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Engine start-stop technology – Major Wear Issues

Engine start-stop technology can increase bearing wear

Use only the best quality oil in these engines as the crankshaft needs to float. Even the “so called synthetics” don’t dampen the metal to metal issues mentioned below nearly as well as AMSOIL and you can tell due to the reduction in vibration or more consistent oil pressure as you rack up miles.

Yet another reason to upgrade to AMSOIL synthetic motor oil.

Matt Erickson | DIRECTOR, TECHNICAL PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

Nearly every technology shaping the auto industry can be traced to one goal: increased fuel economy. Engine start-stop technology is one more tool automakers have in their arsenals to ensure today’s vehicles meet tomorrow’s tightening fuel-economy regulations.

In principle, start-stop technology is simple: the engine automatically shuts off while you’re idling and restarts when you take your foot off the brake. This reduces fuel wasted while idling. Automakers introduced different startstop systems in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s; however, drivers found them awkward and unworthy of the higher vehicle price. Today’s start-stop systems are less obtrusive and are available on vehicle models from most automakers.

Should be called Metal to Metal Contact Engine

That’s not to say they’re without detractors. In fact, some automakers have installed off switches that allow motorists to disable the feature in response to negative driver feedback. But, despite their pitfalls, they’re likely not going anywhere. Consider these statistics:

  • According to bearing manufacturer MAHLE*, U.S. vehicles burned 3.9 billion gallons of gasoline while idling in 2017.
  • Buick* reports that engines with start-stop technology increase fuel economy 4-5 percent using the EPA test cycle.

Automakers leap for joy over minuscule fuel-economy gains, so you can bet they’re going to stick with anything that may provide a 4-5 percent boost.

So, what does that have to do with motor oil?

Maybe you’re aware that most engine wear occurs during cold starts. Well, engine wear occurs during warm starts, too, like every time an engine equipped with start-stop technology restarts.

We have to get technical to understand why.

The crankshaft spins thousands of times per minute in a running engine. As it spins, oil flows through tiny openings in the crankshaft journals and fills the spaces between the journals and main bearings. The crankshaft literally floats on an oil film and doesn’t contact the bearings. We call this scenario hydrodynamic lubrication. In this regime, the bearings suffer little wear and last a long time.

Run of the mill oils (95% on the shelf) are not going to provide protection with this condition

Stopping the engine, however, reduces oil film thickness. The crankshaft settles onto the bearing surfaces rather than floats over them. The oil film thickness shrinks to about the same thickness as the surface roughness of the crankshaft. This is called boundary lubrication. Starting the engine allows the microscopic peaks on the metal surfaces to contact and cause wear until the oil film has been reestablished and the crankshaft is once again floating over the bearings. This is where the oil’s additives play a huge role in protection.

Granted, only minimal wear may occur each time the engine is started. It’s not a big concern in a properly maintained traditional engine using a good oil. But what if you greatly increase engine startstop cycles?

Consider another statistic from MAHLE:

  • Start-stop cycles in equipped engines may triple over the engine’s lifetime compared to traditional engines.

That means three times more engine starts, three times more instances of boundary lubrication and three times more exposure to increased bearing wear.

Bearing wear can snowball out of control, too. Metal particles can break off and populate the oil. The bearing surface becomes rougher, encouraging adhesive wear in which peaks on metal surfaces grab and tear the mating surfaces. Eventually the crank journal and bearing can weld together, ruining the bearing.

This all points to a simple directive: make sure your customers with engines using start-stop technology are using AMSOIL synthetic motor oil to guard against bearing wear. Oil film thickness shrinks when engines start from a dead stop, placing even more importance on oil additives to maintain protection. Since engines equipped with start-stop technology spend so much more time under boundary lubrication, it’s vital to use an oil with superior film strength and additive quality. AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil delivers. It provides 75% more engine protection against horsepower loss and wear** to help protect today’s advanced engines.

This is especially needed in vehicles calling for 0W-20, 5W-20 and 0W-16.

OE 0W-16: Light and Strong

OE 0W-16: Light and Strong

Now in stock in Sioux Falls. Exit 73 behind Marlins!

A 0W-16 viscosity motor oil may seem exotic to North American drivers, but as fuel efficiency requirements increase, it may become a common recommendation of manufacturers worldwide. Japanese engineers have long experimented with ultra-thin motor oils, and 0W-16 has been in regular use in Japan since the 90s.

The Benefits of Going Thin

Lower viscosity motor oil can increase fuel economy, and the pressure to create engines that sip less fuel has hastened the introduction of these viscosities to North America. The stated fuel mileage estimates for several 2018 vehicles were calculated with 0W-16 motor oil installed. Beyond fuel economy, lower viscosity oil can also provide excellent cold-starts in the most frigid temperatures.

See the latest updates via this product spec sheet covering the OE line. This link is automatically updated any time there is a change in data.

OE 0W-16 Synthetic Motor Oil

The primary concern with low viscosity oil is wear protection. Like the rest of the OE line, OE 0W-16 develops a strong fluid film that keeps metal components separated and protected. Our work didn’t end with simply blending a new viscosity. OE 0W-16 Synthetic Motor Oil (OES) is formulated with unique anti-wear additives that protect critical engine parts like pistons and cams. This added protection is particularly important in the extreme environments produced by today’s smaller-displacement engines that run on lower viscosity oil.

  • Provides advanced wear protection
  • Improves fuel economy & maintains low emissions
  • Protects pistons from low-speed pre-ignition
  • Keeps engines clean
  • Protects in all temperatures
  • Meets the requirements of popular new vehicles like the 2018 Toyota* Camry* and the 2018 Honda* Fit*
  • Recommended for use in applications that require the API SN PLUS (Resource Conserving) specification. Use only where 0W-16 is specified. Do not substitute for 0W-20 or other viscosity.

 

How Engine Sludge Forms. And How To Prevent It.

Engine Sludge Is Easily Avoidable

Engine sludge.

It’s a back gelatinous substance that wreaks havoc in engines. And long before the engine’s demise, engine sludge can foul engine sensors and interfere with performance. Some mechanics call it the “black death.”

How does motor oil, which is fluid, become a semi-solid paste or gel inside an engine?

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • How engine sludge forms
  • The effects of engine sludge
  • Synthetic oil helps prevent engine sludge
  • High-quality additives fight engine sludge
  • Severe service invites engine sludge

How engine sludge forms

Engine sludge is the result of a series of chemical reactions.

The lubricant degrades as it is exposed to oxygen and elevated temperatures. The higher the temperature, the more rapid the rate of degradation. In fact, every 18°F (10°C) increase in temperature doubles the rate of oxidation.
Many people still believe any oil is fine as long as you change it often but 95% of the brands out there do not address that inch of protection when you really need it!! We’ve all had issues where the engine is overheating or some situation where adequate lubrication isn’t available. AMSOIL offers 75% more protection when you need it and our diesel oils offer 6X more protection than required by industry testing.

The by-products of this reaction form highly reactive compounds that further degrade the lubricant. Their by-products react with other contaminants, forming organic acids and high-molecular-weight polymeric products. These products further react, forming the insoluble product known more commonly as sludge.

What begins as a thin film of lacquer or varnish deposits on hot or cold metal surfaces and bakes into an expensive mess.

The effects of engine sludge

Sludge can block the oil passages and oil-pump pick-up screen, resulting in oil starvation. Often, the negative effects are cumulative rather than sudden.

Many engines with variable valve timing (VVT) use oil-pressure-operated mechanical devices to change valve timing, duration and lift. Sludge can plug the solenoid screen or oil gallies and impact the operation of VVT mechanisms, eventually leading to a costly repair bill. Sludge reduces efficiency and increases time and money spent on maintenance.

Who doesn’t want a cooler engine? Sludge, even the early stages prevents the engine from dispersing heat efficiently. Why would you risk a Group III “synthetic” which does leave deposits adding to or resulting into an engine which struggles to exhaust heat.

Synthetic oil helps prevent engine sludge

Fortunately, sludge and varnish deposits are something oil manufacturers can control. Using thermally stable synthetic base oils reduces the rate of degradation (oxidation). (Yes – and that is “Real 100%” Synthetics – not the ones they currently call “Fully”..

Anti-oxidant additives help reduce the rate of degradation as well. One of the most widely used is zinc dithiophosphate. Not only is it an excellent oxidation inhibitor, it is an outstanding anti-wear additive as well.

High-quality additives fight engine sludge

We can further address many of the issues occurring after the initial oxidation stage.

Additives, such as detergents and dispersants, are commonly part of motor oil formulation. They help promote the suspension of contaminants within the oil and keep them from agglomerating.

Detergents, which are also alkaline in nature, assist in neutralizing acids generated in the sludge-building process. Anti-oxidant, dispersant and detergent additives are consumed during use.

To achieve maximum life expectancy, use an oil with high concentrations of anti-oxidant, dispersant and detergent additives.

AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil, for example, has 50 percent more detergents* to help keep oil passages clean and promote oil circulation. It provides 90 percent better protection against sludge**.

Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil was subjected to the Sequence VG test to measure its ability to prevent sludge. Signature Series produced an oil pick-up tube screen virtually free from sludge. Our unique combination of detergents and high-quality base oils control oxidation and sludge to keep engines clean and efficient.

PDF of the test where AMSOIL has this done (Southwest Research)

AMSOIL Signature Series virtually prevented engine sludge on this oil pick-up screen.

Buy Signature Series

Severe service invites engine sludge

Equipment operating conditions also influence the likelihood of sludge or varnish issues.

Stop-and-go driving, frequent/long-term idling and operation in excessively hot or cold weather can increase the likelihood of sludge and varnish, especially if using more volatile conventional oils. If sludge has already formed, you can use an engine flush to clean sludge from your engine.

Interestingly, most auto manufacturers note in their owner’s manual that operation under any of the above conditions is considered severe service and requires more frequent oil changes.

From a mechanical standpoint, things like adding too much oil to the oil sump, antifreeze contamination, excessive soot loading, excessive oil foaming, poor engine-combustion efficiency, excessive blow-by and emission-control-system issues can all lead to the formation of sludge and varnish.

By practicing good maintenance and using properly formulated, premium synthetic lubricants, like AMSOIL synthetic motor oil, your vehicle won’t succumb to the “black death.”

Taking it a step further which many of our customers do – to make sure your vehicle is always running in peak condition one thing is to have your oil analyzed. I do it not so much to see how the oil is doing but to measure what may be going on in the engine to deplete detergents or to test for any out of typical wear levels, fuel in the crankcase, and to see if the viscosity is still on par.  Oil analysis kits are easy to use especially when you have the dipstick extraction pump.

*vs. AMSOIL OE Motor Oil
**Based on independent testing of AMSOIL Signature Series 5W-30 in the ASTM D6593 engine test for oil screen plugging as required by the API SN PLUS specification.

Help! How Many Quarts of Oil Does My Car Use?

How Much Oil Does My Car Need?

The answer seems simple: probably about five quarts.

But, if you drive a small car with a four cylinder engine, it’s likely closer to four quarts. However, the V-8 engine in your truck could require about seven quarts. My in-laws’ RAM diesel pickup takes 12 quarts of motor oil.

You can see how the answer isn’t so simple after all.

To find out precisely how much motor oil your car needs, do one of the following:

  1. Check the owner’s manual

Dig the owner’s manual out of your glovebox and look up the information in the index. Eventually you’ll find it.

  1. Check the AMSOIL Product Guide

You can skip the hassle and use our Product Guide instead. Just input your vehicle information and, below the motor oil recommendations, you’ll find motor oil capacity (circled below in red).

What if the oil level is too low?

It could be due to a couple issues, including insufficient oil added during the last oil change or oil consumption. There are several reasons for oil consumption (in fact, you can read about 40 of them here). But here are a couple of the more common.

Leaking seals or gaskets – your engine uses seals in various places to ensure oil stays inside the engine while contaminants stay out. A prime example is around the crankshaft where it sticks out of the engine and connects to the transmission. Gaskets seal the uneven metal surfaces between parts to ensure, in part, that oil stays inside the engine. The cylinder head gasket is a notable example.

If the seals and gaskets become worn, brittle or deformed over time, they can result in oil leaks. The engine oil level will drop, depending on the severity of the leak. If your engine leaks oil, visit a mechanic and have it fixed.

Volatility – engine oil can evaporate when exposed to heat. The less stable the oil, the more readily it evaporates. As the engine is running, a thin film of oil coats the cylinder wall and piston skirt. Given its proximity to the fiery cauldron inside the combustion chamber, the oil in this area of the engine can easily volatilize, or evaporate. The by-products can exit the tailpipe as emissions. But they can also form harmful carbon deposits inside the engine that reduce efficiency and eventually lead to engine failure.

Synthetic motor oil is more resistant to volatility than conventional oil, so use a good synthetic to reduce oil consumption due to volatility and help keep your engine clean.

What if the oil level is too high?

It’s likely due to operator error; someone simply added too much last time the oil was changed or topped-off.

Too much oil is a bad thing. The spinning crankshaft and churning engine parts whip air into the oil, which can cause foam. The tiny bubbles travel between moving parts, where they rupture. When they do, nothing is left to protect metal surfaces from wear. Foam also increases heat, which causes the oil to chemically breakdown sooner.

If the crankcase is overfull, drain the excess oil until reaching the correct level.

Increased oil level can also be due to fuel dilution. This is when fuel enters the crankcase and contaminates the oil. In severe cases, enough fuel can enter the crankcase to noticeably increase the oil level. This is bad. Very bad. Fuel dilution leads to sludge, varnish and engine wear.

Check out this post for more on fuel dilution.

The presence of coolant in the oil can also increase oil level. Again, this is bad. Anytime something that shouldn’t be in your motor oil is present, wear protection suffers. Coolant in the oil is likely due to a bad head gasket, which is a costly repair.

One last word of advice: check your oil at least monthly to ensure the proper level. Make sure the vehicle is parked on a level surface to get an accurate reading. Finding out the oil is too low or too high before something goes wrong can save you a ton of grief in the long run.

Severe Gear®: The Right Tool For The Job

Worlds Best Differential Oil – SEVERE GEAR®:

Here in Sioux Falls we have to stock more and more all the time. makes me wish I bought a several pallets back way back when.  But it makes a HUGE difference. Temperature alone!

Your vehicle’s differential is likely not top of mind while hauling snowmobiles or ATVs for a fun weekend on the trails. Unfortunately, towing is in the severe service category and places extreme stress on your drivetrain. Today’s vehicles produce substantially more horsepower, torque and towing capacity than their predecessors, yet the design of differential gears and bearings remains largely unchanged. Many differentials even use less gear lube and lower viscosities than before in an effort to reduce drag and increase fuel economy. In essence, less gear lube is responsible for providing more protection.

Fighting the Grind

Differential designs have inherent weaknesses. In a traditional automotive differential, the pinion gear concentrates intense pressure on the ring gear. As the gear teeth mesh, they slide against one another, separated only by a thin layer of lubricant. The repeated stress the lubricant film bears can shear gear lubes, causing permanent viscosity loss. Once sheared, the fluid film weakens, ruptures and allows metal-to-metal contact, eventually leading to gear and bearing failure. The situation is amplified by severe-service applications like towing.

Thermal Runaway

The extreme pressures and temperatures placed on gear lubricants can lead to a serious issue called thermal runaway. As temperatures in the differential climb, some gear lubes lose viscosity and load-carrying capacity. When extreme loads break the lubricant film, metal-to-metal contact occurs, increasing friction and heat. This increased friction and heat, in turn, results in further viscosity loss, which further increases friction and heat. As heat continues to spiral upward, viscosity continues to spiral downward. Thermal runaway is a vicious cycle that leads to irreparable equipment damage from extreme wear, and ultimately catastrophic gear and bearing failure.

AMSOIL SEVERE GEAR Synthetic Gear Lube

SEVERE GEAR 75W-90, 75W-110 and 75W-140 excels in protecting gears and bearings from the rigors of severe-service operation. By design, it resists breakdown from high heat, preventing acids and carbon/varnish formation. Its wax-free construction also improves cold-flow properties, improving fuel economy and cold-weather performance.

Also available are 190 and 250 weight versions!

• Superior film strength

• Controls thermal runaway

• Protects against rust and corrosion

• Helps reduce operating temperatures

• Maximum efficiency

• Long oil, seal and equipment life

• Flexible easy-pack for clean, fast installation

Stop in here at 47073 98th St just off of the Tea Exit behind Marlins.