Engine oil additives: friend or foe? the mechanic's truth

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In the vast world of car care, engine oil additives are a mystery. Drivers hear conflicting advice: magic bullet or snake oil? Let's break down the truth about engine oil additives to help you decide what's best for your car.

Modern motor oil is already packed with additives! These make up about 30% of the oil, combating friction, wear, and keeping things running smoothly [!how do oil additives work ON TotalEnergies totalenergies.co.uk]. Think of them as tiny superheroes within your engine.

Available additives you can add yourself aim to further enhance these properties. There are various types, each with a specific job. Some target reducing startup wear, while others focus on improving oil performance in scorching temperatures.

The effectiveness of engine oil additives is a debated topic. Studies show mixed results, with some finding little benefit and others suggesting potential improvements in specific areas.

Generally, high-quality oil with the correct specifications for your car is the way to go. However, for older, high-mileage vehicles, additives designed to reduce wear and tear might offer some temporary relief. Remember, additives are not a magic fix and shouldn't replace proper maintenance.

Using the right additive or incorrect amount can be beneficial for your engine. Some additives can react poorly with existing oil, reducing its effectiveness. Clogged filters and damaged seals are also potential risks.

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Sticking to a recommended oil change schedule with high-quality oil is the best course of action for most vehicles. This ensures your engine has the clean, protective oil it needs to run smoothly.

If you're concerned about engine wear or performance in an older car, consult a trusted mechanic. They can offer specific recommendations based on your vehicle's needs.

Types of Engine Oil Additives:

There are various types of engine oil additives, each designed to target a specific need:

  • Anti-wear additives: These reduce friction and wear during engine operation, especially at startup. Examples include zinc and phosphorus compounds.
  • Extreme pressure (EP) additives:  These additives provide extra lubrication under high pressure and heavy loads, protecting components like cams and lifters.
  • Detergents and dispersants:  These keep your engine clean by removing dirt, sludge, and varnish buildup.
  • Viscosity index improvers:  These help maintain oil viscosity across a wider temperature range, ensuring proper lubrication during cold starts and hot weather.
  • Antioxidants:  These additives combat oil breakdown caused by oxidation, which can lead to increased viscosity and sludge formation.
  • Pour point depressants:  These improve oil flow at low temperatures, allowing for easier engine starts in cold weather.

Engine oil additives are a gamble. In most cases, a good quality oil formulated for your car will provide all the lubrication and protection you need. If you're considering additives, do your research and consult a mechanic before using them. Remember, preventing problems is always better than fixing them later.

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