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9 Tips for Safe Trailer Towing

boat on trailer sioux Falls

9 Tips for Safe Trailer Towing

Friends of mine in Minneapolis were driving on Highway 35, talking about this and that, minding their own business, when – Wham! A trailer carrying a boat slammed into their car.

The trailer had disconnected from the tow vehicle and darted across the median in a high-velocity trajectory that could have killed my friends had it not been a glancing blow. Though the shattering glass put them in the hospital, it could have been much worse. It was an accident that shouldn’t have happened.

Safety tips for towing a trailer

One morning while driving to work I was thinking about this very topic and, right in front of me, I saw another towing accident. Someone towing his race car down Mesaba Ave. here in Duluth, Minn., caused a traffic jam when the stock car left the trailer and swept wildly into the midst of rush-hour traffic.

Again, it was an accident that shouldn’t have happened.

Whether it’s a boat, a house trailer or your trash to the dump, safe towing requires attention to detail.

Here are nine key points for safe towing and longer vehicle life

1) Know your weight limits

Make sure your trailer and whatever you’re hauling fall within the towing or hauling capacities of your vehicle. Check the owner’s manual to find the trailer types that your vehicle can haul and the maximum load weight it can pull. Use the right trailer hitch and make sure it is hitched correctly.

2) Distribute weight evenly

If your trailer fishtails (sways while accelerating), back off the gas and see if it stops. If it continues when you accelerate again, check to see how the weight is distributed on the trailer. It may not be distributed evenly from side to side, or else it’s too far back to place sufficient load on the hitch ball.

Try to carry 5-10 percent of the trailer load on the hitch. Redistribute the load as necessary before continuing.

3) Ensure the trailer lights work

Connect the brake and signal lights. Double check to make sure the trailer’s brakes, turn signals and tail lights are synchronized with the tow vehicle.

4) Properly inflate the tires

People I once knew suffered 17 tire blowouts while pulling a trailer from California to South Texas. (True!) You’d think they would have figured out they had too much weight in the trailer. In addition to staying within weight limits for your rig, be sure the tires are in good condition and properly inflated.

5) Your vehicle will handle differently

When towing, you’re operating a vehicle combination that’s longer and heavier than normal. Be sure to adjust your driving practices accordingly.

Backing up is tricky, but it’s a skill you can learn. Until you’re experienced, have someone direct you from outside in those tight spots or places where you have limited visibility.

Avoid sudden turns. I know – sounds obvious. But I was once the first person to an accident where someone decided at the last minute to take the exit instead of going straight. The car ended up upside down because the trailer had other ideas.

When it comes to towing accidents, don’t say, “It can’t happen to me.” Say instead, “It must not happen to me.”

6) Buckle your seat belt

In case your tow vehicle ends up upside down.

7) Stopping requires more distance

It’s a simple matter of physics. When towing, you have more momentum than you would without a trailer. Remember that stopping requires more time and distance. Avoid tailgating and pay attention to what’s happening a little farther down the road than you normally would.

8) Keep your head on a swivel

Maybe you forgot to fasten a chain, secure the hitch or tie down your payload properly. If you’re in a hurry to get home after a long trip, things like that can happen. Once you’re on the road, frequently check your mirrors to make sure everything looks good back there. I know a boat owner whose yacht fell sideways on the highway halfway between Canada and Duluth, which is the middle of nowhere for those who’ve never been there. Something wasn’t fastened properly. Bummer.

9) Upgrade your transmission protection

Towing places enormous stress on a transmission. In fact, because of the intense heat, towing is probably the number-one killer of transmissions.

For this reason, the “towing package” on many trucks includes a transmission-oil cooler. It also helps to use a high-end synthetic lubricant. Synthetics reduce friction and provide better resistance to high heat, helping the tranny run cooler, shift confidently and last longer.

Shameless plug time: AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic ATF handles heat so well, you can confidently double your vehicle manufacturer’s severe-service drain interval in passenger cars and light trucks.

Check out our Las Vegas Taxi Cab field study for all the technical details if you’re so inclined.

Stay safe out there and visit our Sioux Falls AMSOIL Store at 4610 W. 12th St. (Just west of I29 about 1-block)  605-274-2580

Are all Synthetic Oil Groups the Same? Group III vs IV vs V

Amsoil Lab

Are all Synthetic Oil Groups the Same? Group III vs IV vs V

The simple answer

No. In fact, there are wide performance differences between base oil categories. Generally speaking, Group IV base oils offer the best performance, Group III second best, and so on in reverse order. But be forewarned – there are exceptions. And, you can’t judge motor oil performance solely on base oil type. You must take into account its entire formulation, including the additives.

The detailed answer

Ever find yourself in an awkward conversation from which you want to escape? Start talking about base oils and the relative merits of each category. Your adversary will immediately excuse himself.

To ease your study of the topic, it’s broken down into the following common questions:

What are the different base oil categories?

The American Petroleum Institute (API) developed a classification system for base oils that focuses on the paraffin and sulfur content and degree of saturation of the oil. The saturate level indicates the level of molecules completely saturated with hydrogen bonds, leaving them inherently un-reactive.

Translation: they’re more resilient to chemical degradation, meaning they last longer and perform better.

There are five groups in the classification system, ranging from Group I – Group V:

 Group I Characteristics

Group I base oils are the least refined of all the groups. They are usually a mix of different hydrocarbon chains with little uniformity. While some automotive oils use these oils, they are generally used in less-demanding applications.

• Group II Characteristics

Group II base oils are common in mineral-based motor oils. They have fair-to-good performance in the areas of volatility, oxidation stability, wear prevention and flash/fire point. They have only fair performance in areas such as pour point and cold-crank viscosity.

• Group III Characteristics

Group III base oils consist of reconstructed molecules that offer improved performance in a wide range of areas, as well as good molecular uniformity and stability. These synthesized materials can be used in the production of synthetic and semi-synthetic lubricants.

• Group IV Characteristics

Group IV base oils are made from polyalphaolefins (PAO), which are chemically engineered synthesized base oils. PAOs offer excellent stability, molecular uniformity and improved performance.

• Group V Characteristics

Group V base oils are also chemically engineered oils that do not fall into any of the categories previously mentioned. Typical examples of Group V oils are esters, polyglycols and silicone. As with Group IV oils, Group V oils tend to offer performance advantages over Groups I – III. An example of a mineral-based Group V exception is a white oil, a very pure lubricant used in industries ranging from cosmetics to food processing.

Are the API group classifications progressively better?

In other words, is a motor oil made from Group III base oils better than one made from Group II base oils, and so on?

In general, yes. Unlike your food, which generally gets less healthy the more it’s processed, base oils offer improved performance as the level of refinement/processing increases.

But there are side cases that smash that rule of thumb.

Some motor oils made from Group III oils can outperform some Group IV motor oils. That’s because the final formulation is a function of the base oils and additives working in tandem. Like base oils, additives come in a range of qualities. So you could have a Group III oil with top-shelf anti-wear, anti-oxidant and other additives that outperforms a Group IV motor oil, even though Group IV base oils provide more pronounced benefits than Group III base oils. The point is, a motor oil can’t be judged solely by its base oils – you need to take the entire formulation into account.

Then we have the Group V category, which is a sort of catch-all for anything that doesn’t fit into the other four groups. In fact, some Group V oils are completely unsuitable for automotive use.

Are Group III base oils “synthetic?”

Yes, in most countries anyway.

A true definition for the term “synthetic oil” has been difficult to reach, although it has generally been accepted that the term represents those lubricants that have been specifically manufactured for a high level of performance. Group III base oils with very high viscosity indices can be called synthetic oils in most countries.

Historically, it was widely accepted that only Group IV base oils made from PAOs were true “synthetics.”

A famous lawsuit between Mobil and Castrol changed that. Mobil charged that Castrol was falsely marketing its Syntec motor oil as a synthetic oil although it wasn’t made from PAO base oils. Mobil’s claim was based on results of independent lab testing that showed samples of Syntec it obtained as early as December 1997 contained 100 percent mineral oil.

The two sides battled it out, but in a landmark 1999 ruling, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus ruled that Castrol Syntec, as then formulated, was a “synthetic” motor oil.

Debate raged then, and still rages today. You can find all kinds of purists populating Internet forums who refuse to recognize Group III oils as “synthetics.” For them, it’s PAO or nothing.

Try not to get caught up in the “my-base-oil-versus-your-base-oil” cage match. The base oils that go into the oil aren’t as important to your engine as the performance that comes out of the oil. Look for motor oils that offer performance claims backed by industry-standard testing or real-world results. That’s what’s really important.

If you really need to know which base oils a formulation uses, you’ll have to do some investigative work since oil companies protect that information as proprietary.

For details, check out this post: How Much “Synthetic” Is In My Oil?

Are synthetic base oils magic?

Ok, that’s not what people really ask. But many falsely think synthetic base oils are not refined from crude oil and that switching to only synthetic lubricants could drastically reduce our dependence on foreign oil and non-renewable sources. If synthetic base oils aren’t made from crude oil, from what raw material are they made? Unicorn horns and rainbow dust?

Synthetic base oils are made from crude. But they’re much more highly refined than conventional base oils. The chemical reaction process used to make synthetic base oils removes the impurities inherent to conventional base oils, such as sulfur and waxes. This results in a higher-performing product that’s much better for your engine.

What is Synthetic Motor Oil?

barrel of crude

What is Synthetic Motor Oil?

As most of my friends know, and you now as well, I listen to audio books during my daily commute. My current book, about history’s first billionaire, is titled “Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.” It’s a massive book about a massively complex man, and it’s been a fascinating “read.”

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1) Like most historical figures, there is a complex human beneath the reputation. Rockefeller has been called the most feared and ruthless businessman in our history, and simultaneously the most generous.

2) Kerosene was the main consumer product derived from crude oil at the time. The internal combustion engine did not yet exist, but Rockefeller grew rich thanks to the abundance of kerosene lamps in the nation’s homes.

3) Pennsylvania was the first region in which oil was discovered. Eventually, oil was found in Lima, Ohio, but its composition was chemically different, and the kerosene left a film on the lamps.

4) Lubricants literally played a major role in greasing the wheels of progress. The Industrial Age was all about machines enabling industry to be more productive, which generated wealth for industrialists.

5) Around the time the electric light bulb was replacing kerosene lamps, cars were replacing the horse and buggy. The 20th Century became the century of Big Oil.

The Drake Well in Pennsylvania has been called the first oil well.

Well…that’s a deep subject

If it seems like I’m not answering the question posed in the headline, it’s because I wanted to bring you in through a back road. Item three in the above list notes that oil is chemically different based on its origins. I learned this years ago because my West Virginia kin had an oil well. I remember walking up the hill to the well when I was young. The adults discussed how the oil company said the oil was not worth as much as higher-quality crude. I may have my facts jumbled, but I believe they said it would be suitable for natural gas and would therefore not fetch as much money.

Distillation nation

Crude oil contains hundreds of different kinds of hydrocarbons. Oil refineries distill crude and separate it into various products, like gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, heating oil and asphalt. And the base oils that go into motor oil.

Refining is a process of physically separating light oil components from heavy ones. Crude oil contains a multitude of different kinds of molecules. Many are similar in weight, but not in structure. The refining process cannot distinguish such molecules, so a wide assortment of molecules is present in the finished lubricant made from crude oil stocks.

Some crude oil molecules are not beneficial to the lubrication process. For example, paraffin causes refined lubricants to thicken and flow poorly in cold temperatures. Molecules containing sulfur, nitrogen and other elements invite the formation of sludge and other by-products of lubricant breakdown, especially in high-temperature applications.

The assorted molecules of refined lubricants also have different shapes, making lubricant surfaces irregular at the molecular level. As lubricant layers flow across one another during the lubrication process, these irregularities create friction, which consumes power, reduces efficiency and increases heat and wear.

How synthetic oil is different

Rather than being refined from crude oil, synthetic lubricants are chemically engineered from pure chemicals using a process called organic synthesis. Organic synthesis is when you combine two things from nature to create something that does not exist naturally. This process gives synthetic oils significant advantages over refined oils.

Products made from a barrel of crude.

Synthetic oil molecules are uniform, not irregular. This uniformity helps them resist thinning in heat and thickening in cold, which improves protection throughout the engine’s operating temperature range.

Their molecular uniformity also reduces friction as the lubricant’s layers slide across one another. Reduced friction increases energy efficiency for greater fuel economy and maximum power. It also reduces heat and wear for longer equipment life.

Another feature of synthetic oils is that they are designable. Many different kinds of base oils may be used to create synthetic lubricants, allowing a synthetic to be designed for virtually any application. Some base oils are ideal for use in extremely cold environments. Others are perfect for use in extreme heat. Some are extremely safe in applications in which refined lubricants pose a fire or explosion hazard. Refined oils simply do not offer the design flexibility of man-made synthetic oils.

This design flexibility allows synthetics to be tailored to the needs of everyday applications, such as automotive engines, commercial equipment or industrial machinery. That specificity helps ensure maximum life, horsepower, performance and fuel economy from the lubricated system.

Bottom Line

If all this seems a little technical – to be honest, I did take a little heat for writing such a technical post this week – here’s all you really need to know about synthetic and conventional oils. The AAA made a big splash this summer when it laid out its findings in a study that demonstrated the superiority of synthetic oils. Everyone seems to be talking about it, from the AutoBlog to The Drive and even the folks at Business Insider. The titles are pretty straightforward, but I especially like the one from BI: “A new study by AAA puts to rest one of the most common questions car owners have.”  In other words, “that settles it.”

Now for the next question: What are you going to do about it?

Here’s my recommendation. Visit this page and find the AMSOIL synthetic lubricants for your vehicle. Experience firsthand what “better” really means.

McDonalds or KFC: Should I Run Vegetable Oil in my Diesel?

French fries oil fuel

McDonalds or KFC: Should I Run Vegetable Oil in my Diesel?

ADVANCED ENGINE TECHNOLOGY DRIVING CHANGES FOR GASOLINE OIL SPECIFICATIONS

Fuel economy standards

ADVANCED ENGINE TECHNOLOGY DRIVING CHANGES FOR GASOLINE OIL SPECIFICATIONS

Tightening fuel economy standards and the subsequent advances in engine technologies are pushing big changes in the passenger car motor oil (PCMO) market.

Increasingly strict regulations on fuel economy and emissions have pushed the automotive industry to develop smaller, more efficient engines. By 2020, industry experts predict that nearly every new vehicle will feature direct-injection technology (GDI), and the vast majority will be turbocharged (TGDI). The most recent corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards require a fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg by 2025 in the United States, necessitating a 5 percent annual improvement.

These factors contribute to the following:

  •  Severe engine knock, also called lowspeed pre-ignition (LSPI)
  •  Increased engine temperatures • Compromised fuel injectors
  •  Greater overall stress and dependence on engine oil

Two new gasoline engine oil specifications are in development to address these issues: General Motors’ (GM)* proprietary dexos1™: 2015 and API SP/ILSAC GF-6.

Controlling LSPI

Both specifications place a major focus on limiting the impact of low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI). This will be an essential feature of engine oil in the coming years. Similar to traditional engine knock, LSPI occurs when fuel/air spontaneously ignites prior to the spark ignition. The pressure created by this ill-timed combustion pushes down on the piston as the connecting rod and crankshaft work to move it upward. These conflicting forces can result in severe engine damage beyond that of typical engine knock. LSPI is an issue unique to newer turbocharged and GDI engines and occurs under low-speed and high-torque conditions. However, a properly formulated motor oil can prevent its effects.

Key Updates

dexos1™: 2015

GM’s second-generation dexos1 specification is a global specification that aims to standardize the quality of oil installed in GM vehicles regardless of location. Similar to the GF-6 specification, dexos1: 2015 will address fuel economy and LSPI. It will also include new tests unique to GM focused on oxidative thickening, piston deposits, turbocharger deposits and wear control. It is due to be released in late August 2017.

  • Designed for 2011 model-year and newer engines
  • Targets higher levels of performance in all areas

NEW DEXOS1: 2015 & ILSAC GF-6 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Low speed pre-ignition protection preventing severe engine damage
  • Added piston deposit prevention for fuel economy and horsepower retention
  • Improved turbocharger protection to prevent turbocoking and increase longevity
  • Increased wear protection for maintaining like-new performance
  • Increased sludge protection for cleaner engines

ILSAC GF-6

Replacing the ILSAC GF-5 specification, the primary focus of ILSAC GF-6 will be increased fuel economy, oil robustness and protecting GDI and TGDI engines from LSPI and timing-chain wear. The spec will be split into GF-6A and GF- 6B to accommodate the trend toward lower-viscosity oils. GF-6B will provide a new category of oil designed for newer vehicles that require low hightemperature/high-shear (HTHS) and viscosities of 0W-20 or less. GF-6 is expected to be released in mid-2019.

  • GF-6A is designed for current modelyear engines and older requiring a traditional viscosity oil
  • GF-6B is designed for newer engines requiring lower viscosity oil

API/ILSAC

The International Lubricant Standardization Approval Committee (ILSAC) is a partnership between U.S. and Japanese automobile manufacturers. ILSAC and the American Petroleum Institute (API) work in tandem to develop engine protection standards and fuel economy requirements. Oils displaying the API Certification Mark, or “Starburst,” meet these requirements.

New Testing

As new requirements are revealed and the technology evolves, many standardized engine tests are being overhauled or replaced. GF-6 will feature at least six new engine tests while dexos1: 2015 will gain five. The tests encompass issues from low-temperature valvetrain wear (GF-6) to turbocharger deposits (dexos1: 2015).

AMSOIL Prepared for Change

AMSOIL Dealers can be well-assured that we will be ready for the implementation of the new specs with top-performing synthetic formulations. Details will be unveiled in upcoming issues of AMSOIL Magazine.