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Hello . . . I recently purchased my first VW, a 1997 Golf GL (I believe it has a 2.0L Turbo Diesel but not TDI). Two questions: 1) How often should I get my oil changed? and
2) What weight oil and do I need to use synthetic?

O.K. I guess it was three questions. I have had the oil changed twice since I bought it. The first time at a "Quick Lube" type place. The guy there told me I had to use synthetic. A VW dealer also told me the same thing. He put a 20-50 weight in it because it was diesel. I just had the oil changed by my regular mechanic. I told him it needed a full synthetic. But when I got the car back the tag on the windshield says 10-30. Should I change the oil again and put a heavier oil in? I am in Southern Ontario and it is VERY cold here right now . . . Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me
 

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Truthfully, the best advise I can give is to use the oil weights suggested in you owner's manual.
As for synthetic/not synthetic: synthetic is definitely a better oil, but most synthetics such as Mobil 1 are not formulated for diesel use. A popular one that comes to mind which is Shell Rotella.

I believe CI-4 is the latest rating for diesel oils. It is important to be approved for diesel use because of the high soot loading effect diesels have on their lubricating oils. Standard oils, even synthetics cannot handle the soot loading.

Another good diesel reference is tdiclub.com
 
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