Friday, 13 April 2012

Engine Oil – The Blood of Your Steed

As we are known to the term Engine Oil in our day to day life as every bike needs it to perform its duties flawlessly. Have we gone a bit deep and explored what’s all about the term Engine Oil?

When Fuel can ignite, why add oil to engine?

Engine oil is added to the engine to avoid metal parts grinding one against each other and tearing each apart due to friction generated by moving metal parts. Engine Oil also plays a vital role in transferring intense heat generated in the engine during the combustion sequence by cooling the moving metal parts.
Engine Oil also cleans the engine from chemical deposits such as Silicon oxide, acids and other build up’s such as carbon deposits and engine scraps in the engine. It keeps the moving parts of the engine coated with thin film of oil that drastically reduces the amount of friction.
To be put in one single line “Engine is the heart of your steed where oil is the blood that makes it work”.

Bike Maintenance Taken from the Engine Side

I am writing much on bike maintenance where the observed topic is engine oil; this is because most of us believe just washing and waxing the bike to gleaming glory is all about it. They usually forget the inside part of the carrier. Following are the few tips that will keep the bike’s heart to glory.
Check Oil Regularly: Low Engine Oil levels can cause serious damage to your bike’s engine and it may be a symptom of some significant mechanical problems. So, check your oil levels weekly and always before any long trips. Also always keep a top-up can of oil in the long trip run, which might come in handy any time. Any bike engine will consume oil in due course of time, so you might have to top up with a little fresh oil between oil changes. If left with low oil levels, following are the issues that might creep, Over heating and damage to key components and if levels get critical, everything will eventually grind to a complete halt.
How to Check Oil Level: Park your bike in centre stand. Always check oil level 5 minutes after you parked it. Check the oil level through the glass panel on the side of your engine or on the dipstick if your bike has one. The engine oil level should be close to the maximum, but not above. If it is below the minimum mark, top up with extra oil. Keeping the sum topped up will ensure improved cooling and engine protection.
When to Change Engine Oil? The manufacturer’s bible aka manual will tell you the oil change intervals for your bike. Most often, these recommendations are measured according to “ideal” riding conditions or the distance covered, and in practice you should match the frequency of your oil changes to your riding.
  • Riding conditions that require frequent oil changes
  • Hitting the Rev counters high regularly.
  • Riding in Dusty or humid conditions.
  • Stop-start riding in city traffic conditions will puts a lot stress on the engine that will eventually affect the engine oil.
  • Using poor quality fuel, causes oil contamination and sludge.
Maintenance Tips for a Healthier Engine
  • Keep the oil level close to the ‘max’ (maximum) level – but not over fill it. Never run below the ‘min’ (minimum) mark.
  • More oil in the Tank means higher resistance and improved engine safeguard. [That doesn’t means you need to fill till the brim or neck]. Four strokers ignore this.
  • Don’t be concerned about the engine oil turning black – that means the oil is working well, as it is catching the deposits. But remember do not let the oil turn pitch black that smells which means that the Engine oil is burning inside.
  • If storing your bike away for a long period, e.g. over cold weather, change your oil beforehand and run the engine to circulate it. Oil has powerful anti-corrosion additives which fill the total airspace of the engine, and even protects parts not covered with oil.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation in your handbook with regard to oil quality. But note, often the recommendation is a minimum and does not necessarily refer to the best product available.

Types of Engine Oil

Mineral oil: Mineral oil is one of the N numbers of by-product made from petroleum; mineral oil is extracted from crude oil (petroleum). It is further refined and made in such a way to use it for different purposes such as removing make-up, to remove heavy greasy stuff from face, medicine (such as Vaseline and petroleum Jelly), and used as engine oil. Mineral oil is the one that comes as default recommended one for 90% of the bikes rest 10% or track sports bikes use fully synthetic ones that will be explained later-on.
One should stick to mineral oil till his bike crosses the initial run in period and its best practice to keep using mineral oil, reason behind that is it helps the engine and other components settle down. But if you found the bike engine is rough or have to change mineral oil very frequently then opt for Semi Synthetic Oil. I am using the used mineral engine oil for greasing my home gate, door, grills and etc. and it won’t cause cancer or skin problem if touched. The Mineral Oil’s Can be used for up to 2000 or 2500 kms and also the cost is cheaper in comparison to semi synthetic or synthetic oil
Semi Synthetic Oil: This composition is nothing but 68 to 80 % mineral + rest synthetic. It’s the combination of both synthetic and mineral advantages of both the worlds.
Life is same as mineral oil should be changed after 2000 or 2500 kms and the cost is bit higher than mineral oil.
Fully Synthetic Oil: Synthetic Oil is a lubricant consisting of chemical compounds which are artificially made (synthesized) from compounds other than crude oil (petroleum). The actual cost is triple than that of mineral oil and
Should go good at least for 6000 plus kms.
Recommended to use after initial run-in period is over or after 8,000 kms.
How to select oil for my bike? For 90 % of the Indians this job was handled either by local mechanic or the so called authorized service centers. They select and recommend oil brands according to company recommendation or their preference sometimes based of commission /cost benefit they get whichever is on the higher side. Remember the letter W in the oil grade Example 20W-40. In this example the number before W stands for cold viscosity rating of the oil and number after W is the hot viscosity.
For those who are stranded by the word Viscosity, Viscosity is not Greek or Latin, it’s the measure to find the resistance of the fluid example water low viscosity Honey high viscosity. The 20W-40 grade engine oil behaves like 20 rated single grade oil when in cold, but doesn’t thin any more than 40-rated single grade oil when it reached extreme temperatures. The lower the “cold” number (you can assume that W is for winter), the easier the engine will turn over when starting in cold climates. Following are the common grades of Engine Oil that can be categorized according to the Oil categories.
  • Fully synthetic grade are 0w-30, 0w-40, 5w-40 and so on….
  • Semi synthetic grade are 5w-30, 10w, 40, 15w-40
  • Mineral oils its 10w-40 and 15w-40, 20w-40 etc…
Those who are well versed in oil industry may term this as a simple one because this is not all about engine oil; there is a lot more still. I did simplified a lot because my intension to made it simple and clean so as even a layman can understand it
Reference: Castrol and X-Bhp

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