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The Evolution of Motor Oil

As automotive technology continues to advance, motor oil is expected to do a lot more than it used to do. Today, motor oils must protect components under longer warranties with stricter regulations. The intervals between oil changes are increasing and averaging about 7,500 miles for new vehicles. However, the main job of motor oil, or lubricating fluid, has not changed over the years. Its purpose is to reduce friction and lower extreme temperatures. Here is a brief history on the evolution of motor oil.

  • 1930s – carmakers realized the need for standardization among their vehicles. SAE 30 was recognized as the standard engine oil, classified by the speed at which the liquid pours.
  • 1940s – During WWII, carmakers were seeking ways to increase car engine speeds and load-bearing capacities. They learned that polymers could prevent oil from thickening while not compromising the lower temperature viscosity. The "W" rating was adopted as the international method for identifying different types of oils. Synthetic oil was first used during the war. 
  • 1950s -1960s – The petrochemical industry led to comprehensive synthetic detergent packages for oil and additives. 
  • 1970s – PAO or synthetic oils were used as an oil base.
  • 1980s – Poly-ol esters were developed in the aircraft industry for gas turbine use. The oil base was so strong, it was able to cope with the pressure and heat conditions without degradation; however, it was very expensive. Poly-ol esters are still the best lubricants available today.

Motor oil keeps engine components working together smoothly, it keeps heat away from the combustion chamber, and it prevents carbon from accumulating in the engine. Changing your oil is essential to maintaining your car. Check out the latest article in Go Magazine regarding synthetic and conventional oil. Visit a local AAA Car Care Center for oil changes or Napa for DIY supplies. 

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