SYNTHETIC ENGINE OILS -- SHOULD YOU BE USING THEM?
FAIRFAX, Va., March 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The millionth Corvette glides off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Ky. In Wilson, N.C., a police officer interrupts his patrol to deal with a traffic accident. A young mother in Los Angeles loads her kids and groceries into the family station wagon for the stop and go trip home. These three scenes have more in common than meets the eye: each car -- the production Corvette, the police cruiser, and the family wagon -- runs on engines lubricated with synthetic motor oil. Synthetic motor oil is something most consumers either aren't aware of or consider a high-tech extra for people with speedy sports cars. There is, however, a growing number of car owners who use synthetic motor oils and think they're worth their weight in gold. To them, synthetics help a car -- any car -- run more smoothly and cleanly. This can add up to a big savings in engine maintenance and a longer life for car engines. The Synthetic Age Is Here "The synthetic oil age is here," says Bill Maxwell, an engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation, which developed the first commercially-sold synthetic engine oil for automobiles. Synthetic lubricants were first developed in the early 1960s to solve a problem plaguing Navy planes. Wheel grease would solidify at high altitudes, then fail when the planes slammed down on the deck of aircraft carriers. Later variations enabled the big diesel engines powering oil rigs on the north slope of Alaska to be started at 40 degrees below zero. Molecules in traditional mineral-oil lubricants are immensely varied in shape and size. The larger molecules tend to clump together and thicken the oil at cold temperatures. The smaller molecules boil off in high temperatures, or attract oxygen and thicken into varnish or glue- like deposits on parts in the engine. This increases oil consumption. The molecules of a synthetic lubricant are "engineered" to be of equal size. Being designed and "built" from basic chemical components, synthetic lubricants are more stable and free-flowing in hot and cold temperature extremes. Undesirable properties that may remain in a conventional mineral oil are excluded. Smaller Cars, Higher Temperatures The performance of these synthetic lubricants under varying and extreme temperatures intrigued automotive research engineers. The reason: though the average family car will not have to start up in minus-forty degree temperatures, the automobile engine creates its own temperature problems. Today's automobile engines run faster and hotter than ever before. Cylinder wall temperatures of a 115-horsepower, four-cylinder vehicle can easily reach 570 degrees Fahrenheit -- more than 300 degrees higher than the temperature of boiling water. Add to that a car's potential workload: stop and start driving, quick highway acceleration, starting up after a cold night -- and you've got extra strain on the oil and, therefore, the engine. Moreover, the auto industry is working on ways to develop smaller, more fuel-economical engines that will run even faster and hotter -- perhaps close to the temperatures of the engines that power jet aircraft. Track Tested, Street Proven Mobil began in 1971 developing a synthetic oil for the consumer market. The product it developed, "Mobil 1," became popular in professional motor racing, such as for Indy 500 cars. Still, the American motoring public remains largely unaware of the benefits of synthetic motor oil, says Maxwell, the Mobil researcher. Maxwell notes that aside from those car owners who change their own oil, which is estimated at 60 percent, most owners don't specify the oil they want for their car when they bring it in for routine maintenance. "Synthetic lubricants are more expensive than conventional petroleum lubricants," says Maxwell. "But I think it's only a matter of time before the average consumer begins to realize the great protection that an extra few dollars buys." Synthetics -- Savings and Benefits Engineers who develop and test synthetics motor oils cite these benefits: Protection. High temperatures can be hard on oil and damage an engine. Synthetics are designed to withstand high temperatures without turning into sludge that can accumulate on engine parts and cause additional wear. With more congestion on the road, more cars are driven in stop-and-go fashion. Under these conditions, oil forms sludge, and sludge can ruin an engine. Wear. Engine parts lubricated with synthetic engine oils typically show less wear. Cold temperature performance. On a very cold day, it may take one to two minutes for a conventional mineral oil to reach moving parts of an engine. The majority of engine wear occurs during this period. Synthetics begin circulating much sooner, thus cutting down on wear and tear on moving parts. -0- 3/30/93 /CONTACT: Don Turk, public affairs of Mobil, 703-849-6558/
CO: Mobil ST: Virginia IN: AUT SU:
SM -- NYAFNS2 -- 0815 03/30/93 07:02 EST
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|Date:||Mar 30, 1993|
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