High Zinc Motor Oil

High Zinc Motor Oil

The Benefits of High Zinc Motor Oil and the Regular Use of Engine Additives

High zinc motor oil, as in the case of most types of engine oils that use high amounts of additives, can be extremely useful when friction becomes a problem and added strain is placed on the motor. Harsh conditions, high speeds, temperature changes, the need to push the vehicle to its limits, and many other factors may contribute to the necessity for high zinc content. Through a reduction of oxidation and higher resistance to heat, zinc can offer many important advantages that may lead to better overall functioning and a longer life span for your car.

The Pros and Cons of Engine Additives Like Zinc

Before the 1930s, engine oil was simply oil. During this period, engine manufacturers began to add modifiers chosen especially to help deal with wax residue. The advanced synthetic and mineral oils of today, however, have a much higher content of additives and treatments that are designed to improve the performance of the oil, protect engine parts and make the engine oil last much longer. There are typically four different types of additives: substances designed to improve the oil’s viscosity index, those geared towards enhanced engine performance, oil life extending additives and surface protecting additives.

Understanding High Zinc Oil

High zinc motor oil usually refers to street or racing oils that have a higher concentration of zinc and phosphorus-based additives, not zinc alone. Normally used in synthetic oil, compounds like zinc di-thiophosphate (ZDTP) have been used as anti-wear additives for many years. Many similar additives are also used in conventional motor oil, in order to enhance lubrication qualities with the help of ingredients such as molybdenum and boron.

The Advantages of Using Oil with High Zinc Content

Despite the fact that boron-based additives have come to rival some zinc motor oil additives since the limitations imposed by API on zinc and phosphorus usage, the latter are still the best when it comes to dry start protection and a host of other advantages. Zinc and phosphorus are added mainly to improve surface protection, having the important role of protecting major engine components from wear and oxidation, and removing the likelihood of solid deposits. Zinc is also known to offer extreme pressure protection, and to protect components made from ferrous materials from corrosion. As the oil thickens as a result of extreme heat, it gradually thickens, forming deposits of varnish which prevent oxidation from even occurring.

Zinc and Older Engines

Most engine manufacturers have a minimum requirement of 1,200 parts per million of zinc when it comes to the engine oil you use. In fact, some will go so far as to void your warranty, if that amount isn’t found on oil samples taken from broken engine components. When it comes to older engines and classic cars, high zinc content is a must, and some oil manufacturers even sell special engine oil that comes with elevated ZDTP or ZDDP (Zinc Dialkyl Dithiophosphates) content. ILSAC multi-viscosity oils that are rated SM even feature special additives used for older engines that experts recommend for use in older engines.

Racing Oil vs. Street Oil

High zinc motor oil designed for racing vehicles is typically used to prevent wear in conditions of extreme strain. During racing competitions, when the car is pushed to its limits with regards to performance, it is essential for its engine components to hold and its metallic parts to be as well-protected as possible. Because of this, zinc is used along with sulfur and phosphorus in a variety of high end racing oils, such as ZDDP. Regular street engine oils also contain anti-wear additives, but in lower concentrations, because of API restrictions. Originally, these restrictions only referred to phosphorus, but they gradually extended to other additives, which put an end to the “high zinc era” of the 1970s and ‘80s. Since phosphorus levels today are required to be between 0.065 and 0.085%, the zinc present in the high zinc motor oil of today can be affected, despite there being no actual limitations pertaining to the quantity of zinc in passenger car engine oils.

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Last updated February 12, 2021