Motor oil is vital to the performance and wellbeing of your engine. The main function of motor oil is to lubricate all of the moving parts on the inside and reduce friction. Oil forms a thin film that fills the tiny spaces in between those parts and prevents the components – pistons, cylinder walls, valves, bearings, and the like – from making metal-to-metal contact with one another. Oil also has a cooling effect on your engine and helps to keep your engine clean.
To do its job, motor oil (also referred to as engine oil) needs some help. Oil additives are chemical compounds that improve the performance of an oil’s base stock. They are included by the oil manufacturer to enhance lubrication, modify viscosity, clean engine deposits that can lead to sludge, and prevent corrosion.
Whether oils are synthetic or petroleum-based, nearly all commercial motor oil products contain additives. Those additives comprise up to five percent of the oil that goes into your engine. But what are the types of additives used in the making of motor oil? What do they do? And are there other additives that can enhance the motor oil used in your vehicle?
Additives Included In Motor Oil
It used to be common to get an oil change every three months or three thousand miles. That is no longer necessary. Changes in engine design and motor oil technology have allowed for far longer intervals in between oil changes. Part of that improvement in technology has been the advancement of synthetic oils and the development of the additives that are included in motor oil. Without those additives, the oil in your car’s engine would become contaminated, break down, spring leaks, or fail to properly protect engine components across the wide temperature range that your engine experiences. Here are some of the most common types of additives included in motor oil.
Viscosity Index Improvers.
Probably the most important additives in motor oil affect the way oil flows through your engine. Viscosity can be defined as a liquid’s ability to resist flow. How thick (or thin) it is. Honey and tar are considered to have high viscosity; gasoline and water have low viscosity. The motor oil in your engine has to protect when the engine is cold and when it is hot. That can be a 200-degree Fahrenheit swing or more. When it is cold, oil is thicker (has a higher viscosity) than when it is hot. Viscosity drops as the oil warms up. That means oil that works the way it should at normal operating temperature (around 200 degrees F) would be far thicker when it is cold, when your engine is most vulnerable. An engine is most susceptible to damage when it is first started, especially on chilly days. To combat that condition, oil makers include viscosity index improvers, additives that raise the viscosity of motor oil as it warms up. That way, oil can be thin enough for cold-weather startup and thicken up to the correct viscosity as your engine heats up. You have seen these “multi-weight” oils on a store shelf with codes such as 5W-30 or 0W-20. 5W-30 oil is a 5-weight oil when cold (“W” stands for winter) and a 30-weight oil when warm. This is made possible by viscosity index improvers.
Engines dating back to a time when non-detergent motor oils were standard had a tendency to cake up with coatings of impurities and sludge. For that reason, motor oils that contain detergents should not be used in old, original engines. Otherwise, the detergents will wash away the deposits that are likely filling gaps between engine components and seals. And that causes leaks. But a modern engine should not have that problem. Detergents in the oil used for today’s engines helps to disperse sludge that can build up over time. The detergents are used to neutralize oil impurities that can coat vital engine components.
When an engine changes temperatures, moisture can build up inside and lead to corrosion, rust. To alleviate this problem, corrosion inhibitors are added to retard the oxidation of the metals inside your motor.
Motor oil is subject to degradation from exposure to oxygen. Antioxidant additives retard this degradation and increase the useful life of your motor oil.
Other modifiers that are included in motor oil include those that neutralize acidic compounds in your oil and fight its tendency to collect acids when subjected to shear wear and oxidation. Bases and alkalis are added to the oil for this purpose.
Additives Added to Motor Oil
Modern motor oil includes many additives to clean and protect your engine. But the high operating temperatures of modern engines, combined with the stop-and-go driving habits of many motorists, can deplete those additives. Without them, oxidation and other conditions will reduce your oil to a thick, black sludge that sticks to critical engine parts and clogs oil passageways.
So, repair facilities often recommend additional engine products be added to your oil. Products such as BG MOA engine oil supplement fortify the qualities of the oil you put in your engine so that it can do its job most effectively. When included as part of your oil change regime, BG’s full line of engine products can safely and efficiently clean and remove contaminants and deposits, and keep your oil performing as it should until your next oil change.
Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright
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