The 10 Best Oil Additives
The Benefits of Oil Additives
Rust inhibitors improve the oil's natural ability to keep rust at bay.
When the viscosity of an oil is too high, it will not flow as well, and may leave some areas less protected than others.
The job of oil is to lubricate and protect the engine. Additives are often mixed with the oil to supplement this job, not replace it. There are a few different types available on the market, so it is important to understand what each of these additives does in order to choose the correct one.
One of the more common oil additives is a viscosity index improver. These increase the viscosity of the base oil. When the viscosity of an oil is too high, it will not flow as well, and may leave some areas less protected than others. When oil viscosity is too low, it will move like water through the engine, and won't stick to the engine's components long enough to do its job. Add to this the fact that the viscosity of oil fluctuates with temperature, and it is easy to see the importance of improving the viscosity index.
Another common oil additive combination is that of the detergent/dispersant. These two work in tandem to break up engine sludge, dirt, soot, and other foreign contaminants that build up in the engine over time. If left unchecked, these contaminants can clog moving components or get stuck between two moving parts, causing destructive friction. Adding a detergent/dispersant mix to an engine which experiences a variety of weather changes is especially beneficial, but should only be done in conjunction with changing the oil itself. Clean oil with added detergent/dispersant will make much more of a difference to engine parts than dirty oil, even with the best additives.
Rust inhibitors are also very beneficial, and their function is rather straightforward. Rust inhibitors improve the oil's natural ability to keep rust at bay. This is usually achieved by increasing the level of various antioxidants to control the corrosive effect of oxygen.
How Do Oil Additives Work?
The benefits of additives come from the ways in which they interact with the engine. Oil additives are used to reduce friction and engine wear, which is a function of oil itself. Engine oil lubricates engine parts to prevent excess friction, and keeping these parts coated in oil prevents things like the oxidation process from corroding an engine.
Most oil will include the given base oil as well as various additives like anti-acids, dispersants, detergents, and viscosity and friction modifiers. The particular blend of a given oil will be equipped to meet the lowest recommended needs of the engine it is paired with. This does leave room for improvement, however.
Complementing this with a friction modifying additive can also help keep the oil flexible enough to handle the high pressure environment within the engine.
In order to be beneficial, oil additives must mix well with these oils to enhance their natural abilities to coat and protect engine parts. For instance, most engine oil includes detergents to keep the metal surfaces clean and wick away contaminants. Adding a dispersant to the oil can aid in this job by pulling particles of dirt or soot away from the metal.
Viscosity modifiers are also added to most oils to help the oil maintain its viscocity across a broad range of temperatures and conditions that an engine may encounter. Complementing this with a friction modifying additive can also help keep the oil flexible enough to handle the high pressure environment within the engine.
Adding additional oil stabilizers and viscosity modifiers to new oil will also usually provide good results. This is because the additives help to raise the level of antioxidants in the oil, which in turn makes the oil last longer and perform better. The benefits of adding antioxidants to oil have been known for quite some time, but only recently has the popularity of aftermarket antioxidant additives risen.
It is important to understand that an oil additive is not meant to revitalize old or dirty oil. They are simply meant to augment the power and ability of the oil they are used in. Combining a high quality oil with a high quality oil additive is the best way to improve the life of a vehicle's engine.
Are Oil Additives The Same As Fuel Additives?
Oil additives and fuel additives are terms that are mistakenly used interchangeably. While an oil additive is used to improve the texture and protective ability of high quality oil, a fuel additive is something used to improve the vehicle's ability to use its fuel, or gasoline.
This causes an increase in certain performance parameters in combustion engines.
Some fuel additives are called octane boosters, because they work to improve the octane rating of the gasoline to which they are added. This causes an increase in certain performance parameters in combustion engines.
Fuel additives may also help the fuel burn cleaner. This simply means they help remove certain particles from the fuel that may not be good for the injectors or other engine parts. Cleaner burning fuel may also reduce the emissions of a vehicle.
Many people see fuel additives as a way to help reduce air pollution and rid the air of some of the chemicals produced during combustion. So, while both fuel additives and oil additives are beneficial for a vehicle's engine, they are definitely not the same thing.