What is engine oil used for?
Engine oil is often described as the lifeblood of the engine. Indeed, without this lubricant, the engine would suffer serious damage and would quickly stall. The oil acts as a protective film for moving metal components, preventing them from overheating and coming loose at a rapid rate due to increased friction. It also has cleaning properties, as it captures contaminants such as dust and debris and drives them out of the engine and through the oil filter. This, along with its anti-corrosive properties, is essential for maintaining a healthy engine.
However, it is important to note that using the wrong product for your vehicle could also have serious consequences. This is largely due to the range of viscosities required for different operating conditions. Signs that the wrong oil has been used include cold weather starting problems, increased fuel consumption and leaks. That’s why it’s important to check the requirements and recommendations for your motorcycle in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
How often should I change my motorcycle’s engine oil?
Motor oil is not made to last forever. Over time, it begins to degrade due to the buildup of combustion and heat deposits. It can also deteriorate just by sitting in the engine, as all engine oils have an expiration date. The lubricant change interval generally depends on the type of oil and the environment. The general recommendation for mineral-based lubricants is to change them at least once every 2,000 miles or twice a year. Synthetic products, however, normally last much longer. Experts recommend changing semi-synthetic oil every 5,000 to 6,000 miles and full synthetic oil every 7,000 to 10,000 miles.
Things to consider when choosing engine oil
First thing to do: Before making a purchase, check your motorcycle manual to make sure the oil matches the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. You should be able to find information on the recommended viscosity, grade, and type of lubricant for your bike make and model.
Quality and manufacturing
Not all products are created equal. It is safest to choose products from a recognized brand that meets OE requirements and API or ACEA standards. The price ranges are very wide as there are many different formulas and additives available in the market. Popular motorcycle oil brands of different price segments include Castrol, Chempioil. Motul and FANFARO, for example.
The type of oil
Conventional mineral oil is often the cheapest option and is better suited to older engines. These products are refined from crude oil. Additives are added during production to improve the viscosity of the natural lubricant. Compared to synthetic blends, they are less refined and therefore break down faster and are more susceptible to oxidization. Synthetic products generally offer better protection. They last longer and are designed to flow better at lower temperatures while being more resistant to higher temperatures. Fully synthetic lubes are generally much more expensive, but semi-synthetic blends are a cost-effective alternative.
For example, FANFARO offers a very reasonably priced blend containing a synthetic ester called M-4T PLUS, designed for 4-stroke engines that operate under extreme loads. High performance inhibitors and additives ensure high corrosion resistance and maximum wear protection. The MOTO 4T ULTRA 20W-40 from Chempioil is another similar syntheticproviding better oxidation stability and a high coefficient of traction for friction components.
On the labels of most products, you will see two viscosity grades indicating the resistance of the fluid to flow at low and high temperatures. For example, “MOTO 4T ULTRA 20W–40″.
In this example, “20 W” indicates the viscosity of the oil at cold temperatures (W = winter) and “40” is the degree of viscosity at warmer operating temperatures. The lower the number, the easier the liquid will flow. Thinner lubricants provide better protection in cold environments, while higher viscosity oils are better suited for high operating temperatures.