5 Key Things You Should Know About Motor Oil
When it comes to oil, oil lubricant for that matter, there are lots of opinions out there, but very few facts. That is why we are sharing this with you.
The next five points we are focusing on this article are not my opinions; the facts come from the work of hundreds of Ph.D. scientists over the last 100 years studying how lubricants work. Below are five key things you should know about oil.
1. The Four R’s
We can define proper lubrication as having the right oil, at the right place, at the right time and in the right amount. The correct oil is one that has proper viscosity and the additive package for your application.
Think about an engine; motor oil flows through the engine to provide an oil film to the moving parts which reduce friction and wear. It also carries away heat and dirt. Some people like to talk about oil’s “load-carrying” ability, but that fails to consider that motor oil is more than just a lubricant.
Motor oil must clean, cool and transfer power. Think about your hydraulic roller lifters or variable valve timing system in your engine. You may not realize it, but motor oil does about 40 percent of engine cooling. All of these are in addition to just being a lubricant. The key takeaway here is to make sure you’re using a lubricant designed specifically for the equipment you’re lubricating.
Today, performance enthusiasts have a wide selection of oils engineered for specific applications. They will make a huge difference in the longevity, and performance of the equipment they’re designed for.
2. Balance Is Always Best
If some are good, more must be better, right? WRONG! But it sounds like an excellent theory. As with most things in life, balance is essential. That applies to lubricants as well.
Too much of a good thing can hurt the oil. A lubricant that has the right balance lets every component do its job without hindering the others. It’s imperative to understand that.
Everyone knows that Zinc dialkyldithiophosphate (ZDDP) is a good thing, but did you know too much ZDDP can increase wear. Too much viscosity can starve parts of needed lubrication. Even too much lubricant can cause churning which increases the operating temperature and aerates the oil.
Air bubbles aren’t the best lubricants. Improper balance is not limited to the lubrication chemistry. Your local parts store has a shelf full of bottles of miracle chemicals, screaming at you that can fix all your mechanical issues.
If you think your current oil is deficient, do not try to “fix” it with an additive just use oil designed for your application. When oil is intended for the use, it doesn’t need any more additive or anything else for that matter.
On the same note, you should know that putting an additive in your oil is somewhat like playing “Chemical Russian Roulette”, which is just as dangerous as it sounds to your engine. If the additive in your oil doesn’t mix properly, some chemicals don’t combine well. Therefore, you have less lubrication than if you had done nothing.
That is particularly the case for ZDDP additives and other motor oil supplements. Simply put, use oil designed for your equipment, and you will be on the right path.
3. Clean, Cool, & Dry
Now that you’ve installed the proper lubricant and filled the engine to the correct level, it’s time to protect it. It may sound funny, but in reality, STLE (Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers) members have spent the last 100 years learning how lubricants work.
Dirty oil is a terrible lubricant, no matter how advance the oil itself is. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep the oil clean, especially in dirty wet, and cold environments. But it’s a job worth doing.
Dirt particles can cause abrasive wear in the engine, the increase in metals filings mean the oil gets dirty even faster. Keeping the debris under control is the job of the filters. Very high-quality filters. It’s a proven fact that oil stays cleaner and longer if you change the filter with your oil changes. Also, it is the great way to get the maximum out of your lubricant and the equipment.
4. Get The Facts
Despite what your read on the Internet, you cannot argue with the facts. No matter your application, every situation is different. It presents its challenges. However, for fun you could conduct an ‘used oil analysis.’ it’s ridiculously easy and not very expensive.
You take three small samples of oil within a few minutes from shutting down. Fill out a few forms to identify the samples for processing and send them off to the lab.
Don’t worry the samples are not hazardous, you can send them through regular mail. That’s it in a nutshell! In a few days you should have the results. They provide a full interpretation of the results. It’s just that simple, and it can make a big difference for you. To stay on top of things, have your oil analyzed on a regular basis i.e. every six months or 4000 miles.
5: Fuel Matters
The fifth thing you should know about motor oil is the fuel. Well, this is something which you probably don’t consider when thinking about motor oil. The type of fuel that you use directly affects your oil, and that applies to any additives you may also be putting in your fuel.
We can discuss all day about fuel and what it can do to an engine. But for now, let’s take this conversation towards oil to fuel ratio. You may have never heard about oil to fuel ratio before, but you have an oil monitor in your car. That is what it uses to calculate and tell you when to change the oil.
In reality, your engine is not sampling the oil and analyzing it. Instead, it uses oil to fuel ratio to calculate and tell you when to change the oil. Simply put, the more fuel that gets into your oil, the shorter the oil life and the worse the lubricant performs.
So, how does fuel get into the motor oil? Well, some of the air-fuel mixtures make it way past the piston rings and end up in the crankcase with the oil. If the car bladder or fuel injectors are dirty, then the fuel tends to drip or spray instead of atomizing.
These droplets of fuel can mix with the oil and leak back down in the crankcase. But, why is this bad for the oil? There are a few reasons:
First, fuel dilution lowers the viscosity of the oil. The higher the fuel dilution, the more viscosity you lose. Not good!
Second, the fuel is not as stable as the oil. So, higher levels of fuel dilution lead to a faster breakdown (oxidation) of the motor oil. Third, if you’re using ethanol-blended fuel, it can cause rust and corrosion inside your engine, which is awful.
Fortunately, some fuel additives can keep both injectors and car bladders clean and work properly. Also, some fuel additives and even some motor oils have improved rust and corrosion protection to fight the effect ethanol-blended fuel.
The takeaway here is that you can either increase or decrease the performance and life of your lubricant and the equipment it protects just with the choice of fuel and fuel additives.