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AMSOIL TECH BLOG

03/01/2014

Perhaps Better Known for Their Cold-Temperature Benefits, Synthetics Are Equally Beneficial in Extreme Heat

Summer is on its way, and thank goodness; this winter has really been hard on everything! Wildlife, water mains, heating budgets, people - and our vehicles - have all suffered through this winter. As of Februaty 11, 2014, Duluth, Minnesota. marked 23 consecutive days with a low temperature below zero. The last day a low temperature was zero or above was January. 19, with a low of 13 degrees Fahrenheit.

We often think about synthetics' low-temperature properties - maintaining flow in sub-zero conditons to lubricate vital components and ensure startups on the coldest mornings - but with a hint of spring on the horizon it's time to get ready for summer. One of the many benefits of synthetic motor oils is their excellent all-weather performance. What happens to lubricants during the dog days of summer in the desert Southwest where daytime temperatures routinely climb above 100 degrees Fahrenheit? Driving a vehicle under these conditions stresses lubricants also, but in different ways than driving in subzero temperatures.

Hot operating conditions subject oils to stress that can result in sludge and varnish formation in your engine and transmission, resulting in major damage. There are a bunch of tests that can be run on used oil to help predict sludge and varnish formation, including oxidation, nitro-oxidation, viscosity increase and total base number (TBN) depletion. If you are not interested in becoming a used-oil analysis expert, make sure to pick lubricants proven to withstand the heat. One of the main differentiators of lubricants is how long they can effectively fight sludge and varnish formation. In the southern half of the United States, the chemical reactions that create sludge and varnish are accelerated with high temperatures. As a general rule, chemical reaction rates, including sludge and varnish formation, double with every 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperature. So if you live in Phoenix, Arizona, your vehicle lubricants better be designed to hold up to these accelerated reaction rates. It takes detailed knowledge of lubricant chemistry and field experience to get it right.

Keeping surfaces effectively separated to reduce friction is another concern down in Phoenix, Arizona, during the summer. Reducing friction will reduce the amount of heat that is generated, which will lower the operating temperature of the component. Anti-wear components help maintain this separation of surfaces, but lubricant thickness is the main mechanism.

When oil gets too thin, friction and heat are generated. Since lubricants generally thin as temperatures go up, they need to be designed to provide effective separation at the highest expected operating temperature. An oil's base stock and formulation influence this property, called viscosity index (VI), which indicates the change in oil viscosity in relation to temperature. Oils with high viscosity indices have smaller changes in viscosity due to temperature changes than do oils with low viscosity indices; therefore, it is desirable for oils to have higher viscosity indices. As you might expect, synthetic motor oils have higher viscosity indices than conventional mineral-based oils do.

We also rely on engine oil to absorb heat from the contact surface area and transport it to a location where it can be safely dissipated (an oil cooler or sump). As oils age, they cannot carry away as much heat, so temperatures increase, accelerating the chemical reactions which result in sludge and varnish.

Hot summer temperatures were part of the challenge facing AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil and AMSOIL Signature Series Multi-Vehicle Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid during the 2011-12 Las Vegas Taxi Cab Field Study. Over the course of 18 months, test vehicles operated in the fleet's service area of Las Vegas up to 24 consecutive hours daily, accumulating more than 7,000 hours of service. Like most taxi cabs, the vehicles operated in stop-and-go conditions where excessive idling is the norm, but they also faced the grueling summer temps of Vegas where daytime highs often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Hour after hour, day after day, under such punishing conditions, AMSOIL lubricants proved up to the task. Engine and transmission components from the test vehicles were later examined and found to have minimal or no notable wear, even after practicing extended drain intervals.

Few of us operate our vehicles under such severe settings, but it is reassuring to know that AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils provide outstanding wear protection and superior high-temperature performance in the harshest conditions. The next time you're driving during one of those summer scorchers or battling stop-and-go traffic, be assured that AMSOIL synthetic motor oil is working hard under the hood to keep your engine running cool.

AMSOIL Synthetic Oil in Johnson City, Chattanooga, Asheville

SYNZILLA.com LLC is a large nationwide Dealer of AMSOIL Synthetic Lubricants and is now expanding into your area and surrounding states. If you have a business or are an individual with several vehicles, AMSOIL has several options available that may allow you to purchase AMSOIL products at wholesale prices. We can show you how to save money and extend equipment life with AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils, Lubricants, Filters and Fuel Additives. Please visit the AMSOIL Website for more information about AMSOIL Products.

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