Internal combustion engines (ICE) create heat. They work through a series of controlled explosions that propel pistons up and down, which in turn move the camshaft, which turns the engine, which then operates the transmission.
However, high heat levels and the possibility of metal-to-metal contact mean that all internal combustion engines need lubrication. This comes in the form of engine oil. Even small, two-stroke engines need oil – it’s just mixed in with the fuel rather than being pumped through the engine separately.
Engine oil must be carefully designed in order to withstand the rigors of the environment inside the engine. Because of this, lubricants engine tests are performed to ensure that different formulations and additives perform as expected. Here’s what you should know about how lubricants are tested for gasoline engines, small engines, marine engines, and diesel engines.
The Governing Bodies
When it comes to lubricants engine tests, there are two governing bodies involved. The first is the International Organization for Standardization, better known to most as ISO. This is the organization behind any ISO standards, such as ISO 3448, which is the standard for industrial oils used in plant machinery.
The other organization is the Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE, and is the organization responsible for setting standards for all engine oils, including those for gasoline and diesel engines. For instance, the standard of automobile engine oils is SAE J300, which applies to all oils formulated for use in an internal combustion engine.
Other tests and standards for automotive engine oil include ASTM International, and the International Lubricants Standardization (ILSAC), which is the organization behind GF-5 and GF-6.
The most common type of testing performed with oil is viscosity testing. And, you’ll find that different oil types are tested at different temperatures. For instance, industrial oil is tested at 40 degrees C, while engine oil is tested at 100 degrees C. The difference is because of how the oils must perform and the conditions they experience in their respective environments.
In addition to viscosity testing, all oils also require testing of additives. For instance, fuel deposit control additives must be tested. Anything added to engine oil must be thoroughly assessed not just for performance, but also for safety in high-heat applications, for its impact on oil life, the production of possibly dangerous byproducts, and more.
Testing is also conducted on other things. For example, oil that will be used in a marine application must be tested for salt resistance. Often, the only thing standing between a working engine and severe corrosion due to salt exposure is a thin layer of oil.
The Need to Purchase Tested Oil
Obviously, engine oil must be tested correctly, and for a myriad of things. However, not all oils on the market have been fully tested, and not all testing companies conduct a full battery of tests. It’s essential to ensure you’re purchasing oil from a manufacturer dedicated to ongoing testing and creating the highest quality product period.