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Articles by AMSOIL's Dan Peterson - VP. Technical Development
E15 fuel has been approved for sale. Be Prepared!
Its impact will be felt differently by motorists and powersports enthusiasts.
As I write this month’s Tech Talk, the U.S. nationwide average price for a gallon of gasoline is $3.85. On May 8, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a revised forecast for gas prices during the summer driving season (April through September) that predicts the average price will drop to $3.79. That’s good news for all of us, whether filling up for the daily commute or planning a longer road trip. Regardless of what vehicle you drive, it’s likely that maximizing fuel economy and extending engine life are high priorities. In fact, a 2011 survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found the “age of the average car driven by respondents has increased to eight years,” with 23 percent of motorists surveyed driving cars from the 1990s. And for those planning on purchasing a new or newer model, 62 percent expected their next vehicles to have better fuel economy than their previous models.
Motorists are demanding more from newer vehicles and also want their current vehicles to last longer, but new government mandates might make achieving higher efficiencies more difficult.
In April 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the sale of E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) for cars and trucks manufactured in 2001 or later. This extended by six years a 2010 waiver permitting the use of motor gasoline blends containing up to 15 percent ethanol in 2007 and newer vehicles. All other gas-powered engines, such as those on boats, snowmobiles, lawn mowers, motorcycles and off-road vehicles, are prohibited from using E15. This means that the current E10 (10 percent ethanol/90 percent gasoline) blended fuel, sold at more than 90 percent of service stations nationwide, remains the de facto choice for owners of model year 2000 and older vehicles and other gas-powered engines. The exception to this being flex-fuel vehicles compatible with E85 (85 percent ethanol/ 15 percent gasoline).
Automakers have resisted the new E15 ruling, arguing that their vehicles – new and old – aren’t designed to accommodate gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol. Service station owners have concerns about potential liability issues arising from consumers using the wrong ethanol blend and are worried about the costs of retrofitting gas pumps or installing new ones to make E15 available.
While the future of E15 is uncertain, ethanol-blended fuels are here to stay. Ethanol has been used for decades as a gasoline additive because it burns cleaner than gasoline. The downside to ethanol is its fuel economy and performance. Ethanol produces less energy than gasoline. According to the EIA, “A gallon of ethanol has only two-thirds the energy of a gallon of conventional gasoline, and the number of miles traveled by a given vehicle per gallon of fuel is directly proportional to the energy contained in the fuel.” In addition, studies have shown fuel systems containing plastic or rubber components can be damaged by ethanol exposure. There are also problems at the molecular level. Ethanol and gasoline do not form chemical bonds and ethanol is highly attracted to water. Even small amounts of water entering the fuel supply can break the weak ethanol-to-water bond and separate (phase separation). This suspension falls to the bottom of the fuel tank and can increase engine temperatures and cause engine damage. Less energy per gallon and phase separation are just two of the problems inherent with ethanol-blended gasoline. Smaller engines face additional maintenance and performance issues.
Because the widely available E10 can start degrading in just 30 days, the shorter shelf life of ethanol-blended gasoline vs. pure gasoline is another potential problem for small-engine operation. With equipment such as motorcycles, ATVs, boats and other less frequently used tools like chainsaws and leaf blowers, fuel may sit in the tank for a month or much longer between starts. During this time gasoline absorbs water, which leads to fuel breakdown. As gasoline degrades, gums and varnish can clog carburetors, fuel injectors and fuel filters. The result is decreased starting performance and drivability issues. Most drivers fuel their passenger vehicles more frequently than every 30 days, so gasoline breakdown issues are less common in autos and trucks. Additionally, many newer vehicles have computer sensors that make adjustments for high ethanol content, but the majority of small engines lack such technology. Fortunately for powersports enthusiasts, there are solutions to this long-term problem.
Quickshot® is designed to keep water dispersed and helps combat problems associated with ethanol-blended fuel. It also cleans deposit build-up in fuel systems and combustion chamber components. This means better performance and reduced impact from ethanol-blended fuels. We all value our free time; engines need to start on command when we get a sliver of time to get out and go.
"Three primary factors are normally responsible for oil failure" Oil that becomes too thin, too thick, or too acidic has exceeded its useful life.
Because they work to suspend contaminants and by-products of combustion, it is not uncommon for gasoline and diesel oils to become dark. It may be more noticeable in some applications. It does not mean the oil is failing or must be changed.
Fortunately, a number of different tools are available that measure motor oil’s
condition and its ability to continuously protect and perform its other key functions.
When motor oil exceeds its useful life or is impacted by a mechanical defect,
it most commonly becomes too thin to separate metal parts, too thick to pump
or too acidic for continued use.
When oil becomes too thin, it fails to provide the required oil film thickness to
separate metal surfaces. Different engine designs require different starting oil thickness
or viscosity. Viscosity at 100 °C is one of the most highlighted oil properties and is a good indicator of adequate oil film thickness in an engine at operating temperature.
A number of things can cause engine oil to become too thin to protect engine
parts. Excessive mechanical shear can thin oil to the point of causing issues with
engine protection. As motor oil cycles through the engine, it is exposed to shear stress in the engine’s upper end, piston walls and bearings that reduces its shear strength. Continuous exposure to these conditions causes oils built with inferior shear stability to thin excessively, leaving critical engine parts susceptible to metal to metal contact.
Fuel contamination of the oil sump is another major cause of excessively thin engine oil. Both gasoline and diesel fuel are thinner than engine oil and when mixed, the oil’s viscosity, film thickness and ability to separate parts are significantly reduced. While a small amount of fuel dilution is relatively common and does not have a material impact on oil life, excessive fuel dilution in mechanically compromised equipment is much
When it comes to oil, although it may seem like “the thicker, the better,” oil that is too thick is just as detrimental as oil that is too thin. Excessively thick oil is the most commonly discussed oil failure and the subject of many big oil company marketing campaigns.
When oil becomes too thick to flow to engine parts, these areas are starved of
oil, resulting in metal-to-metal contact that can lead to catastrophic engine damage.
The precursor to sludge is oil that has become much thicker than its original
design. The cause is a complex chemical reaction involving heat, combustion byproducts
and oxygen combining to create chemical attack on the oil molecules. The resulting chemical reaction creates a much thicker substance that does not flow or protect as well as the original oil. When the reaction continues, sludge begins to form in areas of higher localized temperature and low flow. While some varnish is normal, sludge is a sign of excessively degraded oil that needs to be replaced. In order to inhibit sludge and varnish, the oil must resist attack by oxidation forces. Synthetic base oils have a much higher
level of saturated molecules that inherently resist this constant bombardment. Additionally, antioxidants are added to either reduce the formation of free-radical oxidation precursors or soak up these precursors once they form.
Another cause of oil thickening, primarily affecting diesel oils, is excessive soot loading
in mechanically unsound engines. Diesel oils are designed to handle some soot contamination, but when the soot overloads the available dispersants in the oil, the oil thickens. The agglomerated soot particles reach a critical size and cause excessive wear commonly seen in diesel liners.
Acids are a normal by-product of burning fossil fuels. Different fuel types, engines and combustion conditions create varying levels of acid formation. These acids, transferred via blow-by gases, are carried away to the engine oil. Oils are designed with a detergent that neutralizes these acids before they accumulate and cause engine damage. The detergent level is measured with a test called Total Base Number (TBN). This measure of alkalinity drops over the life of the oil and reaches a critical level when the oil can no longer consume the acids created by combustion. When TBN reaches a critical level,
acids build up quickly and attack the surfaces most susceptible, including yellow
metals and lead-lined bearings. Without correction, this condition quickly worsens
and results in excessive chemical wear. Although less common, this failure mode
can cause significant damage if left uncorrected.
AMSOIL synthetic motor oils are formulated to provide a broad level of overall protection, evidenced by guaranteed
extended drain intervals. Synthetic base oils help resist oxidative decomposition,
and a properly balanced, high-quality additive package helps keep contaminants
in check and engines running for a long time.
Prior Tech Department article on European Oils and Market:
The European motor oil market has always been different from the North
American market. European engine oil drain intervals have consistently been
longer than those in the U.S., and oil formulations and additive packages
have also differed from those of North American engine oils. These differences are due primarily to European emissions legislation, fuel economy concerns and stringent severe-service oil durability requirements.
In the United States, oil classifications and requirements are developed
through a process involving a number of trade associations and organizations, and the classifications are finalized and managed by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC). In Europe, industry wide
specifications are developed by the Association des Constructeurs
Européens d ‘Automobiles (ACEA).
The API-governed engine oil specification has traditionally been the most
common in the U.S., and oils meeting current API specs are still widely used
today. More recently, ILSAC, which has a more global focus, is having a greater influence on North American specifications due to the rising number of Japanese vehicles sold in the U.S. As a result, the new ILSAC specification, GF-5, differs more from its API counterpart, SN, than in the past
ACEA does not have the recognition and influence in Europe that API does
in North America because individual vehicle manufacturers in Europe strongly support their own engine oil specifications.
As a result, there are a number of different widely used European engine
oil specifications, and oil manufacturers are tasked with building appropriate
engine lubes for each.
As these new European vehicles make their way to the U.S., consumers are
discovering they can’t necessarily use just any oil. One recognized example
of a very particular specification is Volkswagen VW 504.00/507.00 (504.00
covers gasoline engines, 507.00 covers diesel engines). This specialized engine oil specification was designed by VW to help protect emissions-reduction equipment and support proper operation and longevity of the vehicle. Until recently, AMSOIL did not offer a product meeting this specification, and there are only a handful of oils available in the U.S. that do.
New AMSOIL European Car Formula 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil (product code AEL) does meet the spec, as well as the ACEA A3/B4 specification, which was created with slightly different priorities than the VW
ACEA oils engineered for the A3/B4 category meet the requirements of
direct-injected gasoline and diesel engines in addition to the requirements
of A3/B3. In order to provide optimal performance in direct-injection diesel engines, an oil must be highly stable and durable; direct-injection systems
are notoriously hard on engine oil.
ACEA A3/B3 European oil specifications require stable, stay-in-grade engine oils to ensure these high-performance engines are protected from inadequate oil supply and excessive wear. For an oil to be considered stay-in-grade, it must resist thickening or thinning out of an established viscosity range. The table below outlines the general differences between four ACEA sequences for gasoline and light-duty diesel oils in regard to fuel economy benefits and drain interval recommendations.
Moving forward, Volkswagen plans to maintain three global engine oil specifications for its light-duty gasoline and diesel vehicles: VW 504.00/507.00, VW 502.00/505.01 and VW 501.01/505.00.
New AMSOIL European Car Formula 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil is recommended for Volkswagen vehicles requiring VW 504.00/507.00, while AMSOIL European Car Formula 5W-40 Synthetic Motor Oil is designed for Volkswagens requiring VW 502.00/505.00/505.01.
Both formulations are recommended for the ACEA A3/B4 specification, among others.
Ches Cain's note - Being familiar with AMSOIL's quality control objectives and operations. I would suggest your reason for selecting the AMSOIL European line of oils over OEM would be due to our legendary guarantee and AMSOIL's commitment to deliver only the best products available. While the OEM (although backed by warranty as AMSOIL products are) are not made to any rigorous quality standards, don't let you know who makes the oil and it is quite likely as we have seen in the past, the OEM performance never reaches anywhere near AMSOIL's standards. In fact - although the OEM product has to pass the test, there's no telling if the particular batch you have does.
The AMSOIL European Oils far exceed the 2010 technology required for new emission systems while providing natural multi viscosity traits, anti-wear and detergency properties while the OEM may use non 100% Synthetic additives which lessen their life and long term engine cleanliness!!
New Powertrain Technologies Demand Premium Lubricants
Fuel efficiency has become an increasingly important priority for motorists
over the past several years, increasing demand for vehicles able to squeeze
maximum mileage from a tank of fuel. Automobile manufacturers have
responded by introducing a growing number of fuel efficient vehicles, including hybrids, diesels and alternative fuel vehicles.
New Fuel Efficient Powertrain Technologies
New powertrain technologies are expected to continue the trend toward fuel
efficient vehicle designs. For example, turbocharged direct injection technology is used in the Ford EcoBoost engine for more precise fuel control, delivering a fine mist of fuel directly into each cylinder. Dual turbochargers allow faster throttle response and increased power, while providing the fuel efficiency expected from a smaller engine. In fact, twin-turbocharged direct injection EcoBoost engines boast the power of a V8 and the fuel efficiency of a V6.
Increased Importance of Quality Lubrication
According to Daniel Kapp, Ford director of powertrain research and advanced engineering, fuel efficient powertrain technologies such as direct injection will require improved powertrain lubricants, revealing that high quality lubricants can effectively address higher temperatures and loads, friction losses and increased use of ethanol fuels.
“Lubricants can continue to play a very integral role, but maybe some of the
challenges are a little bit different,” said Kapp. “If we just look at EcoBoosting, we’re certainly seeing higher operating temperatures and much higher specific loads. So imagine now very small engines operating at very high combustion temperatures.”
Higher engine operating temperatures and loads will increase the importance
of viscosity retention. “Because of the higher specific loads, and all the strain on the oil system if you will, we may be looking forward to a 0W-30 as more effective than a 5W-20,” said Kapp. “Those are some of the things we’re working through.”
Lubricants will also play a role in improving vehicle efficiency through friction
reduction, while the extended drain intervals pioneered by AMSOIL will continue toward mainstream acceptance. Most major automobile manufacturers have been moving away from the traditional 3,000-mile oil change. Ford currently recommends drain intervals of up to 7,500 miles, and, according to Kapp, the company will begin recommending 10,000-mile intervals with the 2011 model year.
Although automotive technology has progressed rapidly in recent years, it is not entirely clear where the industry will ultimately end up. “In that contest
you’re seeing different energy-based solutions,” said Kapp. “It’s obviously
not as clear there, but the percentage of internal combustion engines will be
dependent on contributions from the fuel side. We’ll continue to see obviously much more volume and expansion of hybrid technology. The technology path we’re on for conventional engines is also very compatible over the long term with renewable fuels and with hybridization.”
AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils
AMSOIL synthetic motor oils are ahead of the curve, providing superior protection and performance for both older and newer engine technologies. Their premium synthetic formulations effectively address increased temperatures and loads by maintaining protective viscosity and reducing friction, heat and wear, keeping vehicles running in top condition
for longer periods of time.
New tests on the updated Motorcycle Oil Test Study.
- The Initial Viscosity Test (ASTM D-445) measures the initial SAE viscosity of lubricants to ensure the SAE grades indicated by the manufacturers are representative of the actual SAE grades of the oils.
- The Viscosity Index Test (ASTM D-2270) measures the degree of viscosity change that occurs when lubricants are subjected to temperature changes.
- The Viscosity Shear Stability Test (ASTM D-6278)
determines the viscosity change that occurs with lubricants when subjected to shearing forces.
- The High-Temperature/High-Shear Stability Test
(ASTM D-5481) measures the viscosity of lubricants when subjected to both high temperatures and shearing forces.
- Zinc Concentration (ppm, ICP) measures the quantity of the anti-wear additive zinc dithiophosphate (ZDP) within lubricants.
- The Four-Ball Wear Test (ASTM D-4172) determines the wear protection properties of lubricants in case of metal-to-metal contact.
- The FZG Gear Performance Test (ASTM D-5182)
measures the ability of lubricants to protect transmission gears against scuffing (adhesive wear).
- The TFOUT Oxidation Stability Test (ASTM D-4742) measures the oxidation stability of lubricants in the face of fuel, metal catalysts, water, oxygen and heat.
- The NOACK Volatility Test (ASTM D-5800) measures the ability of lubricants to resist volatilization (evaporation) in high-temperature service.
- The TBN Acid Neutralization and Engine Cleanliness
Test (ASTM D-2896) measures the acid-neutralizing abilities of lubricants by determining the level of acid required to neutralize their alkaline properties.
- The Foaming Tendency Test (ASTM D-892) measures the ability of the anti-foam additives within lubricants to control foaming.
- The Humidity Cabinet Rust Test (ASTM D-1748)
measures the ability of lubricants to protect against rust formation.
Download the entire Motorcycle Test Study by visiting our Motorcycle Oil learning center.
API Licensing - AMSOIL couldn't be the best if their top products were API licensed. Read our article to find out why.
Warranty Compliance - Interesting facts to answer a most common question.
AMSOIL and Cutting Costs - Keep your $ in your pocket book.
Differential Oil Aspects - Understand the stresses to drive train gears and how to control wear, temperature and increase performance.
Summer 2007 - Bonneville Speed Records
Boyd Coddington's AMSOIL Model T and HDT's Diesel motorcycle prepare to make history.
Summer 05 - AMSOIL President Al Amatuzio and Executive Vice Presidents Alan Amatuzio and Dean Alexander discuss the past, present and future of The First in Synthetics® In a rare interview from Lubes 'n' Greases magazine. Find out what AMSOIL means to you the consumer. A MUST read!
Fuel Filters Require Regular Service
Fuel filters today appear significantly different from those
used in the past, but their purpose remains the same: to
protect the fuel system by removing contaminants such as rust, dirt and other foreign matter from the fuel. Stricter emissions legislation, higher injection pressures and lower sulfur and bio-diesel fuels have all contributed to the evolution of fuel system technology. The fuel filter is often overlooked in terms of regular maintenance.
Add the correct WIX or Donaldson fuel filter to your next AMSOIL order. Just mention it and we will look it up for you.
Purpose of Fuel Filters
Internal combustion engines consume a mixture of fuel and air to produce energy. The most commonly used fuels are gasoline and diesel fuel.
Older gasoline engines use a carburetor that mixes the fuel and air in exact proportions for efficient carburetion. It has many small passageways and delicate parts which can be damaged from dirt. A dirty carburetor can cause erratic performance or complete engine shutdown.
Carbureted engines have been replaced with electronic fuel injection (EFI) systems. Fuel injection is a much simpler, more precise way to deliver fuel to the cylinders.
Gasoline and diesel engines normally use a fuel injector for each cylinder. The injector meters the fuel under high pressure through small openings in the tip and into the combustion chamber. Fuel is supplied to each injector by a supply pump. High operating pressures and tight clearances make the injectors vulnerable to damage and wear when exposed to dirt and contaminants. The key to keeping a fuel system operating at its best is cleanliness.
Types and Sources of Contaminants
Contaminants may enter the fuel system when unfiltered fuel is pumped into the vehicle tank or through loose tank caps or faulty sealing gaskets. Fuel can also be compromised by contaminants or dirt particles left in the tanks or lines during the manufacturing and assembly process. The most common contaminants found in fuel are rust, dirt and water.
Rust usually comes from large storage tanks, but can also form in vehicle tanks if low fuel levels are left in the tanks over long periods of time. Rust is an abrasive and causes damage to the injection system components.
The most common source for water is condensation in the fuel tank. If the fuel tank is not kept filled, warm moisture
laden air condenses on the cooler inside metal wall of the fuel tank. Water can also enter the fuel in underground
storage tanks, during vehicle tank filling on wet, rainy
days, or through leakage past fuel tank filler caps and improperly designed vent openings.
Dirt can find its way into the fuel through dirty caps, tank
spouts and dispensing nozzles. Vent systems, tank caps
and other seals should be checked frequently to insure they are in good condition and none are missing. Another contaminant sometimes found in diesel fuel is bacteria.
Types of Fuel Filters
There are numerous types of fuel filters for gasoline and diesel applications, such as in-line, element/cartridge and spin-on.
In-line type filters are located in the fuel line between the tank and injectors or carburetors.
Element/cartridge type filters require installation into some type of housing in the vehicle fuel system. These filters are often neglected due to lack of consumer knowledge of the location and the inaccessibility of the filter.
Spin-on fuel filters are similar to oil filters. They are easy to replace and come in a variety of sizes.
Some automobiles and light trucks have two fuel filters. The first filter, usually located in the fuel tank, can be made of fine woven fabric or other filter mediums. This filter prevents large pieces of contaminant from damaging the fuel pump. The tank filter also prevents most water from going to the engine. Under normal conditions, the tank filter will not require service or replacement, however the second filter requires regular service.
Gasoline and diesel engines are very sensitive and will not tolerate dirty fuel. The most delicate part of a diesel engine is the fuel injection system. Injectors have moving parts with very close tolerances and small particles of contaminant can damage them or cause erratic performance.
Servicing Fuel Filters
Fuel filters should be changed at intervals recommended by the engine or equipment manufacturer. When operating under more adverse conditions or with very dirty fuel, the filters may need to be changed more frequently. Replacing fuel filters at the recommended intervals is the best assurance
against engine problems and fuel starvation.
See these other feature articles:
AMSOIL President Al Amatuzio and Executive Vice Presidents Alan Amatuzio and Dean Alexander discuss the past, present and future of The First in Synthetics®
Discover AMSOIL's Synthetic 2 Cycle Oil Line
Find AMSOIL in Corsicana, Texas
AMSOIL Home Buy Now Earn Income w/ AMSOIL Bypass Filter Kits Dealer List
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