What's the best engine oil for Honda's VTEC engines ?

The official Honda engine oils, "Honda Engine Oil" on the left is semi-synthetic while "Honda VTEC-LEV" on the right is mineral.

One question that have always been asked whenever Honda fans discusses about VTEC is that issue of the best engine oil for the engine. While there are many different brands of oil available on the market, many with great specifications, some even with a "Formula-1 Pedigree" (e.g. Mobil-1), I think the answer by Mr. Ichisima, president of the famous SPOON SPORTS Honda specialist tuner in Japan during his interview on issue-1 of BEST MOTORing International, is the best and most concise. Mr. Ichisima said it simply for engine oil, the "price per litre" is no indication of suitability, i.e. a multi-dollar oil will not necessarily work better than the cheaper alternative. He goes on to make a firm recommendation for the best engine oil for your Honda engine, the oil available from the dealer is probably the best. Personally, I think his recommendation makes the best sense.

Honda Engine OilHonda VTEC-LEV oil

In the Malaysian market at least, Honda officially markets two grades of engine oil. The "Honda Engine Oil" is a semi-synthetic 15W-40 oil which is recommended for all Honda engines, including the super high spec'ed DOHC VTEC and DOHC iVTEC versions. The Honda "VTEC-LEV" engine oil is meant for the low-emissions rated engines, e.g. D15B 3-stage VTEC or the D17 on the new Civic. This oil is mineral and is spec'ed at 10W-30. Owners of Hondas will most probably not go wrong with either of these oils. Based on the information on the packaging, for most SOHC engines, Honda's VTEC-LEV oil seems to be the best recommendation. For the DOHC and DOHC-VTEC engines, Honda's "Engine Oil" will probably be the best recommendation. However, it would be best to consult the dealer when making the decision on which engine oil to use for the car. The packaging listed "Idemitsu" as the OEM manufacturer of these oils, most probably manufactured to Honda's unique specifications, just like what OKI do for micro-controllers for Honda's ECUs.

I myself have since switched from Shell lubricants to Honda's "Engine Oil" on my Integra. With Honda's "Engine Oil", the engine now seems much quieter and smoother at idle, with a clear feeling of "lightness" when asked to rev to high rpms (which is probably due to the lighter 40 weight as compared to Shell Helix Plus which has a weight rating of 50). The engine note is much more race-like with a much clearer distinct change in note at the VTEC changover point. For my EK3's next service, I again intend to switch from Shell Helix Plus semi-synthetic, this time to Honda's "VTEC-LEV" engine oil. Personally for me, Mr. Ichisima's recommendations were on the spot, and I would recommend to readers to try them out for themselves too.

Note : Recommendation with regards to which engine oil to use on this article are the personal opinions of the writer and are expressed "as-is" and purely as an opinion only. Readers should use their own judgement when deciding on which engine oil they should ultimately use for their car.

July 2001
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