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All you Need to know About Engine Oils



In spite of this huge rise in car ownership how many of us actually possess adequate knowledge about the parts that go into the making up this beautiful beast? Not only are we spending buckets of money for fuel and other commodities necessary to keep it running but due to our lack of familiarity we end up expending an enormous amount for its maintenance to the mechanic. Thus it becomes an obligation that we educate ourselves with few of the important car parts and their functionality. Engine is one of the main components of a car. It is mostly driven by gasoline with the main aim to convert the gasoline into a form which puts the car in motion by combustion. Not only one should be aware of the type of engine but they should also be aware of the different types of engine oils that are available and necessary for proper car maintenance.

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Engine Oils

Engine oil can be any of the various substances comprising base oils, about 80%, enhanced with additives, about 20%, particularly antiwear additive plus detergents, dispersants and, for multi-grade oils viscosity index improvers. In addition to that, almost all lubricating oils contain corrosion and oxidation inhibitors. Each of them have their own function. The base oil is responsible for carrying these performance additives to where it is needed, drawing heat away and providing vital cooling to the engine components.

Engine oils have been graded using a numerical code system according to their viscosity characteristics. A single-grade engine oil, as defined by SAE J300, cannot use a polymeric Viscosity Index Improver additive. SAE J300 has established eleven viscosity grades, of which six are considered Winter-grades and given a W designation. To bring the difference in viscosities closer together, special polymer additives called viscosity index improvers are added to the oil. These additives are used to make the oil a multi-grade motor oil, though it is possible to have a multi-grade oil without the use of VIIs. The idea is to cause the multi-grade oil to have the viscosity of the base grade when cold and the viscosity of the second grade when hot. The grade is denoted by XW-WW, the preceding the “W” rates the oil’s flow at -17.8 degree Celsius. The lesser the number, the less it thickens in the cold. So, oil rated at 5W-30 thickens less than a 10W-30. 

Broadly engine oils can be placed into 3 different categories namely synthetic, semi-synthetic and mineral oil. Synthetic oils are chemically synthesised to meet the exacting demands of modern engines. This makes them more expensive to produce, but because they are tailor-made they provide the best performance, protection and fuel economy. They also remain stable at very high temperatures and fluid at very low temperatures. Semi-synthetic oils are a blend of mineral and synthetic oils. They provide better performance, protection and fuel economy than mineral oils, but not as good as a full synthetic. Mineral oils are made from naturally occurring crude oil which is refined and processed to remove waxes and impurities, and tend to be found in the thicker grades of engine oils.

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