2012 Ford Explorer Long Term Road Test

2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost: Oil Change Game Film

November 03, 2011


As promised, our 2012 Ford Explorer XLT EcoBoost had it's first oil change ahead of schedule. The manual says the first change could have waited until 7,500 to 10,000 miles showed on the clock. The actual number would depend on what the oil life monitor had to say about our collective driving habits.

We decided that maybe the oil life monitor doesn't know how to handle our track test procedure. We decided that maybe we should try out Blackstone Labs' advice, which suggests an early first (and maybe second) oil change to get the inevitable break-in residue out of there. They're fine with the extended oil change intervals and oil life monitors, but take a conservative approach when it comes to the break-in period.

So at 3,166 miles we withdrew an oil sample for analysis and changed the oil and filter.

This was a DIY job, and we photographed it for an upcoming how-to piece for the tips and advice section of Edmunds.com. More to come on that front later.

I used a Motorcraft filter bought from a dealer, because I still remember a couple of bad past experiences with aftermarket filters. I did pay a couple of bucks more for the privlege, though, as the factory filter set me back $8.98, tax included.


The oil bottle depicted in the graphic just happens to be a synthetic blend, and such oils are specifically listed (Motorcraft, of course) in a chart deeper in the manual. But if synthetic blends or full synthetics are specifically required, Ford doesn't say that outright in clear language.

This could be because semi-synthetic oil formulations are not necessary to meet the lubrication requirements of the API's sunburst label. I found plenty of "regular" oils that carry the same designation on the shelf. Some experts will tell you that the line between semi-synthetic and "regular" oils is an ill-defined one, at best.

Be that as it may, I went ahead and bought Motorcraft 5W-30 synthetic blend oil anyway because my auto parts store actually had it on the shelf for the relatively decent price of $4.99 each. With tax the six quarts I needed cost me $32.26.

The EcoBoost 2.0 wears an o-ring on its drain plug that doesn't need replacing, so the total cost for my synthetic blend DIY oil change came out to $41.24.

But what did Blackstone say about the old oil, the original factory fill that I drained out when the engine had 3,166 miles on it?

Phil Reed's credit card got charged for the sample, so they addresses the results to him.


As expected, Blackstone likes the idea of an early first oil change. The Universal Averages column shows what 6,000-mile old oil from a similar fully broken-in engine should look like. Our younger oil shows high levels consistent with a new engine wearing in, especially iron, copper, aluminum, molybdenum and silicon.

They're not saying this is harmful, per se, but they like to see this sort of thing washed out "sooner rather than later." After all, these particles were in the oil, not the oil filter. It's worth noting here that their cautious approach may stem from the fact that many of their clients are trucking companies and fleet managers that want to keep their vehicles in service (and out of the service bay) for a looong time.

From here we'll go with the oil life monitor to determine the next oil change interval. At that point we'll re-sample and do this all over again.

Except we'll probably pay the dealer for the next change and see how much time and money that costs.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

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