As engines become more complex , so has the engine oil requirements for them. In the early days of motoring, all that was available was a 30 weight viscosity mineral oil, much like what you would still use in your lawnmower.
Today manufactures have a host of options to choose from depending on the application of the engine. Advancements in technology now provide us multi grade oils, available in either mineral or synthetic form.
So, “what is viscosity?” you may be asking yourself. Viscosity is a measurement of a fluid’s thickness or resistance to flow. The lower the viscosity the thinner the fluid and the more likely it will flow easily at lower temperatures. The higher the viscosity the thicker the fluid is, and therefore less likely to flow at lower temperatures. Lower viscosity oils provide excellent engine lubrication upon initial start up, sub zero temperatures and provide less resistance to moving parts, thus actually increasing horsepower and fuel economy. Higher viscosity oils provide better lubrication once the engine has warmed up and in summer temperatures.
A multi grade designation such as 5w20 is deciphered as follows: the first number followed by the w is the viscosity in winter temperatures. The second number is viscosity of the oil at higher temperatures.
There are two main types of engine oils, mineral and synthetic. Both oils begin life as crude oil, however the process of refinement is different . Obviously the process of making synthetic oil is the more costly one. It provides more additives for extra protection to moving parts, longevity and theoretical gains in horsepower and fuel economy. There is a sub classification of semi-synthetic. This oil is a blend of synthetic and mineral oil.
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