Information on Car Motor Oil
What is the difference between different grades of motor oil? Car manufacturers recommend that in North America you should use SAE 5W-20 (5W signifies winter – it is able to operate at extremely low temperatures). A lower number means a thicker grade. The viscosity rating has more to do with an engine’s RPM if it is colder, which can clog small holes with deposits when the engine is cold.
This may not be desirable for most people, since when you turn your engine on, even when it says ‘cold’ on your dash board, your engine is at least 20C/68F after about five minutes running. However, if the weather would have been below -10C/14F without starting your car, the engine would be very cold indeed. Cars with turbo chargers may require SAE 5W-30 to keep oil flow at top efficiency.
Automotive lubricants are used in many different types of automotive engines, from small cars to powerful locomotive engines, and a wide range of sports or racing cars. The differences between all these applications can be enormous, yet they share a common goal – minimizing friction. Yes, our science is that simple! Basic physics tells us that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time so when an object is moved over another object by applying forces on it, some force must have been applied somewhere else to push it out of the way. This force is what we call friction and it causes wear and heat and contributes to poor fuel economy.
Engine oil lubricates, cools and cleans while minimizing friction – the enemy of your car’s components. It also separates moving metal parts which can be dangerous if allowed to touch.
How does motor oil work? Motor Oil is designed primarily to operate in the incredibly hot conditions of an engine, keeping moving parts such as pistons, rings and bearings lubricated so they do not grind themselves into dust. Engine oil also provides cooling by carrying heat away from these hot surfaces through a complex series of passages inside the engine block (and/or cylinder head on some engines). Once this heat is taken away from the engine, it is passed on to the air that is drawn past the cooling fins of an engine’s radiator.
A specially formulated lubricant will provide good protection over a wide range of operating conditions, but every lubricant is different. The most important property of any particular grade of motor oil is its viscosity – how thin or thick it is. This has a direct impact on your engine’s performance since increased viscosity means increased resistance to flow. So thicker oils are less effective at performing their primary tasks in cold weather, while thinner oils are more effective at conducting heat away from hot surfaces when it matters most, during the hottest summer days.
The other important property that an oil must have is the ability to resist degradation caused by heat and pressure. This comes down to how much “sludging” the oil will produce as it gets hot. Sludge is created when wear metals such as copper, tin, lead and aluminum mix with what would normally be base oil molecules in low enough concentrations for those molecules to do their job without combining with anything else. Different oils contain varying proportions of additives which can combine with these undesirable metallic compounds and hold them in solution until they can be conveniently removed from the engine through its oil filter. For example, our Pennzoil Multigrade 10W-40 contains high concentrations of anti-wear additives, while our Pennzoil Ultra 5W-20 does not.
Now let’s take an in depth look at how all these properties apply to specific automotive uses . You’ll be surprised – especially when it comes to drivetrains! Let’s start with traditional passenger car (and light truck) applications which are most popular in North America.
Motor oil is used for lubrication, cooling and cleaning of engine parts that are in contact with liquids or gases under pressure, preventing them from seizing by maintaining a thin layer between moving parts. Engine oils also serve as coolants removing heat from components such as bearings and the cylinder walls to prevent excessive heat from damaging and even seizing moving parts.
Engine oil is also an important component in the hydraulic system which operates such things as power steering, brakes and power-assisted steering. It lubricates wheel bearings and locks allowing them to rotate at different speeds without wearing each other out.
Pennzoil Ultra 5W-20
Conventional passenger car/light truck motor oils are specifically designed for gasoline engines that have a high compression ratio (CR) of 10:1 or higher. High CR’s require a more robust fuel economy motor oil for their recommended uses than low CR gas engines because of their significantly higher combustion pressures . The upper end of the “normal” range used by conventional gas engine motor oils is SAE 5W.
With my new-found knowledge in car motor oils, I also checked topics about car insurance companies. If one of your employees injures someone while driving a company vehicle, your company can be held liable. TPL insurance is compulsory vehicle insurance, which every vehicle owner is required by law to take out.
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