Viscosity and cold start temperature

Many people worried and freak out about cold start temperature.
Here is a guide...

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The new GF-5 motor oil specification

The GF-5, created by the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC), is scheduled to take effect in the summer of 2009 and will be the factory fill for 2010 model-year engines. GF-5 motor oils will be the most technologically advanced motor oil, exceeding the current GF-4 category in a number of important performance areas.

Some improvement many automakers like to see:
  • fuel economy and fuel economy retention throughout the oil drain;
  • emission-control systems protection; and
  • increased sludge, deposit and oxidation control.

Also, low-temperature viscosity, high- and low-temperature corrosion, turbocharger protection and filter clogging protection.

Aeration control, the reduction of tiny air bubbles, is a renewed concern because modern engines demand that oil serve as a hydraulic fluid in cam phaser devices, variable valve actuators, timing chain tensioners and hydraulic lash adjusters that allow for variable valve timing. These increased demands cause engine oils to be stressed more than ever before.
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The " API Donut "

The symbols give you three pieces of information.

API (American Petroleum Institute) Service Rating - this two letter classification identifies the vehicle fuel type and quality level of the motor oil. The first letter indicates the vehicle fuel type that the oil is designed for. Ratings that begin with an "S" are intended for gasoline engines. Ratings that begin with a "C" are for diesel engines.
The second letter designates the quality level of the motor oil. The higher the letter, the more advanced the oil and the more protection it offers your engine. An SJ oil can be used in any engine requiring an SB, SG, SH, etc. oil.

The latest service category rating for gasoline engines is "SM", introduced in November 2004 for 2005 and newer engines. SM-rated oils, also previous "SL" (2001) and "SJ" (1997) ratings, are backwards compatible and can be safely used in older engines. Older obsolete service classifications (SH, SG, SF, etc.) may not meet OEM lubrication requirements for newer engines. Likewise, API SL oils should not be used in 2005 and later vehicles, and SJ oils should not be used in 2001 and newer vehicles.

For diesel engines, API has a separate rating system. The current category is "CI-4" (introduced in 2002 for newer diesels that have exhaust gas recirculation). The previous CH-4 (1998), CG-4 (1995), and CF-4 (1990), can all be used in older four-stroke diesel engines. CF-2 (1994) is the API classification for two-stroke diesels.

API also gives oils an "Energy Conserving" rating if the oil meets certain criteria for reducing friction and oil consumption, and improving fuel economy. The API Certification Mark "Starburst" is designed to identify engine oils recommended for a specific application (such as gasoline service). An oil may be licensed to display the Starburst only if the oil satisfies the most current requirements of the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) minimum performance standard for this application (currently GF-4 for passenger cars). Many automobile manufacturers recommend oils that carry the API Certification Mark.

Motor oils that meet the current API SM rating may also meet the new International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) "GF-4" specifications, which some European and Asian auto makers require.
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Low ash and ashless additive in motor oil

Low Ash type detergent/dispersants are used in most motoroil including the 2-strokes.

These detergents are manufactured from compounds of Calcium and Magnesium (heavy metals). After these compounds (Calcium Phenate or Magnesium Phenate) do their job, they burn away, forming a heavy metal salt (ash) that is swept away during the normal combustion process. Hence, this is where the name Ash-type detergent comes from.

As antiwear agent: The added Zinc compounds (Zinc Dithiophoshate) flow in with the oil and are not much used unless the base oil breaks down. If the base oil breaks down, they form a protective barrier between the moving parts (usually piston skirts and cylinder walls).

Some manufacturers are using a combination of detergent types (Ashless and Low Ash) to provide a broader range of uses for their oil and extend oil drain.
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But what is 2-stroke engine oil?

Two-stroke motor oil, why is so different from the normal (4-stroke) motor oil?

2-stroke motor oils, like most other engine and gear lubricants, are composed of base oil plus an additive package. The additive package can be as simple (only one or two components) or as complex (multiple components), depending on the requirements of the oil.

The motor oils would not different with any of the normal motor oils. In base stocks compose from 50% to 95% of the total weight of the 2-stroke engine oil. And, they also can be synthetic and petroleum based.

BUT, in the additive part of motor oil, in addition to what usually found: dispersants, antiwear, detergent etc., they stress on low ash or ashless compound. As you might know the 2-stroke oils are burned away in the combustion process, ideally no residual must remain after each firing. The residue is undesired if remain as built-up on plug, stick on piston rings and will eventually clog exhaust port. They are added in in proportion with fuel during burning. these compounds are complex and heavily effect the price of 2-stroke oils.

The two types of detergents/dispersants most commonly used in 2-stoke oil formations are Ashless and Low Ash. Medium Ash and High Ash detergents are not used in 2-stoke oils. Ashless detergents are normally used in low temperature applications and work well in engines where an excess of cooling capacity is available and power valves are not used. The formulation was later changed to a low ash type detergent because of the higher temperatures generated by engines.

These oils are designed for air-cooled high performance engines that operate under severe load/temperature conditions. Low Ash detergents can keep the deposits to a minimum at ring land temperatures as high as 400 degF.

When 2-stroke oil is kept in its temperature limits, it provides an adequate protective film between all moving parts. When that maximum temperature is exceeded, the oil film breaks down and usually seizure occurs unless another line of defense is added to the oil mixture. These are the Antiwear agents.
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Not all oils and lubricants are the same

There are many kinds and type of lubricants. Each serves its primarily functions and has own characteristics:
  • Engine oil (car, aviation etc) for lubricating the whole engine and serve lesser in the uppper combustion chamber. Oiling the piston rings, cylinders, valve gear, bearings; cool piston; prevent deposition on metal surfaces
  • Gear oil for preventing metal contact and wear of spur gears, hypoid gears, worm gears; cool gear cases
  • Torque converter fluid for lubrication, transmit power
  • Hydraulic brake fluid for transmitting power
  • Refrigerator oils for lubricating compressor pump
  • Steam-turbine oil for lubricating reduction gearing, cool
  • Steam cylinder oil for lubrication in presence of steam at high temperatures
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I just bought a 10w-50 motor oil!

When selecting oil for automobile engine and with keeping in mind that a good engine oil grade should be able to:
a) Flow and lubricate during cold start, in the form of liquid that flows easily at low or lowest temperature
b) Withstand highest heat and stress in engine, at hottest possible temperature without thining out (when engine oil lost its lubracating capability)

In general, the synthetic multigrade oil is the chosen one. And, why motor oil for racing use is monograde or monograde?

Theoretically, supposely ideal motor oils should have the lowest 'winter number' (a) and highest upper number (b), i.e: (a)w - (b). The oil grade that extend from 0w-60 or 10w-50, compares to what usually available like 10w-30, 15w-40 or 20w-40.

But, why so people says it is better to get a 10w-30 or 20w-40 is better than 10w-50 instead?
The reason: For oils at the same par, the 'working' range for a 10w-50 is far more than a 10w-30 or 20w-40.
A 10w-50 ranges from 10 to 50, 50-10=40;
A 15w-40 ranges from 15 to 40, 40-15=25; and
A 20w-40 ranges from 20 to 40, 40-20=20.

As you might aware, to extend the capability (viscosity index) of a motor oil to behave like a funtional oil additives like VII (viscosity index improver) and pour-point enhancer are added to based-stock. These enable manipulation of its chracteristics, also means the more the range in grade the more additives are added.

One of the shortcoming is the more the content of additive the less stable the oil compares to its monograde counterpart or based-stock. Why? The additives tend to disintegrate by shear, stress and intense heat.

I am NOT saying any oil that has wider grade range is inferior, in fact they are the greatest choice as all season motor oil, a SAFE BET. To generalise, most 10w-50 oil are among the high specification oil mostly only achievable by synthetic oil and alot of high tech R&D was done to accomplished it.

But they might be a bit costly for the extra (patented aka expensive additives) and that you can get from narrow if you know what your environment temperature, also the working temperature and load or your car engine. Possibly, you only be needing 10w-30 oil for your car or may be a 20w-40.
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What is in your motor oil?

In today modern multigrade blend or typical engine oil, there are two major components:
(1) based oil stock - the petroleum or hydrocarbon (ester and/or synthesized compound for full synthetic)
(2) additives - the mostly synthetic parts

So, what are the additive and what they do?

Additive - function
Antiwear - reduce friction and wear
Extreme pressure agent - prevent stress related scoring and seizure
Corrosion inhibitor - prevent rusting
Detergent - keep surfaces free of deposits
Dispersant - keep deposits in suspension
Friction modifier - alter frictional properties
Pour point depressant - allow oil flow when cold
Seal swell agent - ensure seals do not leak
Viscousity index improver -promote viscosity stability
Antifoam - reduce foaming
Antioxidant - reduce oxidation of oil
Metal deactivator - retard catalytic oil oxidation

These components or partial of them are also found the on the shelf Engine Oil Additive
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Racing Motor Oil

The oil used for racing engine, so will it be suitable for my car?
Theoretically, yes. Since the oil can endures the abuse in racing engine, it should be the best engine oil ever!

But, there is some pros and cons to that. Motor oils used in racing have the capability to lubricate the metlting hot metal with thin oil film to minimize friction while maintaining viscosity. Viscosity Index Improver (VII) or Very High Viscosity Index (VHVI) Improver are added to achived that, somes claim with only the based stock!

One obvious component lack in racing motor oil for the engine is detergent. In high stress-heat-pressure engine, the detergent agent will get burn or detonation. In many cases, this material is avoided. Please bare in mind the F1 team change engine oil after completing each round. Without the detergent, our road legal car will not last, not if you are changing the oil every 1000km.
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Motor Oil: Overfilled and underfilled

Most people know it is bad to use your vehicle on underfilled motor oil condition. Still, there is tendency to find out how low that is still 'safe' to use the vehicle in underfilled condition.

In contrast, curiousity also arouse: what if we overfilled the engine.

Underfilled: Bad
Not enough lubrication and circulation of heat.

Overfilled: also Bad
Why? The engine will have to work extra 'hypertension' to distribute oil 'our blood' to the whole engine, the engine will feels heavier and generate extra heat. Another factor you must avoid is theoverfilled engine will caused foaming. The submerged crackase stir oil in the engine and caused foaming (volatile with alot of air bubbles) within the oil, thus the engine will be distributing air bubbles instead of oil. (For human: air bubbles in blood vessel is fatal).

Remember to use the engines if only you they are filled with at least 25% above the dipstick!
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Oil Cooler

Oil not only lubricate but the also carry heat, hotter oil means hotter machine and that decrease its lubricating effect thus lower engine performance. Oil coolers are used in many gasoline engine and diesel engines and as well as in gearbox (tranmission). It helps to lower the oil temperature to a relative cooler, normally is air cooled from the air flowing across an automobile.

Remember: Oil not only lubricate but also needed to cool and disperse heat away from engine parts, i.e. bearings and high-rev components.
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Clean your engine inside out

For many reasons and whatever reasons, many car owner want to clean the internal engine, flushing out residual oil along with decade-old deposit. Many techniques, tools and chemicals are used to get rid of the dirt in your engine.

After some research and googling, I conclude that...

1. Chemical flushing is very dangerous to your engine. Not all engine and material in the engine are universal, some chemicals may harm your engine parts, i.e the gaskets, rubber parts, seals. Remember that the materials that made up your engine parts vary and might react to the chemical cleaner as most are meant to INTENSIVELY flushing out carbon. Ironicly, some materials in engine are made of carbon (your fuel line etc) ... might be harmful and be corroded.

2. Alternative to that, some use double draining technique by draining the engine twice. At the second drain, to use cheap engine oil/ oil filter for the in between period. I would say is OKAY but make sure it comes from reputable sources. You don't want your car engine oil turns 'puding', the cheap engine oil might not be engine oil after all - fake/recycled.

3. Recommendation.... (not liable on me, just a suggestion) use engine oil for diesel engine for cleaning. Why? The engine oil for diesel engine has more additive (detergent) coz diesel engine makes more deposit. Drain this oil after running your engine for awhile, some claim for several to ten of kilometers. I EMPHASISE is ENGINE OIL FOR DIESEL ENGINE not DIESEL!
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5w40, 10w40, 10w50 and ...

Is the SAE rating for multigrade oil. Nothing to worry about, and you don't even need to know what the SAE means.

A 5w40 motor oil is thinner compares to a 10w40 motor oil in same low temperature conditions - because the "W" number is lower.
So, the "W" shows better cold weather performance, the 5w flows better than a 10w, simply just consider the "W" stands for 'winter'. It's a relative number to indicate how easily it will allow an engine to "turn over" at low temperatures instead of viscosity reference.

As for the final number, says 10w40 and 10w50. So, what the 40 and 50 mean?

The final number is based upon the kinematic viscosity at 100 Centigrade. Is a rating, how a monograde '40' and a monograde oil '50' behave at tempreature 100 Centigrade.

As you know solid-liquid get thinner when temperature increases. So, the engine oil will eventually 'thin-out' as the engine get hotter. When then oit get thiner to very thin liquid and finally almost as thin as water and the extreme end would be the oil turns gaseous - the oil will loose its 'lubrication' properties (no more behave like engine oil). In simpler words, a 10w50 performs better than 10w40 in hotter temperature.

A small note from Mercedes-Benz Approved Engine Oils for the Latest Engines that might interest you: 5W-30 oil viscosity is not approved for use in all AMG engines thus I don't think any turbo engine or high stress-strained engine should be using 5W-30, must at least use 5W-40 or above.

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What and which engine oil for your car

You should consider what type of motor oil should go into your car. Motor oils are designated by relative weight, which translates to how thick they are and how much heat can they take before breaking down completely. Cars driven in the winter may require a "10w 30" weight oil which won't turn to a thick syrup in the cold. A small car driven in the hot Asia summers might use a "5w 20" weight to avoid overheating. Every car's needs are different, so ask the attendant to select the best weight motor oil for your particular engine. Sometimes it's the same all year round, but in other circumstances it may have to change with the seasons.

If you're planning on taking a long car trip or really want to keep your car in prime running condition, you may want to consider the more advanced oil change options. A basic oil change at a local shop may cover the cost of the oil, a disposal fee and a quick inspection of the car's other fluids and hoses. The next step up may include lubrication of the chassis, tire inspection, topping off other fluids and a more thorough belt inspection. Deluxe oil change services vary from venue to venue, so be sure to ask the manager or attendant about what to expect in return for the higher charges.

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Cocktailed engine oil

I know you like cocktails or you admire the bartender. But why you don't simply mix engine oils? WHAT IF?

One of the early synthetics used was a Polyalkylene Glycol. This was totally incompatable and would gel when mixed. This has not been used for years for automotive lubrication. All common syntetics used forengine lubrication now days are a Polyalphaolefin (Mobil 1) or a Dibasic Organic Ester type (AMSOIL). These are fully compatable with conventional oils. In fact Golden Spectro and AGIP Sint 2000 are mixtures of mineral and synthetic oils. It is always best to mix oils with the same rating (SG). This insures that the additive packages are compatable and will maintain their effectiveness.
... Robyn Landers (

A snippet from Mercedes-Benz User Manual: Approved engine oils (synthetic/ mineral) may be mixed. However, we only recommend mixing engine oils of the same quality grade and SAE class.
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Ester based synthetic oil

While some synthetic motor oil use hydrocarbon (PAO) as their base material, Organic based ester (base stock) for its motor oil inherents high quality characteristics has proven to be the highest quality base material for synthetic oil used even by aeroplanes.

One of the organic ester based synthetic oil is Chemlube Chemlube synthetic oil remains committed to the use of organic ester although costs are about 40% more expensive than PAO or hydrocarbon synthetic oil.

Conventional 100% Synthetic super-multigrade lubricant (5W40, 5W50, 10W60...) use VII (Viscosity index improver) to boost their viscosity. These viscosity additive tend to loose efficiency and shear when submitted to extreme conditions. As motor oil use ester for its base material, it benefit from the natural viscosity of synthetic ester thus they need very little of such additives or none.

Esters are very stable at extremely high temperatures and are used almost exclusively in jet engines.

Superior benefits of organic ester are:
Natural Affinity to stay on metal surfaces providing a thin protective film to eliminate dry start-up engine wear which means easier morning starts and smoother engine operations.

Very High Viscosity Index indicate a low viscosity change. By employing Ester as the base for synthetic oil, it changes the conventional concept of synthetic oil. Ester are polar molecules that have the ability to electro-chemically bond with metals, so as to maintain a continuous lubricant film at high or low temperature (the element found in oil additive or as aditive in engine oil). This in turn provided a better resistance to thinning at high temperatures and thickening at low temperature.

Outstanding Film Strength so it takes a lot longer for the oil to drain completely off the bearings and into your oil sump. This prolongs engine life and increase engine efficiency.

Strong Detergent Characteristic - inhibits rust and corrosion but minimizes spark plug fouling and carbon, gum and sludge deposits. Ester itself is a natural detergent, it adheres naturally to motor parts which dissolves and suspending harmful sludge, varnish and carbon deposits which keep engines and lubrication ports cleaner and in top performing shape.
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Compound oil - the modern oil

Compound oil or mixture of oils were subsequently available and have gigantic roles on today motor or engine oil.

-And, the discovery was an accident!
It took place in 1877, at Crossley Works in Manchester. An operator who was cleaning a gas engine that jammed by combustion deposit solidification each night. He mistakenly filled up the engine with colza lamp oil instead of cylinder lubricator. As a result the engine free to turn the next morning.

The significance of this was soon realized and oil companies by experiments cleaning behavior could be obtained through adding roughly 10% of vegetable or animal oils to archive the cleaning effect in engine. Blended oils also had lower coefficient of friction than mineral oils thus making suitable for bearing to run at higher speeds.

Exclusively, the blended oils were for racing car engine. Gradually they spread into private car arena as blended oils formed smaller amounts and softer deposit making cleaning easier, decoking also less frequent.
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Motor Oil Viscosity

How thick is the oil or how it resists flowing?

-1000 grains of oil to flow through a small orifice in the testing apparatus at each temperature.

-The �standard� set for oil from sperm whale was 100 at 70oF

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History of lubrication

Lubrications started when there were needs to:
-The need to separate rubbing metal surfaces to prevent overheating, rapid wear and seizure
-First internal combustion engine lubrication was based on many years of steam engine experience.

Do you know?
During the steam engine era, the engines utilized animal and vegetable oil to lubricate but were found unsuitable as they decomposed into organic acids when heated. Latter, mineral oils substitute in �locomoting� the cylinder bores and animal/vegetable only used for bearing lubrication. Basicly, during that era, anything in the forms of slippery liquid or slimy material were used to lubricate. No research or thinking is put into lubrication.

The era after 1910s
The engines prior to that were revving like the arm in the clock, which were countable with bare eyes. Engine oil was never emphasized as recent era when the tachometers in our era showing the values in multiplier of x1000 rpm! In these last decades, motor oil is critical in so many ways:
-Performance oil
-Racing oil

Today car demand powerful yet efficient engines increase stress translate to higher temperature and outrageous reving.

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What engine oil the F1 car use?

The drivers may be the stars of the show, but Formula 1 is a highly complex sport in which success depends on the team, chassis, engine and driver all working in harmony to deliver the last thousandths of a second of performance. Here we take a look at the �anatomy� of the Castrol-backed BMW WilliamsF1 Team, deconstructing each of the elements that go into making it one of the most successful squads in the history of the sport.

BMW WilliamsF1 Team - Castrol
Ferrari - Shell ... I suppose

Just because we see F1 cars run so well, we are eager to find out the type and brand of oil that we could use for our own car.
Which is the best motor oil? What weight is the best for a modified car or highly tuned car?

Which oil should I use to:
-reduce fuel consumption
-increase milelage
-make engine more quiet
-accelerate faster
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Viscosity, oil grades, the SAE, API etc

Viscosity is the thickness of oil, it also shows how easy the oil to flow and to behave and misbehave like OIL. There where the SAE rating come in.

API Certified
The API Starburst identifies engine oils recommended for a certain application, such as "For Gasoline Engines." To carry this symbol on the container, the oil must satisfy the most current requirements of the International Lubrication Standardization and Approval Committee minimum performance standard for that application.

Service Ratings
The service rating indicates that oil's performance properties, such as its ability to deal with extremes of heat, to minimize harmful deposits or contribute to reduced oil consumption.

The ratings are expressed as a pair of letters:
- gasoline engines the first letter is "S" for spark. Also, "C" for Diesel 's compression.
- The second letter�beginning with "A" ...till the current classification, "M," indicates the performance rating.

Petrol Engine

Diesel Engine
CF (CF4)

It is significant to remember that each succeeding, or higher, performance rating includes all the capabilities of all those that have gone before it. Therefore, the current rating, "M," will work for any automobile (petrol) engine on the road.

Performance Ratings
The following Category/Status/Service list indicates the performance ratings:
SM � Current � For all automotive engines presently in use.
SL, SJ � Current � For 2004, 2001 and older automotive engines.
SH, SG, SF, SE, SD, SC, SB, SA � Obsolete � For 1993 and older engines.

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FAQ on Synthetic Oils

Why goes synthetic?
To be short. Well, Synthetic oil is more uniform in molecular structure. The purity is far more better as this is synthesize in labs. If you remember high school chemistry, mineral oil is a cocktail (mixture) of hydrocarbon. The synthetics claim " ...Special synthetic base stock blend and advanced additive package provides up to four times the wear protection of other motor oils. Reduces friction for quicker engine response and increased horsepower. Improves fuel efficiency ... ".

Conventional oils come from crude oil that is pumped from the ground. Crude oil is made up of a complex mixture of molecules that form chains and rings of different sizes and shapes. Long chains of carbon atoms produce a thick, viscous fluid that flows slowly. Shorter chains produce fluid that flows more readily. In an oil refinery, crude oil is separated into various fractions, into lubricating oils and fuels. Even so, small amounts of contaminants, such as sulfur and reactive hydrocarbons, cannot be completely removed from petroleum, and may end up in motor oil base stocks. All motor oils are made up of base oils and additives. In general, fully synthetic motor oils contain non-conventional, high-performance fluids. Synthetic blends usually use some non-conventional, high-performance fluids in combination with conventional oil ...

The chronology:
1930's � Primarily used by the military. Synthetic lubricants helped keep oil from freezing in army tanks during World War II winters.
1950's � Jet engines appeared and synthetics really took off. Speeds, temperatures and altitudes increased. Synthetics met the challenge.
1970's � Performance in race cars continued to show the benefits over conventional oils. Synthetic motor oil debuted in passenger cars.
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Oil Additive: Why and Why not?

Chemical (synthetic or mineral based) additives engineered into a motor oil by highly skilled chemists, scientists and lubrication engineers. But why we or some still go for the extra miles to get ADDITIVES?

The PRO: The same reason we take mineral/ vitamin suppliments daily.
The CON: Will this extra elements react adversely to the existing chemicals with the engine oil? There are many questions more to the answers.

The Additives act as:
1. friction modifier
2. polarised effects
3. .. lists go on
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