Chemical Additives In Engine Oils

We have all heard that high-performing additives are added to synthetic oils during the production that keep the vehicle engine clean, protected and durable. These additives also improve vehicle performance and increase drain intervals.

But what are these additives and how do they work? Well, additives are chemical compounds that improve the performance of the oil. Following are the key categories of additives and how they work:

Viscosity index improvers: The oil needs to maintain the right thickness to be able to flow freely through the engine and also keep it coated. However, regular engine oil tends to become thin at higher temperatures and thicker in cooler climes. This additive enables the engine oil to maintain the same viscosity across a broad range of temperatures.

Detergents: Deposits will regularly form on the engine and can damage it over a period of time. The detergent additives will remove sludge and other deposits, thus keeping the engine surface clean.

Dispersants: These additives keep diffusing the solid contaminants (dust, soot, carbon, etc.) so that they cannot coagulate to form deposits or varnish in the engine.

Rust inhibitors: Acids and moisture can easily corrode the metal parts of the engine. But this additive will neutralize the acids and retard the oxidation process, thus keeping the engine protected.

Friction modifiers: The engine is bound to produce friction as it moves which can lead to excessive wear and tear. These additives help the oil to cope with the high pressure conditions and thus reduce the resistance. This will even improve fuel economy.

Pour-point depressants: Despite the viscosity improvers, the oil may not flow readily at low temperatures due to the congealing of wax particles. This additive will prevent such a situation and keep the oil flowing freely.

Antioxidants: Engines naturally tend to heat up a lot and the resulting oxidation will end up thickening the oil. These additives help prevent the oil from such unnecessary degradation.

Foam inhibitors: The oil even produces air bubbles and foams as it moves through the engine. This foaming will reduce the lubrication properties of the oil. The additive helps causes the bubbles to collapse and the oil can continue to maintain a liquid stream.

While every additive carries its own importance, this does not mean that they can be randomly added to the oil to improve its performance. Getting the proportions right is a delicate balancing act as excess quantities can lead to adverse effects.

In fact, various synthetic oil manufacturers have formulated their own unique mix of additives that are added to the base oils. For instance, Royal Purple draws on additive technologies, such as Synerlec®, that enable its synthetic products (such as Royal Purple multi-grade motor oil and Royal Purple gear oil) to outperform other leading synthetic and conventional lubricants. The unique chemistry of these additives significantly strengthens the base oil and yields radically improved performance.