Engine oil additives: when are they effective?
Every car enthusiast knows about the important role of the lubricant in the life of the engine: along with the main function, it performs a number of others, and both the quality of the engine and its service life largely depend on it. But when it comes to engine oil additives, the friendly family of car enthusiast splits into two classic camps – supporters of their use and skeptics. There are no opponents in this matter, because it won’t get worse (however, we are not talking about their thoughtless use – in this case, troubles can be done), but whether they will be useful – let’s figure it out.
What are additives for?
Let’s start from the position of skeptics, which is usually based on the following argument: they say that many additives consist of similar substances that are present in commercial oil (only in higher concentrations), therefore, a motor fluid has a priori everything necessary for normal operation. Everything seems to be correct, given that “normal operation” is the key message. But the engine doesn’t have statutory working hours per week, trade unions don’t protect it – and avoiding increased and even critical loads can sometimes be difficult.
This is relevant for urban traffic with increased traffic jams, and no one canceled the climatic features in the form of sudden temperature changes. It turns out that the base oil cannot cope with supporting all the tasks intended for the engine, and it is extremely difficult to avoid third-party help, and over time it is almost impossible. In other words, even at the current level of engine building, it is impossible to create a product that would both provide effective protection and at the same time not be destroyed over a long period of time. Therefore, modern motor lubricant is the basis and composition of additives. At the same time, it must be remembered that engine oil additives are not a panacea, they must be used correctly.
For prevention and recovery
“In the right place, at the right time” is not only a well-known proverb about luck, but actually the principle of using additives. To achieve the desired result, Additives must be used in a timely manner and with a clear understanding of what kind of help the engine needs. Therefore, engine oil additives are divided into different categories and can be factory-made (added to the product by the manufacturer, as a rule, the chemical composition is classified information) and individual (can be freely purchased on the market or in a car shop).
The most famous types:
- VISCOUS (THICKENERS). Increase the viscosity of the lubricant without changing the properties of the fluid; prevent lubricant from entering the combustion chamber, which prevents the appearance of smoke in engines with high mileage.
- WASHING (DETERGENTS). They do not allow impurities and soot to accumulate (soot, tar, dirt on parts), help fight carbon deposits and oxidized mixtures.
- DISPERSED. They prevent the accumulation of solid impurities and coking of working surfaces.
- ANTI-CORROSION. They protect the internal surfaces of the engine from corrosion by neutralizing acids.
- ANTIOXIDANT. Reduce the rate of oxidation and accumulation of chemical reaction products.
- ANTIWEAR. Due to the formation of a protective film, they increase the lubricity of the liquid, preventing the appearance of scoring. This prolongs the life of various parts.
- DEPRESSOR. They are well known to car owners in winter: by lowering the pour point of the oil, they do not allow paraffin crystals formed at low temperatures to stick together.
Please note that detergents, viscous, antioxidant and other compounds are rather preventive: they create conditions for better engine operation, but are not restorative. In pharmacy language, it is rather a “vitamin complex”. But there are also individual additives of a restorative nature: their task is to “restore” damaged surfaces (often this happens due to wear of parts). Preparations for engine restoration reduce consumption, and are more relevant than ever for old and well-worn motors.
Recovery products will help in specific situations – for example, if you need to increase the oil pressure. It is relevant when right now it is not possible to diagnose or eliminate the cause of a decrease in pressure. Due to the additive, it will be possible to change the physico-chemical properties of the oil, and the advantages will also be in covering the surfaces with a protective layer, sealing cracks and gaps, and resisting soot deposits. This is an effective way to delay repairs, but do not forget that the effect of additives, firstly, is short-lived, and secondly, you will not solve the revolutionary issue, but you will gain time.
Diesel and gasoline: is there a difference?
Disputes about the application can also be local in nature, and the type of engine sometimes becomes a stumbling block. There are car enthusiasts who believe that additives can be useful, but only for diesel engines. Let’s start with them.
The main indicator for the use of additives in diesel engines has always been considered that the combustion process of diesel fuel is more “dirty”. than gasoline. Soot and related deposits – for a diesel engine, given its design features, is in the order of things. Another well-known winter “diesel” problem, which, thanks to the verb “paraffin”, has been heard even by those who cannot drive a car: diesel fuel thickens in winter and needs help. Depressant additives, which were discussed above, come to the rescue. Cleaners will not be superfluous (regardless of the season) as they protect the fuel system from corrosion and remove “mud” deposits. Protective and lubricating additives prevent engine from wear, increase the life of the particulate filter. Complex additives carry out general maintenance of fuel equipment, and also increase the cetane number: by reducing the time for fuel injection, the fuel mixture burns more smoothly.
Additives for gasoline engines – this is really in the direction of the debating club. Unlike diesel, here the range of opinions can be polar: from uselessness to solving all problems associated with the motor. The truth is somewhere in the middle, and when using this or that additive, you need to remember about the “place” and “time”: only a narrowly focused and timely use of chemical agents can give the desired effect. Therefore, based on the benefits, four groups of additives for gasoline engines can be distinguished.
- CLEANERS (WASHERS) help remove tar and carbon deposits, monitor the fuel supply system and injector.
- OCTANE CORRECTORS: their task is to help increase the octane number. In addition, some manufacturers claim the ability of the additive to increase engine power and reduce fuel consumption.
- ABSORBERS are responsible for removing moisture from the process fluid. They consist almost entirely of alcohol diluted with drying agents.
- UNIVERSAL are designed to combine all of the above useful properties, but the fact that they will be used in full should be treated with a certain degree of skepticism.
To summarize all of the above, the use of any additive must be approached carefully: ask the seller a question, consult an auto mechanic, read additional literature. And if you decide that you need additional compound, be sure to pay attention to the fact that the selected products are from a well-known manufacturer. Otherwise, expectations will be in vain at best.