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 In this issue of NOLN is an update of the new ILSAC GF-6 gasoline engine oil specification, the new PC-11 diesel engine oil specification and new information on future versions of dexos engine oil for GM applications. These specs will have reduced viscosity, fuel efficient versions that are backward compatible and some that are not. They will all cost more and will make the job of being “the expert” even more challenging.

In the meantime, fuel prices are on the way back up, and a lot of families are getting the family “vacationmobile” ready for the road. Since we do not have the new fuel efficient oils yet, we have to provide customers who are looking for improved fuel efficiency with currently available solutions. The best solutions will offer a true, measurable value to the consumer and the opportunity to increase sales for the service provider. The answer: engine oil additives that reduce the coefficient of friction when added to engine oil, allowing reduced frictional loss in the engine and improving fuel efficiency. With so many products disappearing because of deceptive advertising and other additive products that essentially do nothing, it becomes difficult for the average vehicle owner to know what is real and what is not. When you make a product recommendation that is based on personal knowledge and good research, it assures the customer they will get the value from the top-treat that they expect.

Engine additives are like rock stars; none are the same. All are not created equal, and some are one hit wonders not worthy of mention. Most engine oil additives have a specific performance property they wish to add to the oil. Some are “tackifiers”  (they make the oil thick) that make a multi-viscosity oil a much thicker, fixed-viscosity oil good for worn out engines and hot, heavy-duty operation. Functionally, this kind of product is not good for fuel efficiency. When the weather turns colder, the oil will not pump out of the oil pan. Other oil additives offer little real benefits other than the fact they do no harm and the change interval is extended. Good to know, but it won’t save any fuel. There is a class of engine oil additives designed to reduce internal friction and prolong engine life. One of the side benefits of reduced friction and wear is the potential for reduced fuel consumption.

Products that reduce friction and wear when added to engine oils do so in two ways. One type of additive is designed to adhere to a surface and cover the wear surface with an extremely hard layer that reduces the friction and prevents wear. These treatments tend to be one time treatments and, in general, have come and gone from the marketplace. They do not work with the oil; they use the oil as a mechanism to carry them to the area they are targeted for (bushings, bearings, races, etc.). Then, they are deposited or bonded to the area where wear and friction occur. If this reduces frictional loss, there may be improvement in fuel economy.

The other strategy is an additive package that works synergistically with the engine oil to reduce friction, wear and operating temperature all at the same time. This is accomplished by additives that mix with the oil and perform these additional duties the engine oil was not originally formulated to do. Some of these additives have been reduced in modern oils (ZDDP) and others have been increased or recently introduced to (boron, molybdenum) engine oil additive packages. In addition, there are other new additive technologies based on traditional and non-traditional chemistries that add a new level of performance to existing engine oils.

When you are searching for fuel efficiency for a customer looking to maximize his vacation value, there are alternatives that fill the void until the newer fuel efficient oils become a part of our daily service lives. Do not overlook engine oil additives designed for improved mileage. Some of them are the real deal and do a great deal more than improve fuel efficiency; they make happy customers! 

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