Motor oils typically include a few additives which can make up between 5% and 30% of the oil. These additives help enhance the performance of the oil. Motor oils can include the following additives:
Antioxidants: Antioxidant additives work to slow oxidation and the forming of deposits in motor oil. They also help keep the engine clean and extend the life of the motor oil.
Anti-wear agents: Anti-wear agents help protect parts of the engine that are especially susceptible to damage from high temperatures, like cylinder walls, lifters, cams, and piston rings. This additive acts as a protective layer around these components to limit friction in metal-on-metal situations.
Detergents: This additive isn’t like your laundry detergent! It focuses on preventing deposits, rust, and corrosion from forming on the piston ring area, piston under-crown, and other surfaces that tend to overheat.
Dispersants: This is your oil’s magic ingredient. It gives your oil the ability to absorb and hold solid contaminants so that they don’t damage the engine.
Foam inhibitors: This additive does exactly what it sounds like. Foam inhibitors keep motor oil from forming foam and bubbles. If foam and bubbles were to form, the oil would be unable to coat the important parts of the engine and keep it cool.
Friction modifiers: Friction modifiers help reduce friction when your engine is operating under high temperatures and with heavy loads. This additive can also help you maximize your fuel efficiency.
Pour-point depressants: This additive has nothing to do the actual pouring of your oil. In fact, pour-point depressants help prevent the wax particles in the oil from hardening in cold conditions. As a result, the motor oil flows freely even in low, cold temperatures and the engine doesn’t need to work any harder to pump it.
Rust and corrosion inhibitors: Your engine’s internal parts can rust and corrode when exposed to acids and moisture. These additives create a protective film over your engine’s internal parts to help prevent such damage.
Viscosity-index improvers: These additives help your engine oil perform as intended despite temperature fluctuations.
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