by Ed Newman
AMSOIL Director of Advertising
This article appeared in National Oil &
Lube News, April 2009
In February we experienced one of those dreaded ice
storms which create so much havoc here in the Northland from time to
time. What typically happens is this. A warm front from the south pushes
north where pouring rain turns to ice on the already frozen terrain. In
really bad storms, power lines get so coated with ice that they snap
from the weight. In a really bad storm several years ago, a television
tower on Signal Hill became so thickly crusted with ice that it snapped
the cables that held it erect. The newspapers said that the ice was six
inches thick, and with the high winds coming off the lake it is a wonder
that more of those towers were not mangled.
As you can imagine, the roads become quite
treacherous. The freezing rain adheres to road surfaces, transforming
your driving adventure into a white knuckle experience. Even our
driveways and walkways become hazardous. In order to reduce the danger
of slipping, falling and breaking an arm we keep sand and gravel to
scatter across these icy surfaces. The purpose here is to generate
friction so the soles of our shoes, and our feet, donít slide out from
under us. Friction has a very positive benefit.
In other words, friction is not always a bad thing. In
cars, friction is good when it comes to tires gripping pavement.
Friction is also useful in your brake pads. When you press down on the
brake pedal you want resistance there.
But, friction in an engine has two consequences that are not so good for
your vehicle. The first is wear. The second is heat. For the purposes of
this article weíll primarily be focusing on the issue of heat.
Synthetics and Heat
Engines get hot for a variety of reasons, of course, and not just from
friction. The continuous combustion of gasoline is generating a lot of
heat. Electrical systems also generate heat. In the summer thereís quite
a bit of heat being transferred through the hood via sunlight, as well
as radiation coming up from road surfaces.
The foremost function of a lubricant is to minimize
or, if possible, eliminate friction. Lubricants reduce friction by
creating a film between two surfaces. Many parts donít need much
separation, but that separation counts. Even the thinnest film cuts down
contact. In most cases it eliminates it.
Another function of motor oil is to absorb the heat
that is generated from the engine combustion process. The flowing oil
then carries the heat back to the oil sump where it releases this heat
and cools off. From there, it is circulated back through the engine.
This process, in addition to the radiator cooling system, helps keep the
engine in the correct operating zone.
Premium synthetic oils much more readily absorb and
yield up heat due to the uniform molecular structure. Just like
synthetic oils flow much more readily to critical engine parts, true
synthetic oils also absorb and carry away heat to the oil sump where it
can be dissipated. Once in the sump, the oil also gives up heat more
quickly which allows engines or gearboxes to operate more effectively,
and efficiently, at cooler temperatures.
Viscosity and Heat
Oil viscosity is a very important factor when determining oil's ability
to absorb and transfer heat away from critical engine components. First,
given two different viscosity levels, it takes more energy to pump the
oil around the lubrication system with a thicker oil because it provides
more resistance to flow and will build up heat faster than a thin oil
being pumped through a restricted area.
If oil is too viscous and difficult to pump through the system, the
ability for the oil to get to the critical engine components may be
compromised creating more friction and heat build-up. The opposite can
also take place if the oil is too thin for the application. In this case
there may be an insufficient layer of lubricant to protect the metal
components and the result is more friction and heat build-up. The bottom
line is to make sure to use the correct viscosity for the application.
We recommend a premium synthetic motor oil due to its high film strength
and resistance to breakdown.
At the end of the day, it should be self-evident that a
properly priced synthetic oil change is the ideal solution for optimal
performance and longer lasting vehicles, at a time when motorists care
about these benefits more than ever.
Synthetics outperform refined lubricants because they reduce friction.
Less friction means less engine wear, better heat control and fuel
efficiency. With premium synthetics, due to less drag in the engine
(reduced friction), you get more power from the same discharge of
T's Advanced Synthetics
Greg and Marcy Thurman
Nationwide US Warehouses,
Canada and Palm Harbor, FL
experience problems or have questions or comments about
our website please email us at