What does engine oil do, how do you select a suitable type for your engine, and are some kinds really better than others?
We all know that engine oil is absolutely crucial to keeping your motor running, but not many of us know exactly what it does. What’s more, with so many different brands and grades of oil out in the market, how do we go about choosing the rather important fluid that serves as an engine’s lifeblood?
What engine oil does
Engine oil provides three major things to the various parts and functions of a car’s engine.
Engine oil that does its job looks like this, and the very best engine oils are acheived through constant improvement
Lubrication – This is the most well-known function of engine oil. Just like how cooking oil prevents food from sticking to your pan, engine oil reduces friction between all the moving parts inside and engine. Not only does the friction create extra resistance and heat, which reduces power, it also increases wear and tear between those parts, leading to long term damage and possibly engine failure. Top engine oils have high resistance to shearing forces and include friction reducers, and are able to reduce friction while boosting power and efficiency to a much higher level.
Cooling – When an engine is running, oil is pumped around in a circuit, just like the coolant in your radiator. As it flows through and around the various parts, it draws some of the heat away, until it reaches the oil pan where moving air helps to cool it down before it goes back into the engine. This keeps the parts cool, and allows the engine to operate as efficiently as possible. The best engine oils are able to withstand high engine temperatures and are resistant to premature oil thickening.
Cleaning – Modern engine oils do more than just lubricate and cool – they also keep the internal parts clean. A running engine inevitably produces microscopic dirt and particles, which over time will grind against the parts and cause wear. Additives in modern engine oils ensure that these particles, as well as moisture and other combustion byproducts, do not have a chance to form a sludge or corrosion on the parts’ surfaces. Top-line engine oils will keep your engine and its components clean while taking the dirt into itself – something you’ll notice when changing oil for the first time.
Why oil changes are essential
Engine oils are designed to perform all the functions stated above, but they don’t have an indefinite service life. Over time and many recurring heat cycles, engine oil will degrade, sludge and deposits will form, and some oil will be lost – via evaporation as well as small leaks in the gaskets. All of which results in the oil becoming less effective at lubricating, cooling and cleaning, thus increasing the likelihood of long term engine damage. This is why engine oil needs to be changed regularly – best follow the intervals as recommended by your car’s manufacturer in the owner’s manual.
Engine oil, even used, should maintain the consistency of honey or syrup. If you neglect to change your oil for an extended period, your engine will eventually suffer catastrophic failure.
What should I look out for when buying engine oil?
Motul H-Tech engine oil is fully synthetic for drivers seeking a high-level of performance, fuel efficiency, and protection
So now that you know what engine oil does and why you need to keep it fresh, the next question is, how do you decipher what’s on the label? Here are the key things you need to know:
Viscosity – If you’ve ever picked up a bottle of engine oil, you might have wondered what the numbers mean, be it 5W-30, 10W-40, etc. This refers to the oil’s viscosity, or resistance to flow. The ‘W’ stands for winter, and the number preceding it is a rating of the oil’s viscosity at 0°C; we live in the tropics so we don’t need to worry about that. The second number rates the oil’s viscosity at 100°C – a higher number means a higher viscosity, or a thicker oil, and vice versa.
All oils become thinner as temperatures rise. If you use too thin an oil, it will not be able to provide sufficient lubrication, resulting in excess engine wear. Use too thick an oil, and the engine’s internal components encounter greater resistance, leading to a slight loss in power and fuel economy.
If you understood none of that, it doesn’t matter: Your car’s owner’s manual will state what viscosity of oil you need, although if you do a lot of high performance driving such as track days, you might want to consider a slightly thicker oil, given the increased temperature and loads your engine will encounter.
Certification – These labels are important as they indicate whether or not the oil conforms to the latest test standards or whether it’s formula is up to date. There are two types of labels to look out for, one from the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the other from its European equivalent, Association des Constructeurs Europeens d’Automobiles (ACEA), and they indicate that the engine oil in question has been tested and certified by either of these two organisations.
Oil Quality – This states whether the oil is of a mineral/conventional, semi-synthetic or fully synthetic variety. Mineral oils are your basic variety, refined from crude oil. Certain classic cars can run on mineral oil, but it is less common these days and more often used in industrial applications. Semi synthetic oils are a blend of mineral and synthetic oils. They retain most of the capabilities of fully synthetic oils, but at a lower cost, and often don’t last as long.
Fully synthetic oils are the most advanced, and contain many chemical additives that enhance its capabilities, such as allowing for a wider range of operating temperature, increased longevity and enhanced resistance to sludge build up.
What’s the best oil?
There’s no such thing as the ‘best’ oil, only the most suitable one for your application. However, there is something we can recommend: A fully synthetic product that’s constantly being updated, and has been tested in the harshest racing conditions from Super GT to LeMans and more.
Racing is one of the most demanding places for engine oils – that’s why Motul uses its involvement in racing like Super GT as its biggest ‘laboratory’ to make better products
Motul has been involved in racing for decades, and it’s one of the few brands who truly use racing as a way to develop and improve its products. Motul currently offers a range of fully-synthetic oils for passenger cars.
Motul’s H-Tech series is a fully-synthetic oil designed for those seeking a high-level of performance, fuel efficiency, and protection for their engines. Its anti-wear, anti-corrosion, anti-foam additives, plus detergent and dispersant properties keep engines clean, protected and with reduced internal friction for superior performance all round.
Above that, Motul’s 8100 series and 300V range are perfect examples of the highest performing, modern, and fully synthetic engine oil. The 8100 series is the company’s top of the range road car formula, and is designed to meet the most demanding car manufacturer’s requirements, whether in stop-start traffic or at speed on the highway.
The 300V range goes even further and is formulated for top-level racing applications, based on Motul’s unique ESTERCORE® technology which combines the best performing synthetic base oils including esters with bespoke dedicated chemical additives. The 300V range has been used in demanding race series’ such as Japan Super GT, Dakar Rally and World Endurance Championship, so you can be sure it can go the distance and you can reap all the benefits of the best ‘blood’ an engine can get.
Go with Motul and get more
To be sure that you’re getting the best performance from Motul’s premium oils, make sure to purchase authentic Motul products from authorised dealers. Non-authentic or counterfeit products will not provide the same level of performance and may even harm or damage your car’s engine.
Buying original Motul products from an authorised dealer is simple with Motul Connect, simply log on to www.motulconnect.com/sg to find an authorised dealer near you.
If you buy now, you can also enjoy extra benefits: With the purchase of Motul H-Tech products, you’ll get a free Motul tissue box. With the purchase of 8100 or 300V, you’ll get a free Black & Decker car vacuum (worth $46).*
*Terms and conditions apply.
This special feature is brought to you by High-Tech Lubricants AP Pte Ltd, Official MOTUL Distributor for Asia Pacific
1A International Business Park, #06-03, Singapore 609933
Tel: + 65 6565 8100