types of automotive lubricants

Lubricants are one of the most important fluids that your vehicle needs to stay in top condition. These perform a myriad of tasks that not only helps protect moving parts but also helps protect them from unwanted wear and tear. That being said, here are the common types of lubricants you can find in your car and what they do.

A quick overview, here are a few key roles that lubricants play with regards to your vehicle’s engine and to its other moving parts.

  • Reduce the friction from moving parts

  • Transfer heat away from moving parts

  • Prevent corrosion both to the engine and to other moving parts

  • Protects against wear and tear

  • Carry away contaminants

  • Transmit power

  • Act as a seal

engine oil

Now that the key roles have been tackled, on to the first and one of the most common types of lubricant that can be found in your car. Engine oil is a lubricant that, as the name suggests, is used in your car’s engine. It consists of base oils that are mixed in with various other additives to ensure that it does its job of protecting the moving components of an engine. It helps reduce friction and wear between moving parts as well as helps clean the engine from sludge and varnish. Thanks to the additives in the oil, it also helps neutralize acids that may have come from the fuel and from oxidation. Aside from this, it also helps the piston rings create a better seal and cools the engine by transferring the heat away from moving parts.

gear oil

Another common lubricant found in almost any vehicle is the gear oil. These are applied to the transmission, transfer case, differential, of cars, and other forms of automobiles. Compared to regular motor oil, gear oil comes with a higher viscosity along with additives that help it withstand higher pressure. Gear oil also serves the same purpose as motor oil as it helps combat wear and tear,  and also offers a layer of protection for the moving parts. 


Grease is also another common form of lubrication found in cars. These are often applied to the suspension components as well as to the steering joints to help prevent any wear and tear. Similar to that of other lubricants, additives can also be added to grease in order to help them adapt to certain conditions that specific parts might encounter. These can be seen in the grease used in high-speed bearings as it will need to deal with not only heat but with very hot and very cold temperatures as well. 

hydraulic fluid

Aside from the lubricants mentioned above, there are also other kinds that don’t classify as an oil. While these do perform a similar function, they come with specialized formulas that are needed for specific applications in your vehicle.

brake fluid

Brake Fluid

Something you might not know is that brake fluid is actually considered a lubricant in your vehicle. While it isn’t categorized as an oil, it does comes with the specific chemicals needed that help protect your braking system from premature wear and tear. Brake fluid contains ethylene glycols and anti-corrosion additives that help protect your brakes and withstand the high temperatures generated by them. With these additives, it will help make sure that your brake systems are in good operating condition.

Penetrating lubricants

These kinds of lubricants aren’t a long-lasting form of lubrication, as their only use is to infiltrate small cracks and crevices to provide lubrication and to help break up rust. These are commonly used to loosen stuck nuts or bolts and to remove adhesive from glass or other body panels. 

Dry lubricants

Contrary to what the name suggests, these lubricants are still fluid in nature. However, they are best used as alternatives to oil-based lubrication.  A good example of this would be graphite which offers a great deal of lubrication and protection especially when high temperatures are involved. Dry lubricants typically come in spray form and utilize a mixture of water, alcohol, or another solvent that will eventually evaporate. These lubricants tend to focus more on the molecular level of lubrication as they create thinner films of protection which is great for intricate and small machines. Despite evaporating, the additives will still leave a thin film of protection and lubrication at the end. These are best used on threaded rods, locks, and hinges or on small parts that need lubrication but may be hindered by the use of oils or grease.  

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