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January 26, 2011

Oil Comments

Man, I don’t know whats happening this season but I am having a hard time keeping up with the blogging. I am going to start banging out some content without all the links and photos at least for the next few submissions… So what’s going on?

Well Jon and I were out on a couple of 2012 snowmobiles yesterday doing some video shooting for next months launch. We are going to do things a bit differently this year by providing our dealers with an online introduction to the new sleds and then upload much of the content to our web-site,  Yamatube and Yournextsled.com for all.

Another recent development that is going to net me a couple of days on trail, the  president of Yamaha  Motor Company  is flying in here from Japan on business and wants to go for a ride. I was volunteered to assist which is really quite an honor. I have had the pleasure to tour several of our presidents and directors over the years and without exception it has always had a positive impact somewhere down the road. I think if one only looked at the numbers without knowing the passion of the ride, the decision to be a snowmobiler, a snowmobile dealer or a snowmobile manufacturer would be in question. There is a lot of juice to be found in snowmobiles but only from the perspective of hanging onto the bars.

I had a chuckle when DanBro pointed out a little clip in a snomo rag earlier in the week. It was covering the launch in November of a new blog from Skidoo focussed on their mountain sleds. They conclude with ‘we applaud the open communication effort and hope other brands follow the yellow lead’… Nice! makes me wonder where they’ve been the last four years of Sled Talk. Come to think about it I remember Polaris had Tom Tiller blogging a couple of years ago and Cat has had a blog for quite a while covering the races and special events. Regardless, its a good move for them to connect with the online community, alas we’ll just have to follow along 😉

I sat in on a very interesting session with an engineer from Nippon oil regarding oils and lubes a few days ago. I have read the conversations on some of the forums when the guys go off defending their favorite brand oils often quoting the different properties and advantages. I asked the question which prompted an answer that never occurred to me. Our engineers test Yamalube blends in each specific application. First right out of the bottle, then in use. It is the ‘in-use’ results that make or break the deal. He used one of the most popular automotive synthetics as an example, where it tested superb right out of the bottle but within 5 hours of engine operation, one of the areas where it ranked highest deteriorated to the point where we would not accept it for a Yamaha application. He went on to show several more examples based on hard data. The point I took from all this is many of the oil brands that claim to be great in so many applications are not tested in those same applications and the data you see in marketing print is based on clean oil in the bottle. Our oil has to pass tests that are based on new and at the drain interval and several points between. He also mentioned that Yamaha engineers have a reputation in his industry as being some of the most thorough and difficult to satisfy. I thought that was a good thing.

cheers  cr

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14 Responses to “Oil Comments”

  1. Yellowknife says:

    hmmm, I’m looking at the oil issue myself right now for my truck – I can’t win. I just can’t know for sure which oil is truly best, or equivalent to what’s required (or better I suppose). It gets more confusing as the years pass on, and you’ve written about oil a couple of times now as it continues to be a hot topic. Come to think of it, I’m going to need to buy another case of snowmobile oil – 3 sleds, each gets an oil change at end of season, one usually needs a change half way through the season, so that’s 4 oil changes per year. I looked at another case of Yamalube 0W-40 Full Synthetic. $19.70 per litre. Now if I look for an ‘equivalent’ (subject to opinion) there’s oil of the same weight for less than half that price. I can’t test that cheaper priced oil (or any oil), I can only go buy what the guys on the tech support line tell me. I looked at a company like BRP that sells their oil at $15 per litre for a non-synthetic when I owned 2 strokes and I think, that’s a rip off! They’re just taking oil from a company we already have access to and marking it up, there’s nothing special about that oil (or is there?) So begs the question, why do manufacturers retail their own oil with different labels on it, to make a mint?, or to ensure riders and drivers have a one stop shop and availability to the best oil tested for the product they sell? (or both?) I don’t know, but what’s clear is right now everyone sounds the same to me, whether it is a sled/car manufacturer selling oil or an oil company selling oil, you get told all the same things…but I never did hear the tech guy on the support line tell me how the oil held up after it was ready to be recycled. Kinda what matters most, eh?

    Take it easy on the blog, we don’t need all the flash and bling, we like the content at the core…and I know what it’s like to have dinner with a ‘higher-up’ and have it result in positive impacts down the road. There’s one guy who’s constantly helping me out in the snowmobile industry who I really appreciate (and I think he’s the one who paid for the meal!)


  2. Morrisond says:

    Hi Chris,

    Do you have a fixed date yet for the 2012 Intro, or at least a general time or week?

    Hey Dane, the embargo date is Feb 28, we are still working with the other distributors on the details.


  3. Apex/Vector says:

    One thing that has always puzzled me when it comes to the oil debate are Yamaha’s recommended filter and oil change intervals.These small capacity filters can be used for 20,000kms before being changed?
    Yamaha must be extremely confident in the quality and durability of their Yamalube products and filters.Technically you could change the oil and filter every 4,000k’s and, in the case of the Apex,put in 3.6L of new oil and dump .2L(filter capacity) of the used oil back in the engine to bring it up to the 3.8L maximmum and exceed specs because you would have 3.6L new,.2L used and a new filter vs the recommended 3.6L new,2L old and old filter.This sparks a few questions.Most would think that a new Yamaha filter and all fresh oil of Brand X would certainly Exceed or be better than leaving in 5-7% of capacity of used oil in coupled with a used filter with upwards of 16,000kms.What about a Brand Y fiter and yamalube, Brand y filter and Brand X oil, etc. One would assume that most, if not all major brands of new oil and new oil filters would be the equivalent of used Yamaha oil and filters.Or are they? The average Joe doesn’t have the tools to quantitatively test regular autmotive oil in powersports applications at 11,000 rpm or to even test so-called ” powersports applications oil with wet slip clutch compatibility” vs Yamalube in real life scenarios.The lower priced filters and oils(compared to Yamalube) tempt us all,but how much are you really saving and how much risk are you willing to take to save those few dollars.When you are in your third or fourth mile at WOT down your favourite lake at -25C, and didn”t use Yamalube, are you thinking that I can get cheese on my burger with the money saved or are you fully experiencing the adrenaline rush and stress relief this sport provides.I prefer to use Yamalube, spport my local dealer,give myself one less thing to worry about as well as start skipping the cheese.

    Thanks Steve, I appreciate, you have put a lot of thought into this and bring up some really good points. I am going to respond to some of this as best I can over the next while, maybe start a little Yamalube debate as part of each post… cheers cr

  4. Stephen Burdick says:


    Somewhat related to oil in a way, well atleast fluids…..

    I moved to Washington State 4 eyars ago and brough about half my vintage collection of snowmobiles with me (out of the 40 I brought like 17) and of course my new YAMAHA mountain sleds. Those vintage sleds that are in WA have been run each year and always recieve a spring service where I pump all the gas out of each tank and replace with a treated fuel (Stabil). I have yet to have an issue with these sleds running at will anytime in the season.

    Here is where my story gets more interesting……..

    The remaining sleds (in New Hampshire) are a mix of vintage and new. Everything from a 1963 Ski Doo Kohler 4-Stroke to a 1992 Yamaha VMax-4 and a 2002 Yamaha SXViper and everything in between. My father has been pumping the gas out after each season and refilling with a quality treated fuel. Then he runs them on a stand for long enough to get the fuel through the system. Anyway, I was back in NH for Christmas and decided I would pull the cord on all those sleds and take each for a little blast around the property and air them out. Everything was an easy start except the newer sleds.

    The 1992 VMax-4 had a stuck float right from the start and emptied a good amount of fuel onto the shop floor. After pulling the carbs, I found each pilot jet completely plugged to the point where I have to use a small piece of wire to break through the blockage before carb cleaner and air would clean it up.

    The 2003 SXViper had the same issue with the pilot jets. My 1990 Phazer II had stuck needle and seats so no fuel even made it into the carb……

    I spent several evenings in the shop playing with gummed up carbs and thinking to myself, the pre 1974 part of my collection weathered the storm very easily as far as prolonged storage (likely becasue of a relatively low technology and performance componant). It made me think about my fuel injection sleds. I will be replacing my 2008 FXNytro MTX Anniversary Edition in the next two seasons and retiring it to the collection room. Plan on replacing with a new FXNytro 162″ with an Alpine Turbo……… (I get chills just thinking about it). How likely will it be the current fuel blends and additives will cause me more issues in the future with my new sleds?

    I had seen in a Yamaha bulletin where “Sea Foam” was recomended in the Vmax-4 or RX-1???

    I would love to see some more blogs about where we are headed in regards to fuels and fuel economy in the sled bussines. Sorry for the long story.

    -Steve Burdick

    Hey Thanks Steve, another really interesting response. Funny you mention Seafoam, not sure if it had anything to do with it, but we worked with one of our suppliers to develop a product called Ringfree that I have been using in my toys. I have never been a big believer of a tune-up in a can, but after hearing some of the comments I gave it a try in my pontoon boat (T50 4-stroke outboard) It had over 400 hours on it with very little maintenance… within two tanks of gas, starting improved, idling, response even the sound… its running like new. I think this area of fuel quality, stabilizers and improver’s is a good one for some research and future posts… cheers (up to 40 sleds in your collection now ! WoW! cr

  5. Bob says:

    Hi Chris,
    Can you share some of that testing information on which brand were totally unacceptable and others that were. No doubt that the Yamaha brand is specific and extensively tested but not all brands offered are just re-packaged automotive oil.


  6. pat the rat says:

    i’m also a yamalube beleiver,only thing is why dont yamaha offer it in 4 liter jugs for cheaper than having all these empty plastic liters,if they do exist,my dealer doesnt have them,plus it would be greener by not wasting so much plastic,between all my 4 stroke yamaha,i go thru at least 30 liters a year,i would only chuck 6 or 7 jugs instead of 30 plus,just a thought,cant wait for the 2012,hope to see something new,if not,were still riding the best quality snowmobiles on the market,chow for now

  7. Yellowknife says:

    Chris, my conversation with Shell Canada – feel free to remove it all after reading and just post my question at the bottom if you can answer it;

    From: nalla12@hotmail.com
    Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2011 8:52 PM
    To: Techdesk@shell.com
    Subject: Oil Selection

    Hi, I need help selecting a 4-stroke motor oil.

    The products requiring the oil are:

    2007 Yamaha Phazer Mountain Lite Snowmobile
    2008 Yamaha FX Nytro MTX Snowmobile
    2009 Yamaha FX Nytro XTX Snowmobile

    I am looking for a full synthetic oil in a weight of 0W-40.

    I ride the snowmobiles in Canada’s Arctic and require an oil that is capable of operations and start-ups at -40 degrees minimum, -50 degrees or lower if possible.

    The engine’s require an oil for high friction applications.

    The manufacturer calls for a JASO standard MA certification in order to meet warranty requirements on the engine.

    The manufacturer also calls for an API certification of SG or higher.

    The engine oil also lubricates a starter clutch in the engine, and the engine can not use an oil of a higher grade than ‘CD’

    The oil can not be energy conserving and it must not contain any friction modifiers.

    The oil should have additives against wear and extreme pressures and be certified for use in motorsports products and high friction applications.

    I have no way of knowing if you offer an oil that meets these requirements, please help.

    Thank you,

    Subject: RE: Oil Selection – 2082840 – I-01
    Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2011 17:05:54 -0600
    From: Techdesk@shell.com
    To: nalla12@hotmail.com

    No, Shell does not offer a 0w40 oil meeting JASO MA spec that we recommend for Snowmobiles. Our Rotella T 5 0w40 would possibly pass the JASO MA requirements and meets API SJ and API CH-4. These are considered backwards compatible to CD, as they do exceed these specs. JASO MA also includes Friction Limitations.

    From: Allan Gofenko [mailto:nalla12@hotmail.com]
    Sent: Friday, January 28, 2011 5:26 PM
    To: SCAN Techdesk SCAN
    Subject: RE: Oil Selection – 2082840 – I-01

    Does the Rotella T 5 0w40 have water-shedding capabilities?

    Subject: RE: Oil Selection – 2082840 – I-01
    Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2011 18:12:37 -0600
    From: Techdesk@shell.com
    To: nalla12@hotmail.com

    Dear Allan,

    The Rotella T 5 0W-40 would not have water-shedding capabilities.


    Question: Why are water-shedding capabilities important and what happens if you use an oil that does not contain them?

    Thanks Allan, at least they are honest and like the majority of oil companies, they clearly have not tested their products in our engines. On water shedding, consider that even in a perfectly dry climate, water is produced as a bi-product of combustion, now add in the amount of moisture drawn through the intake on your sled. I’m thinking it can effect durability in several ways: mixing with other chemicals and bi-products (contaminants) causing corrosion, especially during periods of non-use (storage). I would think it may also impact the stability of the additive packages and their ability to perform, things like shear, evaporation, VI’s etc… just my .25 w/o consulting the engineers. cheers cr

  8. Mark Lawson says:


    A few of us on TY were talking about the Adaptive SnowCross racing at the Xgames this weekend.


    We saw the Nytro adapted for those with no function of their legs. I’m sure this was something they may have come up with outside of Yamaha but it brought up an interesting point.

    Blair Morgan has been seen on a snowmobile show this season setting up a Yamaha Rhino with a potential for racing. What are the chances of getting him on an adapted blue sled as well?

    An icon of the sport like Blair would be an inspiration to many riders out there with disabilities. If he is riding a rhino, then we know he is not all BRP anymore.

    Something to think about the next time you are at a roundtable thinking of great PR opportunities.

    If you get the chance to look at someone’s recorded episodes of the Xgames 15 Adaptive Snowcross, check it out. The Nytro was an amazing thing. And it would be fun to see it in the hands of someone like Blair Morgan!

    Keep up the great work!

    Thanks Mark, YMUS assisted Doug Henry in a very similar situation as Blairs. Doug is another heroic man who has had a huge impact on motorsports. I’ll circulate your comments… cheers cr

  9. Mark Lawson says:

    Thanks Chris, and please don’t let me downplay what Doug Henry is doing. I am glad to hear that Yamaha was involved in that sled. Doug rips on that thing!

    After a bit more research, it looks like Blair is really pulling away from all sorts of racing and being the dad he wanted to be before the injury. You gotta respect a guy with priorities like that.

    Absolutely!! Thanks again cr

  10. John Enright says:

    I have a 2010 RS Vector long track. Would like to change chaincase oil but cannot find any info anywhere about which Yamalube product to use. And can I get a synthetic.

    Hey John, the chain-case oil in Yamaha’s is basically 80/90 hypoid gear oil. Yamalube chain-case oil isn’t available in a synthetic but we are working on bringing some to market. I like the idea of a synthetic or moly-based lube in the chaincase. Polaris used to offer a good moly base chain-case oil. cheers cr

  11. Brady says:

    I have enjoyed reading all the comments on oil and filters, etc. I have been a mechanic for over 15 years and I specialize in turboed vehicles and have studied a lot on oil and I also have a lot of experience with oils and lubes as well. I just wanted to add a little knowledge to the wealth of information already here. 1- the oil and lubes that are sold by Yamaha are not made by Yamaha. Yamaha takes and tests an oil manufactures oil and buys what meets there requirements. All manufactures do the same thing. 2- There are other oil companies out there that do extensive oil testing in the snowmobile market and have better quality oils than what Yamaha offers(technical use data shows this to be true). I have 2 Yamaha snowmobiles a 2009 Nytro MTX and a 2008 Phazer MTX. And being a mechanic I don’t want to have to wrench on my own stuff so I always study out the best for my vehicles so that they will last the longest. I was shocked to find out how poor of quality the Yamaha filters were! When I did the initial oil change at 500 miles on both sleds I took apart the filters to find that the filter media was glued to cardboard and that it had started to come apart and was allowing contaminents to pass through the filter. Also the by pass valve was stuck open on both filters which also allows contaminents to pass through. This is with only 500 miles on the filter. I was not about to change the filter with another Yamaha one and let it go for even 2500 miles. I then had the oil analized and found it to be at its spec. limit. Now I know with break in period that is possible, but if that oil is so much better I think that it should last way beyond the snowmobiles break in. With all my testing and riding I found that for me the best oil came from AMSOIL and the best filter from WIX. I had the AMSOIL tested at 2500 miles and it almost tested better than the Yamalube new. Sorry for writing so much, I just had to comment on this topic. I love to read this blog and I think that Chris is great for all of us that love to ride Yamaha! Thanks!

    Hey Brady, appears you are really into the subject of oil / filter performance and have a passion for testing products (or you sell Amsoil out the trunk of your car ;-). I can’t dispute your testing results aside from saying our engineers have also tested and confirmed excellent performance from both Yamalube semi and full synthetic. Not sure if you have ever run our full synth sled oil and compared to Amsoil, from what I have seen and heard it doesn’t get any better. For the record our Yamalube is supplied to us exclusively by the Nippon Oil Company (NOC). The formulations (base stock and additive packages) are co developed with our engineering group and tested exclusively on our engines by Yamaha engineers. I am quite surprised by your filter comments as we generally see quite the opposite and have proven oil related failures due to after-market filters. Again I am not challenging your own tests, just saying there might be more to it all as our notes don’t seem to cross reference that well. Thanks for the feedback and support for the blog.. cheers cr

  12. Low Slung(Kent Deveraux) says:

    What are the chances in the future still beening able to buy yamalube 2stroke oil?(Still got a 12bottle case from 8 years ago when i purchased my warrior($500 in yamabucks,felt like christmas shopping at the dealer).The yamaha 2strokes are real stingy on this stuff.Can,t let the ET410II die due to lack of yamablood.

    No worries LS, we will keep Yamalube 2 on the market for years to come. cr

  13. mike says:

    I’m working on a Yamaha Apex. Had to replace the shifter forks for the reverse gear as the pins were worn out and not giving me posistive reverse engagement. Here’s my question. On the dipstick there is a “standard” and “reverse” mark for oil level. Since I had pre-mature wear on the shifter fork, I want to fill it with more oil. Will I cause problems by over-filling the chaincase? I do it on other sleds all the time and don’t have any issues. Please help as I am deliering the sled tomorrow morning.

    I wouldn’t suggest overfilling the chain case, I would be paying more attention to the shift link adjustment. It is very sensitive to small amounts of adjustment. I am thinking your shift fork wear maybe more connected to improper adjustment as I have not heard of a lot (any)complaints of fork wear. The spinning chain delivers lots of oil to the gear set. Too much oil can end up venting out or pressurizing the seals… cheers cr

  14. low slung says:

    Hey Chris,i always had this question on my mind since my father bought his 1995 ET410II.Why is the first tank of fuel for yamaha two-strokes not require pre-mix like the others brands smokers?(the ET410 hauled 9 cords of wood this winter without a hiccup).

    My guess, it is assumed that the proper PDI is performed which includes a complete bleeding of the oil injection system, then the pre-mix becomes an option. The engine will be getting plenty of oil from the get go. I still would put a bit of oil in the first tank after a rebuild etc. as it certainly doesn’t hurt… cheers cr

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