As some of you already probably know, oil is the lifeblood of an engine. It’s what keeps the parts well lubricated and protected so they can function at their best. Without oil, moving parts lose their protection and can wear out much faster due to friction. Other damage can occur as metal-on-metal contact can produce metal shavings that can affect other parts of the engine. If you want to avoid this from happening, you can add oil additives to your engine to enhance the protection that it already gives. With that said here is a quick guide to understanding what oil additives are and how they work to help protect your engine.
What are oil additives?
First things first what are oil additives? As the name suggests these are chemical compounds that you can add to engine oil to help improve the lubricant performance of the base oil. The additive will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer but they all serve the same purpose. These additives also help stabilize the oil as motor oil tends to break down over time affecting its ability to properly lubricate moving parts and to resist heat.
How do they work?
The formula changes from brand to brand but depending on the additive chosen they will have certain effects that will benefit your engine.
Common types of additives
Detergents: These types of additives help keep the oil clean and neutralize impurities that would normally cause sludge build up.
Anti-corrosion or anti-rust additives: As the name suggests, these additives help reduce the effects of oxidation on metal parts inside the engine.
Antioxidants: A chemical compound that helps reduce the damage caused by oxygen to the oil stock.
Metal deactivators: These create a thin protective coating on metal components found inside the engine.
Bases: These chemicals help further protect the oil inside the engine from degradation
Alkaline: An additive that helps neutralize acids found inside the engine to further prolong the life of the oil and the moving parts.
While the common types of additives can often be found mixed in with the base oil, there are other additives that can be mixed in later on. These additives typically help by maintaining the viscosity of the oil at higher temperatures. As the oil heats up or cools its viscosity changes and as such can become thicker or thinner depending on the situation.
Additives for lubricity
As the name states, they help with the lubricity of the base engine oil. While the formula for these additives varies from brand to brand, they do certain things in common to help protect your engine. Starting with friction modifiers, these help by reducing the friction between moving parts, these can also help with your vehicle’s fuel economy. Another common additive for lubrication is Antiwear. These chemicals create a thin film around a moving part to help protect it from surrounding metal parts. In summary, these help keep moving parts separate from one another and protected from grinding. Modern engines have finer tolerances and as such, these are needed for their protection.
How to use engine oil additives
Similar to how you would top off your engine oil, you can simply pour these additives into the engine itself. Make sure to read the instructions as there will be specific amounts that you will need to add depending on the oil capacity of your engine. It is also advisable to consult with your owner’s manual to see how much engine oil is needed for your vehicle. It is also best to include these additives while your vehicle is undergoing an oil change to maximize the effectiveness while the oil is still new and fresh.
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