Choosing The Right lubricants
The heart and soul of every vehicle is its engine and keeping it well lubricated ensures minimal friction as well as wear and tear. This immediately translates to better performance, efficiency and fuel savings. There are three forms of mineral and synthetic motor oils with the third being the hybrid of the two – Semi-Synthetic lubricant.
Mineral engine lubricant is the earliest form of motor oil used which does produce excellent lubrication. With its low cost of manufacturing, it is the lowest cost among the motor oils and has a wider appeal among the budget-conscious drivers. This oil does come with shortcomings. Contaminants such as sulfur are not filtered out with the usual filtering process. This impurity under extreme temperatures tends to solidify, oxidize and breakdown faster than synthetic oils.
All lubricants contain additives that prevent foaming, engine wear and viscosity conditioners that determine a lubricant’s effectiveness. Both mineral and synthetic oils are pumped from the earth but synthetic oils go through a much more refined process resulting in a higher-performing lubricant. This clearly translates to higher production cost and price tag.
With fewer contaminants, synthetic motor oils are very effective in preventing engine wear despite extreme usage.
Semi-synthetic lubricants seek the best of both worlds and as the name suggests is a marriage of having the lower cost of mineral oils and the higher performing and higher engine protection. This compromise however also means it falls short in terms of performance as compared to synthetic oils and cost more than regular mineral oils. This form of lubricant becomes a natural step up from mineral oil users, providing the added performance without burning a hole in their pockets.
Understanding Motor Oil Grades & Viscosity
The industry unit measure for the temperature-sensitive viscosity of lubricants is SAE which is determined by the Society of Automotive Engine. Viscosity is the thickness of a liquid, with a thicker liquid being lower viscosity and a thinner one a high viscosity.
Single grade oils like with an SAE 30 rating, for example, will be too thick when an engine is cranked while operating with a good viscosity when the engine is warm, while an SAE 5 rated oil will crank an engine well in winter climates but will run too thin when the engine is warm. A compound of the two will provide a thinner viscosity for easy start-ups but sufficient protection with the oil not running too thin during operation.
A typical multi-grade lubricant SAE rating like 5W 30, simply means a low viscosity of 5 when cold (W for winter) and high viscosity of 30 when the engine has reached its optimum temperature. One way to better understand mineral and synthetic lubricants is the difference between using butter or vegetable oil when frying an egg. The butter tends to burn up and carbonize with extreme heat forming deposits while the vegetable oil retains its integrity despite it whilst keeping the pan evenly coated.
Always consult with a reliable auto mechanic on the recommended oil grade to use that is specific to your vehicle model or just refer to your car driver’s manual.