race teams run contains Group V oil. This special Valvoline formula made for Cummins ISX15 engines? It’s a Group IV/Group V hybrid, leaning substantially more towards Group V than any other commercially available premium oil.

Then there are anti-wear minerals like zinc, which forms a sacrificial layer, and phosphorus, another anti-wear metal added to oil. Cummins’ fancy Valvoline Premium Blue Restore Gen 2 has 920 ppm and 720 ppm respectively, and while those are excellent, they aren’t the main reason Cummins uses this formula. See, solvents and esters in this oil are meant to break down carbon deposits sticking to piston rings and other critical internal components. As for detergents, they’re a bit of a misnomer, as they primarily exist to stop oil acidification, rather than clean up existing deposits. Since this oil is primarily polyolester-based, it’s no wonder Cummins uses it for its cleaning properties.

So, being 10w30, could this fancy Valvoline Premium Blue Restore oil work in passenger cars as a one-time thing? Well, perhaps. Catalytic converter health may be a concern due to the high phosphorus content, but with an oil change interval of 5,000 miles, this stuff might be worth a shot for oil consumption or perhaps even other issues. The water-cooled Porsche experts at Flat Six Innovations have found that this oil works as a temporary hold-over for bore scoring in 3.4-liter, 3.6-liter, and 3.8-liter water-cooled Porsche 911s, stating that “This Cummins diesel oil made by Valvoline is about the best thing we’ve found to prolong the time period that you can operate the engine.”

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In any case, it’s not every day that you see an engine manufacturer advising using special clean-out oil as a fix for carbon buildup woes, and it’ll be interesting to see what people do with it beyond just putting it in Cummins ISX15s. In the twilight years of the internal combustion engine, we might be starting to see a massive leap forward in engine oil, and that’s something worth getting excited about.

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Ron888
Ron888
3 months ago

Detergents are there for their anti acidifying property? How about that.
Still being surprised after all these years.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
3 months ago

To me, the most humorous thing, is that without EGR and direct injection designs, engines that run on hydrocarbons are more or less passively self-cleaning. Port injection ethanol/gasoline engines are literally injecting solvent where it can clean everything out actively. But given current regulations, and subsequent designs to meet them, all these diesel engines are as doomed as a diabetic with a donut habit.

I’m quite interested to see how the newest generation of hydrogen engines last in longevity testing. If we can use electrolytic methods of hydrogen generation effectively, I’d bet those engines would be very clean inside. For a very long time.

Last edited 3 months ago by Doctor Nine
Ron888
Ron888
3 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

Do you know much about hydrogen embrittlement? I’ve heard that mentioned over the years but havent seen anything about whether it’s been completely solved

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
3 months ago
Reply to  Ron888

I don’t ‘solved’ is the right word. It’s just a characteristic of high pressure hydrogen exposure that it tends to alter the ductility of metals. In steels, I do know that decreasing the carbon content, and using reasonable percentages of nickel, vanadium, or titanium, reduces the phenomenon. But you can’t eliminate it.

My supposition at this time, is that hydrogen will be a byproduct of renewable electricity storage batteries, or even excess capacity, and then it will be used as a fuel source. I personally don’t think hydrogen gas is a viable fuel in its native state. As the smallest molecule in stable configuration, it tends to move through containment vessels, and leak at junctions. So straight hydrogen gas is less that ideal as a fuel. Thus some other transformation is likely to be found to be more desirable.

That may be liquid hydrogen. Or it could be engineered hydrocarbons created from H2 gas and atmospheric CO2. There are a number of attractive chemistries which could be used.

In any case, the longer chain hydrocarbons, like what are found in petroleum distillates, would be less likely to be economically viable than some short chain storage intermediary species. Like methanol. Once you have methanol, there are a lot of pathways to higher density fuels.

Thanks for the question. It’s certainly a good area for research for chemical engineers and fuel chemists. But we are still in the infancy of hydrogen fuel science.

Ron888
Ron888
3 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

Thanks,that’s interesting

Fourmotioneer
Fourmotioneer
3 months ago

Phosphorus is actually a nonmetal

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
3 months ago
Reply to  Fourmotioneer

Beat me to it. It’s an inbetweenie like nitrogen.

SoCoFoMoCo
SoCoFoMoCo
3 months ago

Huh, I wonder if this would have saved my xB from its oil consumption woes. I had the 2.4 2AZ-FE that chugged about 2 quarts every 1,000 miles and got past the extended warranty mileage limit before I knew it existed. IIRC the oil burning was caused by the oil return holes on the oil ring land being too small and getting plugged up with gunk.

Ron888
Ron888
3 months ago
Reply to  SoCoFoMoCo

Plugged up with gunk?I’m guessing this oil would be the perfect solution

Black-Villain
Black-Villain
3 months ago

Honestly I could see this oil being super useful in a lot of modern GDI vehicles I’ve encountered. Or even the 2000’s Honda/Toyota/Saturn 4-Cylinders with the low tension piston rings that are notorious for getting carbon buildup and becoming oil burners.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
3 months ago

I just throw a handful of sand into the oil fill at each oil change. Keeps everything in the engine clean. YMMV.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
3 months ago

So did they partner with Restore (https://www.restoreusa.com/index.php) for this product? Seems likely. I know there’s a lot of snake oil out there but that shit really works. Before I went all-EV, I used Restore in all my (gasoline) truck engines and it’s a frickin’ miracle. It dramatically decreased or eliminated oil burning and the engine ran better and smoother. Add a bottle next time you change your oil – you can thank me later.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
3 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

I used it for years in several of my old crap cars. Was surprised at how well it seemed to help.

Black-Villain
Black-Villain
3 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

Looking at the advertising, it has some kind of solvent in it for removing carbon deposits, which is different than the Restore product. Kind of confusing given the similar names.

Although i’ll agree with you, I’ve used Restore before in some worn out engines and that stuff is a godsend, turned a 700k mile W136 300SD from an oil burning, slow, hard to start, blowby like a chimney into starting without glow plugs within half a second above 45 degrees.

Parsko
Parsko
3 months ago

Is this an Rotella the same or similar? I’m with possible, all my cars are over 180k and consume oil. I don’t mind paying a bit extra to solve this issue.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
3 months ago

There was an oil additive in the mid-late 2000’s called Auto-RX that did an amazing job of cleaning out deposits in gas engines. IIRC it consisted of a lot of esters that broke down carbon. It didn’t fix mechanical issues but did help many a Toyota V6 with sludge.

Zorah
Zorah
3 months ago

I wonder if this oil might unstick the oil scraper rings in my 2008 Scion XB. Unfortunately I missed the recall which involved replacing the pistons and it uses oil at a pretty steady rate.

Oldskool
Oldskool
3 months ago

Blue Restore…. I wonder if this is just regular oil with that Engine Restore added. The blue goo in a can, that temporarily fills scores in the cylinder walls. I tried it once on an old car at an oil change just for shits and giggles. After about 500 miles into the oil change, it definitely increased power. After about 2500 miles into the change, it fell back to normal. Kinda like a sugar high and crash.

Last edited 3 months ago by Oldskool
Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
3 months ago
Reply to  Oldskool

Just saw your comment. If you use it regularly, those improvements will last longer. After three treatments (oil changes) they’ll last through the oil change interval (5000 miles for me). The incremental increased cost to my oil change was totally worth it to me. I used that stuff for about 15 years and it definitely added to the lifespan of my old trucks.

Black-Villain
Black-Villain
3 months ago
Reply to  Oldskool

It’s not, looks like it’s some kind of solvent in the oil for cleaning carbon deposits

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago

(glances at driveway with cars over 170k)
Already been thinking about Stoddard oil, and now you tell me about this. Might be time to revive my better living through chemistry experiments.

nerd alert: I didn’t know Marvel Mystery Oil had been analyzed after all this time. 15min video over at Uncle Tony’s Garage (not affiliated: just like learning silly stuff—and that there actually might be some benefit. I have absolutely no opinion about the lard tho 😉 )

Last edited 3 months ago by TOSSABL
Scruffinater
Scruffinater
3 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Thanks for the tip on MMO. That stuff reeks (literally and figuratively) of snake oil, but damn I have had good luck with it clearing up valvetrain ticking in high mileage engines.

This comment section is turning into a great thread for everyone’s experience with different engine snake oil products, and boy am I here for it!

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
3 months ago

Are you saying that Cummins built a fleet of carbon capture devices but is now reversing course? I suspect some Gulf State shenanigans.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
3 months ago

Pretty sure they didn’t say that, or anything else about carbon capture.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
3 months ago

That’s one small seep for a van, one giant seep for vankind.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
3 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Technically just white van.

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
3 months ago

Pour in Castrol,Start engine, pour in Castrol, literally push the pedal to the floor and go.

GenericWhiteVan
GenericWhiteVan
3 months ago

Today’s real news is that Cummings is being fined $1.6 Billion for cheating on emissions, similar to VW.

https://apnews.com/article/cummins-doj-settlement-engine-emissions-claims-b80708c6ebe8eb7e7a3684db0837e209

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
3 months ago

Screw you. I was busy looking at a cute puppy and you had to bring this to my attention. Grrrr…

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
3 months ago

I wish I could say I am surprised. It’s becoming safe to assume that if it’s diesel-powered, it could be cheating. Ugh, and I like diesel. The staff has logged off for the holiday, but you might see something on this later!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago

Do it in good time, Mercedes. Everyone deserves a break. Cuddle up and watch a silly movie or some such.
Cheers!

Aprtur
Aprtur
3 months ago

If you do write up something on this, Mercedes, be sure to note that Cummins has already been working with the EPA on this very issue since 2019, including issuing recalls for affected trucks. Happy to discuss one on one if you can’t find the data.

David Tracy
David Tracy
3 months ago

I’m here. Kinda. I’m tired. And sick.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
3 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Feel better soon DT. And Happy Fargin’ Holidays to you.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
3 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Go to bed and stay there.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
3 months ago

I don’t take issue with companies cheating because their engines that pass emissions everywhere else in the world cannot pass emissions in the US.

And I really don’t take issue with any company, like VW, any more than the others because every company has been caught cheating in the US.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
3 months ago

From what I know the issue here wasn’t knowingly cheating the caa,but rather that the oem supplied aftertreatment devices was not functioning properly. Given the b6.7 engine certification is owned and managed by Cummins the basically had no choice than to take the ruling and assume responsibility.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
3 months ago
Reply to  67 Oldsmobile

From the Cummins statement: I want to underscore that the company has not admitted any wrongdoing nor seen evidence that anyone acted in bad faith. As this resolution is finalized over the next several weeks, we expect that the government will discuss it in a way that disparages the company. This is disappointing given how diligently and collaboratively we have worked with the regulators for more than four years to resolve their questions. 
From the beginning, we have cooperated fully with the relevant regulators, conducted a thorough internal review of the affected pick-up trucks and recalled many. We also expanded and strengthened our emissions compliance program by creating Product Compliance & Regulatory Affairs (PCRA), which has a reporting line into me, to help ensure our products comply with increasingly stringent emissions regulations around the world. 

Ron888
Ron888
3 months ago
Reply to  67 Oldsmobile

I’m ready to give them benefit of the doubt, but they’ll have to say things better than that.
For instance If it’s a third part supplier issue as mentioned elsewhere,they need to say it, not give this load of nothingness

Ron888
Ron888
3 months ago
Reply to  67 Oldsmobile

Ouch thats tough

Major Malfunction
Major Malfunction
3 months ago

When the truth comes out I won’t be surprised if all the tuners the EPA went after had their assets seized and reverse engineered the Cummins source code on it. That was scrutinized and found that there was “bonus code” that allowed the engine to run in a different scheme when certain parameters were satisfied like VW and others did to assume it was under test conditions. Also wouldn’t be surprised if Ford and Chevy diesels go under the microscope, if they aren’t already.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
3 months ago

Reminds me of my Vehicross. Called for oil changes at 15,000 miles but used oil up at a tremendous rate. It would burn or leak the 5 quarts in the 15,000. Of course if you kept up on checking oil you were replacing it and just need to add a filter. But I love it haven’t had any issues except a rear main seal. I always wondered if they set it at 15,000 I hopes that the 10 year or 100,000 mile warranty wasn’t abused.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

My dad a BMW 2002 (I think it was a 1970 or 1971 model year) that would drink a quart of oil every 500 miles. My dad would simply change the filter every once in a while, knowing full well that every drop of oil in the oil pan was relatively fresh. The 1983 Mercedes Benz 300TD he replaced it with wasn’t much better, though it’s oil consumption didn’t start getting really bad until after 340,000 miles.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

That’s not atypical of an older engine. IIRC my TR3 recommended topping off the oil every 300 miles. Of course being a British car more oil was probably lost to the ground than to the tailpipe.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Yeah 15000 is a massively long interval.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
3 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

And remember this is a Vehicle which came out in the 90s.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
3 months ago

Sorry, owned by Aramco now, can’t buy Valvoline.

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