The engine of a vehicle, whether we’re talking about a fleet vehicle, a piece of industrial machinery, a boat engine, or something else, requires oil. Most of us are familiar with the lubrication that oil provides, but did you know that it serves a number of other roles within the engine? Understanding how engine oil functions is imperative to maintaining an engine, whether we’re talking about your personal vehicle, a fleet of business-owned vehicles, or something else.
Lubrication and Protection
The single most important role that engine oil serves is to lubricate and protect metal components. A thin layer of oil prevents metal-to-metal contact, reducing wear and tear and increasing the engine’s lifespan. It also helps to prevent corrosion by preventing moisture from contacting metal surfaces.
Fuel Economy Improvements
A properly lubricated engine runs smoothly, with little friction to rob it of power and increase fuel consumption.
However, as oil degrades, it loses its ability to lubricate properly, increasing fuel consumption and reducing power output.
Engine oil is specially formulated with detergents and other additives that are designed to remove harmful deposits that can build up and rob the engine of performance and lifespan. A clean engine is a well-running engine. It’s also less susceptible to damage.
Did you know that the space between the piston and the cylinder are not completely smooth? Small imperfections in the walls and cylinder surface can rob you of output power. Engine oil coats these surfaces, providing a smooth surface and a strong seal to improve engine performance.
We don’t usually think about engine oil as a coolant, but the truth is that it works in tandem with radiator fluid to reduce heat buildup that would otherwise damage the engine and reduce its lifespan.
While engine oil serves a wide range of roles in today’s vehicles, it’s imperative that you choose the right oil. Not all grades or formulations are right for all applications. For passenger vehicles, a multi-grade oil is usually the right choice, but you need to ensure that you opt for the right weight. This is denoted by a number/letter combination, such as 5W30.
The vast majority of light passenger vehicles manufactured in the last five years or so require lighter weight oil than the cars of yesteryear – 5W20 or even 0W20 are common. In comparison, older engines often called for 5W30 or even 10W30 for older, less efficient engines.
Know the Rules
With that being said, this rule does not apply to heavier duty engines. Passenger pickup trucks, heavy-duty trucks, and diesel engines all have their own requirements when it comes to oil weight, viscosity and other specifications. It’s important that you buy the right oil for each engine from a manufacturer that meets or exceeds industry standards and government regulations.
Doing otherwise means that you could be reducing the use life of the engine, which is nothing more than throwing money away.