Most lubricant manufacturers make a small number of automotive products, maybe three motor oils, two gear oils, a grease, and an ATF. All applications have to fit one of these universal products. Unfortunately, the automotive world is not quite so simple. And even if one of these compromise products works, perhaps a product formulated with the intended application in mind might provide a few percent better power, efficiency, or lap times.
Red Line Synthetic Oil Corporation has the most complete line of automotive lubricants available. Red Line realizes that reducing friction is necessary in a rear differential, but that friction is actually necessary in a transmission so that synchronization may occur. No lubricant can do a perfect job for both. The same is true for engines. Reducing friction is a goal of engine lubricants, but the detergents used in most motor oils compete with the friction reducers for the metal surface. So if you want the lowest friction, use an oil formulated for the lowest friction. Red Line manufactures Racing Oils which contain few detergents, so no compromise has to be made.
First we will discuss motor oils. Most motor oils are designed to lubricate three test engines - a Ford 4-cylinder, an Oldsmobile V-6, and single cylinder Caterpillar diesel. Oil formulations are optimized to adequately lubricate these engines, but not so well that a lot of money is left on the table - the motor oil shelves are very cost competitive. These oils will adequately lubricate most automotive engines, even many high-performance engines, because the manufacturers know that the highway patrol will catch you before high-speed operation can cause significant damage.
Now take these products to the track and all bets are off! Try an endurance race with the 5W30 oil that the manufacturer recommends. Well, maybe before you try it you ought to take a survey of engineers who work for the auto manufacturers to find out if any of them would even use these "Fuel Economy" oils for their own passenger car during the summer.
Red Line lubricants work under the demanding conditions of high-performance driving. Red Line has been manufacturing high-performance synthetic lubricants for over twenty one years. During the earlier years many would say, "Well, if synthetics are so good, why doesn't the Brand X Oil car use one. Well, now we find that the Brand X team was using synthetics for years (maybe even Red Line) and that many of the major oil marketers now sell synthetic lubricants in an attempt to keep up with technology. Synthetics as a class of lubricants have some significant advantages over even the best petroleum lubricants.
The first advantage is being able to manufacture multigrades that will provide excellent high-temperature and high-speed performance. In order to manufacture a multigrade petroleum, say a 10W30, a 10W oil is thickened with a polymeric plastic substance much like STP. This enables the oil to flow like a 10W oil when cold, but appear to be an SAE 30 when measured at the high temperature (100 degrees C). The problem is that the high temperature testing is done in a tube at the equivalent shear of a very low RPM. At high RPMs a 10W30 multigrade petroleum will appear to have a viscosity between a 10 and a 30 and at very high RPMs the viscosity will be a 10. A synthetic generally does not thicken as much at cold temperatures or thin as much at high temperatures as a petroleum oil, so large quantities of unstable thickeners are not required. The advantage is that at high RPMs and high temperatures a synthetic 10W30 can actually provide thicker oil films than a straight SAE 30. However caution must be advised when thinking about synthetic 5W40 and 5W50s. Here significant amounts of the thickeners used to make petroleum multigrades must be used so that the high-shear viscosity will provide the equivalent to a petroleum SAE 40. This chart shows how the viscosity of a lubricant varies in the different shear zones of an engine.
The superiority of synthetics lies in the fact that a 10W40 synthetic can provide the high-shear protection superior to a petroleum 20W50 in the bearings and cams, while providing a much lower viscosity on the cylinder walls and in the ring pack. This lower viscosity produces more power and also better efficiency and fuel economy. However, wide range synthetics such as 5W50s use the same thickener systems as petroleum 20W50s and suffer from the same viscosity losses in the bearings and cams.
Red Line considers that in most cases an engine should not require the viscosity of a 20W50 and would be simply sacrificing power for doubtful advantage, but the 40Wt Race Oil (15W40) or 10W40 Motor Oil provides significantly improved film thicknesses compared to a 20W50, while providing the advantage of 1-3% more power.
The viscosity characteristics is where the similarities of synthetics end. Not all synthetics are created equal. If metal-to-metal contact does occur, the amount of friction created can make a great difference whether the bearing will spin or the cam and follower will create tremendous heat and wear. This chart indicates that Red Line lubricants provide significantly lower friction. Compared is Red Line with several "high-performance" synthetic and petroleum lubricants. This reduced friction means less heat is generated, so temperatures are reduced, wear is reduced, and more power is transferred to the wheels. Another significant property of Red Line is the stability of the oil with use. Note that after 15,000 miles Red Line produces less friction than the other popular synthetics when new, and some formulations are very weak in friction properties with use.
Red Line lubricants also excel in wear protection. Red Line provides several different antiwear additives in each lubricant to provide wear protection over a very wide range of conditions. The data from two ASTM wear tests below indicate that Red Line has a distinct ability to carry a greater load (film-strength), and that less wear is produced per unit of load. Across the range of loads which your automotive equipment can encounter, Red Line can provide less wear and a much lower chance of catastrophic failure than other petroleums and synthetics. This can make the difference between an engine saved and one which is destroyed when a mechanical component such as a connecting rod bolt breaks.
Red Line also will reduce lubricant temperatures significantly. Track testing done by the Delco Chassis Division of General Motors showed a reduction in both engine and transaxle temperatures of at least 30 degrees F when comparing Red Linemotor oil and to a major synthetic brand. These tests were performed in a Oldsmobile Calais and a Chevrolet Berreta GTZ equipped with the High-Output QUAD 4.
Another significant difference between Red Line and other synthetics and petroleums is the ability to withstand high temperatures without decomposition. The polyo lesters used by Red Line have a significantly greater degree of thermal stability compared to the synthetic hydrocarbons and petroleum lubricants. In fact, the polyol esters are the only lubricants capable of properly lubricating a modern jet turbine engine. This enhanced thermal stability can provide improved lubrication in the extreme temperature regions such as turbocharger bearings and upper ring area, provide improved cleanliness, and allow extended high-temperature operation. The chart above compares the ability of several synthetic and petroleum lubricants to withstand decomposition at a temperature of 500 degrees F for three hours.
The reduced friction, lower wear, and increased thermal stability all indicate a product which is superior to other commercially available petroleum and synthetic lubricants. This translate into improved protection and more power to the wheels. For example, Boris Said has won the SCCA SSGT class for three years straight using Red Line lubricants in his Camaro with a 305 Chevy V-8. This car has over 7,000 mile of sprint racing on it, all with the same drivetrain components. The engine is taken apart every year, new bearings are replaced simply as a precaution, not because they are damaged. The original rings are still in the engine and there is no evidence of wear on the rings or cylinder walls. This car has been incredibly low-cost to maintain. Boris can without a doubt attribute his victory to Red Line Oil. During the championship race his power steering hose broke on the first lap, pumping all of the fluid out of the system. Pumps aren't made to last 45 race miles without fluid. Pump seizure was a certainty which would have put him out of the race. But the pump never seized with the remnants of Red Line Power Steering Fluid in the system.
Another example is Wayne Torkelson, the owner and driver of the first Ford doorslammer to ever reach 200 mph. Wayne competes in the IHRA Pro Mod circuit with a blown alcohol '55 Thunderbird. As soon as Wayne switched to Red Line Gear Oil he picked up 1.5 mph on the top end. Previously he had been wearing out a ring and pinion every 20-25 passes. Since then he has yet to wear out a ring and pinion in four years. Prior to switching to the motor oil, he would get 3-4 passes on a set of oil rings. Now he gets 85 passes or more. In fact, if the engines have no breakage problems, he can run a whole season on the same rings and 40 passes on a set of bearings.
A National Record Holder in SS/DA, who races a '67 Corvette Coupe with a 427/Powerglide combination, one day switched to Red Line 30WT Race Oil and LightWeight Gear Oil and picked up seven hundredths. It would cost thousands to pick up that much with engine work. After 50-60 passes the motors are disassembled and the internal components look perfect - bearings, rings, cam, and cylinders. Jim Jones, the owner of Traco Engineering, has built 350 V-8 motors for Corvette endurance racing for years. His engines are run by different teams using different oils, many of them other synthetics. He will get engines back from the different teams after a 24-hour race. All engines ran at the same track and have the same number of miles, but he can always tell the Red Line engines from the others. The difference in wear is incredible. The most noticeable difference is in the valve guides. After 24-hours operation on other synthetics they are completely worn, while with Red Line they are still in good condition.
Dyno tests have shown Red Line to provide between 1-3% improvement in power. In a 460 big-block Chevy at 5500 rpm and 175 degree F oil temperature, a petroleum SAE 30 race oil provided 526.8 hp while the Red Line 30WT Race Oil provided 534.4 hp, and increase of approximately 1.5%. Greater differences are usually obtained if the temperatures are higher because of the better viscosity at high temperatures.
Red Line manufactures a cooling system additive called WaterWetter which is capable of reducing the coolant temperature of a high-performance vehicle by 15-30 degrees F and can provide even greater reduction in cylinder head temperature which means greater volumetric efficiency and allows more spark advance. WaterWetter also provides rust and corrosion protection in plain water which can provide additional cooling efficiency compared to antifreeze.