The Science Behind Engine Oils

synthetic-engine-oil-in-india 4 May 2020

Engine Oil Types

Before you go out and purchase engine oil for your car, the first thing you should know is what kind of engine oil will be the best for your SUV, Sedan or Hatchback. It is very important to know and understand what goes into the engine of the car as it will affect the performance and make your car engine run smooth, efficient and slick. You will, in general, find three types of engine oils:

Mineral engine oil

This happens to be the crudest form of engine oil that is available. Mineral oil is rightly considered the genesis that made the way smooth for the introduction of modern oils. Mineral oils happen to be refined petroleum oils which upon treatment can function under a wide swathe of temperatures. Mineral oils are sold at a cheaper rate than compared to the other two varieties of engine oil.

Today, mineral engine oils find application in motorcycles and older vehicles.

Mineral engine oil has a big drawback; they offer little to no lubrication or protection to the heat that is induced as a result of friction within the engine. Added to it is the fact that it does not perform well at colder temperatures and are more prone to breakdown when used in a high-temperature setting.

Mineral oils do not last beyond 5000 km and it needs to be replaced often and more frequently.

Semi-synthetic Engine Oil

This is quite a diplomatic engine oil and this is because it is positioned in-between the mineral and full synthetic oils. As the name suggests, this oil is a combination of oil, offering the affordability of mineral oils and the performance of the synthetic oils.

Semi-synthetic oils give you three times as much protection as compared to mineral oils.

Semi-synthetic oil is also known as synthetic blend oil and it has a minute amount of synthetic engine oil which is blended with mineral oil in order to increase the properties of the oil without increasing the cost appreciably. When synthetic oil is added to it, the viscosity, as well as the wear resistance at higher temperatures, is enhanced as well as resistance to stress. The motor oils that have a synthetic blend will give you enhanced performance at lower temperatures as compared to mineral oils.

The disadvantage of Semi-Synthetic oil is that they do not give you superior protection levels that can be observed with fully synthetic oil.

Full Synthetic Engine Oil

Full synthetic engine oil is the latest and the best in engine oil technology. This type of oil will give you excellent protection and helps in enhanced fuel efficiency. 

Synthetic oils are made to go through extensive treatment in the laboratory and this makes it better than its counterparts. This process breaks down the mineral oil to the most basic of molecules and this helps to remove any impurities or unwanted substances to a very high degree. The synthetic oil molecules are quite consistent in shape and size and this gives the vehicle superior lubrication. Another advantage of this kind of oil is that it can function optimally in low as well as high temperatures and also under a great deal of stress.

The synthetic motor oil manufacturing science is painstaking as well as an expensive one and this makes synthetic oils comparatively expensive, which is their only disadvantage.

Extend your engine oil life

You might say that “Oils well that tends well”, but that is not the saying. In this particular blog post, we shall be digging into the mystery behind the different types of engine oil.

First things first, let us begin by discussing what engine oil is.

Akin to blood in humans, engine oil is the lifeblood of engines. It is responsible for a wide range of functions within the engine, the most important of which is the reduction of friction, cooling, dissipation of heat, and increasing the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

You might have come across a bottle of engine oil saying 5W40 or 5W30 or something similar. These are no random numbers but they indicate something more significant.

The letters and numbers are the grading scale as specified by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). The reading will describe the viscosity of the engine oil; this in automotive terms is the capability of the fluid to withstand deformation brought about by stress and wear and tear. Simply put, the viscosity refers to the thickness of the engine oil.

Engine oil that is highly viscous will be thick and low viscosity oil will be runny in nature. In fact, we can explain this better and more simply. All definitions aside, when the engine is cold, the engine oil is very viscous, in other words, it is thick and firm. However, when the engine is in use, the engine oil will go into a low viscosity state and in this state, it becomes flimsy and thin.

Explanation of the different grades of engine oil

There are all kinds of numbers and ratings that can get confusing like 15W40, 15W50, 20W40, and 10W30 for example. As discussed earlier, engine oil is graded with the parameter of viscosity and the notation is the familiar XW-XX.

If we take 5W40 as an example, 40 stands for the rating of the oil at 0degree Fahrenheit (Imperial) or -17.8 degrees Celsius in the Metric scale. It indicates that the oil must have a specific minimum viscosity/flow at the lower temperature / the W stands for Winter and not Weight.

The lower the W number, the better is the performance of the oil in regards to cold temperature /cold start performance.

The 40 in the 5W40 indicates that oil must fall within certain viscosity limits at 100 degrees Celsius, i.e higher temperatures. Again, the lower the number, the thinner is the oil. For example, a 5W30 oil is thinner than a 5W40 oil at 100 degrees Celsius temperature.

If you have observed API inscribed on the bottle, it stands for American Petroleum Institute. The API rating of the engine oil will cover the performance rating of the oil as well. (For example, SM for petrol and CF for diesel).

In a similar fashion, ACEA happens to be the European Industry body of European vehicle manufacturers. When you have an ACEA rating, it covers the performance rating of the oil as well (for example, A3/B3, C3).

Finally, JASO stands for the Japanese Automotive Standards Organization and this is the grading system keeping in mind the different types of motorcycle engine oil. 

What will be the right engine oil for your car?

When you are choosing the engine oil for your car, keep certain factors like the manufacturer-approved engine oil, the driving style of the car, the weather, and also the age as well as the mileage of the car in the account.

If you want racing engine oil or the best engine oil in India, you would do well to visit where you will find ample advice on what is the best engine oil brand in India or the best engine oil company in India and you can act upon the suggestions set forth.

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