Functions of Engine Oil

Engine oil is the engine’s lifeblood. Similar to how blood flows through the heart, engine oil flows through the engine, and performs key tasks for it to function optimally. These tasks include:

  • Lubrication
  • Cleaning, sealing and cooling down the engine
  • Providing protection against wear, combustion acids and rust.

Engine oil flows through essential parts of the engine including the camshaft, crankshaft, timing belt, oil pan, oil filter, cylinder, piston, and the valve.

Engine oil provides lubrication by allowing the moving parts of the engine to slide smoothly, reducing friction and wear. The oil picks up and disperses soot and sludge to clean the engine, while sealing the gaps preventing the gases from escaping. It also absorbs heat, preventing overheating and burning of parts, while simultaneously preventing combustion acids from creating rust and corrosion.


How Gasoline Engine Works

A gasoline engine produces power by repeat combustion of a mixture of air and fuel. The engine consists of a fixed cylinder and a moving piston. First, the intake process takes place where the fuel is mixed with air and is inducted into the cylinder. Then, the moving piston compresses the fuel-air mixture which leads the spark to ignite causing combustion. The expansion of the combustion gases pushes the piston during the power stroke in continuous repetition.


New Generation Engine Oils

Modern engine oils are designed to meet low emission standards. Significant developments in engines have created a need for new generation engine oils. These changes in engines puts more stress on oil quality and function. New generation engine oils increase engine power, reduce sump size and temperature, and allows longer oil drain intervals while lowering oil consumption.


Causes of Engine Failures

The right oil plays a major role in preventing engine failure. The causes of engine failure include:

  • Improper maintenance
  • Failure to change contaminated oil
  • Sludge and varnish build-up
  • Oxidation and thickening of oil
  • Abrasive elements
  • Depletion of additives
  • Oil pump failure

Also, engine oils must be changed before deterioration. Factors of oil deterioration include:

  • Dirt accumulation
  • Moisture contamination
  • Fuel contamination
  • Thermal oxidation of oil
  • Consumption of additive


Symptoms of oil deterioration are visible when dirt builds up due to an unprotected engine. The quality and viscosity of an engine oil is determined by internationally standardised notations.


Choosing the Right Engine Oil

Choosing the right engine oil identifying the engine’s SAE viscosity notation and the Grade notation (API, ILSAC, ACEA) is vital to choose the right oil. The viscosity of the engine oil is expressed numerically using the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) developed notations. Low-temperature viscosity with lower numbers are suitable for cold areas while high-temperature viscosity with higher numbers are suitable for warm areas.


Transmissions and Lubricants

Choosing the right transmission lubricant is important as the transmission process consists of a large number of sliding parts for which, lubrication is essential. Transmission is the mechanism by which power is transmitted from an engine to the wheels of a motor vehicle. There are three main types of transmissions: Automatic Transmission (AT), Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and Manual Transmission (MT): and each type has its own lubricant performance requirement. AT requires ordinary Auto Transmission Fluid (ATF) for slip-control. CVT on the other hand, requires specialised CVT Fluid (CVTF) for belt-drive CVT and Specialised Toroidal CVTF for Toroidal CVT. Oxidation caused by driving heat, consumption and breaking down of additives, and accumulation of moisture, wear and sludge causes oil deterioration and the symptoms could be seen through reduced acceleration, reduced fuel efficiency and increased shift shock.

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