Gangopadhyay, A., Carter, R., Uy, D., Simko, S. et al., "The Effect of Oil Drain Interval on Valvetrain Friction and Wear," SAE Technical Paper 2007-01-4133, 2007, doi:10.4271/2007-01-4133.
Engine oils are subjected to a series of industry standard engine dynamometer tests to measure their wear protection capability, sludge and varnish formation tendencies, and fuel efficiency among several other performance attributes before they are approved for use in customer engines. However, these performance attributes are measured at the end of tests and therefore, do not provide any information on how the properties have changed during the tests. In one of our previous studies it was observed that engine oil samples collected from fleet vehicles after 12,000 mile drain interval showed 10-15 % lower friction and more importantly, an order of magnitude lower wear rate than those of fresh oils. It was also observed that the composition of the tribochemical films formed was quite different on the surface tested with the drain oils from those formed with fresh oils. The objective of this investigation is to demonstrate how the friction and wear performance changed with oil drain intervals. A fleet of three vehicles was run in Las Vegas and oil samples were collected at various drain intervals from 3000 miles to 15000 miles. As in the previous study, the results showed that the aged engine oils provide lower friction and much improved wear protection capability. These improvements were observed as early as the 3000 mile drain interval and continued to the 15000 mile drain interval. The composition of tribochemical films formed on the surface with the 3000 mile drain interval is similar to that formed with the 12000 mile drain interval as seen before. These findings could be an enabler for achieving longer drain interval although several other factors must to be considered.