"Snake Oil vs. Oil Additive" Engine Automotive Friction Problem Part I

Published: 24th February 2009
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1. Engine Automotive Oil Additives or "Snake Oil"? Oil additives have failed to deliver for years.

In August 1992, a brilliantly written article exposed the repeated failures in the claims of the oil additive (engine automotive and trucking) industry. The article was entitled Snake Oil - Is That Additive Really A Negative? It was written by Fred Rau and was originally printed in Road Rider magazine, now Motorcycle Consumer News. That expose provided the basis for what we in the industry knew: oil additives are a means of lifting money from the wallets of uninformed consumers.

Many in the engine automotive industry were already skeptics. We've heard all the promises of friction reduction, longer lasting engines, and fuel savings. Repeatedly, such wanna be solutions failed to live up to the hype. With over thirty years in the field, I was a full blown skeptic with dozens of oil additives' experience under my belt.

However, an experienced entrepreneur in the field of "toll blending" for heavy duty industrial solutions drew on his expertise to create an environmentally safe, friction reducing, motor oil additive, solving the one problem oil additives failed to overcome.

Now, if the problem is truly solved, the benefits are obvious:

- less friction means engine automotive protection

- less heat means engine automotive friction is reduced

- longer engine life means a surge in engine automotive performance

- less friction/heat produces a drop in engine automotive related expense

- less friction, heat also leads directly to increased engine automotive fuel economy

Motor oil, as a lubricant, works but is not always sufficient. When it gets hot, motor oil breaks down, vaporizes and burns. The oil industry has been quite innovative, using different additives to combat this process. Motor oil additives consisting of zinc compounds, molybdenum ("moly"), chlorinated paraffins, and others. The problem with all these additives (apart from plugging oil passages and toxicity) is they are only suspended in the oil.

But, you say, that's the way to get the additives to the hot spots needing friction protection. You must suspend the oil additive in the oil so it is carried to the engine parts needing protection. That's standard theory.


And that's been the guiding assumption for the oil additive industry all along. Suspend the oil additive in motor oil and let it be carried to the friction hot spots.

2. The "necessary assumption" also provides the problem with engine automotive "theory".

Repeat: Suspend the oil additive in motor oil and let be carried to the friction hot spots.

So, what's the problem?

The problem is, the oil additives do not permanently adhere to internal engine stress points. It's presumed in all oil additive engineering approaches that the motor oil is going to carry its oil additive to the high stress points of the engine. This is where the extra lubricating properties are needed.

In that necessary assumption also lies the problem.

As an engine works under heavy load conditions, pressure and friction build up at some of those metal points. The result? The oil is suddenly "missing in action". It burns up from excessive heat or is "squeezed out" (exceeds its load bearing capacity) due to excessive pressure.

Either way you end up with "metal on metal". The additives themselves can't work because there isn't enough oil present to suspend them. It's been squeezed out or burned up. Put bluntly, an additive can only be where the motor oil is present.

Remember, if oil additive engineering is relying on an additive's suspension in motor oil to do its job, then engineering is also stuck with the limitations of the oil's properties to withstand heat and pressure.

Note. The additive must be able to withstand heat and pressure to a greater degree than oil or "Why bother adding it?".

3. Solution: What if an oil additive actually starts to perform at the temperatures and stress where oil normally fails?

The solution was an additive already meeting industrial needs concerning friction and heat build up.

Carried by the motor oil, it comes to friction points...

- engine rings against the cylinder wall




-valve guides

-turbo charger

-oil pump

Here it does something that no other additive has ever been able to accomplish. This oil additive disassociates (molecularly) from the oil and literally adheres to the metal at the point of friction, leaving a soft metal carboxylate film that can out perform motor oil as a lubricant in a high friction/heat application (as can be seen in the pictures/test results referenced at the site below).

So this lubricant, unlike oil, whether it be synthetic or petroleum, actually starts to perform at the temperatures and stress where oil normally fails. Remember what happens inside the engine, when fuel ignites at the top of the compression stroke and the piston is moving down the cylinder. There, most of the oil on the cylinder wall gets burned up.

But this additive doesn't burn up like the motor oil carrying it. It molecularly embeds itself into the pores of the cylinder wall. So, when the piston is traveling back up the cylinder, the additive acts as a lubricating agent and is always there.

So, in summation: since you're getting rid of the friction, then you're getting rid of the heat generated from it. That means your oil lasts longer. It doesn't get contaminated as quickly because those high friction points are being adequately lubricated. Adequately lubricated, they will cease to be high friction points, running cooler, the oil will pass through those points without burning which creates harmful acids and sludge.

Most importantly your engine can last longer, run more efficiently, and the fuel that was being used to overcome the friction can now be used to move you down the road to where you need to go.

About the Author:

Dan Perrine is an expert consultant to the independent automotive industry with over three decades of automotive experience. Dan helps shops manage the functions of independent automotive repair facilities: job scheduling and status, estimates, workflow, customers, vehicle repair/history, inventory, profitability, advertising tools. Phone: 920-474-4745. The oil additive in the article is Enginall. TechniciansTip.com.

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