ENGINE OIL VOLUME LOSS IS NORMAL…WHAT CAUSES IT?
All internal combustion engines, regardless of fuel type and design allow a certain degree of oil loss as it goes through normal operation. Engine parts and components have running clearances that allow them to move and function. Piston and valve assemblies are never gas-tight or oil-tight – they need to be able to move freely for proper combustion to produce power. Therefore, it is normal for some of the lubrication to slip into the chambers and burn off as the engine runs.
Different manufacturers have different acceptable amounts of oil loss between oil changes. But generally, a passenger car engine that has less than 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers) on it should not lose more than a quart (approximately 1 liter) after running 3,000 miles (about 5,000 kilometers). As an engine gets older and runs further, oil consumption is expected to increase as well because the clearances widen due to wear and tear and allow more oil to slip through and burn off. Also, diesel engines consume more engine oil than gasoline engines and those with turbochargers are even higher still.
Motorcycle engines which have higher RPM’s and running temperature and small oil sumps are particularly vulnerable to high volume of oil loss. The habit of many small bike and scooter enthusiasts to modify their engines and tweak their fuel systems to produce more horsepower also increase the rate of burn off of engine oils.
Aside from burn-off, another way for excessive oil loss to occur is through leaks. Worn seals and gaskets, loose filler caps, ill-fitting oil filters and drain plugs are the common areas to check for leaks. The older an engine gets the more likely that leaks develop.
Evaporation can also be a factor as different engine oil formulations have different volatility characteristics. A standard test for volatility is the ASTM D5800 (NOACK Method) which measures the amount of oil that evaporates after being subjected to 250 degrees C (482 degrees F) for 1 hour. Normal engines run at 195 to 220 degrees F so this test is extreme and designed to simulate abnormally high temperatures. The volatility rating is a percentage of oil loss after the test.
Engine oils have corresponding standards depending on their performance ratings. Pertua Exello diesel engine oil which meets API CJ-4 standard has a 5.9% loss rating (versus a maximum allowable of 13%). Pertua Apex gasoline engine oil which is compatible with API SN has a 7.3% loss rating (versus a similar maximum allowable of 15%). Pertua Powertec motorcycle engine oil which has an API SL rating had only 3.6% loss rating (versus a maximum allowable of 15%). Using quality engine oils like those found in the Pertua range assures you of formulations that are enduring and less volatile under extreme operating temperatures.
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