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Measuring Lubricant Quality
Home Autos & Trucks Maintenance
By: Vincent Platania Email Article
Word Count: 1788 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


Is there anything in todayís society that isnít measured? We measure opinions, water quality, temperatures, economy, growth, statistics, speed, ageÖ this list can go on and on. Americans love to measure their cars. We measure its speed, power, shine, age, distance traveled, its fuel consumption, even the loudness of their sound systems.

We measure power through units of horsepower, a unit invented by James Watt, the creator of the steam engine. He concluded that the average horse can lift 550 pounds at the rate of one foot per second, which is 745.7 watts.

Our fuel economy is measured by miles per gallon, or mpg. This is measured by the distance a car can travel on one gallon of gas. In countries that use the metric system, this is measured by kilometers per liter. One factor that directly correlates to your mpg is your mph, or miles per hour. Mph is the measure of your speed. This is measured by calculating how many miles you can travel in an hour at a given rate of motion. Like with economy, in metric countries, this is measured by KMH, or kilometers per hour.

Another measure used in the automotive industry is your engineís rotations per minute. This is a very important measurement actually, because a carís engine is designed to perform at its peak at a specific range of rpm's. Also, this is used to calculate shift points and fuel economy. If an engineís rpm's get too high, it can lead to engine failure. Why is this? Because some parts of the engine just werenít designed to operate at those speeds and, also, because of the lack of oil getting to those parts, which is why performance cars need quality oils. As a matter of fact, we have measurements for oils as well.

One of the most basic measurements of oils is the volume it takes up. Usually, oil is sold to the consumer in quarts, which is a quarter of a gallon (32 oz.). But before oil gets to the store shelf, it is sold in much larger quantities.

Crude oil is measured by barrels. A barrel of crude is 42 gallons. This crude oil is then refined and made into different products. The crude oil that is processed into motor oil is then sold as drums, or 55-gallon units. Most automotive service stations, especially lube shops, buy and use the oil out of drums. But the average consumer, who has no need for 55 gallons of oil, usually purchases oil by the quart. But as I mentioned earlier, performance vehicles require high-quality oil. How do we know how good the oil we put in our cars is? Well, we have a measurement for that, too.

To help us better understand what to test for in the quality of motor oil, we need to understand the most important functions of that oil. At a glance, it seems obvious: Motor oil is there to lubricate and cool the engine. How the oil goes about accomplishing that very important duty is more complicated that one may think. Your carís oil is stored in a reservoir called the oil sump, or pan. In that area, a pump resides, where it sucks oil from the reservoir and pushes it through all of your engineís passages that carry lubrication to the internal moving parts. While that oil is lubricating, it is also absorbing heat, cooling your engine. The oil is then cycled back to the sump, where it cools and starts the cycle again. In the early age of motor transportation, motor oil was actually made of the byproducts left over, after the crude oil had been processed into whatever else it could be. The oil was dirty coming off the shelf, compared to todayís standards. The filtration systems were less than adequate, if existent at all, and oil changes were very, very frequent.

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Author Vincent Platania represents the Amsoil. Source of the World's Best Synthetic Lubricants - Motor Oil and Filters Visit

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