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Lubricating oil is often called the blood of an engine. Proper lubrication of all moving parts is essential for the operation of an internal combustion engine.

The lubrication primarily decreases the power required to overcome friction and reduces wear between the rubbings and bearing surfaces, thereby increasing the power output and the engine service life, and avoids seizure and serious damage of the components. Additionally, the lubricant acts as a coolant, carrying heat away from the bearings, cylinders and pistons. The lubricating film on the cylinder wall acts as a seal to prevent the gases of combustion from blowing by the piston rings and entering the crankcase. Thus, the effectiveness of engine lubrication plays an important role in determining the service life and the performance characteristics of an engine.

The lubrication system is consisted of oil pan, oil pump, oil filter, and oil passages. The passages or inner channels through which oil, like blood in the human veins, get to the nooks and crannies of an engine are largely now finely or very thinly cut in modern engines. Hence, the reason why engine manufacturers of modern automobiles, say, from 15 years to date, usually now state categorically that finely blended, less viscous engine oil classifications like SAE 0-W-20, SAE 5-W-20, SAE 5-W-30, etc. are used to maintain their engines. It’s vitally essential that you make sure that in maintaining your engine, the right classifications of engine oil as instructed by your engine manufacturers are used compulsorily; that’s the only way to make the engine last and serve you well!

The following are the purposes of the right (I repeat: right) specification of lubricating oil in an automobile engine:

Lubrication – An important purpose of engine oil is to lubricate engine parts so that friction and wear are reduced. Lubrication between two moving surfaces results from oil film that builds up to separate the surface and support the load. The lubrication system must provide a continuous flow of oil to all the engine bearings and other lubricated surfaces so that the oil film on each component is maintained to minimise wear. The correct oil viscosity is also essential for reducing friction.

Cooling – The lubricating oil carries heat away from the component which is lubricated. The oil is returned to the oil pan. Some engines incorporate external oil coolers to assist in oil cooling in the oil pan. It is necessary to keep the oil temperature below the flash point of the oil. An engine oil must also have a high heat resistance so that carbon formation due to breakdown is kept to a minimum.

Cleaning or detergence effect – The engine oil has an ability to clean all the engine components, which are in contact with it. Additives in the engine oil help the oil to perform its cleaning operation. Carbon formation is cleaned from the pistons and rings by engine oil. Also, other engine components, such as valve stems, valve lifters, rocker arms, and camshafts, are also cleaned.

Sealing – The engine oil helps the piston rings to form a tight seal between the rings and cylinder walls. Microscopic irregularities in the piston rings or cylinder walls are filled by the oil film, preventing the escape of combustion chamber gases. The engine oil clings to the metal surfaces and resists the tendency of combustion chamber gases to “blow by” the piston rings. The oil film also provides lubrication between the rings and the piston ring grooves, thus allowing the rings to move freely and therefore to have continuous contact between the rings and cylinder walls. Oil between the engine parts cushions the parts from the shock as the combustion charge forces the piston down.

With the additives, the oil has ability to minimise scuffing, reduce rusting, resist oxidation, and maintain the oil’s viscosity characteristics. If the oil is too thin, it rapidly leaks from the clearances, thus allowing the parts to come in contact, resulting in scoring of the parts. When the thickness is too large, the oil requires excessive power to overcome drag between the rubbing surfaces.

The sad truth in Nigeria today is that many of the big brands (I don’t want to name names) selling engine oil don’t sell the right specification for contemporary vehicles on our roads. Please don’t take my word for it; just do this simple investigation on your own: either look atop your engine’s oil chamber or compartment cap under your hood/bonnet, or in your vehicle’s owner’s manual in the chapter on lubrication or lube service/engine maintenance, then reconcile the exact engine oil specification (say, SAE 0-W-20, SAE 5-W-20, SAE 5-W-30, SAE 5-W-40, etc.) with the grading or specification that’s stated on the container of the engine oil that’s used in servicing your vehicle. If it’s not exactly the same, especially the numbers after the “W”, then, as one young technician in one of my workshops often says: “You dey kill your engine fast fast!”

I know it’s often pretty difficult to get the right spec of engine oil and very good oil additive/s that’ll help reduce friction and wear in engine’s, especially for new automobiles in Nigeria, but these numbers 08023025022/ 08073038173 by AUTOMEDICS are dedicated to help you get the right types of lubricants and outstanding additives as mandated by your engine manufacturer.

NB: Parts of this piece is culled from the internet.

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