What is Motor Oil?
The question I’m most asked when giving a presentation about AMSOIL to a group of average people, in other words, those who are not mechanics, gear heads, motorcycle enthusiasts, etc., is: “How is motor oil made?” This series of posts will attempt to answer that question and provide basic information about how lubricants work, the various types of lubrication, and how important they are to everything that has moving parts. While I have some answers, I acknowledge that I don’t have all the answers, so substantive comments are always welcome. Let’s get started!
Modern oil is made up of a base stock and chemical compounds called additives, or “add-pack”. Most base stocks are comprised of crude oil, which comes from oil wells and must be refined to remove as many impurities as possible. Synthetic oil base stocks are engineered in labs and produced in factories. Unlike crude oil, synthetic oil has no impurities, and therefore, needs no refining. More about this in a later post.
What is the Purpose of Lubrication?
Oil has to do seven things.
- Minimize friction & wear by reducing contact between components
- Clean. The oil suspends contaminants in the fluid and prevents them from adhering to components. The inside of an engine gets very hot. Think about the last time you burned some cooking oil in a frying pan.
- Cool. Reducing friction lowers the temperature inside the engine. The oil also absorbs some heat from the moving parts and disperses it.
- Lubricants seal certain parts of the engine.
- Dampen Shock. The film provided by oil over the moving parts enable it to run smoothly.
- Protect. A good oil will prevent or minimize corrosion.
- Transfer energy. Hydraulic oil is a good example.
That’s it in a nutshell. In future posts we’ll discuss the need for lubrication, what causes parts to wear out, why and when we need to change oil, and a bunch of other topics.