Automotive lubricants are remarkable fluidic materials that essentially serve as nourishment for your vehicle; it is what keeps the inside of your car shiny and healthy. They drive up the efficiency and performance of your automobile and extend the longevity of its components.
Although different parts of your car require different types of lubricants on the basis of application, good car lubricants are engineered to primarily minimise wear and damage due to thermal generation and friction, reduce oxidation, balance loads, improve overall car performance and essentially, keep your car running smoothly on the road without the likes of squealing brakes, clutch slippage or a wailing engine.
Let’s understand more about the need for a car lubricant with the help of an example. The inside of your car’s engine is made up of several moving parts, mainly composed of heavy metal. In order to keep your car moving, the engine generates little combustive sparks during what is known as the combustive cycle-think of them as minute explosions-to propel your car forward. This mechanism causes the moving parts of the engine to rub against each other which generates amounts of thermal energy and friction between the parts, premature oxidation and sludge formation. If not controlled in a timely manner, this can cause extreme damage to your car, and, not surprisingly, your pockets! However, a stitch in time saves nine; engine oil is the stitch you need. A good engine oil protects your car from corrosion, delays rust formation, possesses detergent and cooling additives in order to ensure unmatched engine health even in extreme conditions.
Types of Car Lubricants
The type of lubricant your car requires is contingent on the application and purposes. Here are some of the types:
- Engine Oil: Be it for your car, motor bike, outboard vessel or fleet vehicle, the finest engine oil is a must. Apart from wear protection and lubrication properties, the best engine oil blends also have detergent, dispersant, anti-oxidative, sludge resistant additives that optimize engine life. It also neutralises the acids that are released from fuel.
- Gear Oil: Gear oil is formulated to use in different gear units such as bevel, normal and helical gearboxes, transmission and differentials in automobile, agricultural machinery and other vehicles. High quality gear oil is specially formulated for a range of pressure and temperature conditions across a range of automobiles.
Hydraulic Oils & Greases: Hydraulic fluids are the medium through which energy or power is transmitted in all hydraulic systems. Additionally, hydraulic fluids also serve other functions such as heat transfer, contamination removal, and of course, lubrication. These fluids are usually made of base oil with additional good quality additives to combat wear and provide protection. An example of a hydraulic system in a vehicle is the power-steering system.
- Automotive Grease: These are typically used in suspension, steer, wheel bearing and nipple joints in different automobiles for agricultural, construction or industrial application. As the name suggests, automotive greases provide heavy greasing to avoid premature wear and tear. The lubricating oil is usually made from petroleum or synthetic oil blends that may vary in viscosity. Additionally it consists of other additives and thickeners to maximise the threshold of your vehicle across a range of extreme conditions such as temperature, pressure, weather and load.
Grades of Car Lubricants
Oil grades can be thought of as a scale that indicates the oil performance at working temperature and a measure of its viscosity or thickness during operation. It was determined by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers).
Automotive oils are graded in two ways, namely, monograde and multigrade. The latter is the more common one of the two. Viscosity of monograde oils is typically notated in the ‘XX’ format and is a number which indicates the measure of the oil’s viscosity at operating temperatures (100°C). Larger the number denoted, higher the viscosity. During high operating temperature, it’s desirable to have a high viscosity oil, so that the oil does not evaporate easily and lead to wear of the moving parts. Monograde oils such as SAE 30, 40 or 50 are no longer used in latest automotive engines, but may be required for use in some vintage and antique engines. Straight SAE 30 oil is often specified for small air-cooled engines in lawnmowers, garden tractors, portable generators and gas-powered chain saws.
Multigrade oils are graded in the xWxx format where W denotes Winter. The number before the W indicates the viscosity at a lower temperature usually measured at 0°F, and the number after the W indicates the viscosity at 100°C similar to the monograde system. The lower the Winter number, the lower the viscosity, that is more flowability. For instance, let’s take 5W30 and 10W30. Although these oils have similar characteristics at 100°C, 5W30 flows more easily at lower temperature than 10W30. Oils tend to thicken during low temperatures and this is undesirable during cold starts in the winters. An engine in a colder climate, where motor oil tends to thicken because of lower temperatures, would benefit from 0W or 5W viscosity.
The more time you spend on your automobile, the more first hand experience you will gain and the better you will understand its parts and fluid needs. This was a comprehensive yet concise breakdown of all the basics that will help you and your car get going and we really hope it helped!