About Engine Oils
The oil used in your car has two primary ingredients: base oil and additives. The
base oil allows the motor oil to perform its vital function - lubricating the engine's
moving parts to protect them against wear and tear caused by friction. The additives
provide additional engine protection by helping to prevent the oil from deteriorating
under the engine's extreme temperature conditions.
Motor oil needs to perform a variety of functions under a wide range of engine operating
conditions. Therefore, several additives are incorporated into the formulation:
- Detergent/dispersant additives - used to help keep the engine clean
by minimizing sludge buildup.
- Rust and corrosion inhibitors & alkaline additives - added
to protect the engine from water and acids formed as combustion by-products.
- Antioxidants - added to inhibit the oxidation process, which can
result in oil thickening and sludge formation.
- Anti-wear additives - Oils have a minimal amount of zinc dialkyldithiophosphate (ZDDP) as an anti-wear additive
to protect contacting metal surfaces with zinc and other compounds in case of metal
to metal contact.
- Viscosity index improver - help improve the flow characteristics
of motor oil and make it work effectively over a wide range of temperatures
Besides there are other additives available commercially which can be added to the
oil by the user for purported additional benefit. Some of these additives include:
- Some molybdenum disulfide containing additives to lubricating oils are claimed to
reduce friction, bond to metal, or have anti-wear properties
- Extreme pressure additives - They decrease wear of the parts of the gears exposed
to very high pressures. EP additives typically contain organic sulfur, phosphorus
or chlorine compounds, including sulfur-phosphorus and sulfur-phosphorus-boron compounds
How does an engine oil work in a bike
The vast majority of modern motorcycles use the same oil to lubricate the engine,
transmission, and the clutch. Motor oil lubricates moving parts by covering these
parts with a slick film. Oil's ability of resistance to flow is called viscosity.
When motor oil is cooled, the viscosity of the oil is thick and is capable of producing
a friction-resistant coating on surfaces. As internal engine temperature rises,
the viscosity thins out, allowing the oil to flow better, but reduces the tendency
to adhere to the parts.
The viscosity index measures the performance of an oil's viscosity changes as engine
temperatures change. A higher viscosity index indicates that the rating of the oil's
viscosity, changing less in high-temperature situations than a lower viscosity indexed
Can oil meant for car be used in a bike?
It is always recommended to use oils specially designed for bikes, since motorcycles
are more demanding on oil than cars are. In scientific testing, it has been determined
that motorcycles will break down oil more quickly than cars. Today's four stroke
motorcycle engine environment is far more severe than that of the automobile.
Motorcycle engines run hotter and faster and may have reduced oil capacities to
handle engine lubricity and cooling. These factors favor the use of specifically
tailored oils. Friction modifiers, used in Passenger Car Motor Oils to enhance automotive
fuel economy can lead to clutch slippage in those motorcycles that use the same
oil for engine and transmission lubrication while lower viscosity grades can lead
to increased gear pitting.
Motorcycle specific oils have 5 times the anti-wear, anti-scuff and extreme pressure
additives as compared to motorcar oil. Besides, they do not have friction modifiers
that can wreak havoc on clutch performance.
Oil thins when heated and thickens when cooled. Choosing the proper motor oil viscosity
grade for the ambient temperature of your geographic location is therefore vitally
important. In monograde oil the motor oil viscosity is defined at only one temperature,
either high or low. A multigrade must keep a viscosity that will protect the engine
effectively at both high and low temperatures. This makes multigrades an easy and
popular year-round choice for drivers who experience hot summers and harsh winters.
Multigrades are easily recognized by the dual viscosity rating (i.e. 10W-30 where
the 10W is the low temperature or winter designation and the 30 is the high temperature
Oil changes are of the easiest and most effective ways to prolong the life of your
bike, and should be performed as suggested by the manufacturer.
Importance of Oil Change
Oil is vital to the operation of your motorcycle and operates in three ways: reducing
internal friction, cooling the components of the motor, and flushing the motor of
debris. Oil lubricates the moving parts in the motor, preventing metal parts from
coming into direct contact with each other.
The oil system is designed to catch as much of the contaminants that build up within
the motor, straining out any foreign objects as it passes through the oil filter.
Changing your oil and filter refreshes this system, removing any build-up and providing
Factors that affect oil
The oil in your bike's motor can be affected by several factors: oxidation, burn-off,
deposit build-up, and water-infiltration. Oxidation can occur at all temperatures,
as oxygen works to break down the chemicals that comprise most motor oils. Oxidation
is promoted even further as temperatures rise, evaporating the smaller molecules
and leaving behind the heavier particles. These particles leave behind heavy deposits
on the engine components and mix with the remaining oil, creating engine sludge,
which loses its ability to flow and cool the motor.
The introduction of water, through excessive heat causing condensation or infiltration
from the motor's exterior, further inhibits the viscosity of the oil, which can
create friction and damage engine components.
Riding conditions that require frequent
- Longer rides at high revs.
- Dusty or humid conditions.
- Stop-start riding in built-up areas. This puts a lot more strain on the oil than
- Using poor quality fuel, which can lead to oil contamination and sludge.
Disposal of engine oil
When replacing the oil in your engine, you must also properly dispose of resulting
waste. Exposure to used motor oil poses a danger to your health and is a hazard
to the environment. Plus, it is often illegal to dump used motor oil into garbage
cans, down kitchen sinks and drains and into sewers and rivers or even pour it on
the ground. A single gallon of used oil can contaminate a million gallons of fresh
water. Most motor oil recycling facilities and local refuse centers accept used
oil from consumers. However, if you find difficulty locating one in your area, ask
your local motor oil retailer about places they recommend.