Lubricants in the form of oils play one of the most important roles in the preservation of your car. They are vital in preventing wear and distributing heat from friction, as well as in cleaning your engine. But it's not only the engine that requires lubricants; other parts of your vehicle must be supplied with clean lubricants of the appropriate standard in order to maximise performance and minimise wear.
Your car: Friction and the role of lubricants
Friction is generated when two surfaces pass close together, rubbing and creating drag and heat in the process. Any place in your car where parts move against other parts generates friction, and this causes both wear on the parts and generates heat which must be dissipated. Anything which minimises contact between the surfaces and thus reduces friction is a lubricant, even sound.
The other role of lubricants is to 'wash' particles off the moving parts. Tiny particles such as dust can rub and grind the surfaces, causing damage.
Lubricants in your vehicle
Your vehicle uses lubricants in several places, all of which are vital to the continued functioning of the car.
• As well as the engine, your vehicle requires lubricants in the transmission (auto) or gear box (manual), the brakes, and the hydraulics
• The most commonly used lubricants in the world are motor oils. These are usually a by - product of petroleum production,
called mineral oils, and make up about 90% of the oil your engine uses
• Other bases used for engine oils are composed of synthetic liquids. These include esters, fluorocarbons, silicon and polyolefins
• The other 10 % of motor oil is made up of additives. These improve the performance of the oil by protecting the engine or parts,
and improving your car's performance. They do this by increasing the viscosity of the oil, protecting the engine from corrosion or
oxidation, and protecting from contamination and ageing
• Many lubricants are now also designed to minimise emissions and reduce environmental impact of driving
• It is essential that a car's engine, gears and hydraulics have clean, full oil reserves. This should be done at a full service, but also
check these things yourself fortnightly. If you change your own oil, never put it in waterways, down drains or in waste dumps,
and never use it to kill weeds, protect woodwork or as heating oil. It should be collected in drums and disposed of by a recycler
• Use the highest quality oil in your car to maximise its lifespan. Cheaper synthetic oils use low quality esters. Better quality
polyester bases offer better engine protection
• An oil's viscosity (its thickness, or resistance to motion), is measured by a number followed by a 'w', which denotes
the viscosity of the oil when cold. The higher viscosity, the better protection is offered. Multiple viscosity oils offer the
same protection at different temperatures; normally oil gets thinner as it heats
Follow your car manufacturer's recommendations for oil and ensure the maximum lifespan of its parts.
The role of lubricants in your car
Lubricants, whether made from mineral oils or synthetic bases, are vital to the performance of your vehicle as well as its lifespan. Using high quality oils in your engine, hydraulics and gears or transmission is the best way to reduce friction and keep parts clean. Take care of the vehicle in this easy way, and ensure maximum reliability and performance.