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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

What causes engine oil contamination?

Engine oil contamination reduces engine lubrication life.

Engine oil contamination is inevitable and one of the most important issues to control in order to optimise engine oil life. In most cases it has very little to do with the quality of the oil, but more to do with the filtration system and vehicle maintenance.

The causes of engine oil contamination.

The most common cause of engine oil contamination is an air filter that does not filter out engine oil contaminants. Most air filter elements filter out +10 micron elements. Particles smaller than this are usually not harmful.

However a poorly fitting air filter cartridge may allow larger particles to enter the air inlet and find it’s way into the motor oil. These particles can cause damage to bearing surfaces or wearing parts or accelerate wear of critical components.

Another common cause of engine oil contamination is the normal wear of mating surfaces which cause iron filings. Once again these filings are normally trapped by the engine oil filter and strainer located in the sump. However once the filter becomes saturated with these particles and other contaminants oil circulation is restricted and oil pressure is effected. At this point a valve opens allowing oil to flow again: The problem is that this oil is no longer filtered and can cause accelerated wear.

Many oil additives, such as detergents, are sacrificial and naturally contribute to engine oil contamination as they do their job. These are less harmful than the build up of hard particles due to ineffective filtration.

How to overcome engine oil contamination.

The bottom line in reducing engine oil contamination is in ensuring effective filtration – both oil and air filtration. This can only be achieved through using quality, approved filtration cartridges and regular servicing. Not forgetting that if a vehicle operates in very dusty conditions an extra air filter system, such as a Cyclotron may be required, as well as reducing the air filter service intervals.

Engine oil contamination through the sacrifice of additives is a natural process and should have a minimal impact on motor oil life and therefore engine oil service intervals. However, using a high quality synthetic motor oil, such as that produced by Habot Synthetic Lubricants can also extend engine oil life.

This is achieved through synthetic lubricants being less prone to oxidation at elevated operating temperatures. In conclusion: In order to reduce engine oil contamination and extend motor oil life it’s important to service the vehicle at the pre-scribed intervals; use approved quality air and oil filters; switch to a quality fully synthetic engine oil