by Robert Sanborn on Fri, Apr 17, 2009, who was a member of the STLE Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers for 15 years.
In response to a document put on the web regarding why oil additives are bad and can cause damage to your car, it’s actually the opposite as oil additives are the lifeblood of all motor oil. Additives thus play an extremely important role in reducing wear in an engine and so if you want to extend the life of your vehicle you need to consider the use of additives.
API’s GF-5 Increases Friction Modifiers (an additive)
Initially the document refers to friction modifiers and states “Don’t use them in your engine!” In researching this claim, I found that the opposite is true, so much so, that the new GF-5 warranty specification for motor oil calls for the increase in use of friction modifiers. In an article appearing in “Lubes n’ Greases” about the new GF-5 motor oil warranty specification, Alex Boffa, global Passenger Car Motor Oil (PCMO) coordinator at Chevron states “Maybe it will mean an overall increase in the overall additive package, and particularly in the dispersant/detergent additives. He want on to say “We may see increased levels of friction modifiers , too.”
Each oil company doesn’t disclose their formulas and what additives that they use, but obviously most are already using friction modifiers as he states maybe we will see an increased level. Friction modifiers are utilized to improve fuel efficiency, which is a major goal of motor oil and aftermarket additive suppliers. See complete article on what areas need more protection.
Friction modifiers have been used in motor oils for many years; this major additive supplier confirms their use; The use of friction modifiers is an important function for the pistons that run within the cylinder liners; by reducing friction fuel efficiency can be gained in this area. The use of additional friction modifiers can add to fuel efficiency. And, finally the following is an article on testing of friction modifiers with some including molybdenum.
Additives Come to the Rescue
The document then goes on to talk about viscosity improvers and the writer says “but, again, do not use them”. In talking to major oil company formulators they told me they are critical and are used in all motor oils to deliver the correct viscosity. They are also used as aftermarket additives extensively to reduce blow by on older engines to reduce oil consumption. This occurs when the rings lose elasticity and the cross hatching, on the cylinder liners becomes warn. Once this occurs oil cannot be controlled effectively and oil burning is seen as smoke comes out the tailpipe. Though this is a temporary fix, it serves an older car or engine on its last legs so to speak in reducing oil consumption and smoke. There have been products like STP on the market for many years with success in this area Viscosity index improvers as an aftermarket treatment are limited to older vehicles as it is not necessary to increase viscosity in a new engine. Remember the thicker the oil the less fuel economy one will receive. If your engine is burning oil and smoking it’s a great alternative to purchasing a new engine at thousands of dollars installed.
Sealers and Seal Swelles is the next topic on the document. It says, “continued use actually softens seals to the point of failure!” Many of the major oil companies make High Mileage Motor oils for vehicles with over 75,000 miles. Seals become hard and brittle over time and can start to leak. No one knows better about this situation then if you have had a seal leak on your garage floor. As seals get older they shrink and leak small drops. In researching High Mileage Oils we found that seal swell additives found in these oils only swell seals 8-10% and do not swell until failure. Major oil companies would not sell motor oils that caused seal failure as the liability would be enormous. Motorists with real bad leaks can rely on aftermarket additives to reduce the leakage. Such suppliers carefully mark their packages to let motorists know how much to use. Almost all of the major oil companies make High Mileage Oils.
Detergent/Dispersant Additives Keep Your Engine Clean
Solvents and Oil Solvent Mixes: The document explains not to use such products and on this area I must concur as reducing viscosity significantly by adding such a lightweight solvent can cause damage through accelerated wear. Viscosity as mentioned earlier is an important part of motor oil. In case you didn’t know it viscosity index improvers sold by the major oil companies are actually polymers found in used tires. That’s right I have been to a factory and seen them made. They grind up used tires into very small particles and reduce to a chemical, removing the impurities. How polymers work is when it’s cold they reduce molecularly in size and when it’s hot they swell or expand in size. By how much polymers are added is how you get a certain viscosity like 5W30 or 15W40. It’s the same product, but how much you use.
The reason motorists use solvent products like SeaFoam or Marvels’ Mystery Oil as listed in the document is that solvents are cleaning agents. But one can achieve a more efficient outcome by purchasing additional detergent/dispersant additives, such as found in SFR 100 or Gaszol/D-Sol.
Every time a new warranty specification of motor oils is developed, like the new GF-5 detergents are added. Using solvents to clean an engine can cause severe damage to your engine that you might not recognize until later as your engine seizes.
The document goes on to briefly discuss what the writer calls Engine Improvers, and mentions Resotre, which does show an improvement in compression. Such products are for engines that have been damaged and have lost compression. There are though products with nano-particles that have shown reduced wear even in new engines. SFR Corporation has developed a series of products for gasoline and diesel engines, as well as gear boxes that contain nano-particles of bismuth. Testing has shown a decrease in wear without increasing deposits. Motorists using such products on a regular basis have experienced a gain of 25-28% decrease in wear based on oil analysis testing. Testing results can be found at www.sfrcorp.com.
In conclusion, there are a myriad of additives developed by both the major oil companies and independent additive suppliers that reduce wear in an engine. They have been used for many years. Every time a new motor oil warranty specification comes out it calls for more additives. Like when you consider any other product for use, make sure the company has substantial testing and not just making a claim. There are hundreds of marketing companies making claims of 20% mileage improvement etc. that are totally bogus.
Manufactures of oil additives that have performed the due diligence can help motorists reduce wear or even prolong the use of a vehicle that has problems. Additives are now and always will be the lifeblood of motor oil. Additives are the most important ingredients and are far more important than the base oil. Using additives can really increase the performance of a vehicle and prolong its use.