For every kilometre you drive, you pay with a tiny piece of the engine through wear and tear. The colour of the oil that goes into your engine is not the same when it is drained out. This is a direct result of the wear caused by moving metal parts, oxidation and the formation of contaminants caused by the combustion cycle mixing with the lubricating oil.
Based on normal driving habits, an engines “sweet spot” or optimum performance and efficiency, starts from the end of the run in period (around 3,000 kms) through to the first engine service (generally 10,000 to 15,000 kms). After that period, engine wear and fuel contamination have occurred even if you don’t actually notice the deterioration.
SAE VISCOSITY GRADE
SAE (Society of American Engineers) multi-grade classifications indicate the oil’s viscosity (or thickness) on start up and at normal operating temperatures. Most car makers specify multi-grade oils because they are designed to flow easily at cold temperatures, yet retain the right lubricating properties when hot.
The 5W (W = winter) indicates how the oil will flow when cold. The 40 refers to the oils viscosity at operating temperature.
Higher viscosity oil (10W-60) delivers higher thermal stability where as lower viscosity oil (5W-40) minimises fuel consumption and emissions by reducing the energy required to circulate the oil. The correct viscosity is specified by the manufacturer and is designed to optimise the efficiency, performance and life of the engine.
Whether it’s advanced technology engines or classic muscle, the quality, chemistry and consistency of the oil you use has a major impact on engine performance and reliability. The primary function of oil has always been lubrication and protection of moving parts but these days it’s also about heat dispersion and efficiency. So gone are the days of choosing your oil by SAE grade/viscosity alone. For example, Liqui-Moly have several grades of 5W-30/40 that require many other variables to fully comply with manufacturers specifications.
USING THE RIGHT ENGINE OIL
When engines are required to produce more and consume less with extended service intervals, they are highly stressed. Many European vehicle manufacturers consider the generally established oil specifications to be inadequate or out-dated as the function of engine oil has dramatically changed due to these advancements. Using motor oil that does not specifically meet the exacting standards of the manufacturer may void your warranty and can lead to extra fuel consumption, increased carbon emissions, premature engine wear and possible damage.
The performance characteristics of oil are determined by the quality of the base oil as well as the chemical agents that are blended with it. So the engine oil SAE viscosity grade is only part of the story. To ensure you select the right oil for your specific make and model refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for the correct viscosity/specifications and select the appropriate product. Alternatively refer to the Liqui-Moly Oil Guide HERE.
OIL & FUEL ADDITIVES
The properties of engine oil can be enhanced by using oil additives. It is common to use purpose-designed treatments as problem solvers or friction modifiers that work with the existing chemical agents or additive package within the oil. The DNA of the oil isn’t compromised so it will continue to meet the manufacturers spec.
It is a commercial reality that today’s fuels contain a number of contaminants and coupled with the by-product of combustion, carbon and other harmful deposits are formed. The effects are gradual and may go unnoticed; however performance and efficiency can be compromised in as little as 2,000 to 5,000 kilometres. Refer to the Additives section for more details or click HERE.