If you’re like most diesel truck owners, you’re always looking for ways to squeeze a little more power and fuel economy out of your rig. And if you’re driving a Duramax LML, then you know that using the right oil is essential to keeping your engine running at its best.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the best oil for Duramax LML engines – both 15W-40 and 5W-40, and what you need to know in order to make the best choice for your truck.
The 5 Best Oil for Duramax LML
|1. Shell Rotella T6 15W-40||Check Price On Amazon|
|2. Valvoline Premium Blue 15W-40||Check Price On Amazon|
|3. Schaeffer’s Supreme OTR Plus 5W-40||Check Price On Amazon|
|4. Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck 5W-40||Check Price On Amazon|
|5. Royal Purple Duralec Super 15W-40||Check Price On Amazon|
1. Shell Rotella T6 Full Synthetic 15W-40 – Best Overall
Rotella T6 is one of the most popular choices for the Duramax LML, and it’s easy to see why – it’s got the best protection-to-cost ratio of any oil on the market. No other brand comes close.
Rotella T6 is a full synthetic oil, so it’s got all the benefits that come with that – the best possible protection at extreme temperatures, better fuel economy, and even longer oil life. It’s also got a very impressive additive package that helps keep your engine clean by controlling sludge buildup and thus helps it run smoothly for longer.
Surprisingly, Rotella T6 meets the requirements of API CK-4, which is one step up from the CJ-4 specification that the Duramax LML needs. This means that it’s got even better protection against wear, especially under high loads, and better resistance to viscosity loss through shear.
All of that at such a low price point makes Rotella T6 the best 15W-40 oil for the Duramax LML, and we highly recommend it.
2. Valvoline Premium Blue SAE 15W-40 – Best Value
Are oil changes cutting into your budget a little too much? Valvoline’s Premium Blue oil is even more affordable than Rotella T6, but it still offers great protection and performance.
Premium Blue is a high-quality synthetic blend, so it doesn’t have quite the same level of protection and performance as a full synthetic like Rotella T6. However, it’s still a very good oil as it also meets the requirements of API CK-4.
At the time of writing this, API CK-4 is the strictest specification for heavy-duty turbo diesel engines, so you can be sure that this oil will do a great job at protecting your Duramax LML. Furthermore, it contains 1270 ppm zinc, which is a pretty high concentration compared to other similar blends.
The only real downside to the Premium Blue 15W-40 is that it needs to be changed sooner than the Rotella T6 above because it’s a synthetic blend. Apart from that, it’s a great oil and definitely worth considering if you’re looking for an affordable option.
3. Schaeffer’s OTR Plus Full Synthetic 5W-40 – Best Value Winter Oil
So far, we’ve covered two 15W-40 oils that are great choices for the Duramax LML all year round. But what if you’re looking for an oil that’s specifically designed to withstand temperatures -18°C and below?
If that’s the case, we recommend Schaeffer’s OTR Plus 5W-40. Now, this oil is a bit more expensive than the other two, but it’s definitely worth the extra cost if you live in a cold climate.
OTR Plus is an API CJ-4 full synthetic oil that’s designed to maintain its viscosity at low temperatures, so it provides great protection for your engine in cold weather. Studies have shown that engine wear is the highest during a cold startup – that’s why it’s extremely important to use an oil that’s designed to withstand low temperatures.
With that said, we only recommend using this oil if you live in a climate where the temperature regularly drops below -18°C. If not, then we highly recommend using API-CK 15W-40, as it provides the best protection for the Duramax LML all around.
4. Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck Full Synthetic 5W-40 – Best Winter Oil
For even more cold start protection, we recommend Mobil 1’s Turbo Diesel Truck 5W-40. It’s a bit more expensive than the Schaeffer’s OTR Plus above, but meets the strictest industry requirements (API CK-4) for low-emission engines.
One of the main reasons why we love Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck 5W-40 is its excellent shear stability. Better shear stability means that the oil retains its viscosity in severe applications and extreme temperatures.
That, in combination with the outstanding low-temperature pumpability, makes Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck 5W-40 probably the best oil for cold weather protection.
5. Royal Purple Duralec Super SAE 15W-40 – Best Performance
Last but not least, we have Royal Purple’s Duralec Super SAE 15W-40. This is a great oil for those who are looking to get the best performance out of their Duramax LML.
Royal Purple’s Duralec Super is designed for high-performance engines, and it certainly shows in the results. This oil provides great protection against wear and tear, and it also helps to extend the life of your engine, which is why it meets the requirements of the strictest and most recent API CK-4 category.
One of the things that set this oil apart from the others is its additive technology. It contains a high concentration of zinc and phosphorus, which helps to protect your engine against valvetrain wear. The additives stick to metal surfaces further providing protection from acid corrosion.
Overall, Royal Purple’s Duralec Super SAE 15W-40 is a great choice for those who are looking for an oil that will help them get the best performance out of their Duramax LML.
Duramax LML Engine Oil Buyer’s Guide
As you can see, there are a lot of different oils to choose from when it comes to the best oil for Duramax LML. We strongly believe that the 5 engine oils we’ve listed above are some of the best on the market right now – but ultimately, the best oil for your Duramax LML depends on your specific needs and requirements.
To help you make a decision, we’ve put together a quick buyer’s guide with all the information you need to know about choosing the best oil for Duramax LML. Here are all the things that you need to consider.
Viscosity: Which One Is Right for Your Driving Conditions?
When people ask me what’s the single most important factor to consider when choosing engine oil for the Duramax LML, I always say it’s the viscosity. If you get it wrong, then you’ll significantly reduce the life expectancy of your engine, or even destroy it within a year.
The viscosity of an oil is basically how thick or thin it is, and we quantify it using the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) system. Let’s take 15W-40 for example. The W stands for winter, or simply put, how thick the oil is in freezing temperatures, while the number after the dash indicates the oil’s thickness at operating temperature. It’s extremely important to get them both right.
The lower the number, the thinner the oil – for example, 5W-40 is thinner at freezing temperatures compared to 15W-40. However, both oils are 40 at operating temperature, which means that they both have the same thickness when the engine is warm.
But which viscosity is the best for Duramax LML?
Well, the only way to find out is to check the owner’s manual, which states that you should use 15W-40 oil unless the ambient temperature falls down to -18°C or lower. In case it does, then you should use 5W-40 to improve cold starting and maximize protection against wear.
Oil Type: Full Synthetic VS Synthetic Blend VS Conventional for Duramax LML
The next thing you need to consider is the type of oil. For the Duramax LML, you have 3 main options: full synthetic, synthetic blend, and conventional. So, which one should you choose?
Well, the best oil for Duramax LML is full synthetic. Full synthetic engine oil is simply better in every single way when compared to the other two, but it is more expensive.
Luckily, the Duramax LML is not a picky engine, like the Powerstrokes, so you can definitely save a lot of money and run a synthetic blend. These oils are basically a mix of synthetic and conventional oils, so they offer some of the benefits of both. A synthetic blend won’t perform as well as full synthetic oil, but it will be damn close.
As for conventional – forget it. The Duramax LML is a modern high-power engine with strict emission control systems, which require modern engine oil. Conventional oil is most definitely not a good choice for the Duramax.
API Certifications: Which Are Best for Duramax LML?
According to the owner’s manual, you must use API CJ-4 or newer (API CK-4) engine oil.
Now, it’s best to go with the more recent API CK-4 category engine oils, as they are specifically designed to further protect emission control systems found on the Duramax LML, including the problematic SCR system. That way, you’ll reduce the chances of SCR system breakdowns.
However, API CK-4 engine oils can be more expensive than CJ-4 oils. So, if you’re on a budget, then CJ-4 oils are perfectly fine.
Price: Do More Expensive Oils Protect the Engine Better?
In general, price does not necessarily reflect quality when it comes to engine oil.
There are many factors that affect the price of oil, such as the base oil used, the additives included, and even the marketing. So, don’t just assume that because oil is more expensive, it’s automatically better for your engine.
The easiest way to figure out if oil is good for Duramax LML is to simply check the API certifications. As long as it’s CJ-4 or newer, then you’re good to go. Just make sure to go with known and trusted brands, otherwise, you might be disappointed.
Engine oils must pass very strict requirements of the American Petroleum Institute before they get categorized as CJ-4, thus as no matter the price, any oil that meets the requirements and approvals is of good quality.
There you have it – everything you need to know about the best oil for Duramax LML.
Luckily, these engines are very strong and not that picky when it comes to engine oil. Just make sure to go with a quality oil that has the correct viscosity and API certification, and you’ll be good to go.
Of course, if you want the best of the best, then go with a full synthetic oil. But if you’re on a budget, then a synthetic blend will do the job just fine. And whatever you do, don’t use conventional oil – it’s not good enough for the Duramax LML.
Do you have any questions or thoughts about the best oil for Duramax LML? Let us know in the comments below!
Eddie is the co-founder of CarCareCamp.com, and the site’s primary contributor.
Under his belt, Eddie has a bachelor’s degree in Automotive Electronics Engineering and almost a decade of experience working as a semi-truck technician (specializing in electrics).