Motor oil, engine oil, or engine lubricant is any of various substances comprising base oils enhanced with particularly anti-wear additive plus detergents, dispersants and, for multi-grade oils viscosity index improvers. Motor oil is used for lubrication of internal combustion engines. The main function of motor oil is to reduce friction and wear on moving parts and to clean the engine from sludge (one of the functions of dispersants) and varnish (detergents).
Motor oil is a lubricant used in internal combustion engines, which power cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, engine-generators, and many other machines. In engines, there are parts which move against each other, and the friction wastes otherwise useful power by converting the kinetic energy to heat. It also wears away those parts, which could lead to lower efficiency and degradation of the engine. This increases fuel consumption and decreases power output and can lead to engine failure.
In petrol (gasoline) engines, the top piston ring can expose the motor oil to temperatures of 160 °C. In diesel engines, the top ring can expose the oil to temperatures over 315 °C. Motor oils with higher viscosity indices thin less at these higher temperatures.
A Mono-grade engine oil, as defined by SAE J300, cannot use a polymeric viscosity index improver (VII, also viscosity modifier, VM) additive. SAE J300 has established eleven viscosity grades, of which six are considered Winter-grades and given a W designation. The 11 viscosity grades are 0W, 5W, 10W, 15W, 20W, 25W, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60. These numbers are often referred to as the “weight” of a motor oil, and single-grade motor oils are often called “straight-weight” oils. For single non-winter grade oils, the kinematic viscosity is measured at a temperature of 100 °Cin units of mm2/s (millimeter squared per second) or the equivalent older non-SI units, centistokes (abbreviated cSt). Based on the range of viscosity the oil falls in at that temperature, the oil is graded as SAE viscosity grade 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60. In addition, for SAE grades 20, 30, and 40, a minimum viscosity measured at 150 °C and at a high-shear rate is also required. The higher the viscosity, the higher the SAE viscosity grade is.
Engine lubricants are evaluated against the American Petroleum Institute (API), SJ, SL, SM, SN, CH-4, CI-4, CI-4 PLUS, CJ-4, CK and FA as well as International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) GF-3, GF-4 and GF-5, and Cummins, Mack and John Deere (and other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM)) requirements. These evaluations include chemical and physical properties using bench test methods as well as actual running engine tests to quantify engine sludge, oxidation, component wear, oil consumption, piston deposits and fuel economy. The API sets minimum performance standards for lubricants. Motor oil is used for the lubrication, cooling, and cleaning of internal combustion engines. Motor oil may be composed of only a lubricant base stock in the case of mostly obsolete non-detergent oil, or a lubricant base stock plus additives to improve the oil’s detergency, extreme pressure performance, and ability to inhibit corrosion of engine parts.
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