Engine Oil Additives Explained for Professionals in Automotive Careers
For any engine to truly run like a well-oiled machine, the oil needs to contain certain additives. Engine oil additives are the compounds that help oil perform specified functions within the engine, such as lubrication, cooling the engine, eliminating contaminants, and minimizing friction. There are various types of chemicals used in these additives, each with the goal of working in tandem with oil to prevent corrosion, lubricate the engine, and improve its performance and longevity.
Here’s what you need to know about engine oil additives, and how they benefit vehicles when used.
What an Automotive Mechanic Should Know About Enhancing Oil with Additives
Typically, additives make up about 10 to 30% of the engine oil, with the base oils being the remainder. This is the case for both petroleum-based and synthetic oil. For most motor oils, the percentage of additives present is often around 15%. There are several types of additives in particular that are common: detergents, oil stabilizers, anti-wear additives, antioxidants, viscosity index improvers, and rust/corrosion inhibitors. With these additives involved, engine oil is more capable of carrying out its most important functions.
Additives also help enhance the oil’s viscosity, improve the engine’s performance, remove sludge, reduce noise, limit oxidation, and help prolong the lifespan of the engine itself. They can also provide a coating to the engine’s metal surfaces, reduce heat, and minimize damage to the engine. While the ability to perform these functions depends on the exact additive being used, these are among the most critical benefits to using these ingredients in motor oils.
There Are Certain Things to Keep in Mind
Despite all of the benefits of using engine oil additives, those with automotive careers should always make sure enough of these additives are present in order for the engine to run as smoothly as possible. Otherwise, the engine can experience corrosion, rust, overheating, and other types of wear and tear. Trained mechanics are aware that additives can be lost as the oil ages, and will generally keep this in mind during an inspection.
In some cases, drivers may be tempted to buy aftermarket additives. While this might inject life back into their oil, its effectiveness also depends on whether or not it contains the additive needed to restore the oil’s critical functions. Moreover, the additive system could be thrown off balance depending on the additives being used, which can do more harm than good for the engine.
When Would Engine Oil Additives Be Necessary?
If any of the issues mentioned above are common for the car owner, using engine oil additives can be beneficial. This is especially true if they’ve racked up heavy mileage over time, which can lead to potential damage and a reduction in the engine’s overall performance. In any case, those hoping to become an automotive mechanic will learn how to service gasoline engines. As such, it’s worth remembering that oil additives are most beneficial for those whose vehicles are older, or simply not in optimal condition.
Not only are additives needed for vehicles and engines that are older or that have been used over long periods of time, they can also be useful when the vehicle has experienced damage to its engine (e.g. strange smells, smoke, odd noises) or when the performance has gradually deteriorated. Whatever the issue may be, engine oil additives are worth using in order to improve the vehicle’s performance and staying power.
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