There is a reason why most people say that engine oil (some call it motor oil, and the terms are regularly used interchangeably) is the lifeblood of your vehicle.
Responsible for a number of critically important functions (just like your blood is), two of the most important reasons you need to make sure that your engine oil is in tiptop and as close to brand-new condition are:
• To completely and effortlessly lubricate all of the moving parts of your vehicle and
• To protect all metallic surfaces in your engine from rusting out
The reason that you need to keep your motor well lubricated should be rather obvious. We are going to quickly break it down right now. All moving parts are going to create friction. Any time you’re talking about parts that move as quickly and as explosively as the metal ones found in a modern-day engine you’re going to be dealing with a lot of friction.
Friction causes excess heat, wear and tear, and all kinds of other issues. This will literally destroy an engine from the inside out. This is why we need engine oil (and engine oil additives) to help “smooth things out” for lubrication. The more lubrication your engine oil can provide the longer-lasting your engine will be. Proper lubrication is a real win-win situation across the board.
The reason to protect your metal surfaces and all metallic components in your engine from rusting out should be equally as obvious. Rust and corrosion are going to literally eat away at your engine components. They will chew up the metal from the inside out and destroy it along the way. Critical engine components will become weakened and then fail entirely. This could put you in a very dangerous – and even potentially deadly – situation along the way.
Not to mention the fact that you’d have to inevitably replace an engine that was rusting out from the inside. That’s an expense that can cost almost as much as purchasing a replacement vehicle.
Again, there are other benefits that motor oil and engine oil bring to the table, but these two functions are the most important and why most people need to make sure that they are treating their engine oil like the lifeblood that it is.
Of course, part of that royal treatment involves regular and routine flushing of any old oil with new. Much of that can be avoided just by using the right additives in your engine oil along the way.
The basics of engine oil additives and their impact on viscosity
The overwhelming majority of additives that are added to engine oil are responsible for doing one thing. That is boosting the viscosity index of the engine oil that you are adding to your vehicle.
Viscosity is a measurement of the thickness and the consistency of a liquid or oil. Engine oil (understandably) should be as viscous as it can be without actually gumming up any of the important engine components.
Most oil manufactured today for automobile use is already pretty viscous, but the truth of the matter is most manufacturers err on the side of caution when producing really viscous oil. They do this as they don’t ever want to run the risk of reducing the flow of oil throughout the engine and potentially gumming the system up along the way.
If that happens, the engine will seize, explode, or just wear out completely in record time. Should that happen, those oil manufacturers would be responsible for covering the cost of damages – and then some!
On top of that, it’s really difficult to determine exactly how viscous specific oil is going to be under all conditions. A lot of different things are going to impact the viscosity of motor oil, including (but certainly not limited to):
• Heat (engines get very, very hot)
• Age (“older” can be less viscous or more viscous than it started out)
• Debris (engine oil is naturally going to pick up quite a bit of sludge and debris along the way, boosting viscosity through the roof)
That’s why so many companies that are producing engine oil are trying to create lighter and thinner formulas across the board. And that’s why you’re going to want to make sure that you are using engine oil additives to boost that viscosity (within a safe and appropriate range, of course)
The right engine additives are either going to immediately begin to thicken up your engine oil, whereas others are going to work to thin out older engine oil that may have picked up quite a bit of sludge and debris along the way.
You’ll have to know where your car is along its regular and routine maintenance scheduled to know which of these additives to put into play at the right time, but using the right additives can save you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on maintenance and repairs.
Protect your engine with the right additives
As mentioned above, the second other major role that engine oil plays in your vehicle is to protect and inhibit rust from collecting inside of your engine.
Engine oil additives that are designed to better protect your engine are going to include rust inhibitors in the form of detergents and dispersants. These are chemicals and synthetic agents that are going to work their way into your engine as they flow with oil through your engine to add a protective coating.
Many of these additives work in conjunction with the additives that oil manufacturers built right into their “recipes”, but help to support additives that may not be as effective as they were when the motor oil was first put into your vehicle.
Adding the right oil additive at the right time can definitely have a positive effect on the health of your engine oil. These additives can help reduce engine contamination, friction wear, and oil breakdown. Deciding if the cost using oil additives is more advantageous than just a regular oil change is a choice you have to make on your own. The older your vehicle gets, the more likely that oil additives will be a cost effective alternative to frequent oil changes.