Just like the blood plasma in the human body, the car has engine oil! How much do you value the engine in your car? The life of your engine depends in no small part on the quality of the oil you put in it - oil is its lifeblood. Some people do not pay much attention to their oil but thanks to the popularity during the 80's and 90's of hot hatches, 16-valve engines and turbo (and as the tuner scene started to rise) engine oils underwent something of a revolution. Combined with the devastating problems of Black Death, the days of one type of oil catering for everyone are gone! For example, Castrol led the field for years with their GTX mineral oil. This was eventually surpassed by semi-synthetic and fully synthetic oils, including GTX2 and GTX3 Lighter. Those were surpassed by Formula SLX which can cost upwards of $75 for 5 litres can, and most recently, Castrol GTX Magnatec which is muscling in on the hitherto separate world of friction reducers. That is just one manufacturer products. There are thousands of
other products out there!
The engine oil does two things. Primarily it stops all the metal surfaces in your engine from grinding together and tearing themselves apart from friction, but it also transfers heat away from the combustion cycle. Engine oil must also be able to hold in suspension all the nasty by-products of combustion such as silica (silicon oxide) and acids. Finally, engine oil minimises the exposure to oxygen and thus oxidation at higher temperatures. It does all of these things under tremendous heat and pressure. As oils heat up, they generally get thinner. Single grade oils get too thin when hot for most modern engines which is where multi-grade oil comes in. The idea is simple - use science and physics to prevent the base oil from getting as thin as it would normally do when it gets hot. But as a quick reminder, the number before the 'W' is the 'cold' viscosity rating of the oil, and the number after the 'W' is the 'hot' viscosity rating. So 5W40 oil is one which behaves like 5-rated single grade oil when cold, but do
esn't thin any more than 40-rated single grade oil when hot.
The lower the 'winter' number (hence the 'W'), the easier the engine will turn over when starting in cold climates. As for Fully Synthetic, we have the 0W-30, 0W-40, and 5W-40; these have the following characteristics, Fuel economy savings, Enhances engine performance and power, Ensures engine is protected from wear and deposit build-up, Ensures good cold starting and quick circulation in freezing temperatures and Gets to moving parts of the engine quickly. As for the Semi-synthetic, there is 5W-30, 10W-40 and 15W-40. These offer Better protection, Good protection within the first 10 minutes after starting out, roughly three times better at reducing engine wear, increased oil change intervals - don't need to change it quite so often. Finally, there is the Mineral, this comprises of 10W-40 and 15W-40 that offers basic protection for a variety of engines, this Oil needs to be changed more often.
Black Death or sludge first appeared in the early 80's when a horrible sticky black substance was found to be the cause of many engine seizures in Europe. It was extremely frustrating for vehicle owners because dealers and mechanics had no idea what was going on. Faster roads, higher under-hood temperatures, tighter engineering tolerances and overworked engine oils turned out to be contributors to the problem. The oils just couldn't handle it and changed their chemical makeup under pressure into a sort of tar-like glue. This blocked all the oil channels in the engines, starved them of lubrication and caused them to seize. Black Death was the catalyst for the production of newer higher quality oils, many of them man-made rather than mineral-based. The most common factor in sludge build-up is a combination of mineral oils, a lack of maintenance by the car owner and harsh driving conditions.