What Are the Ingredients in Motor Oil?

by Beverley Burgess Bell

Car engines need motor oil to lubricate the different parts and to keep them running smoothly and without excessive friction. Engines are made up of parts that move rapidly when the car is in motion. This means that friction is inevitable, however, motor oil minimizes the damage that these moving parts cause when they grind against each other. Motor oil also cools the engine and prevents rust from forming.

Base Oil

Motor oil is used for lubricating the parts of a car engine.

One of the ingredients in motor oil is base oil, which is refined from crude oil. During this process, compounds such as wax, sulphur and nitrogen are removed and unsaturated hydrocarbons are extracted or changed so that they become more stable. The base oil lubricates and protects the engine against the friction caused by the different parts grinding against each other.

Other Additives

Detergents are added to motor oil to keep the engine clean. These detergents hold contaminated particles in a suspension, thus preventing the engine from getting clogged up. Rust and corrosion inhibitors are chemical compounds that protect the engine. Other additives include antioxidants that inhibit the oil from becoming thick and full of sludge and compounds to coat the metals and to help the motor oil flow smoothly.

Synthetic Oil Ingredients

Synthetic motor oil is made from petroleum that has been chemically modified. Other compounds such as polyalphaolefins are added to the synthetic oil in order to improve overall performance. Manufacturers, however, have other proprietary additives that are not disclosed. Synthetic oils can be used alone or in conjunction with conventional motor oils.

About the Author

Beverley Burgess Bell has been a professional freelance writer since 1986. She has worked for Medigram, a medical poster and Rodar Publications. She also was editor of "Epilepsy," Canada's national newsletter and wrote for various publications including "Future Health." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Concordia University in Montreal.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Cars and Parking Meters image by Towards Ithaca from Fotolia.com