How Does Your Diesel Engine Oil Perform at -13°F?

Monday, September 23, 2019

How Does Your Diesel Engine Oil Perform at -13°F?


The single most important characteristic when selecting a lubricant is viscosity, which is defined as a measure of a fluid’s resistance to flow. With lubricants, there is a need for balance when it comes to viscosity – too viscous (too thick) can create drag and lost efficiency, while too thin can expose the piece of equipment to catastrophic wear.

Viscosity is highly dependent on temperature. Consider a jar of honey. If you were to place the jar of honey in the fridge, it would be tough to pour immediately. You place the jar in a microwave and it flows quickly and easily once it has warmed up. Oil is similar.

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) set requirements for which grades (viscosities) of oil are to be used within specific applications, including operating climate. Prior to multi-viscosity oils, owner-operators would switch from a “summer” weight of oil (higher viscosity) to a “winter” weight (lower viscosity), since oil tends to thicken during cold temperatures and thin out during warmer temperatures. In today’s market, the use of viscosity modifiers, also known as viscosity index improvers, provide equipment owners the ability to use one oil across seasons. Viscosity modifiers lesson the effect of temperature on viscosity – they expand when temperatures increase to provide adequate fluid film, and contract in cold temperatures to provide quicker flow.

It is proven that the most wear in an engine occurs upon start-up. If the oil does not allow the engine to crank, the engine will not start; however, if the engine starts and the oil does not pump, the system can be starved of proper lubrication. There are different components that make up engine oil and affect how well the oil performx in cold temperatures. Base oil selection, the additive package and viscosity modifier technology all have an impact on how the oil will perform, cold or hot. These characteristics also affect how one oil compares to another.

Cold Crank Simulator (CCS) and Mini Rotary Viscometer (MRV) are two common tests for engine oils. The CCS test is temperature controlled and is designed to simulate how the engine will crank with the oil in application. The MRV test is designed to show how the oil will pump from the sump to the engine and the engine galleries. The results you’ll see on a specification sheet describe how the oil performs in a “fresh oil” environment, prior to completing a drain interval. The true representation of performance is in testing the oil after it has “aged.”

United Lubricants has conducted testing on the exceptional performance of United Super Premium Fleet in cold temperatures and has found it flows quickly and easily in temperatures as low as -13°F, even after 35,000 miles. The balanced formulation, including anti-oxidants, a unique detergent-dispersant package, anti-wear components and corrosion inhibitors sustain the quality of United Super Premium Fleet throughout the drain interval. During the cold, winter months, your engine will crank easily, and lubricants will pump quickly throughout the entire engine.

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