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 Modern engines, particularly those equipped with performance-enhancing technologies like direct fuel injection and turbochargers, generate increased heat compared to their predecessors. At elevated temperatures, such as during severe service or when driving in hot summer weather, the oil’s lighter-weight molecules can volatilize, or literally “boil off.” The more volatile a lubricant is, the lower the temperature at which the lubricant will begin to evaporate. The more it evaporates, the less oil is left to protect equipment and the faster a user must replace the lost oil. You may have experienced this phenomenon by owning an automobile that “uses” motor oil in irregular intervals.

 Volatility affects more than the rate of oil consumption. When light elements in oil evaporate from heat, the oil’s viscosity increases. This thicker oil forces the engine to work harder, resulting in several problems, including the following:

• Reduced performance
• Reduced fuel economy
• Poor cold-temperature starting
• Increased engine deposits
• Out-of-balance oil formulation, potentially leading to a higher concentration of additives than designed

The most common method used in measuring oil volatility is the NOACK Volatility Test (ASTM D 5800). But that hasn’t always been the case. Originally developed and used in Europe, the NOACK test was not commonly used for lubricants until AMSOIL President and CEO Al Amatuzio pioneered its use for automotive motor oils in 1985. Previously, a lubricant’s flash point was the primary way to approximate an oil’s volatility. The NOACK test reports the percentage of an oil’s weight lost due to evaporation. Lower values equal better performance in the test. 

When AMSOIL began using the test, it was common for competitors’ conventional oils to demonstrate a volatility loss in the 17-25 percent range. In contrast, the volatility loss of AMSOIL synthetic motor oil was often less than half that.

Currently, API SN and ILSAC GF-5 performance classifications require weight lost due to volatility to be no greater than 15 percent for all viscosity grades of motor oil. General Motors’ proprietary dexos1 motor oil specification is more stringent, requiring no greater than 12 percent weight lost.

AMSOIL synthetic motor oils are more stable and heat-resistant than conventional oils. They resist volatility to resist deposits and oil thickening, maximizing fuel economy and engine performance and life.


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All trademarks are the property of their respective owners and may be registered marks in some countries. There is no affiliation or endorsement claim, express or implied, made by their use. AMSOIL products are formulated to meet or exceed the performance requirements set forth by the manufacturers of all applications shown here.
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