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Saturday, 16 March 2013

The increasing use of Synthetic Lubricants in cars.

Advanced technology means increased use of synthetic lubricants in cars.

As Automotive technology moves forward at the speed of light so the need for synthetic lubricants in cars increases.

Warranties and 100,000-mile service intervals mean that Automotive manufacturers have to make their components work harder and last longer than ever before or fix them free of charge.

Better metals, plastics
and rubbers have been developed to extend the life of the product, but that isn’t enough. The petroleum-based lubricants can’t keep up with the broader temperature requirements. They fail due to oxidation or thermal degradation and hardly last the tens of thousands of cycles required to pass today’s service life tests.

So in the early 1980s, automotive component engineers began to turning to synthetic lubricants to ensure performance and reliability.

Synthetic oils have been around for quite some time. Esters were developed in the 1940s and 1950s for the fast-growing aviation industry, where lubricants for components in jets had to withstand freezing, high-altitude temperatures, as well as the heat from jet engines.

The next two decades widened temperature requirements even further in the aerospace industry, which gave rise to new classes of synthetics lubricants: polyphenylethers and perfluoropolyethers.

Not counting noncommercial experimental synthetic oils, there are currently six basic families of synthetic lubricants: 
  • synthetic hydrocarbons 
  • polyglycols 
  • esters 
  • silicones 
  • fluoroethers 
  • polyphenylethers. 
Together, they’ve extend the operating temperature range of lubricants from 90°C to 250°C; a quantum improvement over what was once known as black gold!

The use of synthetic Grease in automotive electrical systems.

Sensors were one of the first automotive components that required something better than petroleum grease.

In the 1980s, throttle position sensors (TPS) and exhaust gas recirculating (EGR) sensors were introduced to monitor electronic fuel injection and exhaust emissions.

These potentiometers, mounted on the air intake and exhaust manifolds, sent electrical signals to a computer, which used the data to optimize performance. The signals had to be accurate, despite the fact that the sensor had to operate in wide temperature ranges and were exposed to fuel and exhaust vapors.

Greases are applied to the resistive elements because a small amount of wear on the linkage can change the electrical signal that is sent to the computer. If the grease dries, varnishes, freezes or is dissolved by fumes, the potentiometer is doomed, and so the performance of the engine.

Widespread use of electronics has seen the use of automotive wire harnesses growing at an exponential rate. Not only do sensors need to be plugged into computers, but the growth of power features, switches and lighting requirements have also helped multiply the number of wiring harnesses in today’s vehicle.

As the number of harnesses grew, the need for cost-effective metals, smaller terminals, and more terminals per connector also grew. These changes, combined with wider operating temperatures, multiple low-current signals and higher reliability requirements presented connector engineers with new challenges. Synthetic greases were developed to meet those challenges by offering improved connection protection.

Connectors are also subject to fretting corrosion caused by vibration. The use of gold or other nonoxidizing metals, or increasing the contact pressure on each mated terminal, can minimize fretting corrosion; but those are costly solutions, generally reserved for only critical circuits, like the ones in air bags. However, synthetic hydrocarbon and silicone greases can achieve the same results at a significantly lower cost.

They also reduce the force needed for mating and unplugging connections and prevent corrosion of the metal surfaces.

And the use of synthetic grease doesn’t stop there: Switches are also very sophisticated, requiring equally advanced lubrication.

High-current switches have large metal contacts to carry the electrical load. When the contacts make and break there may be a fair amount of arcing. This arcing super-heats the grease. It actually burns many greases and heats the metal contacts. Glycol, ester and perfluoropolyether (PFPE) oils are able to resist degradation at these extreme temperatures.

Switches that carry both high and low current often require different contact greases one for the low current and one for the high. Many switch designs don’t allow for two greases, but the flexibility of synthetics often allows one grease to do both.

The importance of synthetic lubricants used in Electric motors.

Electric motors have been used for years on cars to power both essential and luxury components. It’s not uncommon for some of today’s cars to have more than 60 electric motors!

Over the years, these motors have been designed smaller.

Starter motors are good examples of high output motors that have undergone significant size reduction in recent years. Yet they still need to start six-, eight- or even 10-cylinder engines. In addition, they are exposed to road splash and grime, and 150°C exhaust pipes are routed close by. Despite the miserable operating environment, engineers must make sure these motors last at least 10 years.

Synthetic lubricants used to lubricate control cables.

Control cables are being used more frequently on most cars. They vary in length, load-carrying capability and duty cycle. However, they have a few things in common. They have long stranded bundles of wire inside a plastic sleeve, and if they don’t work properly, the car owner gets greatly annoyed.

The beauty of the cable is its flexibility. It can be wrapped through and around all kinds of obstructions in the car. This erratic path causes a great deal of friction between the stranded wire and the plastic.

The right lubricant is critical to keep friction at a minimum. The right lubricant should get in between those parts quickly, particularly on frequently used accelerator, brake, clutch and shifter control cables which often have to pass one million stroking cycles before a design is accepted.

The near universal solution for cable lubrication is silicone. Silicone oils and greases offer wide temperature and good surface wetting characteristics. While cable lubricants are not exclusively silicone-based, it is common to find some type of synthetic lubricant on these popular parts.

From Engine Oil To Power Train, synthetic lubricants in cars are gaining momentum.

While the general public is starting to accept synthetic engine oil and synthetic transmission fluid because they last longer and work better in extreme temperature conditions than petroleum-based lubricants, there are a wide variety of other parts involved in a powertrain system that can also benefit from synthetic lubricants.

If greases in under-the-hood components such as alternators, condensers and water pumps minimize frictional drag, then fuel economy is optimized. Clutch and brake systems, fuel and air controls, and even superchargers and turbochargers - all tested at 150°C and higher for long periods of time will take the heat much longer with synthetic lubricants.

Generally esters, silicones and fluorinated greases are used to meet the performance targets. In addition, synthetic hydrocarbon greases are significantly extending the life and improving the efficiency of CV joints, U joints in rear axles, and wheel bearings.

Habot Synthetic Lubricants produce quality synthetic lubricants required in modern cars. Give us a call and we’ll give you professional advice on the best lubricant for your application.


Anonymous said...

I have an Austin Healey 3000 with four speed manual gearbox c/w Laycock de Normanville overdrive. When i have been driving in hot weather for a while. the overdrive slips out and returns to direct drive
This can only be due to a drop in operating pressure due to the gear oil becoming less viscous as it gets hot. Do you have a fully synthetic gearbox and overdrive compatible oil that would improve this phenomena?
PS I realize that there is probably some wear in the overdrive internals, although it functions normally in colder weather. Thanks George Durban

Habot said...

Dear George,

It is quite common for automotive gearboxes to exhibit problems due to the effect of temperature on the oil. Mineral oils typically have a viscosity index of below 100 – This means that the oil thins rapidly with an increase in temperature. The higher the viscosity index the less the oil will thin (lose viscosity) with a rise in temperature. Good synthetics typically have VI’s from 140 to 200.

Judging by what you have mentioned, I feel it’s a fare conclusion that temperature related viscosity loss is indeed what is plaguing your Healey. If you can advise us of the viscosity grade recommended for this application, we can certainly offer you a product which we are confident will solve the problem – providing it is a temperature related problem and not just excessive wear.

By switching to a Habot gear oil, the slipping problem should be eliminated and you should experience an overall smoother operation of the gearbox.

Could you please leave a contact Email address where we can contact you with the relevant info.