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AMSOIL TECH BLOG

07/01/2013

A Lubricant's Ability to Combat Corrosion is Critical for Maximum Component Life

Losses and replacement costs due to corrosion were an estimated $510 billion in the United States in 2010. We all worry about corrosion to some extent, but when it happens slowly, we tend to forget about its devastating effects. Visitors of Duluth and Superior can see one of the great mysteries of freshwater corrosion: the Duluth harbor, whose pylons are corroding at an incredible rate. Some have theorized that the fall of the Roman empire can also be attributed to corrosion of lead-lined vessels used to store wine. The Romans drank this wine, which resulted in insanity caused by lead poisoning.

Corrosion affects the chassis and body panels of equipment and vehicles, engines, radiators, bearing surfaces, tools, grills, mowers, door hinges, trailer hitches and so on. The type of corrosion most people are familiar with is iron corrosion, referred to as rust. For our purposes, we'll define corrosion as a chemical or electrochemical reaction between a material - iron, in this case - and its environment that causes deterioration of the iron and its properties. What causes iron to rust? Can we prevent it or slow it down, or do we just need to live with the effects of rust?

Let's review a little high school chemistry to better understand corrosion. There are four basic requirements to create a corrosion cell:

1. A surface that wants rust by giving up electrons: an anode (trailer hitch)

2. A way to transfer electrons (water, with some salt to speed it up)

3. A surface that wants to accept electrons: a cathode (a piece of the trailer hitch or vehicle)

4. A current path (trailer hitch and vehicle) to transfer electrical current back to the anode (the rusting part of the trailer hitch)

AMSOIL Dealers and customers who are lucky enough to live on or near the ocean know best what happens to unprotected iron surfaces exposed to this salty environment. Rust forms quickly and the metal surfaces soon become compromised and unsafe. Those who live in the desert (away from salt flats) experience the effects of iron corrosion much less, while others who live in the Midwest see the effects of salt that is spread on roads in the winter.

In those three examples, the common environmental factors that have the most effect on rust formation are excess water and salt. Salt (sodium chloride) accelerates corrosion by increasing conductivity. Water is important because it is the medium for transfer of electrons and dissolving salt, and it has corrosive properties also.

So how do you prevent rust or slow down the process? We could use another metal that does not react under the conditions, such as gold, but it is not economically feasible. So we are stuck with steel for building trailer hitches, and we protect the surface by creating a barrier to rust with paint, zinc coatings and by using chemicals to deactivate the surface.

AMSOIL Metal Protector creates a film on metal surfaces to protect against corrosion. Without this protection, exposed metal surfaces will corrode, pit and fail much more quickly than they would if left unprotected. But corrosion doesn't just happen at the surface of your trailer hitch; it is also going on right now inside your car engine, radiator and power-steering pump. All these components are manufactured with various metals which are susceptible to corrosion under the right conditions. What would happen if your motor oil failed to protect the inside of your engine from corrosive acids produced by burning gasoline? And look at what happens if you run straight water in your cooling system without any coolant-system protection. Corrosion starts at the surface and spreads quickly.

Many times, the effects of corrosion are confused with the effects of wear in mechanical parts, like with surface pitting. You can't do anything about the metal used in these systems, but you can do something about how well the critical surfaces are protected. We all need to be concerned about the effects of normal wear, but we also need to prevent or reduce the effects of corrosion and corrosive wear. Since both corrosion and wear are surface-oriented processes, the chemistry requires a careful balance of wear protection and corrosion protection. This is admittedly a difficult task.

AMSOIL includes complex chemistry in motor oils, antifreeze and even power-steering fluid that works at the surface in these systems to significantly reduce the rate of corrosion and keep vehicles operating for as long as possible. When it comes to balancing corrosion and wear protection, don't try this at home; trust the experts. Published, AMSOIL Magazine 07/14.

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 Online Store for more information about AMSOIL Products.

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