Oil additives are basically chemical substances that improve the lubricating performance of mineral base oil. There are different types of additives and it depends on the function they play. Many manufacturers can use the same basic base oil for all their formulas and may select different additives for every specific application. Many additives consist of up to 5% of the base oil. Some additives improve the characteristics of petroleum such as the protection of the structure, the decrease in the boiling point of the petroleum, the decrease in density of the petroleum, and the increase in lubricity of the oil.
Oil additives are classified into two broad categories based on their function. One is for performance improvement and the other is for corrosion prevention. Most of the additives which have a high function for performance-enhancing purposes are not suitable for corrosion prevention. These additives include lubricants, water, and grease. Water and grease decrease friction and increase the wear resistance of the oil and they can be used in all sorts of the engine and mechanical applications.
Oil additives are generally available in two forms such as synthetic or organic. The synthetic additives include synthetic oil additives like methyl-propyl-folate (PMF), which is added to prevent build up of hard mineral deposits in the oil or the dispersal of metal contaminants during normal operation. The organic additives are those which alter the physical properties of the oil by treating it with elements which have a technical effect on the porosity of the oil surface.
Alloys are a category of oil additives, which include alloys of iron, steel, copper, brass, bronze, stainless steel, and nickel. Zinc and chromium also belong to this category. Zinc has proven to be an important additive for preventing corrosion and thus is widely used in almost all kinds of engine oils. Other alloys which are used for corrosion protection include titanium and nickel.
Synthetic lubricants are commonly used in most motor oil as well as for DIY and aftermarket engine oil additives. Motor oil contains mostly synthetic compounds and lubricants are required for its proper functioning. Synthetic lubricants, unlike their regular counterparts, do not contain any metallic ions or substances, which makes them suitable for application in engines. They are usually made of either poly-ethylene terephthalate (PET) or ethylene glycol. Most of these aftermarket engine oil additives use PET or ethylene glycol, although some manufacturers may use other ingredients as well.
Over time, regular and aggressive usage of motor oils can result in the consumption or build-up of deposits on the oil pipe walls. To solve this problem, most manufacturers add lubricants, particularly oil change liquids to improve performance and extend the shelf life of their lubricants. As the number of manufacturers increases, the availability of aftermarket oil additives has also grown. To meet consumer demand, a wide variety of these additives is available in the market today. Some of the most commonly used additives in aftermarket lubricants are water-based water softeners and water-based oil conditioners.
Another popular additive for oil lubricants is the mineral oil base. Mineral oil base oils are usually a combination of synthetic and natural chemical compounds such as petroleum jelly, mineral oil, glycerol and other viscosities, and the main purpose of adding base oil to a lubricant is to improve the viscosity or thickness of the lubricant. The main advantage of using oil base oils is that it does not form any lubrication film on the surface of the engine, which means that it is safe for use in open and enclosed areas. Moreover, they are very easy to install and remove, making them suitable for use in a wide variety of applications. Unfortunately, they cannot normally be used in engines that require hot oil change because they tend to evaporate too fast and leave a thin film of melted plastic over the cylinders.
The final type of lubricant commonly used in engines is the synthetic lubricant. Synthetic lubricants are created by combining synthetic and organic chemical compounds. They are capable of producing high amounts of heat with a high degree of thermal conductivity, which makes them suitable to use in high-performance engine oil. However, they have very poor friction properties, so they are not suited to wear lubrication in applications where low friction is desirable.