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Everything you should know about Synthetic Oils


Synthetics are used in every military, and commercial jet, all of the Space Shuttles, and every satellite in space, because of their ability to withstand the extreme heat, extreme cold and high pressures encountered in those hostile environments. Chevrolet Corvette comes factory filled with synthetics in the engine. To use a petroleum oil could void its warranty. Highway trucks are given extended warranty on their transmission and rear end if filled with synthetics. Lower excessive operating temperatures of 20 deg. F to 50 deg. F are quite common with the use of synthetic oil, something everyone should be looking at with Turbocharged engines. Lower pour points for better cold weather start ups and quicker lubrication, AMSOIL SYNTHETIC OILS have pour points as low as 76 deg. F below 0 (-60 C ) and fire points as high as 532 deg.F. (278 C ).

Many of the things we take for granted as conventional aspects of twentieth-century life were unimaginable only a few decades ago. For instance, who would have foreseen in the 1940s that in the 1980s tiny electronic marvels called transistors would have effectively replaced the unreliable vacuum tube, or that a single, miniature silicon chip could duplicate the functions of an entire, roomsized digital computer, or even that a farmer sitting in his combine would be able to map a field and have yield reports appear on a screen before his eyes?

So it is with the rapidly-emerging synthetic lubricant market. Those naysayers who only a decade or so ago prematurely dismissed synthetics as "snake oil" are now among the staunchest devotees of laboratory-manufactured lubricants. Among these believers are top lubrication engineers, race car drivers, vehicle fleet operators, and millions of private motorists around the world. What factors have contributed to the growing enthusiasm for synthetic lubricants? Simply put, synthetically-produced lubricants have demonstrated beyond doubt that they are far superior to their conventional petroleum counterparts in fulfilling the many and varied tasks demanded of oil by today's modern engines and power trains. Indeed, synthetic lubricant technology is swiftly progressing to a point where it is possible that engine wear may no longer continue to be the major limiting factor in the expected life span of motor vehicles. An examination of synthetic engine lubricants, will assist the reader to understand the differences and the advantages offered by these state-of-the-art motor oils.

The first question demanding an answer is: Just what is synthetic oil ? Synthetic lubricants are defined as having been produced by chemical synthesis. These are manufactured by organic reactions such as Alkylation, Condensation, Esterfication, Polymerization, etc. Starting materials may be one or more relatively pure organic compounds. Technically speaking, synthetic lubricants are man made by chemically combining, in a laboratory, lower-molecular-weight organic materials to produce a finished product with planned and predictable properties. What this means is that synthetics are custom-designed products in which each phase of their molecular construction is programmed to produce what may be called "the ideal lubricant". This process departs significantly from that of petroleum lubricants, whose physical components, both desirable and undesirable, are inherited from the crude oil from which they are refined. Crude oil possesses thousands of varieties of contaminants, depending upon the oils geographical and geological origins, which no amount of refining can remove. Corrosive acids, paraffins and other waxes, heavy metals, asphalts, naphthenes and benzenes, as well as countless compounds of sulfur, chlorine, and nitrogen, can remain in the finished product. Equally as important, petroleum oil molecules, as contrasted to uniform-sized synthetic oil molecules, vary significantly in size, shape, and length. When your engine heats up, the smaller molecules evaporate, while the larger ones tend to oxidize and become engine deposits. As a result, refined petroleum lubricating products differ widely in their overall quality and performance. The presence of and the resulting drawbacks of the undesirable constituent elements lie at the very root of the considerable performance differences between synthetic and petroleum-based motor oils.

The primary functions of motor oil include lubricating and cooling engine parts,( oil actually does 40% of the cooling.) keeping the engine clean and protecting against corrosion and oxidation. Moving parts produce friction which, in turn, produces heat, wear and stress. Synthetic motor oils are more slippery than conventional oils, thereby reducing friction, increasing horsepower and reducing wear.

Due to their chemical composition, synthetics have a longer life span, remaining within spec for long after traditional oils thicken to near sludge due to the evaporation of their thinner components. Synthetic oils are also famed for their low pour point, remaining fluid at temperatures that transform conventional oils into popsicles.

"Film strength" refers to the amount of pressure required to force out a film of oil from between two pieces of flat metal. The higher the film strength, the more protection is provided to such parts as piston rings, timing chain, cams, lifters, and rocker arms... wherever the lubricant is not under oil-system pressure. Synthetics routinely exhibit a nominal film strength of well over 3,000 psi, while petroleum oils average somewhat less than 500 psi. The result is more lubricant protection between moving parts with synthetics.

Can synthetic motor oils be used in any engine?

Synthetic motor oils can be used in any mechanically sound engine, following API and SAE lubrication specifications. It is important, however, to match oil selection with appropriate application. For this reason, AMSOIL has produced a full range of synthetic oils, including heavy duty oils for diesel engines requiring additional protection due to their extreme operating temperatures and acidic diesel fuel bi-products.

One by-product of the "slipperiness" of synthetic oil in an engine is improved fuel economy. Due to their lower co-efficient of friction, engine parts move with greater freedom and experience less wear. Reduced friction with regard to moving parts means less internal drag and increased horsepower from the same amount of fuel ignition.

Another benefit of synthesized lubricants is their ability to maintain viscosity and not degrade under the extreme conditions of the internal combustion engine. It is important to recognize, however, that proper filtration is an integral part of the extended drain concept. Even though engines run cleaner and have fewer deposits with synthetics, dirt and debris can still accumulate and needs to be removed lest critical engine parts be permanently worn.

Long life synthetic motor oil and periodic filter changes have provided consumers with emarkable results in the realm of extended drain intervals. For example, a Mack truck operating on the East Coast has just completed 400,000 miles service without an oil change. Periodic oil analysis and routine filter changes were the key components of its success... and AMSOIL heavy duty 15W40 motor oil.

All oils are rated to SAE API requirements, gasoline engines SH,SJ . Diesel engines CG-4,CF-2 and CF. Why don't auto and farm machinery manufactures specify synthetic oil for use in their products? Manufacturers must, by necessity, stick to the "generic" SAE standards in recommending oil grades and viscosity's... and synthetics are way ahead of SAE standards. The top SAE motor oil classification SH,SJ, CG-4, CF-2,CF , rather than being benchmarks of excellence, are merely "highest common denominators". The highest SAE rating is determined not for the state-of-the-art performance of the better synthetics, but rather for the best possible performance of petroleum oils. What is needed is an entirely additional set of SAE standards for synthetics. Such a grading system would, in effect, start where current SAE ( petroleum-oil) specs leave off. If such a premium grading system were adopted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), then automakers would be universally recommending lighter oils in grades and with recommended drain intervals completely beyond the reach of petroleum products.

Multi viscosity oils work like this: Polymers are added to a light base (5W,10W,20W),which prevent the oil from thinning as much as it warms up. At cold temperatures the polymers are coiled up and allow the oil to flow as their low numbers indicate. As the oil warms up the polymers begin to unwind into long chains that prevent the oil from thinning as much as it normally would. The result is that at 100 degrees C the oil has thinned only as much as the higher viscosity number indicates.

Another way of looking at multi-viscosity oils is to think of a 5W-30 as a 5 weight oil that will not thin more than a 30 weight would when hot.

Regarding Additives

After market oil additives: "Caveat Emptor", buyer beware! The major oil companies are some of the richest , most powerful and aggressive corporations in the world. They own multi-million dollar research facilities manned by some of the best chemical engineers money can hire. It is probably safe to say any one of them has the capabilities and resources at hand in marketing, distribution, advertising, research and product development equal to 20 times that of any of the independent additive companies. It therefore stands to reason that if any of these additive products were actually capable of improving the capabilities of engine lubricants, the major oil companies would have been able to determine that and find some way to cash in on it.

In addition, all of the major vehicle and engine manufacturers spend millions of dollars each year trying to increase the longevity of their products, and millions more paying of warranty claims when their products fail. Again, it only stands to reason that if they thought any of these additives would increase the life or improve the performance of their engines, they would be actively using and selling them - or at least endorsing their use.

Instead, many of them advise against the use of these additives and, in some cases, threaten to void their warranty coverage if such things are found to be in their products. Check your operators manual or your dealer!

Contrary to what many may believe, synthetic lubricants are not a recent development. As early as the 1930s, Standard Oil of Indiana conducted research into synthetic oil. More serious development and production was commenced by the Germans during WWII, as their conventional lubricants congealed and froze on the Eastern front and stalled their advances into the Soviet Union. As jet engines were developed after the war, it soon became evident that conventional lubricating oils couldn't withstand the high temperatures and pressures, and synthetics came to be used in all military and commercial jet aircraft engines.

In the early 60s a young fighter pilot A.J. "Al" Amatuzio knew how synthetics worked in the harsh environments that jet aircraft flew in and began the research and development for synthetic lubricants for use in automotive application. In 1972 AMSOIL SYNTHETIC LUBRICANTS was born with the first API SAE 10W40 100% SYNTHETIC OIL. Sold thru independent dealers AMSOIL was the first with synthetic automatic transmission fluid, synthetic gear lubes, and pioneered extended drain intervals with 40,000km or 1 year.

AMSOIL specializes in the manufacture of synthetic lubricants. Not only does AMSOIL have the longest history in the manufacture of synthetic lubricants, it manufactures synthetics only, and has the largest selection of synthetic lubricants in the world. Building on its experience and success with regard to synthetic automotive motor oils, AMSOIL quickly branched out to provide synthetic lubricants for every conceivable application, from heavy industrial, farm and marine to snowmobile and chainsaw. If there were moving parts, the company reasoned that high tech lubes would preserve them longer and help them operate better.

Unlike the huge oil companies that have recently venture into synthetics, AMSOIL doesn't have a line of conventional products to fall back on if people don't buy synthetics. AMSOIL's expertise in the manufacture of synthetics is unparalleled and AMSOIL's commitment to product quality is absolute.