The ABCs of Buying the Best Gear Oil for Your Car
When searching for the right lubricants for your vehicle, there are loads of factors you need to take into consideration. It's more than simply buying a lube from the QPL of your maintenance manual. It's not about the preferred lubricant brand, operating conditions, or the availability of the product either. Selecting the right lube for your car, specifically its gear oil, with make or break the lubrication system of your automobile. Gear oil specifically serves as lubricant for differentials, transfer cases, and transmissions in trucks, automobiles, and other machinery.
Expectations and Realities
Here's what you should expect when shopping for your vehicle's gear oil.
- Viscosity: The viscosity (film thickness) of your gear oil is often referred to as its most important property. Check with your mechanic or your maintenance manual what's the recommended gear oil viscosity grade for your car so that you'd get optimum thickness between interacting surfaces of your engine at a given load or speed. There should be some sort of OEM recommendation offered by the manual or through info about your car on the Internet.
- Additives: In regards to additives, you should ask about your gear oil's additive package in order to know how your lube can affect key performance properties during operating conditions (that is, as your engine is turned on, off, or goes through different gears). Gear oil in particular can be placed in the categories of compounded, anti-scuff, and R&O.
- Base Oil Type (Synthetic versus Mineral Base): In most applications, high quality mineral base oils perform quite superbly. They're advantageous because of their greater film thickness and higher pressure viscosity coefficients. Meanwhile, synthetic base oils are beneficial to those who require higher resistance to thermal degradation and oxidation or in situations where low ambient temperatures involved.
- Manufacturer Requirements: Now that you know the three main attributes of excellent gear oil products—viscosity, additives, and base oil type—you can now match those specs with your manufacturer's requirements to get the best gear oil for your car, van, SUV, truck, or motorcycle. Many makers don't have specific requirements and only provide suggestions rather than requirements. The guidelines regarding API service rating and viscosity will still help narrow down your search.
- Driving Conditions: What's the driving condition of your vehicle? This is an important factor in choosing the right viscosity for your gear oil. You'll need higher oil viscosity for trucks that tow or haul heavy loads or drive in an environment where warm temperatures are the norm. If your engine is instead going through colder climate conditions or has fewer loads, usage, or passengers to worry about, then you'll need oil that's a bit less viscous than usual. It all depends on the circumstances.
Ask your dealership for more details in regards to the best viscosity grade for your car's lube. Your choice of base oil should be defined by factors such as the operating conditions of your vehicle and the gear type that it's supposed to lube up. Meanwhile, your operating conditions should help determine the best lubricant type you should go for. You should definitely know the hallmarks of good gear oil and what's the best viscosity for it on any given situation or driving condition. Finally, you should gain a good understanding of what makes for an excellent or not-so-excellent product, particularly in terms of lube specs.