We first ran the Project EP3 on the dyno with the conventional 5W-20 mineral oil that is recommended by Honda for the K20A3. We did about 6 pulls to make sure we had consistent results. 

Martin made sure that the engine and drivetrain were completely warmed up to keep frictional losses consistent. 

After each pull, the engine was allowed to cool down on the dyno while idling.  All dyno pulls were started at the same water temp and about the same intake air temp for consistent results.  After our power level was recorded with the 5W-20 oil, we switched over to the Idemitsu ZEPRO 0W-20 and repeated the test. 

The results were nothing short of amazing!  Project EP3 gained over 8hp and up to 11 lb/ft of torque!  This was repeatable over several dyno pulls. The gains were over a wide range as well. We have never seen this sort of power gain as the result of engine oil. The gains were about 5 hp more than what we had seen by switching from conventional oil to a premium synthetic on this car!

When driving Project EP3 with the Idemitsu oil, you could feel the power gains from a seat of the pants perspective.  The engine revved faster and the car definitely accelerated better. It was pretty amazing. The engine even idled smoother. We have never felt this sort of response due to oil before. To put what this oil does into perspective, this level of power gain is generally greater than what you might expect on a naturally aspirated engine from an air intake or exhaust and is more on part with what headers might do for instance. 

The advantages are marked and we think that this oil could be the secret weapon for racing classes like autocross and SCCA road racing that tightly restrict engine modifications or for stuff like the Stock Eliminator drag racing where mods are restricted and every bit of power counts.  We do have some concerns that the thin oil may not protect like a thicker premium synthetic racing oil for high horsepower applications so we would experiment with caution in these cases.

To free up this level of power due to friction reduction means that there is a lot of potential fuel economy gains with ZEPRO 0W-20 as well. We have been monitoring the Project EP3's fuel economy before and after the oil change and will report how well the oil performs in that aspect at a later date.  We will also be monitoring for accelerated oil burning or any other negative side effects of running thin oil in the K20A3. 

We are very impressed with Idemitsu ZEPRO 0W-20 and will consider running it on late model NA cars for track days to enjoy the power gains.  Stay tuned for a future article covering the oils effect on fuel economy. 


Idemitsu Lubricants

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Wednesday, May 09, 2018 5:12 PM
Shame on you for this. Seriously.
Wednesday, May 09, 2018 5:23 PM
Royal Purple used to make the same claim some 15 years back, turns out they just used really thin oil for less resistance but engine protection suffered. Experienced this personally with highly accelerated wear and oil consumption.

now I'm not saying Idemitsu ZEPRO 0W-20 is the same, but short of running this for 80k on an engine and seeing the results (like my experience with royal purple) it can't really be proven otherwise... I'll take oil that provides protection at the expense of 8hp personally
Wednesday, May 09, 2018 5:28 PM
also, why didn't you test this against synthetic oil? nobody that cares about pulling the last 8hp out of their car is gonna be running dino oil anyway...
Wednesday, May 09, 2018 7:45 PM
Viscosity actually has nothing to do with how well an engine oil prevents engine wear. Film strength is what prevents engine wear and, in modern oils, there is no significant correlation between viscosity and film strength. A higher viscosity oil will not necessarily provide better protection in extreme conditions. A 0W-20 motor oil with excellent film strength will prevent wear much better than a 10W-40 motor oil with poor film strength.

Modern oils can produce incredibly high film strength at very low viscosities. As long as you can get adequate film strength then lower viscosity is always better from a performance standpoint. Lower viscosity means less drag, better cooling, and superior lubrication because more oil is flowing through the oil pump and into the engine rather than simply being bypassed back into the oil pan.

Thinner oil also drains back into the sump more quickly, reducing the risk of oil starvation. Thinner oil releases trapped air bubbles more quickly and is more resistant to being whipped into a foam by the churning assembly of parts in the crankcase. So long as there is adequate film strength, a thinner engine oil will always be superior to a thicker one.

Martin Gonzales
Martin Gonzaleslink
Wednesday, May 09, 2018 8:04 PM
@corn: Why would you make that statement? We have nothing to be ashamed of for reporting our real world findings. We have actual data to prove our point and we also mention the potential downfall for using a much thinner oil. Maybe I'm misunderstanding your statement, but at the moment I really don't see what you're getting at.
Martin Gonzales
Martin Gonzaleslink
Wednesday, May 09, 2018 8:12 PM
@warmmilk: All valid points and I for one agree with you (I'll take protection over HP most of the time). This will be a long term test and we plan to continue using this oil for at least a few more oil changes, so we'll see what we find.

As for folks that care about extracting HP not caring about using dino oil, I disagree...kinda. HP is efficiency, and efficiency will yield more MPG. So MPG freaks may not be horsepower freaks, but they definitely care about extracting horsepower to increase their MPGs. In the follow up article we will also report back with our MPG data before and after the 0/20 Idemitsu.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Thursday, May 10, 2018 4:34 AM
Viscosity has a strong correlation to how well bearings with a fully developed fluid film keep performing as bearings - it's integral to the entire mechanism for how things like main and rod bearings work! Other stuff that's in the boundary lubrication regime like cam followers yeah, film strength comes into play.
Thursday, May 10, 2018 5:43 AM
As soon as I read the title I knew what the finds would be. I mean, in Gran Turismo you always gained a few ponies if doing the oil change.
Thursday, May 10, 2018 12:26 PM
Like I said, idk if this oil sucks for protection or not, just saying the last oil that came out with hp gain promises sucked for protection

@Martin Gonzales
A few oil changes isn't enough to see long term effects... I'd wanna see at least 30k...

synthetic oil is better than dino oil for MPG generally too... point is, enthusiasts use synthetic oils, people that go to the track use synthetic oils... the kinda people that would buy this Idemitsu ZEPRO oil use synthetic oil. so this should be compared to a synthetic oil and not " the cheapest decent mineral based oil we could find on sale at Autozone"
Thursday, May 10, 2018 5:41 PM
@Dan DeRosia

Say that to all the BMW M3's and M5's with spun bearings out there. The combination of high-viscosity 10W-60 oil that BMW specified and tight rod bearing/conrod side clearance was entirely to blame for those failures. Low-viscosity oil with high film-strength is now well-known to eliminate that issue.

Oil FLOW is lubrication. The argument for viscosity being critical in the operation of plain bearings would only hold up if oil wasn't constantly being pumped through the engine. Plain engine bearings are not designed to be lubricated by a stationary oil film, they are designed to be lubricated by a flow of oil.

Your argument about a "fully developed fluid film" is totally meaningless in the face of a dynamic engine environment with constantly flowing oil.

Higher viscosity just makes for higher oil pressure, and oil pressure is not what keeps the crank and crank bearings separated. They are kept separated by the non-compressible hydrodynamic liquid oil wedge that the oil pump is constantly renewing through fluid flow. ALL liquids are non-compressible, it does not matter what their viscosity is. Water cannot be compressed any more than pancake syrup.

As long as the engine is delivering adequate oil pressure to keep enough oil flowing to the critical components then any additional pressure is of no benefit. The ideal engine oil is only just thick enough to deliver enough oil pressure with a reasonable safety buffer. Anything thicker than that just creates needless additional pressure which causes oil to be bypassed back into the oil pan rather than pumped through the engine. That bypassed oil represents lost lubrication and cooling capacity, it is doing nothing to help the performance of the engine.

What matters most to engine durability is film strength, and film strength is largely determined by the additive package in an oil. It has nothing to do with viscosity.
Thursday, May 10, 2018 6:38 PM
It'll be easy for somebody else to go out and test another performing otc oil to compare this against if they're so inclined. I like the rest, the results seem honest.


To say viscosity has no effect on engine wear, longevity and lubrication film strength is to redefine their very definitions.

The list of evidence supported by peer reviewed literature is too vast to cite here. Two months (around there) ago in the stle magazine they described this itself.

Other sources easily found sport the opposite of what you're saying.

The focus on film strength divorcing it from viscosity kinda reads like that rat 540's stuff.

Way too many other factors to get tribologists to agree with such a broad statement.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Friday, May 11, 2018 4:19 AM

You've been reading 540rat's blog. He's wrong too. Or, he's narrowly testing one regime of lubrication and assuming it applies to everything because his engine combination doesn't typically fail main bearings.

Viscosity is what draws the oil into the incompressible wedge in the first place, and what keeps it from squirting out the sides of the bearing shell. Why yes, oil is incompressible (ish - real oil tends to be aerated) but an automotive style journal bearing has two open sides - it doesn't need to compress, it can and does just flow out the sides!

Now, you do need supply flow because that's the only thing that's taking heat out of the system, but other than that there's not much correlation between the fluid film between the bearing and journal and load capacity. Automotive style bearings are only one way to make fluid film bearings work - if you do it right, you can design stuff to work (for a while until it gets too hot) without any flow.

So in the end just because the only effect you can easily measure with viscosity is oil pressure (which doesn't matter) doesn't mean that's the only effect viscosity has.

Source: My last day job was as a test engineer in the R&D lab of a fluid film bearing maker who did stuff ranging in size from turbocharger bearings to stuff for power plants. I read textbooks on how the stuff worked, picked the brains of the PhDs who were designing the analysis code to figure out how it all was working, and tested stuff to failure using test rigs larger than a semi truck and trailer.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Friday, May 11, 2018 4:25 AM
See if you can find a copy of Booser's Bearing Design and Application - it's a textbook from 1957. The analysis methods can be made more detailed now due to computers vs working the math out by hand and there's new materials at play compared to then (for industrial scale stuff anyway) but the math and ways all of this work were figured out back then.
Friday, May 11, 2018 5:16 PM
@Dan DeRosia
I can't find that book, but I have this close by. ISBN 978-1118637241

Pretty good stuff.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Saturday, May 12, 2018 10:20 AM
I would have figured that there'd be a newer edition - as you might have guessed I have the older one. ;)

I actually still find the fluid film bearing stuff interesting even though I moved on from there - there's a lot of stuff that's well past what people know about, and we were doing some genuinely interesting work with materials and designs.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Sunday, May 13, 2018 11:03 PM
Corn, why do you feel this way, we tested this oil on this motor and these were the results.
Tarik Laaraj
Tarik Laarajlink
Wednesday, May 16, 2018 6:55 AM
Mike can we have some data from Blackstone after 3k miles?

Cool stuff!
Wednesday, May 16, 2018 5:44 PM
mike. when this site started it was more signal less noise. Test parts and prove their worth. Now it is pimp any product that will give us free stuff and all testing is positive and everything is great. Project cars getting more costly and unrealistic to the core group you started by representing. but hey, free parts right ?
Monday, May 21, 2018 10:06 AM
Well I agree and disagree about the oil "snake oil" aspect of this. But I will say I'm really looking forward to the long term affects. I for one work in an industry that lubricants make or break a machine. I work in industrial maintenance. Plastics right now. We have a few machines with over 3 million cycles on them. They have proprietary grease and oils. But the wear is negligible. Other machines have barely broken 700,000 cycles. But had shitty mp2 or hp2 grease. And they are hammered.
I like this project because it is cheap. That being said. Mike could you weild your industry wide magic wand, and make K&W or someone make quality coilovers (or even koni inserts) for the Acura ILX.
I know the car is a joke new. But used it's a pretty good bargain.
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